Fair International Cultural Cooperation - Climate Change

Broken Circle and Spiral Hill (1971) by Robert Smithson in Emmen/The Netherlands
Gerardus via Wikimedia Commons

Fair International Cultural Cooperation - Climate Change

Fair International Cultural Cooperation - Climate Change is a gathering that will take place on December 6 in Amsterdam.

Fair International Cultural Cooperation - Climate Change is a gathering that will take place on December 6 in Amsterdam. International cultural directors, artists, thinkers, scientists, critics, policymakers and funders with a focus on climate issues and who are actively invested in the topic of fair international cultural cooperation will gather to discuss whether and how international cooperation can be organised in a way that is fair to the climate.

The discussion will be supported by a keynote speaker and additional reading concerning Fair International Cultural Cooperation - Climate. The goal of this gathering is to identify, on a cross-disciplinary basis, current conventions and best practices. See for further exploration of the theme below.

The applications via the open call have been closed. In case you are interested in attending the gathering please contact Julia Groen via j.groen@dutchculture.nl.


Goals of the gathering
During this session in December 2019, we will be asking ourselves: how can international cultural cooperation be considered fair with respect to the climate?

We ask you to actively participate in two work sessions which will take place in groups. The sessions will cover the following two questions:

  1. Ethical
    What conventions do we share when talking about fair international cultural cooperation in the scope of climate change? I.e. what cross-sectoral and/or ontological frameworks sort to minimise negative ecological impact while maximising positive societal effects?
  2. Practical
    What are the opportunities and challenges in your organisations, your funding systems, with partners and with audiences of a climate orientated practice? I.e. which tools or mechanisms could we develop that aim for fairness and what are the best cases we can refer to?

Having started the series of gatherings in early 2018, DutchCulture and international partners explore the possibility of an internationally sourced and accepted code of conduct encompassing widely varying/a wide variety of perspectives and practices. Each gathering covers a specific theme: funding in 2018, climate change this year and, hopefully, heritage in 2020.

Similar to last year, the outcomes of these discussions will be presented as a report and will be used to further the conversation on Fair within international cultural cooperation.

Exploration of the theme 2019: Climate change

Travel is the most essential material condition of international activities by the arts. It involves works of art, artists or intermediaries and visitors, each contributing to, among others, extra CO2 emissions. Successfully stimulating international activities abroad is therefore directly linked with ramifications in terms of climate change. And since limitless growth of travel in a finite context of the climate is not feasible, it seems to be inescapable for international cultural actors to make the climate a core consideration for sustainable activities.

It is argued that the current climate problems arise from glorifying cultural discourses (e.g. the idea we can restore ecological problems with technological solutions) while neglecting the involvement of our, surprisingly reactive, living environment.

“The difficulty lies in the very expression “relation to the world,” which presupposes two sorts of domains, that of nature and that of culture, domains that are at once distinct and impossible to separate completely.”
― Bruno Latour, Facing Gaia

One might argue, for international cultural cooperation to be fair, our way of organising and prioritising needs to be ‘part of the world’. In other words; they need to be accountable to universal societal and ecological themes and values. Immediately the question arises as to what themes and values these should be. Currently, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are broadly accepted, it is of course hard not to pledge for such ideals. However, things become complicated when actually formulating goals that directly influence our current practice, as is illustrated by the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement by the United States.

Similarly, when formulating codes and policies that address Fair International Cultural Cooperation, a variety of paradoxes and ideological challenges emerge. For example, it is contradictory with the enlightened idea of evermore international cultural cooperation when we consider the effects of global travel on the climate into decision-making frameworks. In other words, taking climate change seriously forces us to reassess the purpose, structure and priorities of intercultural exchanges.

