National meeting of cultural departments/

National meeting of cultural departments

On Thursday 30 November, the ACCR attended the third Rencontre nationale des départements pour la culture, organised in Seine-et-Marne by Culture-Co.

Culture-Co is the national network for culture in the départements, supporting public policies in favour of culture in the département. The association places at the heart of its project the challenges of cooperation between different levels of local government and with players in the artistic, cultural, educational, social, economic and territorial development fields.

The Rencontre was an opportunity for all those involved in local artistic and cultural development to come together and share their experiences. The three days included workshops, meetings and exchanges, and conferences featuring inspiring witnesses and initiatives to explore, debate, produce, draw inspiration from and help each other.

What kind of culture for what kind of future?
/A systemic approach
One of the key challenges facing culture in the future is to adopt a systemic approach. We need to think about our actions in a broader context: in terms of the planet's habitability. This means working across the board on environmental, economic and socio-cultural issues. Working for environmental justice goes hand in hand with social justice.

In the face of a marked retreat into the community, the unifying nature of culture enables us to forge links which, in turn, enable us to change our collective outlook: the "I" feeds off the "we". There is a real fertilisation of points of view as a result of listening to each other. On a regional scale, this can be seen in the importance of pooling resources and, consequently, creating ecosystems in which cultural players, the social sector, voluntary organisations and local authorities work together in the common interests of a comprehensive offer.

Prior to these concerns, there was also the issue of training future cultural professionals in scientific issues, which represents a potential to be mobilised in order to be able to act more finely on the environmental aspect. The lack of cross-disciplinarity in cultural training was raised, with a real need for theoretical scientific input. Although many teaching tools, such as frescoes, are being developed, there is still a need for scientific and not (just) technical knowledge.

/Moving away from a quantitative focus
Inequalities in access to art and culture are still very persistent. So we need to ask ourselves how we can encourage the conditions for this encounter and, above all, how we can ensure that audiences are active and not just targets in a project. The question of desire is therefore central: how can we create desire and arouse the desire to participate, cooperate or practice? This approach establishes an emotional relationship with culture, which is achieved through storytelling, a more qualitative approach.

In a context of multiple transitions and an uncertain future, there is a battle of the imagination and of narratives that have the capacity to promote different patterns of evolution: desirable and sustainable transformations for the future as well as glorifications of the current development model. Artists and cultural players take on the role of disrupters of everyday life, raising awareness and proposing avenues for reflection.

Decentralising to revitalise democracy/
Cultural players committed to social and territorial democracy are convinced that dialogue must be the basis of all decision-making. They are therefore campaigning for a renewal of democracy that promotes a more vibrant model in which the individual is sought out and considered as a citizen and not simply as a consumer.

In contrast to a regime democracy, social democracy is used to emphasise that it is more a way of life, a culture and a practice in its own right. This transition is possible if we create and nurture a culture of commitment to a democracy that is desirable, lived-in, continuous and marked by fraternity. By inhabited, we mean the creation and/or provision of places open to debate, conducive to gatherings and co-construction.

Cultural sites and, more broadly, art and culture are tools for emancipation, enabling us to take part in the world and understand it. They are vectors for awakening citizenship.

By territorial democracy, we mean taking into account the specific characteristics of each territory in order to propose coherent projects and developments.

What kind of culture in rural areas?
Rurality is an area that plays a full part in societal transitions. In fact, it would be more accurate to talk about rural areas insofar as there is no single model. Rurality and heritage are expressed in the plural, with the importance of the built heritage, of course, but also the natural and intangible heritage, which includes know-how, local traditions and amateur practices.

Rural areas, for example, have helped to raise the profile of certain practices and media, such as storytelling, which has regained a certain nobility in rural areas after long being relegated to the secondary role of simple children's entertainment.  

There have also been many original, hybrid creations in local areas where the primary vocation is not artistic and cultural, but rather multi-functional. The Cultural Encounter Centres embody this reuse of sites, this reinvention of heritage sites to make them places of living culture that tell local stories.