All over the world people demonstrate courage. Artists and cultural practitioners are defending freedom of opinion and expression in the face of increasing pressure. They often feel compelled to go into exile for their views. Every day, courageous alliances are fighting for an open, just and diverse society.
But spaces and forums for this kind of courage are becoming increasingly restricted – also in Europe. In some countries, funding for arts and culture is curtailed and threatened by national interests. The tone of public debates is in part characterised by defamation and lack of mutual understanding.
We believe that an open and diverse society depends on people who have the courage to engage in controversy and express their own opinions. They need freedom to implement their ideas. They need resonance spaces to present their projects and engage in discussion beyond their own filter bubble and share their knowledge in the public domain. And they need networks in order to show solidarity with others beyond national borders and across social divides.
The focus cluster Encouraging Culture for an Open Society addresses stakeholders who through the means of art and culture create spaces of freedom, facilitate a critical debate, promote an exchange of ideas and encourage networking across borders.
While pursuing different approaches, the projects that emerged from our first call for projects have much in common: that reflect the fractures in our societies, integrate different positions, adopt a translocal approach and demonstrate the courage to irritate.