Cultural Diversity during Forum Barcelona 2004

March 2004 -

For exactly 141 days, Barcelona will form the backdrop for a giant event in which cultural diversity, sustainable development and prerequisites for peace will have central focus. The Forum Barcelona 2004, which commences on 9 May and continues through 26 September, offers entertainment with a serious message.

The colourful Forum 2004 bus, an auditorium on wheels, has been touring Barcelona and the Catalonia region since the end of last year. The bus is intended to draw the attention of the general public to the large-scale event, for which preparations started in 1997. Construction workers did their best to complete the brand new building complex near the sea in which part of Forum Barcelona 2004 will be held. To get things warmed up, pre-forum debates were held in February and March. But the real work starts on 9 May. Thousands of artists, scientists, politicians and activists will flock to the Spanish port city to 'reflect' for nearly five months on 'the major cultural and social conflicts that humanity faces at the beginning of the 21 st century'.

Forum Barcelona 2004 is being organised by the municipality of Barcelona, the Catalonian and Spanish authorities and UNESCO. Three themes run through the event: cultural diversity, sustainable development, and prerequisites for peace. 'Understanding other cultures is an essential prerequisite for any constructive dialogue between peoples,' the web site states. And : 'Creating a culture of peace must be based on respect for other cultures, on social and political justice and the protection of human rights, and on living in a manner that is in harmony with the environment.'

The programme is overwhelming. To keep it transparent, the organisation decided to split Forum Barcelona 2004 into three parts. First the Forum will be held in the new building complex. Exhibitions, a circus, theatrical and dance performances and concerts will be held there. Visitors can participate in traditional sports, games and workshops. Then there will be the Forum in the city: similar activities and events, but then in the museums, streets, parks and other public spaces.

But the hub of Forum Barcelona 2004 consists of the 46 forum dialogues: conferences with themes including spirituality, freedom, security and peace. The content of three of these conferences is clearly cultural. Agenda 21 for Culture will be discussed during the debate on cultural policy and management from 4 to 6 May and during the Local Government forum (which will be attended by mayors from more than sixty large cities around the world) on 7 and 8 May. Cultural rights and development is the theme of a conference to be held from 23 to 27 August.