Dragan Genova2004


Dragan Klaic: Thematic priorities, altered institutional typology. Cultural policies and institutions facing the challenge of multicultural societies

Paper delivered at the international symposium “When culture makes the difference. The heritage, arts and media in multicultural society”, Genova, 2004. An excerpt that has only grown in relevance:

“Cultural debates – if not cultural policies – are affected and coloured by the raised fears of the asylum seekers, radical Islam and terrorist attacks. Against such background, it would perhaps make more sense to look at the culture budgets not in terms of their economic impact – as has been the case for the last 10-15 years, under the influence of the neo-liberal thinking –but rather as a security issue. An argument could be made that discrimination, exclusion and marginalization in a political, ideological and socio-economic sense nourish a dangerous cultural insecurity; and that cultural policies aimed at inclusion and active participation of marginalized social groups in culture nurture their sense of cultural security, a sense of belonging, and strengthen the social cohesion. This security prism has consequences on developing cultural policies at home and in the EU at large but also in developing a cultural dimension of an emerging EU foreign and security policy, esp. in the direction of immediate neighbours in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Southern Mediterranean.”

A few passages lower Dragan warns about the superficial conception of intercultural dialogue, elaborated at greater length a few year later.

„The notion of intercultural dialogue is being increasingly used to pacify interreligious tensions... To label a dialogue of individuals as an intercultural dialogue leads to monopolistic insinuations and a homogenizing discourse and precludes possibilities of nuanced personal stances within complex cultural fields, with a plurality of views, including radical, minority and unpopular views that nevertheless belong to a certain cultural realm or tradition.”

Instead, Dragan insists on the enhancement of intercultural competence:

Intercultural competence presumes respect for the others, openness and curiosity for the others; and an eagerness to engage in collaborative relations with the others with expectation of mutual enriching... On an individual level, intercultural competence could be seen as a skill, attitude mentality, to be developed locally, by immersion and training, and then through exercise of mobility. On the institutional level, intercultural competence needs to be developed as a strategic orientation, an internal policy, to be absorbed by the internal culture of the institution, understood, shared, endorsed and promulgated by the entire staff, from the board, leadership and top management to the temporary and part time employees, interns and associated artists.”

Also, his sharp comments about developments in the postcommunist bloc have not lost all relevance:

„In Central and Eastern Europe, where sociopolitical and economic changes have been most far reaching, the cultural systems have been cosmetically touched upon but not radically reformed. Fashionable panaceas offered ‐sponsorship, cultural tourism, privatepublic partnership, creative industries ‐have not been translated into policy elements, criteria, mechanisms and procedures, nor have they altered the main streams of the subsidy distribution that continue to flow according to traditional sectors and disciplines and to habitual institutional recipients. Most cultural institutions look at those fashionable buzz words with much puzzlement.”

The full text of the paper can be downloaded from this site, together with other articles from the same conference.