The decline of trust the last decade is one of the central challenges of our societies. Several surveys by UN, OECD, EU and others indicate that the declining trust refers not only to the usual suspects as governments, companies and mainstream media, but also to NGOs and even more concerning to an increased distrust of other people.
Trust is the fundamental element of social capital in a country, and the World Development Report (2013) shows that countries, where people are more likely to trust others, are also countries where there is less violence and more political stability, accountability and stronger economic growth. Furthermore, trustful social relations are essential for happiness. The World Happiness Report (2012) indicates trust as one of the major reasons that some countries are happier than others.
Trust among fellow citizens is also essential for the subjective well-being or Quality of Life. Accordingly, the Eurostat Report: Quality of life in Europe – facts and views (2016) can conclude – contrary to one of the overarching aims of all EU learning and culture programmes – that the Quality of Life for the EU citizens is declining.
Without trust, institutions don’t work, societies falter and people lose faith in each other. Here, we think, the European sector of participatory culture (amateur arts, voluntary culture and heritage) can make a difference. This sector is, next to amateur sport, the largest civil society sector in the EU member states, and it has in the last decade been the civil society area with the highest rate of expansion in members and new associations. A vast number of voluntary and paid staff and artists are employed in a myriad of associations to provide arts and culture based activities for about 38 pct of the peoples in the member states (Eurobarometer 399, November 2013).
However, the voluntary arts and culture associations could strengthen their societal engagement. Especially in these times, the learning providers in this sector should prioritise new initiatives that can help to counter the current decline of the cohesiveness and mutual trust in our communities.
AIM AND INNOVATIVE ELEMENTS
The aim is to bridge social capital and to promote inclusion, cohesion and trust by strengthening the participatory and co-creative culture activities in the European sector of amateur arts, voluntary culture and heritage.
Our development work will focus on bridging social capital in the following five contexts of culture activities and lifelong learning: inter-social, inter-generational, inter-regional, inter-cultural, and inter-European. Thereby, we intend to strengthen new participatory culture and co-creation activities, where the learning context are changed not only from individual creativity to collective creativity, but to bridge people normally outside of each other’s direct social networks – not just bonding social capital between similar subgroups of individuals, but bridging former segregated social groups.
KEY ACTIVITIES AND OUTPUTS
The 2-year project has four main phases:
- FOUNDING – launch the Communication Portal, English ed. and complete a State of the Arts Survey, seven language ed.;
- DEVELOP – compile good practice and innovative approaches and publish five Thematic Compendia, seven language ed.;
- TEST – design and test curricula by seven national pilot courses and and provide Curriculum Report, seven language ed., and design sustainable Erasmus+ training course packages;
- VALORISE – complete seven national conferences including representative foreign guests, deliver final dissemination and publish Project Summary report, English ed.
IMPACT AND BENEFITS
The goals are on short term to educate the educators, to teach and engage the key staff in the huge European lifelong learning sector of participatory arts and culture to initiate new co-creative culture activities with high potential of bridging social capital. On long term, we expect it can help to increase the mutual trust and thereby improve the quality of life for our EU citizens.
We expect the project’s information provision, awareness raising as well as new possibilities for further education regarding participatory culture and co-creation will inspire the learning providers in amateur arts, voluntary culture and heritage to be more societal engaged to counter the current decline of cultural cohesion and mutual trust in our communities and to promote empowerment, togetherness, recognition, openness and inclusive participation among former segregated social groups.
The partnership circle includes 8 partners from 7 countries in Northern, Eastern and Western Europe, that represent four strong national umbrellas as well as four knowledge and research centres, representing a transnational European sum of varied expertises and experiences in the field, which we cannot find in just one of the participating countries.