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Op-ed : "What’s new in 2015? Let’s bet on culture together!" by Laure Kaltenbach and Olivier Le Guay

Culture and its values remain a battle to win without restraint, but with imagination, commitment and ethics. 

Article previously published in French on the

The triple nature of culture – artistic, social and economic – contains all the germs to create enthusiasm. To those who gargle with crisis (the cut in funding, the triumph of the economic over the cultural, the incredible superiority of some stakeholders, the absence of frontiers whether fiscal or physical, the data head-spinner, the temptation to reduce culture to a commodity – downgraded to contents to be traded for duties or the flow of the financial services…), it is time to propose a collective reflection, beyond the sectoral or even corporatist logics… and to bet on culture, without naivety nor blinkers, such as the 2010s’ world reminds us forcefully, but with kindness, common sense and ambition for culture.

The challenge of amazement. “There are flowers everywhere for who is willing to see them”, Henri Matisse said. The painter is right: the amazement is the experience that culture and thinking bring us thanks to alchemists who turn it into extra sense(s). Amazement has to be cultivated. We should keep the desire to experiment and accept disillusion or failure sometimes. “There is not, Julien Gracq wrote, there might have never been a great poet […], such shady poet, as desperate as he may be, without finding deep in himself the feeling of wonder, of the unique wonder that is to have lived in this world and not in any other”. Creativity – thanks, especially, to the hybridization of production and financing models – will never stop to surprise us.

The challenge of cultural investment. If culture proved that it is not a cost but an investment for the future with several dimensions, individual, collective, economic, social and territorial, its players now have to express themselves collectively, beyond their respective professions. Too often perceived as fragmented, isolated, or has having contradictory interests (with disastrous effects on European bodies), the ecosystem needs to meet the challenges of the post digital world by standing close. The collective approach has the double advantage of getting closer to the dynamics of creativity that shakes up the frontiers, genres and professions and to enhance its specificities (from education to digital broadcasting) and its economic and social openings on territories. In 2014, the GESAC raises its voice. It needs to be joined by everyone and heard by the European people, with in its line of sight a federative project more than a series of spike strips and hot sands thrown at haphazard.

The challenge of intellectual property, a universal value. The key measure of the creators’ wage is misunderstood both by citizens and politicians reduced to the bad role of brake or obstacle to the uses or at the frontiers. We believe in a positive modernization of the intellectual property in favor of creation that allows the rise of a new creative generation. The intellectual property of Europeans must find its place facing global players and keep the control of added value and of its fair payment. An efficient taxation crossing the wall of European non-harmonization can contribute to it: to favor equity between the stakeholders and reconcile harmonization, loyalty and neutrality is the challenge of the future years.

Finally, the challenge of trust, without which nothing is possible: trust in imagination and astonishment, trust in cultural diversity, but also in the potential of empathy and surprise; without the respect for values of living together and creating together, namely, of a rule that favor ethics and equity. Confidence will only come from an ethical framework on the use of our digital prints that favors the balance between the protection of individuals and private life, and commercial exploitation. The awareness of a universal framework on personal data such as for the human genome gains ground. The answers cannot only be technical or legal. Just as all the other sectors, the cultural sector must be active for a data culture, respectfully with its publics and the collective interest.

2015 will be a year full of turns of events, the bets are taken.