Cultural Base

Completed Project_Cultural Base © Frans de Wit/FlickrCultural Base was a Social Platform funded by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme for the period May 2015-April 2017. Cultural Base aimed to address the issue of heritage and European identities from both an analytical and a public policy perspective.

As a social platform, Cultural Base has sought to explore the new challenges and potential of culture as an area of public policy that can foster a sense of belonging and provide new avenues for social innovation and socio-economic development. The Cultural Base Platform has organised reflections 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; and, (3) Cultural creativity – how can culture be a basis for citizen expression, participation, and economic activity.

The work of the Cultural Base Platform has been organised into three phases: (1) a review of relevant academic and policy debates; (2) a consultation with stakeholders; (3) a constructive dialogue with a view of identifying new topics and concerns that have hitherto been neglected in dominant policy approaches.

Cultural Base has adopted a participative process; while initial topics for reflection were proposed by the consortium partners, 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.



The Cultural Base Consortium consisted of 7 partners:


Main Findings

The Cultural Base project has highlighted a positive trend in research, policy, and practice dealing with issues of memory, identity, and creativity: there is an increasing concern about inclusiveness and self-reflexivity. Dominant cultural narratives are questioned at the local, national, and European levels. The economistic paradigm on cultural creativity and cultural expression is also questioned.

There is increasing awareness that dark and contested moments exist in both the shared European past and national histories, and that citizens and civil-society actors and institutions must be informed and empowered to participate in relevant debates and the (re)construction or (trans)formation of their cultural heritage. Policy documents published by the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and UNESCO attest to this positive trend towards an opening up and democratisation of cultural heritage policies. Culture is also increasingly seen as a transversal factor that can have a meaningful impact on socioeconomic development, employment, and growth both directly through the cultural and creative industries but also indirectly by creating more inclusive and more cohesive societies.


Challenges and Key Messages for the Future

  • Populist politicians often disparage critical engagement with the dark sides of our past — whether at the local, national or European level — as unpatriotic and blind to the ‘true’ historical facts. The media do not help foster such critical engagement either. Citizens need to be empowered through innovative on-site or online consultations to participate, particularly when the questions are local or national in nature and they feel directly affected (e.g. with regards to a local monument or the history of a specific area).
  • Youth, minorities, and women — and their organisations — often are bypassed by established networks of cooperation and exchange. There should be more cross-fertilisation between networks that specifically address migrants or minorities and networks that address cultural heritage and creativity more generally.
  • Digital technologies are not yet utilised to their full potential in bridging this divide and empowering weaker or newer or more remote organisations to participate in the core dialogue and activities.
  • The purely economistic paradigm of cultural expression and creativity must be overcome in order to see the full spectrum of possibilities offered by culture and heritage for creating new activities and jobs, as well as for making people feel happier, included, and creative.
  • Cultural rights and human rights policies and debates need to be further cross-fertilised. There is an urgent need to combat cultural hierarchies both within and outside Europe.
  • We need to earmark funds and programmes for innovative high-risk, high-gain projects We need initiatives that engage with issues that are important for the artists and their public, yet also economically viable and resilient.


Outputs of the project

  • Six Discussion Papers

They were developed by the Consortium in the summer 2015, both in long version for academic consultations and in short version for policy and stakeholder consultation — on the three axes of memory, identity, and creativity.

Axis 1 - Cultural heritage

-       Can Heritage be Transnationalised? The Implications of Transnationalism for Memory and Heritage in Europe and Beyond, Jasper Chalcraft and Gerard Delanty, University of Sussex, UK

-       Is the invention of memories necessary to identities?, Dominique Poulot, Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Axis 2 - Cultural inclusion

-       Can New Cultural Institutions and Policies Contribute to the Equalization of Conditions in Europe? Cultural legitimacy, heritage and identity politics, Jean-Louis Fabiani (Central European University, Budapest) and Nasser Suleiman Gabryel (Cherpa, Institut d’études politiques, Aix-en-Provence

-       European Identity: What kind of diversity into what form of unity?, Anna Triandafyllidou and Ruby Gropas, European University Institute

Axis 3 - Cultural creativity

-       Some Reflexions on “Creative Europe”, Philip Schlesinger, Centre for Cultural Policy Research/CREATe, University of Glasgow

-       How does cultural diversity contribute to cultural creativity in Europe?, Arturo Rodríguez Morató, Matías I. Zarlenga and Martín Zamorano, CECUPS, Universitat de Barcelona


  • Twelve ‘Vision Documents’

These documents were prepared on the basis of the main issues highlighted at the first workshop. They aimed at identifying the main challenges for European culture and identity in terms of heritage and memory; concerning a feeling of belonging and inclusion/exclusion; and, with regards to cultural production and expression of creativity. These Vision Documents were put up for discussion through the Cultural Base Platform in early spring 2016 in the run-up to the Major Stakeholder Conference.

Axis 1 - Cultural heritage

-       Vision Document. Entangled Memories & the European Cultural Heritage, Gerard Delanty

-       Vision Document. Negotiating Heritage Rights, Jasper Chalcraft

-       Vision Document. Uses of Heritage, Dominique Poulot

-       Vision Document. Valuing Heritage as Learning and Entertaining Resources, Isidora Stanković

Axis 2 - Cultural inclusion

-       Vision Document. Instrumentalizing European Cultural Heritage, Hara Kouki

-       Vision Document. The European Migration Cultural Heritage, Jean-Louis Fabiani

-       Vision Document. Participation of citizens in debates on European Identity, Jean-Louis Fabiani

-       Vision Document. The Role of Religion and Secularism in Defining European Identity. Anna Triandafyllidou

Axis 3 - Cultural creativity

-       Vision Document. The Digital Single Market Philip Schlesinger (collaboration of A, Uzelac & C. Waelde)

-       Vision Document. Cultural Creativity and Value. Philip Schlesinger

-       Vision Document. New Frameworks of Cultural Creativity, Matías I. Zarlenga

-       Vision Document. Cultural hybridization in Europe. Arturo Rodríguez Morató 

  • The Research and Policy Agenda

A final version of this document was prepared by the Cultural Base consortium following up on these consultations. A Roadmap outlining the main points and conclusions of this two-year project. 

Page last updated on 05 May 2020

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