Good Governance for Cultural Policy

An African-European Research about Arts and Development

by Wolfgang Schneider (Volume editor) Daniel Gad (Volume editor)
©2014 Conference proceedings 296 Pages


Culture is seen as a source for the development of society. Task of cultural policy is therefore to create and support structures that promote mobilization of creativity of the people and thus ensure welfare, innovation and pluralism. Such relationships have been discussed at the level of UNESCO for the past forty years. Within Germany and Europe as well as on the African continent experiences and initiatives are increasing in order to put discourse on cultural policies into practice. There is a need to provide a forum for the exchange of concepts and to identify the state of the art of theory and practice within the concepts of good governance and cultural policy. It is essential to clarify the role and the needed context of the arts, of art education and of individual artists in the development of society.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Index
  • Towards Cultural Governance Preface
  • Cultural Governance – a Mission for Policy
  • Arts and Development. Parameters for a Future International Cultural Policy
  • The Art of Development Cooperation. Positions on the Promotion of Art and Culture in and by Developing Countries
  • Governance for Culture. Reflections on the UNESCO/EU Expert Facility Project
  • Towards a Better Governance of Culture for Development. Mobilising Tacit Knowledge in and through UNESCO
  • Cultural Diversity – a Perspective for Participation
  • Good Governance and Cultural Diversity. The Aspect of Cultural Mobility in International Cooperation
  • Network Governance. Governance Model for International Networks of Cultural Cooperation
  • In the Meaning of Artistic, Ethnologic and Economic Sense. Implementing the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity on Local Level
  • We Need to Establish Interfaces. Connecting Local Policies for Culture and Global Frameworks
  • Rules of Good Participatory Governance in the Allocation of Public Funds to Artists and Cultural Organisations. A Practical Guide
  • Empowering Processes. Framework for Cultural Policies in Africa
  • Cultural Policy – an Instrument for Transformation
  • Cultural Policy Needs Good Governance. A Task for Action of Civil Society
  • Drama in South Africa. Perspectives for Cultural Policy Strategies
  • Technical Assistance to Cultural Governance. About Cultural Industry Development in Niger
  • The Arts and Digital Media. The Question of the Public Sphere in
  • The Needs to Protect the Freedom of Expression and Creativity. Restructuring the Egypt’s Ministry of Culture
  • Implications on Governance. Theses on the Cultural Policy of Turkey
  • New Art Territories. A Small “h” Story
  • Sensitive and Cognitive Experimentation. Cultural Mediation of Art in the Mediterranean
  • Authors
  • Celebratory Words

Cultural Governance – a Mission for Policy

← 12 | 13 →

Arts and Development

Parameters for a Future International Cultural Policy

Wolfgang Schneider

“Even when many people experience national cultures in a unified manner, there is a danger that they will break lose from their fixed boundaries and be unable to guarantee any commitment to a cultural affiliation. We should not be trying to keep up with such a process. Cultural policies should be dedicated to thinking ahead, opening up new paths and accompanying such a process in a critical manner. I am a great believer in the idea of intercultural learning communities and would like to plead for an open cultural dialogue. However, this should not simply be implemented in foreign policies. It also belongs in development ministries where far too little attention has been given to the social and cultural components of work in so-called third world countries.” (Schneider 1998: 34)

15 years later after the founding of the Department of Cultural Policy at the University of Hildesheim it is time to come back to the subject. In a period of globalisation it is no longer possible to focus on separate national levels of Cultural Policy. We now need an international framework. This is why it is imperative to conduct research into international cultural policies.

It was the world summit conference on “The Power of Culture”, 1998 in Stockholm where the process started. The meeting of more than 100 Ministers of Culture and over 100 arts organisations in civil society was the central initiative behind the “Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression”, adopted by UNESCO in 2005. This document has become the most fundamental instrument of international cultural policy. Alongside human rights and the rights of children it has been the backdrop for arts and development all over the world. (http://www.unesco.org)

Around the same time the Department of Cultural Policy at the University of Hildesheim was developing its curriculum on a new approach to cultural policy in teaching and research somewhere between politics and cultural sciences. We wanted to focus on debates on cultural policies in communities, in states and in the Federal Republic of Germany – debates on comparative, European and Foreign cultural policy; cultural management, marketing the arts and audience development. At the centre of our work were the people who were actively involved in the subject: artists, spectators, mediators, producers, distributors and critics. In particular we wanted to study framework conditions and funding instruments: cultural policies. Our starting point was the cultural landscape and the social background of the arts. Examples for an introduction about a concept of arts and development. ← 15 | 16 →

