Culture is future » Territorial attractiveness and social cohesion


Forum d'Avignon Ruhr - speakers, videos, ideas

'Culture is an engine of economy' says Gunter Winands, director and head of the directorate 'media and film, international affairs' at the federal government commission for culture and the media.

Among the main ideas shared by the first speakers, came out the need to redefine and give back an effective place to the notion of cooperation. In a context of uncertainty and doubt about what the future could be, the rediscovery of the city through the new types of networks provided by the modern city, as a hub where people meet, transact, exchange, share, should lead to new forms of cooperation. For instance, Charles Landry asserts that 25 years ago new york was almost a bankrupt city and its rediscovery saved it.  From the almost sensual experience of conviviality to the trust it reinstills, it is by fostering creative cooperations through culture that an environment allows a dynamic form of progress and creativity. Through culture, progress goes beyond the simple technological improvements, to become a way of increasing  social awareness of communities,  economic growth and overall freedom: a freedom to choose, to develop ideas and to create the future rather than being instrumentalized by it. Sigmar Gabriel, Chairman of the Social Democratic Party in Germany, even adds that the goal is to give freedom to people about what they want to do with their lives and especially to make that happen. In a country where visual arts are a model , it  needs to be protected while meeting a standard. Hence, we live in tangible knowledge society and, in germany, a million of people are working in the creative jobs : this sector must remain livable. Some improvements must be done. As Edgar Berger, President and CEO of Sony Music International, asserts lest year 40 billions of cultural contents were downloaded iligally and 3.8 legally.
City must be at the core of the cultural strategy says charles landry. Indeed, when 80 per cent of the population were choosing their jobs their cities and now the trend is reversing : 64 per cent are choosing the city first. The strategy is then about attracting creative minds.

The revolution implied by digital technologied does not mean that traditional arts and culture will disappear : theater for example is an alod form of art and withstanded many revolutions, as Anselm Weber, artistic director of the Schauspielhaus Bochum explains. Yet, things evolve and so should be the practices and minds to adpat to new challenges. And creativity is one of these challenges able to guarantee to industries, firms, citizens and artists a sustainable success and development. Another challenge is the reform of copyright in a way that takes into account the new patterns while protecting the artist. If the means of production evolve, they still have to be differentiated from the means of distribution, as Robert Levine pointed: “internet does not print books by itself”!

This first session would be ended by Nicolas Seydoux, Chairman of the Forum d'Avignon, stating the importance of such French German partnership, creating the Forum dAvignon ruhr. Moreover, he suggested that, as the 50th anniversary of the treaty of elysees is going to be in january in 2013, culture should be integrated in it as a crucial part of the two countries partnership and mutual friendship.

While crisis urges public decision makers to step in to find viable solutions, the necessity to give back something to society is growing, as Ute Schäfer, Minister for Family, Children Youth, Culture and Sport of North-Rhine Westaphalia underlines. Reinventing social spaces - economic, political or cultural - is strongly benefiting from art, which ensures place is left for positive initiative and thinking. The concrete effects of cultural investment are still often considered as invisible, driven by secondary forces - yet, it is time to reassert their visible reality and potential. Artistic projects such as 2-3 streets by Jochen Gerz embodies the reality of the impact of art on society. Art should not stay confined to museums or institutions but has to reach the streets we cross daily. The environment does represent a major factor of creativity and happiness. Berlin, known as an "poor but sexy" city, is a good example. For Udo Kittelman, Director of the National Gallery in Berlin, highlights that rich intellectual exchanges increase creativity and cultural activities. Yet, it also leads to more competition and an environment characterized by a creative form of security, which should countered by encouraging the interconnections between cities as a network fostering the flows of talent. Cities should not be trapped in a game where some lose when others grow and concretize successful projects.

Creativity is acknowledge as a positive value as much as imagination and fantasy which trigger the rise of new innovative solutions. By combining cross-sectoral discussions, as does the organization PICNIC, it becomes easier to face the future as a space of opportunities, where things can be constantly created, re-created and co-created, breaking the usual borders. The autonomy of the artist is not at risk and many firms and decision makers are already aware of the essential role of creativity in our modern societies;  however the need to highlight the responsibilities of the players is growing and all have to accept their responsibility to take part in the cultural development of cities and communities.

Therefore, the value of art in bringing more happiness, by surprising (Hermann Vask) or simply by allowing the opening of new doors of reflexion should be put forward. Cultural investments are mainly leading to intangible benefits, not always measurable and so harder to grasp, but their effects are real on cohesion, wellness or growth - and passion will allow their come back in the front of the stage. As conclusion, one word, M. Seydoux's, 'optimism'. Especially when you are a decision maker!

A few quotes...

Ute Schafer

"Now is time that gives something back to society. Artists are responsible for society and community. "

"Art can revive cities and district and partly reinvent them"

'It can back up structures and point up imbalances, drastic and diverse"

"We need to create some space for optimism, cross sectoral approaches"

"Art reinvent reality, make it visible, and there is a utopic potential to help opening eyes to something new"


Jochen Gerz

' When we talk about creativity, it is quite clear. Thins are in motion. For many years we have not talked about other culture'. There is non creativity of art if there is non creativity in society"

'I came up with the idea to ask cities to give me an empty street for one year to ask people from anywhere to live there, rent free. And they responded positively'

'All of our society is not an observer. Cultural consumption is not better than the other one'


Udo Kittelmann 

'Berlin is a city where you can dialogue with international people'. 

'Berlin is poor in the economy but rich in the creative form'

'The intellectual exchange makes this city confortable' '

'Young persons came to Berlin in early stage when there was still this boom town and now after a decade, creative people have moved to the city'. 

'Competition have started. 'Someone is no longer to compete, it does not have any future'


Deborah Carter

'Culture is play a huge role in the transformation of cities' For instance, Amsterdam has invested a lot in Culture'.  'It is not about one city will loose and the other one will benefit'

'It is all about culture and creativity"

'CEO love the idea of creativity within firms - there is alot a nedd a move the conversation forward'


Hermann Vaske 

'Creativity is not a priviledge of artist'

'Politicians can help tog ether with art to generate something bigger than the idea itself'

'The autonomy of art is not in danger' What we could observe and the creative person might criticize. You need to adjust to some markets". 


Charles Landry presentation

'See Charles Landry presentation at #forumavignon'

'Presentation of Charles Landry at #FARuhr12 study'

'Too much money on the containers too few in the content'


The Forum d'Avignon Ruhr in the media