Theme 1992: The social midfield
The role of the arts in a Europe on the way to integration.
A debate on social and cultural issues with political implications.
Second Symposium August 9-14 1992, at 'De Bron', Holland.
A selected group of symposium participants, representing Christian political parties, trade-unions and artists organisations debated for two more days (November 28 and 29) in Rotterdam, and analysed the results of the four Brainstorm Papers. Here are the results.
Currently a new legal order and democracy are developing in Europe. The intention of establishing the European Community is deeply founded on the commission of protecting basic classical and social human rights to the full advantage of people.
National governments do not have sufficient resources to deal with cross border problems or work on (international) peace plans in which basic classical and social human rights are protected. This is why it would be desirable to establish higher authorities to which democratically controlled power and resources would be granted. The Eurpean Community could be such an authority within the framework of a federation, i.e. with powers delegated to it by the member powers on the basis of majority decisions.
The idea of a federation opposes the confederative or intergovernmental alternative, where member states keep areas of control to themselves and make decisions based on consensus. The main objection to this intergovernmental alternative is that, shoul it become necessary, there is no higher authority to appeal to. European democracy needs a fullbodied parliamentary democracy in which, with the proper authority, the European Parliament can enforce resolutions taken at the Ministers' Council. These reolutions should enhance the responsibilities of national and regional governments. This is also known as the 'subsidiarity' principle and mainly deals with the vertical dimension of this concept the hierarchical relation between 'higher' and 'lower' governing bodies. But Europe cannot solely exist on the basis of a politically developed democracy. It also needs a clear social basis, such as active social organizations (social 'midfield') with specific responsibilities which a European government should respect. This would be known as the horizontal subsidiarity principle and be a principle which is contrary to political centralism in which a government monopolises all the responsibilities for a society.
The Christian Artists Association
The Christian Artists Association operates in the social midfield, an area of action for ordinary citizens to be involved in.
'Christian Artists' provides a meeting point for artists from all over Europe and desires, from a Christian inspiration, to contribute substantially to European culture, historically marked by Christian and humanistic motives. 'Christian Artists' is actively involved in relating to and dialoging with other artists- and social organizations.
The Association considers it its political responsibility to address governments on their responsibilities to maintain the freedom of expression of artists and adequate provisions for art in society in general. Europe cannot exist without a beating cultural heart. Artists are at the core of that heart. 'Christian Artists' would like to see the European Community contribute to developing networks of artists (organizations) as well as supportive measures in order to make a flourishing European cultural life possible. Furthermore, 'Christian Artists' thinks that the Community should take up the task of supporting those regions and member states that have insufficient means to support their own artists and develop their arts.
'Christian Artists' presents itself as a European trade-union desiring to take part in discussions at European forums on developments relating to:
- the position of artists,
- the role of the arts.
This also involves issues such as:
- copyright laws,
- neighbouring rights,
- media policies,
- protection of cultural treasures (cultural heritage),
- language programmes,
- measurements for professional artist's training and amateur exchange
- harmonisation and exchange programmes,
- recognition of the profession of 'artist'; in order to enable artists - irrespective of race, nationality or religion - to contribute in all freedom to a Europe that may be fascinating because of its diversity and plurality.
2. Social responsibility
Artists bear a social responsibility for the society in which they live and conversely, society bears a responsibility for its artists. This makes it already clear that there needs to be a signed social paragraph per nation in the EC. Part of that should be the recognition and regulation of the profession of artists.
One of the most important conclusions is that in order to fulfil their unique role within the shaping of civilisation, artists need to organize themselves. Being organized enables them to participate in the decision making process. Becoming a member of an artists organisation also encourages solidarity between artists.
A few points to consider:
a) Governments/EC/society's social responsibilities
- to be willing to negotiate and participate in dialogues with artists-organizations;
- to provide a social 'minimum' (work-places, finances) so that artists can create;
- to establish a social paragraph recognising the profession of 'artist';
- to evaluate and regulate (together with the trade-unions) the working conditions of artists, especially those in the media.
- to provide regulations within the media, because of its overflow of pulp-culture, violence, and negative attitudes to women, children and other cultures;
- to stimulate communication between artists and artists organizations within Europe, minority groups, etc. The arts can also contribute to greater social interaction and understanding among people;
- nations should be outspoken on the fact that the arts are essential for the development of culture. guaranteed sufficient creative state eduaction (see point 4, Education);
- the social midfield is absolutely essential to the maintenance of community life. It is part of the process whereby values and norms are passed on. Governments should promote it as much as possible. Artists organisations are a part of this midfield and take part in this process.
b) What should artists do?
- become organized, where possible with the help of other art-groups;
- create networks within the EC and outside it for the development of greater contact, knowledge understanding, stimulation and creativity;
- participate in international meetings, symposia, workshops ...;
- relate to other social partners such as trade-unions and become discussion partners with political parties;
- the state, the family and the economy have a lot in common and are often in conflict. New conflict management is needed to succeed in having the right negotiations on every level and especially where creativity and the arts are in conflict with other interests.
3. Artistic freedom
A basic right for every human being is the right to express oneself. This freedom must allow for the right framework for all persons, of any. race, religious or political conviction, to express, in their chosen style of artfrom, any opinion or belief, except when this is done at the expence of other human rights, and without being discriminated against. This basic right should be supported by government and non-government bodies so that artists have the opportunity to enrich personal lives and society.
Education about our culture, its roots and the history of art is essential for people to develop a harmonious cultural personality and become civilised members of the European Community.
Governments should impose minimum standards of creative teaching in primary and secondary schools in order to develop early artistic intelligence and creativity. Besides this, there is a clear need for education in the history of one's culture and its relationship with other cultural (minority) groups.
- Low thresholds access should be guaranteed by state initiatives for citizens of all ages to any form of artistic training at specialised institutions and/or schools.
- We urgently need to define terms like 'professional', 'non-professional', 'amateur'. As for the harmonisation of European artistic education, there is a distinct lack of reliable data concerning the quality and level of various existing initiatives.
- The establishment of a European Task Force that takes the matter of artistic education as its objective and the possibility of launching a European exchange project - comparable with Erasmus, Lingua or Petra II -exclusively in the field of the arts, should be urgently envisaged.
5a. The international association of Christian Artists should continue
- With another symposium including more art-groups, politicians and trade-unions representatives to discuss many practical problems.
- Its networks, publications, research and such.
- To be part of a trade-union and to support the political process with suggestions about culture, the arts, etc.
- To concentrate on education, training, seminars, projects, national and international meetings.
- To carry out its religious, political, social and cultural responsibilities.
Arts councils often appear one-sided in the way in which they distribute funds. It is felt that the community should have an involvement in arts-councils policies and that the members of such councils should truly represent all art-forms, styles and expressions.
It seems that too often the same kind of people are elected on the arts-councils, thereby turning them into elitist groupings.
As a result the arts-councils often spend money on elitist projects, instead of investing in a diversity of art forms, styles and artists. This situation needs to change.