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The right of everyone to take part in cultural life

Report | Doc. 12815 | 09 January 2012

(Former) Committee on Culture, Science and Education
Rapporteur :
Reference to committee: Doc. 11981, Reference 3603 of 2 October 2009. 2012 - First part-session


The right to take part in cultural life is – and shall be recognised as being – pivotal to the system of human rights. Those deprived of this right also lose the opportunity to exercise their other rights responsibly, through lack of awareness of the fullness of their identity. Moreover, access to the arts and free artistic and cultural expression contribute to the development of critical thinking, to enhanced mutual understanding and to mutual respect. Thus, they contribute to reinforcing democratic citizenship and social cohesion, a “harmonious living together” and peace between peoples.

The state should not only ensure a wide supply of cultural services but also play the role of initiator, promoter and regulator of interaction between public institutions and organisations in the non-profit and private sectors which contribute to the promotion of artistic creative endeavour and to public access to the full range of cultural and artistic resources. Young people deserve special attention as they are a key means of transmitting cultural resources and values. There is a need to motivate them and to cultivate amongst them the “desire for culture”, by promoting ground-breaking initiatives and raising the profile of any practices that create cultural, social and political bonds.

The guidelines proposed should inspire national policies aimed at supporting access to culture and artistic creative endeavour. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe should formally endorse these guidelines and consider what could be done to facilitate co-ordinated political action at European level in this field.