Part of this discussion is the role of the arts in society; the arts have the power to explore topics such as the climate change debate and influence public opinion on it. Apart from seeing relatively little in terms of the popular arts engaging with climate change, there is also a growing sense of ‘climate fatigue’ by those who are invested. Consequently, our debate does not limit itself to the environmental impact of international cultural cooperation, rather, it should include a discussion of the societal impact the arts can have and how this can contribute to resolving challenges emerging from our ecological impact. There is a need for systemic changes that enforce a sustainable practice while empowering the arts to bridge our intercultural divisions and guide the collective mindset.

Climate change challenges will inevitably become more important over the years and the response we formulate will determine the resiliency of our field. Our goal with this program is to explore the contours of such sustainable global practice with fairness as it’s critical success factor - fair being an equal opportunity and/or representation for all cultures. After all, how can shared challenges ever be addressed successfully if the approach does not aim to be equal to all involved?

Background of Fair

With this series, DutchCulture advocates and examines international cultural cooperation. In June 2018 IETM, On the Move and DutchCulture published the toolkit “Beyond Curiosity and Desire: Towards Fairer International Collaborations in the Arts”, authored by Mike van Graan. The publication explores why and how artists, cultural professionals and cultural institutions can adopt a more equitable approach to international and intercultural collaborations.

In the wake of the publication, DutchCulture set out to explore both the possibilities and the challenges of fair international cultural cooperation through a series of gatherings. These gatherings provide a platform to strengthen each other’s knowledge and identify ways that participants can translate it into actions, cultural policies and long term international collaborations.

The first gathering, focusing on international funding parties, was organised in late 2018, when more than 40 institutions joined the discussion. Thanks to these organisations, we identified a number of challenges and practical solutions for fair cooperation. Our mutual understanding from a funding perspective was:

We acknowledge the overall context is unequal, making international cultural cooperation unequal a priori.
- We strive for transparency and sustainability to resolve unfair and unequal cooperation.
- Feedback needs to be cherished and serves funding organisations to create a flexible architecture.
- We work with each other rather than for each other.
- We need a humble attitude at the core of developing fair programs, funding and collaborations.

Read the full report of this meet-up.

Application process (CLOSED)

-- Please note: the application via the open call is now closed, please contact Julia Groen in case of any questions. --

To us, it is clear only a broad international group of representatives with an interdisciplinary approach could be able to produce any useful answers. So please feel free to share this invitation with your peers, we look forward to your presence and our discussion.

Applications without financial compensation
Participating is free of charge and lunch and drinks are covered by DutchCulture. Deadline for applications is October 17. Subscribe here to apply for participation.

Applications with additional programme and financial compensation
To ensure proper global representation, DutchCulture can financially cover € 500,- of airline travel, full accommodation and domestic transport for six foreign visitors. This option is limited to non-EU/US residents who are skilled in the English language. This option comes with an additional two-day programme in which the participants will have the possibility to expand their network and experience Dutch examples in the field of art and climate before they participate in the gathering on Fair International Cultural Cooperation – Climate Change. See for more information on the international visitors programme below.

Deadline for applications is October 17. Subscribe here to participate in the international visitors programme.

All data provided will be removed from our systems after the selection has been made. We are looking forward to your applications.

Selection process
All applications will be considered by a committee. The selection will be made to ensure a well-balanced group of approximately fifty international participants with an established position within the field. The criteria for the final selection are expertise, gender balance, geographically diverse, different types of organizations and different types of sectors and disciplines. The decision of the committee on the final selection of participants will be shared with applicants no later than October 24.

International visitors programme

The international visitors programme aims to stimulate international cultural cooperation between the Dutch cultural sector and cultural organisations abroad, both by facilitating knowledge exchange and encouraging partnerships or joint projects. The visitors programme is a tailor-made activity plan, which consists of two days of meetings with several Dutch cultural institutions and the gathering on Fair International Cultural Cooperation on the third day. The programme will be designed for you to meet interesting and valuable potential partners and artist from the Dutch field, as well as to make you more acquainted with the Dutch cultural infrastructure, specifically in the theme of climate change.

The visitor's programme will take place 4th, 5th and 6th of December 2019.