The Experience of Interculturality

In the rotunda of the Fridericianum in Kassel there hangs a huge, five times seventeen metre tapestry woven by a Polish artist named Goshka Macuga. It shows Afghan artists in front of the remains of the Darul Aman Palace near Kabul. The palace was built in the 1920s as a symbol of the enlightenment. It is now in ruins: a symbol of lamentable failure. Goshka Macuga has also created a counterpart to this tapestry. It shows artists from Kassel standing in front of the orangery. This too once lay in ruins: after the Second World War when Arnold Bode and some likeminded companions set up the Documenta at a time when almost of all of Germany was reduced to rubble. The two tapestries do not simply complement one another like semi-circles. Each of which, when taken alone, shows us half of a historic truth. The related images remind us that Kassel was also once a German version of Kabul – shattered, devastated and razed to the ground. It took a long time after 1945 for reconstruction to begin in the town. In their own way, art and culture helped people to escape their wretched conditions. The Documenta released energies and gave people a vibrant sense of freedom. Now D13 has set up an outpost in Kabul. Art has established itself there to point the way ahead – as it once did in Kassel. (Cp. documenta und Museum Fridericianum Veranstaltungs-GmbH 2013)

Artistic cooperation with Africa is all the rage at the moment. That said, this is more than simply a temporary fad. In the end it is also a way of meeting other cultures on an equal footing because it is far removed from development aid. When Europeans set off for Africa, they often quote Joseph Conrad to speak about a journey into the heart of darkness. But what happens when a movie director refuses to go along with such a distorted view? When he tries to be true to the region itself, when he shows a German tourist as nothing other than a foreigner in another country. Even when the somewhat grandiloquent title “The River was once a Person” is a little misleading, the filmmaker Jan Zabeil uses his very first film to demythologise the black continent. Africa does not need our point of view, our misapprehensions, to be able to exist in its own right. It can live out its own legends, as Jan Zabeil shows in his vivid images. The message might be an artistic one but it challenges me to think about the political implications. (Cp. Filmgalerie 451 2014)

The theatre director Monika Gintersdorfer and the artist Knut Klassen are interested in real people and the real moment in time, in theatre: but above all in dispensing with representation. In other words they are interested in working on cultural origins, personal experiences and the hardships of everyday life in Africa. “La Société du Mal” (“The Society of Evil”) is an aggressive theatre séance somewhere between foul and fair: Shoes are torn from the feet of the audience ← 16 | 17 → and thrown against the wall and one victim is bewitched with all the arts of Black Magic. Notwithstanding all our Western enlightenment, this really gets under the skin. We begin to get a palpable idea of the reasons why superstition and fetishism are still so powerful in Africa today. By contrast a show called “Très très fort” (“Very Very Strong”) deals with the banal side of superstition in political life. It recounts the story of the Ivory Coast since its independence, and reveals it as a parade of pompous character masks, denouncing the stylisation and attitudes of the rulers whilst always being open to pointed parallel actions. (cp. Gintersdorfer/Klaßen 2014)

Within this context, what are the basic concerns of an artistic creation, a movie and a performance? An exchange with other countries? Learning about other cultures? Or is there perhaps a third and increasingly important motive, to some extent a contemporary synthesis, creating a living experience of interculturality!

“What we can become together when we work together”

At the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue in 2008 it was mainly civil society actors who propagated the power of art and culture in a period of globalisation and internationalisation. They saw migration as an opportunity for transformation and pleaded for cultural policies related to a multi-ethnic society. One of the final statements emerging from the congress “Diversity Unites” in Dortmund, was the following:

“Against this background, local authority cultural work faces the challenge of not only perceiving the rich diversity of cultural forms of expression, but also developing active strategies for cultural participation. It is vital for democratic and free societies to succeed in the forward-looking process of cultural and social integration. Intercultural competence is also a factor in economic prosperity. The programmatic claim of giving everyone the chance of enjoying and creating art and culture must also be solved with regard to immigrants. This requires an open attitude on the part of existing local authority facilities, programmes and services in order to meet the cultural needs and interests of migrants, and also to support and promote their forms of artistic expression.” (Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft e. V. 2008)

The Platform for Intercultural Europe goes a decisive step further. In the “Rainbow Paper” from the “European Forum for the Arts and Heritage” (now “Culture Action Europe”) it recommends four levels of change in Europe:

  • “attitudinal – leading to a greater appreciation of diversity and the complexity of identities,
  • social – working towards democratic, inclusion and greater equity, ← 17 | 18 →
  • structural – building capacities for change within organisations and constituencies in view of diversity, and
  • policy changes – working for change at all levels, with the EU as the key communication point, enhancing standards and frameworks to tackle exclusion, inequalities and breaches of human rights related to cultural diversity.” (Platform for Intercultural Europe 2011)

It proposed making Intercultural Dialogue a permanent political project by means of education in the arts, competence building and policies for sustainability. The final perspective was “what we can become together when we work together”. “We want to seed intercultural innovation and facilitate intercultural action by public policies. We must make interculturalism, i. e. the principle of evolving cultures through intercultural engagement, our new human norm.” (Ibid.)

