Culture and Heritage: The Key to Countering Inequality, Populism, and the Challenges of the 21st Century

Europe’s Moment of Reckoning: Culture and Heritage as the Key to a Brighter Future

Amidst the growing challenges facing Europe, from war and division to populism and climate change, there is an urgent need to elevate the role of culture and heritage on the political agenda and in public opinion. Culture and heritage are not mere relics of the past but living, breathing forces that shape our societies and hold the key to countering the challenges of the 21st century.

The Power of Culture: Resilience, Dialogue, and Progress

In times of crisis, culture has proven to be a powerful force of resilience. From singing on balconies during the COVID-19 pandemic to engaging with books, films, and digital forms of art, culture has helped maintain our sanity and foster a sense of community and belonging. Culture challenges the status quo, provides a space for diverse voices to be heard, and counters narratives that fuel division and extremism. It can demystify digital technology and serve as an antidote against the misuse of artificial intelligence.

Investing in Culture: A Cultural Deal for Europe

The European Union has long lagged behind in its understanding of culture and its pivotal role in nourishing a sense of purpose and togetherness. Despite its significant contribution to the EU’s GDP, only a meager 0.2% of the EU budget is invested in culture. This must change. A Cultural Deal for Europe is needed to support our artists, heritage professionals, and creators, ensuring fair working conditions and protecting their rights in the digital age. It should also foster a wide cultural ecosystem that drives innovation, enhances well-being, and strengthens our democratic fabric.

Putting Culture at the Heart of Europe’s Agenda

This Cultural Deal requires strong leadership and unwavering commitment. The President of the European Commission must champion culture, recognizing its vital role in supporting social cohesion, defense policies, the green transition, and external relations. The Commission President should be supported by a dedicated member of the European Commission whose portfolio visibly covers culture.

A Call to Action for Europe’s Future

As Europe faces its greatest challenges since the end of World War II, it is time for a bold and visionary cultural agenda. Culture and heritage are not luxuries but essential tools for building a more just, equitable, and sustainable future for Europe. Let us seize this moment to harness the power of culture and craft a new narrative for Europe, one that is rooted in human dignity, solidarity, and a shared sense of purpose. The future of Europe depends on it.

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