Simon de Leeuw
Researcher & Programme Maker
s.deleeuw [at] dutchculture.nl

The Forum on European Culture 2020

The Forum on European Culture 2020

DutchCulture and De Balie launched the third edition of the Forum on European Culture, taking place from 17-20 September in Amsterdam.
By Simon de Leeuw
We the People

In September 2020, artists, activists, dreamers and thinkers will again take centre stage in Amsterdam during the third instance of the Forum on European Culture. As an initiative by De Balie and DutchCulture, it is founded in the belief that Europe's future lies in the hands of the arts and imagination, rather than in backroom Brussels talks and boardroom negotiations. If Europe is something, it is a cultural construction. The Forum will energetically contribute to the cultural construction of Europe, by investigating the shared challenges and experiences of its demos. Within the theme We the people, the Forum will explore civic engagement, among other things, by inviting protest movements from all over the continent and by looking for the core tenets of democracy with Company New Heroes. Additionally, the Forum opens up space to discuss the cultural significance of popular cultural practices such as football and cuisine. Spanning a wide range of topics and incorporating many different perspectives on Europe and its people, the first few programmes are now online and available for ticket sales.

Civic Council on European Democracy

A separate series of events - the meetings of the Civic Council on European Democracy - precede the Forum in the next few months. A group of artists, changemakers and visionaries that have contributed to the Forum on European Culture in recent years, including Karolina Wigura, Anne Applebaum, Kalypso Nicolaïdis and Flavia Kleiner, will travel from Palermo to Warsaw to Amsterdam and meet up with citizens. Jointly, they will bring about discussions and stories so as to mould a new European narrative for the future. As global challenges demand an ever-larger commitment from citizens and leaders to cooperate across borders, the Civic Council creates a temporary transnational space for citizens to engage with the future of the continent. The first of the sessions will be held in Palermo, April 17, after which the Civic Council lands in Warsaw on Europe Day, May 9. The presentation of their lessons will take place on the closing day of the Forum on European Culture, June 7, at De Balie.

Steps ahead

The presentation of the Civic Council is just one of the programmes that have been announced last week. In the following weeks, many more programmes and speakers will be announced. Among the other highlights is an opening theatre performance of The Suppliants by Aeschylos. In this rendering of a Greek tragedy, we gain insights in the heats and minds of the refugees trying reach safety, but also shows the internal struggle within the city of Thebes that ultimately receives them, as its citizens wrestle with their values. Together with Theater of War productions (USA) the production will be developed in close collaboration Kurdish singers, musicians and performers who form the choir. The performance is followed by a discussion with the audience. 

Elsewhere, we travel with photographer and tv-presenter Johny Pitts through Europe in search of commonalities in the post-colonial experience of the continent's many different African communities. In Afropean, he lays bare an often invisible part of Europe's cultural fabric and weaves a pattern that leads from Lisbon to Stockholm and from de Bijlmer in Amsterdam to the city of Moscow. 

Stay posted on the latest developments by checking the website of the Forum on European Culture and by following our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). If you have specific questions about the Forum in general, feel free to reach out to Simon de Leeuw, programme editor on behalf of DutchCulture. 

The Forum on European Culture is an initiative by founding partners DutchCulture and De Balie. It is generously supported by Gieskes Strijbis, the European Commission, the European Cultural Foundation and Prince Bernard Culture Fund.

The Civic Council on European Democracy is co-funded by the Europe for Citizens-programme.