It is now essential to put the new human norm, from multiculturalism to interculturalism – and last not least transculturalism on the cultural policy agenda. History has taught us that we must act in the present in order to manage the future. The German scholar Claus Leggewie has written that there are historical “examples of civilisations which were far more successful than Western cultures. They declined and fell because they held fast to the strategies which had led to their successful rise despite the fact that the surrounding conditions had changed” (Leggewie 2009: 11). It is all the more incomprehensible that culture is not amongst the international development goals and that art and culture still do not play the key role due to them in a democracy. This is particularly true of the arts. The relationship between democracy and the arts has always been asymmetrical. Artists are able to accommodate changes and innovations more quickly than democratic institutions. As a rule artists have always been ahead of their time with regard to political demands. “But”, as the political scholar Klaus von Beyme has written, “a recipe for an intrinsically balanced global art is nowhere to be seen” (Beyme 2012: 79).

“In our artistic criticism of the third world we so often go no further than criticising ourselves for our Eurocentrism, ending with an appeal to overcome the ‘estrangement of the non-West’ and create a new identity of forms and conditions of participation in a globalised cultural exchange. The order of the day seems not to be adherence to our own traditions. We should rather work on them offensively.” (Ibid.: 79)

Cultural Participation as a Tool

In order to do justice to the importance of art and culture for the individual and society we need cultural policies which give a particular boost to cultural par ← 18 | 19 → ticipation. The problem is that not everyone is able and willing to draw reassurance from artistic experiences. The sphere of culture is not a place where everyone feels at home. Nor does it give them an opportunity to think about the meaning of life, allow them to search for individual enrichment or provide them with pure pleasure. In the first chapter of its final report entitled “The significance of art and culture for the individual and the state” a committee set up by the German government in 2007 to enquire into “Culture in Germany” stated that it was convinced that

“If […] the arts are to have some significance for people, even indirectly, this will be as a result of the multiplicity of propagation by the media and other means of public information. In this way the arts have their significance as a part of culture, even though this might be indirect. For when we talk about individual freedom and dignity, demand them, portray them in all their contradictions and display them in symbolic forms to enable other people to think about them more deeply and above all experience them directly, we do so mainly in the arts. The arts enable people to take up the themes of individuality and social interconnections. In this way the arts have an effect on society far beyond the sphere of artistic communication because they help to give people a meaning in life and determine human intents and purposes. This is why we need a cultural policy which sees itself as a social policy and thus enables, defends and plays its part in shaping art and culture.” (Deutscher Bundestag 2007: 61)

The presentation of things that have previously been unseen or which we have never dared to think of is particularly helpful in enabling us to come closer to the world and look for answers to things which weigh us down and move our emotions. The cultural scholar Dirk Hohnsträter has defined the number of different possible scenarios of the future which art can portray as “contingency consciousness” (Hohnsträter 2004: 76). By this he means the search for a way to shape our reality which contains an intrinsic idea of the future. Art should be about questioning pre-existing reality and sparking off new impulses. Other scholars view art as having been “the most sensitive seismograph of the future human crises for centuries” (Weizsäcker 1988: 65). Art can open up themes and lead us to new ways of seeing and perhaps also to alternative ways of dealing with the world.

Artistic interventions can encroach on public spaces and influence social and political decision-making. Art can lead to an exchange of opinions, to reflection. It can even change the real world about us and our everyday behaviour. In ideal cases artistic works can revive public spaces, and features which have previously been regarded as normal can be put in a different light by surprisingly stimulating associations, irritations or even provocations that will give us new ideas on how to make the future more habitable. Furthermore the rich variety of ← 19 | 20 → facets inherent in art offers us sufficient opportunities to evaluate individual questions and needs. Critical contemporary art in particular throws up fundamental questions, and its experimental approaches can pave the way to securing the future. Since avant-garde art in particular has long been associated with breaking taboos, reactions to such deliberate provocations today can only be positive in that they “prise open features that have previously been concealed” (Hohnsträter 2004: 76). In this case art can make us more sensitive to deeper aspects of reality and sharpen our judgement on the truly important things in life, as well as identifying and pinpointing correlations.

