Memo September 2005

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A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in September 2005

For the six weeks that remain before the opening of Inclusive Europe? Horizon 2020, working on this event will be the main occupation of BO.

A European cultural forum for ministers
How does the actual stalemate in European integration affect culture? Has the halting of the 2007-2013 EU budget rendered the goals of the
70 cent campaign entirely unrealistic? Should objectives about cultural co-operation and development in Europe be re-defined? Shall we revisit the nation state context for European cultural prospects, or seek new momentum in searching for European unity in cultural diversity? Is culture the key to the European crisis, as proclaimed by Gottfried Wagner in June? Does President Barroso keep in mind, and give effect to what he said in Berlin? "In the hierarchy of values, the cultural ones range above the economic ones."

These are some of the questions that the culture ministers of Europe will be confronted with when they meet in Budapest between 17-19 November, for the Inclusive Europe? Horizon 2020 conference.

A European cultural forum for cultural operators
What is the difference between cultural democratisation and cultural democracy? This is the question of departure for the discussion about inclusion, set as the theme of this year's annual conference of the
European Forum for Arts and Heritage, held in conjunction with the ministers' meeting in Budapest. Participants will discuss aims and conditions of inclusion into and by culture, access, equity, participation and related issues.

A European cultural forum for you
Inclusive Europe? Horizon 2020 is an open forum that you can join. The organisers do their best that participants should have the chance not only to listen but also to get involved in the discussions, especially in the workshop sessions. Check the conditions for registration.

BO has worked for Budapest
Besides BO involvement in the November conference, we have not yet fully completed the previous assignment. The web site of Budapest2010 is being edited in the two office rooms of BO.

The national competition for the candidacy to be European Capital of Culture is a great thing. It was a success in the UK and in Germany. Culture got a new meaning, associated stronger with the notions of competition and development, urban and regional. 

At first the Hungarian contest attracted limited interest - except for some of the candidate cities in the provinces, which managed to stir up the emotions and energies in support of the respective city. However, by the time the seven cities that remained in the final round submitted their bids in August, the dispute got heated about one aspect. BO found itself in the middle.

The main dividing line is between Budapest and the rest. Whether the title (European Capital of Culture) should be used as a major signal for the cultural decentralisation of the country, in which case there is no place for Budapest in the game. Or, should the title be exploited for the promotion of the country, its culture and its potentials for the advancement of European cultural co-operation? In which case Budapest is the obvious choice.

The government is expected to decide in November.  

German - Hungarian - Turkish axis?
The cities of Görlitz and Essen must wait longer before they get the verdict about where in Germany will be another European Capital of Culture in 2010.

And perhaps a third one in Turkey! The Culture 2000 newsletter has announced that Istanbul, too, officially submitted its application to be designated European Capital of Culture in 2010. The regulations allow for a third country to carry the title in one year.  

Socio-culture at the Adria
s there such a thing as "socio-cultural activities"? If so, where and what is meant by this in the countries of Europe? Beyond terminology and language usage: what is the position and status of socio-cultural activities in Europe? Where, which aspect of socio-cultural activities gets bigger emphasis? To what extent are socio-cultural activities considered part of the cultural sector?

These questions have been intriguing BO for some time. Now there was a chance to seek answers in the frames of a seminar held on the Slovenian sea side in the middle of September. BO believes that by raising these questions, the merits and worth of socio-cultural activities will get highlighted and the concept promoted in the European arena.

Metropolitan Warsaw
The annual round table conference of the Circle network was held in Warsaw, also in the middle of September. The topic of the meeting was integration and diversity in city life, based on a comparative study on six cities that Circle co-ordinated, using EU funds.

The participants were wondering, among others, about whether metropolitan phenomena can be conceived in smaller towns as well; whether the notion of "minorities" is a workable one on a European scale; whether urban policies should focus areas, social strata or cultural communities etc. For a more exhausting record keep checking the Circle web site.

The meeting was held in the university library (BUW). When in Warsaw, do not miss this new building and the nearly exotic garden on the roof.