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Showcasing or Cultural diplomacy?

Is there a special opportunity to develop thinking, awareness and recommendations around cultural diplomacy in Brussels? Possibly so, with so many embassies and foreign representations present and a vast local and regional cultural arena.

I attended yesterday Culture Meet Ups session that raised questions on showcasing and cultural diplomacy (pro’s and con’s, distinguishing the two, the Brussels case). This culture meet up was hosted at the Spanish embassy and by their cultural councellor Sergi Farré.

Some points I would like to highlight: Dirk De Wits (Flanders Arts Institute) commented on the importance of distinguishing showcasing and intercultural relations. The choice between competition and noble value.

Lapo Bettarini (La Consertation) said that it is really a question about a transition period to go beyond showcasing. Openness is needed to rethink strategies. For La Concertation methodology and people processes are in the centre;  the objective is not to have an end product to show off, even if a byproduct can be created during the time of the process. Time & co creation are key.

Zsofia Vitézy, director of the Brussels EUNIC cluster meant that it would be easier to do meaningful activities if other questions regarding results/evaluations were asked from central levels and ministries.

My comment would be that of course it is possible to combine showcasing and cultural diplomacy, it is possible to both offer excellent artistic value and engage in activities that link various different actors, create social value and respond to a need. Is it not in the interest of all to create a better place to be? A lot of work to be done in order to speed up the transition period!

Johanna Suo, director ifa laboratory