In the framework of our INTERREG DTP CultPlatForm_21 project, the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg had the pleasure to organize a conference for stakeholders from politics, media, education and culture. The aim was to present the CultPlatForm_21 project in the context of other Danube region related initiatives from and for Baden-Württemberg and to promote it among the relevant players. It was also intended to bring together the stakeholders on the occasion of this special project, but also to gain supporters and expertise. The Ministry – as partner of the CultPlatForm_21 project – organized the conference in cooperation with its external project partner European Danube Academy.
Prior to the event, 41 participants registered for the conference, but in fact, finally some 55 took part. The participants represented all relevant stakeholder target groups (regional politics, media, educational institutions, cultural institutions, cultural NGOs and even individual artists). Moreover, different generations were represented at the meeting including the younger ones (students of higher education institutions from Baden-Württemberg).
The conference/meeting was moderated by Prof. Peter Langer, European Danube Academy; he opened the event at 10.15 h am and welcomed all participants.
- Dr. med. Dagmar Engels, Director of the Volkshochschule Ulm and Ulm City Councilor as host. He pointed out the role of the Ulm adult education center as an important cultural institution in the region in connection with the long-standing Danube activities of the city of Ulm and thanked the organizers of the network meeting.
- Martin Bendel, First Mayor of Ulm and Managing Director of the Donaubüro Ulm/Neu-Ulm. He underlined the importance of the Danube cooperation as an essential part of urban policy of the city of Ulm, and in particular in cultural cooperation; Mr. Bendel referred to the International Danube Festival in Ulm/Neu-Ulm which has become one of the most important cultural platforms for the Danube region in the last 20 years.
- State Secretary Petra Olschowski (DE) from the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg emphasized in her contribution the special role that Baden-Württemberg has played in the Danube cultural area for many years, e.g. the first international Danube Conference on Culture in Ulm in 2013 that became an important source of inspiration for the cultural cooperation and networking of cultural workers throughout the Danube region and initiated a process that ultimately led to the Danube CultPlatform_21. In this process, the state of Baden-Württemberg continues to be a reliable partner.
- Lojze Wieser (AT), publisher and publicist from Klagenfurt (Austria), presented in his contribution the unique diversity and richness of languages, dialects and literature in the Danube countries which is directly related to the beauty of landscapes: Culture is the soul of Europe – above all in the Danube area. This is also an obligation to advocate today for European values such as tolerance, public spirit and democracy.
In addition, Lojze Wieser brought to our mind that languages in the Danube region very often belong to the hidden immaterial cultural heritage of this area.
- Dr. Márton Méhes (HU), European Danube Academy, Danube Cultural Cluster Vienna, held a presentation about the challenges and opportunities of the CultPlatForm_21 project. For his overview he used the standard transnational presentation provided by the LP (http://www.interreg-danube.eu/approved-projects/cultplatform-21).
- Jovan Nikolić (RS), Cologne/Belgrade, author, spoke in his contribution about the importance and the unknown facets of the culture of the Roma in the Danube region. It shapes this part of Europe – and yet the Roma are still discriminated which is not always the obvious way of discrimination. As a long-standing Roma rights activist, he advocated engaging in a cultural dialogue with the genuine origins and creative potential of Roma communities and fighting against prejudice and ignorance. The difficult history and the numerous undiscovered aspects of the Roma culture provide a lot of potential hidden heritage issues.
The roll-up exhibition “Duna Romani Luma (The World of Roma on the Danube)” was presented to the public for the first time during the meeting; Christof Hußmann, Managing Director of the European Danube Academy, gave an introduction to this project.
The subsequent networking lunch was used by the participants for many discussions and also some concrete arrangements. In the afternoon several experts presented best practices of cultural project making. This kind of expertise could be used as a contribution to the Policy Making Platform of the CultPlatForm_21 project:
Dr. Dezső Szabó (HU), Director of the Balassi Institute Stuttgart (Hungarian Cultural Institute), demonstrated how his institution is about to play a special role in the cultural diplomacy of the Danube region by focusing on Danube cultural issues and partners.
Sabine Geller (DE), publisher of the magazine “Danube Connects” (Ulm), presented the project “Danube Women City Guide”, which aims to show the significance of famous women in selected cities for their cultural identity. In cooperation with local partner NGOs she organized a series of guided tours in Ulm, Vienna, Budapest, Novi Sad etc.
Vesna Latinović (RS), “Galerija BelArt” Novi Sad, presented the project "Danube Dialogues", an annual international thematic festival and platform in Novi Sad (Serbia) for the promotion of contemporary art and cultural exchange along the Danube.
After the project presentations, a lively concluding discussion arose. Above all, the question was to what extent a project such as the “Cultplatform_21” can help artists and cultural workers concretely in the implementation of their own projects. This question was posed above all by attending young participants like some of the students of the Academy of Performing Arts Ulm. The difficulty of composing EU applications was critically noted, especially by Prof. Dr. Harald Traue from the University of Ulm. In his opinion only little money from EU-funded cultural projects can be seen as concrete, direct support of cultural activities and players (NGOs or artists). In the discussion, among others, Dr. Méhes and Mr. Matthias Holzner (representative of the Ministry of State Baden-Württemberg), and Dr. Volker Wedekind (Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg) clarified the scope and the potentials of the CultPlatform_21 project. As a strategic project, it aims at implementing structures and tools for more direct support of cooperation (among others). Especially Baden-Württemberg will contribute to the question of direct project support through the feasibility study for a so-called Small Project Fund (WP3). On the other hand, the CultPlatForm_21 project invites a lot of artists and experts from the field of culture to its project activities (transnational conferences, pilot actions etc.). Through the participation in the collaborative pilot project action (WP5) Baden-Württemberg will involve and support artists and students into the research and artistic concept development of potential hidden heritage hotspots in the Danube area.
Finally, Prof. Langer thanked the speakers and all those present for their well-founded contributions and the content-rich discussion. He underlined that the networking meeting was another important milestone for the CultPlatForm_21 project and in the cultural dialogue along the Danube. At 4.45 h pm he closed the event.