Artists and culture to imagine the way out of the crisis

Creative economy
Artists and culture to imagine the way out of the crisis
Urban painting by Portuguese artist Miguel Januario / © Image credits: KEA European Affairs


The way out of the sanitary crisis needs to be analysed from a cultural point of view. It requires the active involvement of the creative world to consider the “post-crisis” scenarii. We would like to believe that the end of the pandemic will give rise to a better world just like waving a magic wand, as though previous financial or health crisis somehow transformed or slowed down the world’s digressions. On the contrary, the planet’s destruction has continued unabated. Like in the past, we have found the new scapegoats: the unhygienic, careless and submissive Chinese, greedy and selfish nations, European and American arrogance. Not to mention other cultural prejudices and political manipulations that are pretexts for new violence damaging solidarity, the search for common solutions for a world that is depolluted, fraternal, just and respectful of identities.

The crisis (which has put half of the world’s population in lockdown) is a new opportunity to mobilise and change citizens’ behaviours. To beat consumerism, the waste of resources, pollution, inequality and radicalism, we need to change our traditional perspectives, value quality over quantity, sense over superficial, culture over technics, beauty and imagination over standards and preconceived ideas.

Building solidarity, relationships of trust and fraternity will be required to efficiently confront our planet’s problems. The safeguarding of the planet, its environment and humanity will either be achievedas a collective ambition or not at all. Conditions for global cooperation require the implementation of a convivial, generous and civilized future, respectful of diverse cultures with a view tobuild a renewed planetary identity that is generous and tolerant.

To generate this dynamic of hope we will need fighters of social cohesion, soldiers making a stand for beauty, empathy, international co-production and intercultural dialogue. The battalions of cultural workers have the competence to take a critical look at societal evolution. They understand the impact and the assets represented by cultural heritage. They can also inspire the emergence of a formidable movement capable of mobilising positive energies and innovation. They are essential drivers of renewed cooperation at world and European level, contributing to a solid narrative on which to base a strong diagnostic, the basis for future transformation.

The mobilisation and the trust of the population must be a priority in the process of questioning behaviour and challenging acquired positions. The creative sector’s expertise in diagnosing, communicating, challenging or in creating conviviality and participatory activities in the public space is perfectly suited to generating collective awareness and action. The cultural world is the best placed to support humanistic values, nature, freedom of expression and to take steps towards promoting an ethical, participatory and responsible society. It also has this ability to restore energies choked by the constraints of daily life, to overcome social fatalities and regenerate abandoned territories.

Future regulatory measures should give pre-eminence to qualitative production, mindful of the environment and people. They will promote a culturally diverse digital offer (media, leisure, education) supportive of cultural co-existences. It will police responsible social networks. Such regulation will encourage ethical behaviour, collective organisations driven by objectives of solidarity that are an alternative to monopolies and greed.

Europe is in a position to provide the impetus on the condition that it changes its method, that it takes the risk of innovation by-passing the established hierarchies. It will have to challenge its traditional analyses with the view to inspiring a collective implementation. Therefore it cannot not envisage the aftermath of the crisis without calling on the experience of the creative world. The latter is in a position to breath in a singular way, as a counterpoint to scientific and technical reasoning, an original dimension in the establishment of a diagnostic and the designing of solutions for a more caring world. Progress cannot be conceived without consideration of the cultural dimension.

Quick! Let’s mobilise artists and cultural workers to sublimate the sanitary crisis. There should not be forward planning committees without artistic intervention. The creative world is in the best position to imagine a better world.


Background note:

Many organisations have been working on collecting the regulatory measures that are being implemented to help the cultural professionals survive during this crisis period. In our article Worldwide policy responses to COVID-19 in support of the CCS, we take stock and examine the various policy answers that have been setup to support the cultural world so far. We also simultaneously created a collaborative map that daily tracks the policy responses on local, national, EU and worldwide levels.

These prompt answers are essential to safeguard our cultural players on a short-term perspective. Though culture and creative economy should also be considered as long-term allies to build a stronger and more efficient world. In our book The Future of Cultural Policies, we aim to address this topic. The volume approaches the role cultural policy plays in a fast-changing world and proposing concrete actions for culture to transform our world and to give it meaning.

This article is also available in French.


Philippe Kern
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