Inter-European – Essential Findings

Inter-European dimension: deliberate or side effect?

Here you could read about various forms of the Inter-European dimension of artistic and cultural events with the bridging effect, all over Europe, showing that there are several solutions to choose from:

The Inter-European factor may be seen in transporting ideas –  moving of artworks, artists, scientists – and creating dialogue between different places and a new relationship between different populations – from one part of Europe to another – without moving the local populations, as it was the case of the ‘Corners of Europe’ platform initiatives. You may also bring other traditions/cultures to the place people live – as the international dance groups to Höfn – one of the most remote cities in Iceland.

You may find Inter-European dimension in the place you are in, by empowering local inhabitants of different origins to present parts of local various cultures (for ex food) to others – making the little village really cosmopolitan – as it was done in Höfn.

Inter-European dimension may be also deliberately planned while designing an initiative – as it was in the Superar project providing opportunities for exchanges, sharing a common knowledge and discovering new cultures. Also the Borderland Foundations’ founding idea was bridge building between the people of various religions, ethnicities and cultures.

Inter-European dimension may also appear organically – when a ‘small’ event organised locally becomes interesting for international public and grows – as it was the case for Slot Art Festival, the Lobster festival in Hornafjörður or St Magnus International Festival of Orkney.

Various aspects of bridging

For all the six initiatives presented, context of co-creation in a free, civic context appears, where different citizen groups work and create together:

In Hornafjörður – small community distant from nearest towns, there is a lively cultural life created and co-created by the local inhabitants.

Typically, over 400 members of the local community perform at the St Magnus International Festival each year. Over 250 people volunteer to help make the Festival happen, either behind the scenes or front of house.

Superar project builds on high accessibility and no entry-barriers. Participation is opened to every child without selection, and without the need of prior musical knowledge.

For the Corners of Europe platform, attachment to local populations was shown by addressing differences between visited communities every time the project moved from one location to another, by collecting different perspectives.

The people involved in organising Slot Art Festival underline that SLOT is more of a movement than an organization. It is being is being run, uninterruptedly, for 25 years by a growing group of friends who are passionate about it.  Organisers look for artists/performers who treat the public and their message seriously – and are looking for public who is not interested in a one-sided view of things or in just consuming, but who are interactive, willing to dialog, cooperate, and experience something together with others.

Last but not least – The Borderland Foundation and The Borderland Centre concentrate on discovering multicultural heritage of the region, re-discovering stories from the Lithuanian, Polish, and Russian Old-believers families, based on the stories of Sejny’s past inhabitants and those who live there now.

All those activities include the aspect of promoting social capital, mutual trust and recognition as being part of the same national-democratic community. Bridging social capital and social inclusion may not always be seen as a primary goal, still these effects appear, even unconsciously, making the people involved more tolerant, more opened to otherness, proud of and accepting for the multicultural Europe.

 ”Secrets” for success

How to make a cultural/artistic event a community bonding, with the bridging dimension, in Inter-European context? The case studies described give few tips how to do it. The ’success’ factors seem to be:

  • Strong involvement of volunteers both from the local community and outside;
  • Good cooperation with the local key stakeholders (municipality, businesses, local population etc.);
  • Basing on long-term, consequent work of many various people which makes these events well established and sustainable – allowing for longer-term bonding;
  • Offering a multi-art form, possibility to get involved both in artistic and organizational/ technical activities, and offer suitable for all age groups – so everyone could find something interesting for himself/herself;
  • Taking care of open and accepting atmosphere;
  • Recognising both economic, social and life assets of co-creative activities.

All those hints may bring an effect of turning the invisible bridges into visible ones – demonstrating new bonds and increased trust between former segregated groups.