There is no doubt that Art and Culture are universal expressions with no frontiers between cultures and social groups, hence a perfect bridge for endorsing cultural dialogue. Europe with its expansion and migration is endowed with many individual identities which add to its rich diversity and is creating new dialogue between people.
In 2008, the European Union designated the year for Inter cultural dialogue, supporting various activities in raising awareness of the idea of Intercultural dialogue. Among them was the Platform for Intercultural Dialogue with the function of bringing together people from fields of culture, education, youth and social work groups on minority rights, on anti discrimination and Human Rights. It has held several meetings for its members which were in Brussels, in Slovenia, Italy and Sweden.
Being an artist, writer and involved in an Art Foundation I have attended for some of the above mentioned meetings. The last meeting was on the 8th of June 2010 in Brussels.
Recently, the Platform conducted research into the EU Culture program and found that Inter cultural dialogue has different meanings to many people. For some Europeans, inter cultural dialogue is a concept for peace among nations. For others, it is a tool for improving internal security and relations between majority and minority groups, cultural cooperation and cultural diplomacy.
Intercultural dialogue can be defined as the dialogue about meanings and values and how about people make sense of their experience in the world. Europe has been constantly inhabited by diverse range of people, each with their own cultures and ways of interpreting their own world. Before the two World Wars, ethnic and cultural diversity existed in perfect harmony where individuals with different faith and culture lived side by side.
This all passed into oblivion with the occurrence of Genocide and ethnic cleansing aiming to create the illusion of national homogeneity.
Today, Europe includes people with cultural roots in other continents like Africa, Asia and Latin America, and intercultural dialogue has become the norm and even more necessary. To add with this concept, is the democratic recognition of the many marginalized cultures with European roots. These also include national minorities, Roma people and social groups such as disabled, gay or lesbian people.
After the meeting in June 2009 the Platform has worked on a program of practice exchanges and involved focusing on cultural institutions and on situations of migrants.
The Platform in its exchange programs is aiming to involve people from different cultures as equal participants whilst adopting a clear agreed terms of reference for the meeting
It is also focusing on specific issues where disagreement exists, recognize the legitimacy of people s’ differences, accept the possibility of change whist providing the necessary support to enable all participants to engage on equal terms and to reflect the obligations of the European Union.
All these together are good practices towards more intercultural dialogue which is ever becoming more necessary in today s’ Europe. So let us work together to develop a Europe without frontiers.