Rethinking for Cultural Sustainability

Solutions to our current problems cannot always be conceived along linear lines. We also need the courage to experiment and, above all, open up holistic thinking in cycles, an approach which takes account of our totality. The scholar Sascha Kagan makes a strong plea for such an attitude in his book “Art and Sustainability”:

“The iterative, i.e. not deciding/thinking and then implementing in a linear sequence, but learning and thinking-while-doing in circular reflexive sequences and in parallel, overlapping telescoping processes, is also relevant at the level of policy itself.“ (Kagan 2011: 472)

One of the jobs of cultural policy would be to create such a freedom to experiment.

Current debates show that people are only able to tackle problems of sustainability when there is a change of cultural attitudes, because sustainability demands a massive rethinking of all areas of our lives, our established ways of thinking and behaving. Indeed it goes to the root of all our basic values.

The gap between the level of ideas, where considerable progress has been made, and political and practical levels has not significantly narrowed. One major reason for this is that the term “sustainability” has in many ways degenerated into an empty cliché that implies no obligations. How has this come about? Statements that reduce sustainability to a largely technological concept seem to be easily disseminated. But when it comes to providing individuals with appropriate participatory options that will enable them to let sustainability play a material role in their lives, there seems to have been very little progress at all in the last eight years. The scope for individual action is more limited than ever. Sustainable development, however, requires open-minded strategies based on civic education. Only then will it be possible to have a debate on sustainability centred on everyday awareness and everyday experiences rather than on indicators ← 20 | 21 → and figures. If this could be achieved, it would no longer be necessary to keep emphasising that the challenges sustainability presents are not primarily a question of environmental concepts or ecological attitudes. Successful education for sustainable development has to do more than simply call our attention to global conditions. It has to communicate the vision of a world in which greater fairness prevails, a world in which individuals can have an active influence on their environment. In doing so cultural policy ideas are increasingly reliant on cultural education. In this respect the involvement of “educationally disadvantaged” persons continues to be a top priority.

In recent years, a great deal of thought has been devoted to sustainability as a target, a subject and a quality criterion of arts education. There is a good reason for this. It is not only a matter of reproducing and constructively developing democratic societies, but of ensuring the survival of life on our planet. A number of basic competences have been put forward as being of fundamental importance. These include tolerance of ambiguity, empathy, the ability to estimate the risks and comprehend the consequences of action, self-reflection and commitment to civic involvement. When acquired, they can promote the capacity for sustainable action. Artistic education develops these competences. Its central aim is to encourage people to reflect and communicate, and to empower them to engage in positive action. This is an essential precondition for developing the potentials of every individual and, by implication, for promoting responsible and sustainable action.

In their thesis entitled “The Basic Contradiction in German Sustainability Strategies” Monika Griefahn and Edda Rydzy (2013) deal equally with environmental and cultural policies. They attempt to re-order the relationships between people and nature, and demand a U-turn in all areas of society in order to ensure a culture of production which can be valid in the future. Their starting point is Michael Braungart and William McDonough’s concept of “Cradle to Cradle“, published in 2002, with the strategic aim of ecological efficacy. It closes with an appeal to cultural politicians to conceive new key ideas, methods and paths in order to give a boost to our knowledge and to enable a holistic approach to thinking and acting.

Good Governance for Cultural Policy

Despite the unmistakeable fact that our natural resources are vanishing, that goods are being distributed in an increasingly diverse manner, and that there is a progressive imbalance in equal opportunities, it is very difficult to understand the current half-hearted attempts – if not to say the failure – of all international ← 21 | 22 → agreements to reshape and rescue the future of the planet. The scientific statistics are only too clear. Nonetheless there has been no rigorous sustainable action by the majority of individuals and certainly not by the worlds of business and politics. It only remains to ask how we can change this state of affairs and achieve a radical transformation in ecological awareness. Since this change covers all areas of life it is fundamentally a cultural matter. We are faced with an unprecedented challenge. The question is whether culture is truly and comprehensively included in debates on sustainability? Where can we find approaches and strategies to integrate cultural and political concepts which are both operational and effective on a day-to-day basis? In this respect it seems relevant to check the possibility of improving the effectiveness of current necessary measures and their implementation. The key concept of sustainability can only prove successful if it is built on a global, interdependent foundation, based on partnership. It must therefore also include cultural policies, which in turn requires a new governance: a good governance for cultural policy.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (August)
UNESCO Good Governance Cultural Management Arts Education Culture for Development, Cultural Policy
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 296 pp., 4 coloured fig., 3 tables, 3 graphs

Biographical notes

Wolfgang Schneider (Volume editor) Daniel Gad (Volume editor)

Wolfgang Schneider is Founding director of the Department of Cultural Policy at the University of Hildesheim. Furthermore, he is Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development. Daniel Gad is Academic associate at the Department of Cultural Policy and Manager of the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development at University of Hildesheim.


Title: Good Governance for Cultural Policy
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300 pages