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Social Platform on Cultural Heritage and European Identities

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CULTURALBASE (Social Platform on Cultural Heritage and European Identities)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2017-04-30

CulturalBase is a social platform that aims to address the topic of heritage and European identities from an analytical and a public policy perspective. As a social platform, CulturalBase has explored the new challenges and potential of cultural heritage as an area of public policy that can foster a sense of belonging as well as provide new avenues for social innovation and socio-economic development.
The CulturalBase Platform has organised its work and consultations on these issues along three main axes:
1. Cultural memory: how to deal with a troubled past, how to elaborate uses of the past for understanding the present and planning the future.
2. Cultural inclusion: how culture is intertwined with feelings of belonging, what are relevant tensions, those ‘left behind’ or ‘outside’ dominant conceptions of identity and culture.
3. Cultural creativity: how can culture be a basis for citizen expression and participation as well as economic activity.
The work of the CulturalBase Platform has been organised into three main phases: reviewing relevant academic and policy debates; consulting with stakeholders; engaging in constructive dialogue with a view to identifying new topics and concerns that have hitherto been neglected in dominant policy approaches.
The process adopted by CulturalBase has been participative: in order to build an articulated and common vision in the cultural heritage field, initial topics for reflection were proposed by the consortium partners. After that, non-academic stakeholders took centre stage in the second phase through both online and on-site consultations at the Platform’s workshops and conferences. Thus, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers have collaborated in developing a new research and policy agenda on culture’s role in Europe today.
During the first phase of the project, the Consortium developed six Discussion Papers—both as long versions for academic consultations and short versions for policy and stakeholder consultation—on the three axes of memory, identity, and creativity.
These papers were debated at the first CulturalBase Workshop in Barcelona (30 September-1 October 2015). This Workshop established a solid and shared base for discussion and future work for all involved stakeholders. In particular, the workshop achieved two objectives in an atmosphere of mutual learning and participation: (1) to identify and select the main issues to be further studied and discussed within each axis; (2) to assess the more general concerns emerging from policy and academic documents versus the more specific experiences and challenges stakeholders face in their everyday work.

The project’s second phase started with the online consultation with a wider pool of stakeholders across Europe. On the basis of the main issues highlighted at the first workshop, the Consortium prepared short ‘Vision Documents’ identifying the main challenges for European culture and identity. These Vision Documents were put up for discussion through the CulturalBase Platform ( in early spring 2016 in the run-up to the Major Stakeholder Conference.

The major stakeholder conference had a key role in the achievement of this objective. The Conference took place in Barcelona on 11-12 May 2016 under the theme “Co-creating Agendas for Culture in Europe. Memory, Inclusion, Creativity”. It brought together researchers, practitioners and the CulturalBase Advisory Board members. The working sessions were organized in small groups (Working Teams) to provide for in-depth discussions among participants, led by a Team Leader from the Stakeholders’ network. These Working Sessions led to the selection of 12 Thematic Areas that became the basis for developing research agendas and policy recommendations.

Within the Thematic Areas—and after reviewing the existing research and policy programmes, both national and European—the Consortium produced a Draft Research and Policy Agendas document that was sent out for consultation with selected stakeholders. The second CulturalBase Policy Workshop was held in Florence on 1-2 December 2016 with mid-level stakeholders to discuss our draft research and policy agenda recommendations.

Further to these discussions, the CulturalBase Consortium organised a Policy Seminar in Brussels on 31 January 2017 entitled “Cultural heritage policies for a troubled Europe. Proposals from the CulturalBase Social Platform”. This seminar brought together EU policymakers and coordinators of relevant research projects to assess the immediate challenges for cultural policy in Europe. The debate focused on the main policy-oriented results of the Platform thus far and, most importantly, the recently adopted plan for celebrating 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

Following up on these consultations, the CulturalBase consortium has produced the final version of the Research Agenda, four Policy Briefs as well as a Roadmap outlining the main points and conclusions of this two-year project.
The project has represented an innovative and groundbreaking attempt to gather stakeholders from across Europe holding different perspectives and experiences around the crucial issues at hand related to culture. In addition to taking stock, discussing and networking, stakeholders and researchers were invited to “imagine” Europe together and formulate concrete ways to do it via research and policies.
The elaborated research agendas and policy guidelines are expected to contribute orienting European research policy and cultural policy actions on cultural heritage and European identities in the years to come. On the other hand, one objective of CulturalBase has been to crystallize a working network of scholars and stakeholders, being the seed for a future articulated community that represents the different fields of cultural heritage and means the continuation of the researchers-stakeholders collaboration. In this respect, the completion of CulturalBase could usher in the creation of an umbrella organization enabling systematic dialogue and knowledge co-creation between researchers, practitioners and policy makers in this area.
Cultural Base Major Stakeholder Conference
Cultural Base Barcelona Workshop
Cultural Base Barcelona Workshop
Policy Seminar
Cultural Base Consortium