'Sharing cultures' in a larger Europe

May 2004 -

One week before the European Union welcomed ten new member states, the European Cultural Foundation celebrated its fiftieth birthday under the title 'Fifty years of sharing cultures'.

'We cannot live in this new world if we are not willing to lose part of ourselves and accept part of others,' according to an Italian partner of the European Cultural Foundation ECF in a video shown in the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam. This is where the foundation celebrated its fiftieth birthday on 24 April 2004, one week before the EU expanded to the east by welcoming ten new member states. This expansion will add a new dimension to the efforts of the ECF, which has always worked to establish cultural dialogue between European countries.

Danuta Hübner, the first European Commissioner for Poland, said it is fashionable to be skeptical about the future of Europe, while the expansion of the EU marks the first true integration on the continent. 'The expansion is an opportunity to enrich the union's cultural diversity. Our challenge is how to manage that.'

Jack Lange, former French Minister of Culture, was critical. With the exception of the efforts of the ECF, he believes that not enough is being done with reference to culture. Europeans should learn two languages at a young age and should study in one another's country.

In honour of the celebration, the ECF presented a stimulation award of EURO 30,000 to the art centre Platform Garanti in Istanbul. 'Not just because it has put Turkey on the cultural map, but especially because its projects go beyond borders.' Truc Sphérique, a cultural organisation in Slovenia, received EURO 20,000.