Participation on stage. Toward a new focus in the cultural sector.

Participation on stage. Toward a new focus in the cultural sector.

Chateau de la Mothe-Chandeniers, France. Image from La Voix du Nord


More than 17.000 contributors from 115 countries participated to the crowdfunding campaign promoted by Dartagnans, a French crowdfunding agency dedicated to the promotion of cultural heritage, to buy, save and enhance the Chateau de la Mothe-Chandeniers in France. More than 1,5 million € have been collected thanks to the contributors that will become co-owners of the medieval castle; 500.000 € will go for the purchase, while the remaining part for the securing and restoration activity.

Meanwhile in Italy Federculture, the National Federation of Regions, Municipalities, Local Utility Companies and all actors managing cultural, tourism, leisure and sports services, launched a petition to ask the Italian government the ratification of the Faro Convention.

Besides the ever growing bottom-up initiatives and activities promoting citizens involvement and engagement in culture, participation is finally gaining an increasing attention also in the research field, as demonstrated by the recent conference “Participatory governance in culture. Exploring practices, theories and policies”, held in November in Rijeka and promoted by Kultura Nova Foundation in collaboration with the European Cultural Foundation. 3 days of interesting discussions and paper presentations around the topic of participatory approaches in culture. Professors Leila Jankovich (University of Leeds, UK), Frank Fischer (Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany and Rutgers University, US) and Christian Iaione (Guglielmo Marconi University of Rome, LUISS University and LabGov’s co-founder, Italy) proposed three different keynote speeches exploring participatory approaches in the arts, in cultural governance and policy making and in the city as a commons perspective. The conference was also an opportunity to learn about many practices spreading throughout Europe, from cultural associations to independent spaces and platforms, from social centres to museums, all developing participatory projects and processes in their everyday activity. Insights into other continents approaches, with some representatives of Zambia, South Africa, US and India were provided as well. Also difficulties and potentials of participation in European Capitals of Culture were discussed, thanks to the experience of some candidate cities.

Next year, other conferences will explore the role of participation in culture, finally acknowledging its importance.

In April (18-20), Aarhus University will host the international conference “Cultures of Participation – Arts, Digital Media and Politics” in order to discuss about the main trends, potentials and problems of the different cultures of participation. The key question is: “On policy levels, citizen participation and engagement are emphasized as key components of democratic societies and these policies are currently being practiced and put to work at cultural institutions and cultural houses, in artistic production, in architectural and urban ‘smart city’ designs and various digital media spaces. But what are the characteristics of cultural participation and how do these manifest themselves in cultures of participation?” The conference invites paper proposals in these topics (deadline January 5): 1) Participatory art & aesthetics, 2) Digital media & technology, 3) Cultural policy & participation.

Image from (the main building of the University of Glasgow)


In June (13-15th), the main annual conference of Universeum- The European Academic Heritage Network (XIX Universeum Network Meeting), held at The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, will be focused on “Working Together: Partnerships,Co-creation, Co-curation”. A call for papers (deadline January 31) is launched in the following topics: 1) Teaching and Student Engagement with Collections; 2) Co-curating Academic Collections Within and Beyond the Campus, while a poster session will deal with the topic of “Working Together in University Museums”. The purpose is clear, due to “the importance for university museums of working together, not only within the university campus but also beyond, collaborating with other cultural heritage organisations; with other communities; with society at large. (…) Working together includes also giving the initiative and the voice to our end users, and working closely together to co-curate and co-create exhibitions, resources, and events”.

European Cultural Heritage Summit, Berlin


Always in June (18-24th), Berlin will host the European Cultural Heritage Summit, one of the flag events of the European Year of Cultural Heritage. The Summit theme is “Sharing heritage – sharing values” and it will be co-hosted by Europa Nostra, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) and the German Cultural Heritage Committee (DNK). A large number of events will be proposed mobilising public and private stakeholders, among which the Heritage excellence fair, an High-level policy debate on Europe and cultural heritage, the Award-giving ceremony for the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards 2018 and the Europa Nostra General Assembly and visits of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Potsdam.

An increasing attention for a relentless phenomenon. Stay tuned!

Il tema della partecipazione nel settore culturale sta finalmente ricevendo la dovuta attenzione. Accanto alla crescita di iniziative dal basso, anche il mondo della ricerca e della policy inizia ad interrogarsi su tendenze, problematiche e scenari del fenomeno. Un 2018 ricco di appuntamenti.