Workshop on new cultural policy for the Balkans

November 2006 -

The challenges of the repositioning of arts and culture within the public policy and the stronger involvement of the contemporary art scene in the processes of social and political transformation motivated the workshop . It was organized by Stacion – Center for Contemporary Arts from Pristina in cooperation with eipcp – European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies from Vienna, and it took place September 21 -23, 2006 in the Kosova capital Pristina.

The workshop problematised the concept of the acceptance of cultural differences as part of the widely promoted multicultural vision of cultural policy, which in the case of the Balkans can also be perceived as the retroactive legitimatization of the politics of ethnic cleansing during the nationalist wars in the nineties. This was the occasion for intellectuals and cultural practitioners from the West Balkans and the rest of the world to discuss other theoretical and practical approaches to the question of cultural exchange as well as possibilities of translating them into a concrete cultural policy in the context of Kosova and the West Balkans.

The event took place in a time when final decisions on the future status of Kosovo should be made, which would hopefully mark the end of the dissolution of former Yugoslavia. New independent states are mainly focused on their path towards EU accession, whereas the relevance of the investment in culture and arts, as Albert Heta, manager of Stacion and initiator of the workshop, said, are excluded from the visible political agenda. The emancipatory character of culture that can straighten and stabilize social, economic and political development in situations of high political tensions is not recognized; instead culture (heritage) is used as a tool for extreme political solutions that seem only to damage future relationships in the region.

Therefore, according to Heta, one of the main aims of the project is to advocate the establishment of a contemporary cultural policy in Kosova as a tool for promoting a cultural dialogue in the region. A larger gathering of intellectuals and cultural practitioners, as the one at the workshop Cultural Policies as Crisis Management, could build the necessary momentum for this process.