Every Sunday, One Europe takes a day away from politics and economics, and instead presents an article with a cultural perspective. This week, Santino Santinelli considers whether Europe's rich culture could be its saviour.
Nowadays one of the most popular word in Europe is crisis. In the last years we have all heard this word thousands of time. According to a statistical survey recently published by Eurostat, the European Statistic Agency, there are over 25 million unemployed people in the European Union.
Politicians in many European countries are taking action, trying to provide employment opportunities and making consistent efforts to get people back to work. The problem is that concrete results are not visible, and austerity alone cannot solve this issue.
Recently, the minority opinion has emerged that improving culture could be a possible way to change this situation, allowing us to solve the economic crisis in a more conscientious way. This idea is supported not only by the European cultural world, but also by some members of the European political scene, such as the Commissioner for Education and Culture Androulla Vassiliou and several Ministers of Culture of different European countries.
But is it realistic?
The European Commission has also recently published research which shows that detailed cultural production systems are an industrial sector in their own right. Further, cultural production is now recognised as one of the largest and increasingly impactful fields of the whole manufacturing sector. In addition, this same study clearly demonstrates that both cultural and creative fields have some of the largest and most promising business potential, not only in Europe but further afield in Asia and Africa.
European artists, writers and musicians are convinced that one possible result of the crisis and austerity could be the death of European culture and for this reason citizens should insist on more relevance being given to cultural contributions.
The Italian newspaper Il Sole 24Ore recently interviewed the Greek writer Petros Makaris, who admitted the absence of the voice of the European intellectuals in the solution of our current problems: "Over the past three years I have heard many politicians and economists, but I have not heard the intellectuals or academics. It is clear that for many years, Europe has been misidentified, with all creative and cultural European outlets forgotten: Europe is much more than merely the Euro."
Unfortunately culture is not seen in the same way everywhere in Europe and in some countries, the political and economic power insist upon trying to control creative production. In Hungary, writer Péter Esterhazy's monthly radio program has been censored and closed, because some parts of his program were not acceptable to some Hungarian politicians.
In Turkey, thousands of books are censored consistently, including works by Lenin, Hikmet, Stalin and Marx. Fortunately the parliament of Ankara recently adopted a law stipulating that all judicial or administrative decisions taken before 2012 regarding the prohibition of printed publications is considered lapsed if not confirmed by a court within six months and so far, no reversions have emerged.
My proposition is simple: culture should be a basic protagonist of our daily life and investing in culture could be a possible way of overcoming the economic crisis and creating a new renaissance of Europe. If this is possible, how then can we achieve it? In time, there may be proposals- and hopefully, solutions.