Cultural leaders add new perspectives to Foreign Policy

Alumni reunion

Cultural leaders add new perspectives to Foreign Policy

120 members of the cultural industry from 30 countries met in Brussels from 23 to 25 October to exchange and support practices based on knowledge, intercultural dialogue, and social engagement.

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The Global Cultural Leadership Programme (GCLP) works to achieve objectives like peace, freedom of expression, mutual understanding and respect for fundamental rights by promoting a network of cultural practitioners and cross-borders exchanges.

The fourth edition of GCLP took place in Brussels from 23 to 25 October. The event gathered alumni of previous GCLP editions coming from EU Member States and EU’s strategic partners, including China, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, US, Russia, South Africa. 

The 120 cultural operators, performers, communication experts, public administration and institutional delegates all carry out social and cultural projects. 

Hilde Hardeman welcomed all of them with the words “Culture is at the very heart of what Europe stands for and can certainly play a key role in external relations”.   

At the end of the 3-day programme three projects were selected for a grant of Euro 25,000.

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Testimonials from alumni. What the programme meant to Sumona, Aris, Edgar 

 “To attend the programme was a push to say you can think bigger” S. Chakravarty, Kolkata (India). 

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Sumona Chakravarty runs an organisation called Hamdasti in Kolkata (India). It activates community spaces by connecting artists to schools, libraries, police stations and other civil society organisations who already work in the communities. For instance, in "Across the Lines" an artist and his team worked in a mental hospital for three months and produced artwork with the residents. 

Sumona participated for the first time at the GCLP in 2017 at the meeting in Athens. “In the last two years, my organisation was just setting up and we were trying to prove to people that art is important in the communities. That experience - says Sumona- helped me to think about advocacy, how I can also make a case for the arts, and build other kinds of collaboration and networks outside the art world to help our work reach new audiences. What it did is a sort of push to say you can do more and can think bigger at a systemic level. It was inspiring.”

In team with 10 other women from Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Russia, India, and Romania, Sumona presented one of the three future projects that will be supported by the GCLP. “We are developing a book that will feature the work of GCLP fellow members and seed an exchange of tactics and methodologies for artists who wish to break out of the silos of the art world and engage with NGOs activists and socio-political systems.”

Culture can be the greatest tool of diplomacyA. Papadopoulos, Lesbo (Greece)

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Aris Papadopoulos, from Lesbo (Greece), manages front line projects with refugees since almost 5 years ago when the migration crisis started on his native island. He is at the head of an organisation called LATRA. “We detected that all the people arriving needed to be consciously integrated into Europe.” Aris and his colleagues engaged with people in the refugee camps and facilitated a peer-to-peer transfer of knowledge and values between members of the same community. 

“We foster intercultural dialogue in order to safeguard these very vulnerable people from the risk of being manipulated and guided towards extremism. Culture and creative industries have a very strong capacity to bring people together, creating sustainable relationships. Culture - assures Aris - can be the greatest tool for diplomacy”. 

“The programme broadened fresh perspectives to my cultural work” E. Garcia, Los Angeles (United States of America)

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Edgar Garcia, from Los Angeles, works for the municipal government, specifically in cultural administration and the preservation of the historic and architectural heritage of the city. Starting as an undergraduate student at Yale University, Edgar has been involved in a multicultural internship programme with the Getty Foundation.  In 2016, he was one of three Americans to participate to the first meeting in Malta. 

“It was interesting to see how the pursuit of diversity works in different countries. -he says- The programme broadened the perspectives of my cultural work to encompass a more global and inclusive approaches.  Joining this programme made me understand that Europe is as dynamic, political and cultural diverse as the United States”.  

Background information: 

Through the Cultural Diplomacy Platform, the Partnership Instrument-funded Global Cultural Leadership Programme (GCLP) offers a set of learning modules, tools and manuals for practice-based learning, giving participants opportunities to build meaningful collaborations at the global level, and enabling them to develop fresh insights into international cultural collaboration practices. The previous editions of the GCLP took place in Athens (2016), La Valletta (2017) and Amsterdam (2018). Every year 40 cultural practitioners took part of the programme, in total 120 selected among 3000 applications.

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For more information: 

Partnership Instrument
Cultural diplomacy platform
EU Strategy for international cultural relations