Conclusions of the subjects 2004

Theme 2004: the social and cultural challenge of Europe

ART AD 2004 SUBJECT MULTICULTURALITY blessing or nightmare
no road to let it go
conclusions and suggestions


The role of the workers in the arts in a Europe on the way to integration. A social dialogue with cultural and political implications. Compiled from the 14th Symposium (aug.21-26, 2004) at the SBI-Conference Centre in Doorn, Holland during the 24th International Christian Artists Seminar organised by the CNV-KUNSTENBOND with the support of EZA and the Commission of the European Communities.


The period of negative tolerance (the attitude of just let us all alone and do not bother me) has ended. Political and religious (ethnic) groups in the EU are misusing the growing cultural tensions to create a climate of fear, polarisation. So that finally they can put their demands on society . This will lead to the disintegration of society with ethnic and religious violence across the EU. It is time to take social-cultural politics serious. Only by acting, mobilising the populations and groups for positive action, getting the help of trade-unions, cultural organizations, religious organizations can civilization survive. If no actions are taken, the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ (S.P.Huntingdon) may become a selffullfilling prophecy or at least there will be a loss of security, pluriformity, tolerance, job opportunities.
An important social dialogue took place at CA-2004. Appr.300 participants from all over Europe met to listen to lectures, to discuss these various opinions to arrive at conclusions and suggestions to help the cultural sector and mutual understanding.

AT THE 24th International Christian artists Seminar, aug.21-26, 2004 at the SBI, Doorn, the Netherlands.

    From a global perspective MULTICULTURALITY will explain that the global space has been devided up in different cultures who have their rights towards their area and have made significant contributions to the development of the people living in such areas. From a global point of view all cultures are of equal importantance, even if their values differ (which may be best seen in the religion , customs and the arts of such culture). Respecting the peoples and their cultures leads automaticly to refuse cultural dominance and leads to a non-violance policy. Where there are extreme differences the manifesto of human rights, signed by all the nations of the U.N. should be the guiding policy in any form of political actions.
    People groups, cultures should embrace a personal policy of mutual respect and an attitude of interest and learning towards each other.
    In the sphere of each culture multiculturality forms a contradiction.
    There is in that sphere a leading (or dominant) culture. People moving into that cultural domain have to respect the set of rules, attitudes, policies, laws & justice of such sphere; otherwise it leads to great tensions and finally cultural wars.
    Within such existing leading culture, based on accepting the rules and regulations of such culture, newcomers can still maintain their own culture, as long as there is no conflict. Those expressions of persons or small groups can be an enrichment to the leading culture of such area.
    Having said that, this will not be an excuse to stay out of a move towards integration, when people decide to go and live within another culture. To secure the future of a society integration is a necessity, otherwise it will lead automaticaly to ghetto’s, segregation, great tensions between people groups (in area’s or cities) and finally intolerance and violance.
    Integration should be supported by governemental political measures, fair treatment, and financially supported measures and regulations towards employment.
  4. Education is essentional to bridge the differences.
    1. For newcomers: Education is needed to help integration as the leading values, norms, laws and regulations, and the existing culture needs to be explained. What to expect and how to behave. Within the EU: to explain and support the western values, democratic rights and the obligations for each individual.
    2. For the indigenous population: education is needed to learn about the newcomers, to help develop an attitude of tolerance and respect. But where customs, attitudes of newcomers clash with the Human Rights c.q. European Constitution e.g. national laws, those expressions of culture/faith can not be permitted (the request by some fundamentalistic Islamic-groups to allow Sharia-law for their own Islamic group within an EU-nation should never be allowed; if allowed the total segregation of society will be created and the desintegration into complete ghetto’s.
  5. Work-opportunities
    A normal income breaks the pattern of being a second class citizen and will helkp to provide a decent life. Newcomers sometimes have great difficulty finding work. One of the major obstacles is language. Strong measures are needed to make sure newcomers learn the language of that nation. Measures to combine work with learning (skills and language) should be devised.
  6. Mentality/Culture-shifts are needed
    A newcomer should become part of a process, that makes clear that in a new nation, they live in a new reality. You cannot just continue the life (somewhere in the EU) you were used to have in Anatolia (as an example) and keep watching Turkish TV, reading only Turkish magazines, etc. Part of the integration-process should be a political measure, people cannot have double passports. People have to decide on their (new) nationality and in the case of a new nationality the new passport should be celebrated with a special event. Newcomers who settle need to promise to be loyal to the laws, regulations of the new nation. They need to make a culture-shift related to nationality: it is the moment to become a Dutch, British, Spanish, German, etc citizen…
  7. Local community/neigbourhoods
    To maintain local culture and to maintain an attitude of acceptance it is strongly advised that local councils create activities to include newcomers. Festivals, celebrations as result of newcomers convictions, inviting newcomers to existing celebrations, youth-clubs, etc. And the local authorities should stimulate contacts on streetlevel (childactivities, womens meetings, etc).
    Positive actions are a great help to overcome suspicion and cynicism. There are recorded too many cases where the media allowed very naive and superficial views to be printed or aired. So public awareness should be mobilised against those simple (often racistic) views. And we have to fight against a culture of insulting that has crept into the media. Such supercicial views should be questioned immediately: ‘can you prove it?’ So if the facts are not there, the insulting voices should be silenced. Here we need a strategy for civilization against such rudeness. Arts and artists can be of great help to communicate the values of our culture.
    Christianity is the religion of Europe and even for the persons who are not church members anymore, their values are Christian. Having said this, it does not exclude the churches to be open and respectful towards people of other religions. Especially when believers want to follow THE truth, such believers should be very respectful towards others with different opinions. If this attitude is not present such persons or groups can easily move into a sectarian/ fundamentalistic direction. Christian leaders (including pastors, priests) should be very aware of these dangers (the same deals with imans and mosques).
    Fundamentalism seems to become more and more the danger for peace, development and prosperity. In each group of people there is the danger that somebody becomes fundamentalistic and will misuse that group for his own purposes. Such evil practice happens in sportclubs, political parties, social groups, cultural groups and in religious groups (Christian, Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, etc). Such fundamentalism fills first the void of personal identity, and next; persons will be manipulated, finally leaving them with great trauma’s or misusing such persons for terrorists type of behaviour.... The warnings and lessons from such situations are: STAND UP AGAINST ANY ATTEMPT IN YOUR OWN GROUP BY FUNDAMENTALIST TO TAKE OVER LEADERSHIP. Do not leave such a group, but stop that evil, and by doing so protecting the other ‘members’ of such group.
    Authorities should take very strict decisions/measures against any form of violence/terrorism.
    Artists can communicate in so many more ways. Artists should be engaged in crossing cultural barriers, helping to overcome distrust, lack of respect, empowering tolerance. It is advised to have local or national meetings with artists from that nation and artists from newcomers cultures. It is essentional to have debate on skills, content, purpose/identity, cultural contributions, view on society as seen by the various backgrounds… Common projects should be stimulated and financed by the authorities. Artists-organizations can play important roles in these projects.


  • Prof.Calvin Seerveld
    (Lecturer in Philosophical Aesthetics,Toronto; author of several books; speaker at universities, conferences around the world; consultant) Canada
  • Garth Hewitt
    (Director of an NGO for peace and justice; author; composer; performer) UK
  • Joachim Herudek
    (Expert in the field of adult-training, social dialogue in Europe) Germany
  • Aart Jan de Geus
    (Minister of Social Affairs) The Netherlands
  • Rev.John Peck
    (Philosopher; pastor; co-founder of the Greenbelt-Festivals; author of books), UK
  • Leen La Rivière
    (Chairman of the CNV-trade-union for artists; Chairman Music Council of the Netherlands; author; speaker; consultant for cultural politics) The Netherlands