A Draft recommendationNote

1. The Parliamentary Assembly notes that the right of everyone to take part in cultural life presupposes equal and free access for all to a variety of cultural resources. This participation may be more or less active, depending on whether one is a member of an audience, practises an activity as an amateur or engages in artistic or creative activities on a professional basis.
2. The Assembly believes that it is the responsibility of states and local public authorities to ensure the conditions which are necessary to “develop to the fullest the talents with which nature has blessed Man and thereby to establish among all citizens an actual equality and make a reality of the political equality recognised by law” (Condorcet, 1792).
3. Common cultural wealth is a matter for all public and private stakeholders, but the state must assume its crucial role. As the major cultural agent, the state not only has a responsibility to ensure a wide supply of cultural services, through all its public institutions, but also acts as an initiator, promoter and regulator of interaction between public institutions and organisations in the non-profit and private sectors which contribute to the protection and promotion of cultural heritage, to artistic creative endeavour, and to the public access to the full range of cultural and artistic resources.
4. The state likewise has a duty to take account of the radical changes in the way we access culture, with the boom of digital culture and the internet, to facilitate the emergence of new artists and new forms of expression and to further develop new ways of disseminating cultural content in order to make them accessible to all.
5. In a robust democracy (guarantor of diversity), the obligations to respect, protect and realise cultural rights should be interpreted as an integrated obligation to produce results in terms of cultural democratisation, paving the way for equal access to the arts. This integrated obligation to achieve results involves creating an open-ended environment that allows everyone to achieve personal fulfilment and to participate in cultural, social and political life.
6. Access to the arts allows all human beings to balance the realm of the mind with the realm of feeling. The two should complement and enhance one another so that every individual can realise their full potential, leading to a fresh approach to others. Through cultural ties and intercultural dialogue, access to the arts thus helps to promote a “harmonious living together” within a society, a country, and even between peoples, fostering relationship between the citizens of the world through enhanced mutual understanding. Moreover, access to the arts and free artistic and cultural expression contribute to the development of critical thinking and therefore to reinforcing democratic citizenship.
7. Access to the arts is especially important for young people, in particular those aged between 15 and 25 years who are at a critical time in their lives when they are building a future for themselves as adult citizens. Introducing them to cultural resources is a process that draws on their subjective sensitivity and creative imagination, and gives them considerable freedom of initiative (of a kind not sufficiently accorded to members of this age group).
8. Standing as they do at the crossroads between childhood and adulthood, young people are a key means of transmitting cultural resources and values within society. From an intergenerational and social cohesion perspective, one of the main responsibilities of policy makers is to cultivate, especially among young people, the “desire for culture”, without which, however good the cultural offer and whatever the conditions of access may be, young people will not feel engaged. In order to encourage them, policy makers need to involve them more directly in cultural activities, promote ground-breaking initiatives and raise the profile of any practices that create cultural, social and political bonds.
9. In this context, it is important to favour artistic and cultural resources that enable encounters (between members of the public, artists and/or creators): the performing arts (theatre, opera, concerts, circuses, etc.) and the visual arts (exhibitions, performance art, etc.) provide these opportunities for encounters. Special attention also needs to be paid to the ways in which young people access artistic and cultural activities, which greatly help to build their self-confidence by enabling them to discover the many facets of their personality.
10. Participation in the arts serves to enhance our societies’ artistic and cultural heritage, thanks to the many and varied creations that it generates. Support for innovative young creative talent is vital therefore because without it, our future heritage would be sadly diminished. Policy makers have a duty to boldly embrace innovation in order to secure for future generations what they will, in time, come to see as a classic heritage of universal value, as bequeathed to us by our forebears.
11. The Assembly notes with regret that, beyond the constant talk in favour of cultural rights, material, financial and human resources and the information, mediation and artistic and cultural education systems in place still do not make it possible to translate effectively and fairly (national and international) professions of faith and declarations, despite the wide variety of initiatives and projects and the professionalism of the people who work in these areas.
12. The right to take part in cultural life is pivotal to the system of human rights. To forget that is to endanger this entire system, by depriving human beings of the opportunity to responsibly exercise their other rights, through lack of awareness of the fullness of their identity.
13. The Parliamentary Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
13.1 formally endorse the “Guidelines for developing policies to ensure effective participation in cultural life” attached to this recommendation, of which they form an integral part;
13.2 forward this recommendation to all the member states, so that they can be guided by it when framing their national policies;
13.3 forward this recommendation to the intergovernmental committees and the secretariat of the intergovernmental sector of the Organisation responsible for programmes relating to culture, education, technological innovation, youth and equal opportunities, asking them to:
13.3.1 duly incorporate the promotion of the right of everyone to participate in cultural life into current projects (such as, for example, projects on education for democratic citizenship and human rights);
13.3.2 duly incorporate the promotion of the right of everyone to participate in cultural life into any initiatives that might be launched in the framework of the reflection on “living together” and of the partnership between the European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth policy, research and youth work;
13.4 set up a committee of experts or a transversal working group and instruct it to:
13.4.1 consider what could be done to facilitate co-ordinated political action at European level in order to promote the right of everyone to participate in cultural life;
13.4.2 consider what could be done to improve co-operation between the Council of Europe, the European Union and other international bodies in implementing targeted programmes to encourage youth participation in cultural life and to support innovative creative endeavours, in particular those related to the technological revolution;
13.4.3 collect and assess examples of national good practice with a view to preparing practical proposals, which the competent intergovernmental committees would then examine, approve and submit to the Committee of Ministers for adoption;
13.5 invite the European Union and UNESCO to this committee of experts or transversal working group and to closely involve in its work the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations of the Council of Europe and the Advisory Council on Youth;
13.6 in the light of the conclusions and practical proposals submitted to it, take appropriate measures to develop specific plans for co-operation between the Council of Europe, the European Union and UNESCO aimed at supporting the implementation of the right of everyone to take part in a variety of cultural activities and to increase, in particular, young people’s participation in cultural life, both as spectators and as practitioners;
13.7 in the framework of the programme on “Democratic governance through educational, culture and youth policies”, instruct the CultureWatchEurope Platform to establish a set of indicators on the participation of different groups, in particular youth, in cultural life and to monitor developments in this field.
14. The Assembly invites the European Conferences of Ministers responsible for culture, education, youth and digital technology (media) to take this recommendation into account and to include in their respective agendas the issue of more effective promotion of cultural rights, including the right of everyone to take part in cultural life, both as spectators and as practitioners, in the European area.
15. The Assembly, recognising the increasingly important role played by local and regional government in promoting and implementing cultural rights, invites the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe to take this recommendation into account and to incorporate it into its work programme.
16. The Assembly is of the opinion that greater consideration should be given to the right of everyone to take part in cultural life in the work of the Council of Europe’s European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (North-South Centre); the Assembly therefore invites the Centre’s bodies to include in its projects discussions on the effective implementation of this right and on the contribution it can make to the harmonious development of civilisations through greater creative diversity and multi- and intercultural dialogue.
Guidelines for developing policies to ensure effective participation in cultural life
17. General guidelines
17.1 Recognise cultural rights as rights that permit each person, alone or in community with others, to develop all his or her abilities to be a thinking and feeling being and all his or her capacities for creative imagination. Recognise that these rights are primary needs for the entire human race, which is designed to live in society: essential levers for cultural interchange and intercultural dialogue, cultural rights are also key to our ability to live together in societies thanks to common cultural and artistic references that provide access to all the humanist values handed down in democratic, liberal societies.
17.2 Affirm the right of everyone to take part in cultural life as the right that encapsulates the full set of cultural values for, if properly guaranteed, it will pave the way for equal access for all to national and international cultural resources and the right to participate therein as authors or performing artists.
17.3 Develop integrated policies to promote participation in cultural life and introduce joint strategic planning across the various governmental sectors concerned, including the ministries responsible for culture, education, enterprise, research and digital technology, together with those responsible for youth and equal opportunities. Involve in the task of designing and executing these policies regional and local authorities, according to their powers and responsibilities in the relevant areas.
17.4 Stabilise the implementation of government policies in the cultural sphere by ensuring the long-term viability of tried and tested projects. This is so that, with the changes of political power that are an inherent feature of any liberal democracy, each new government does not seek to impose its stamp, periodically jeopardising high-quality cultural projects.
17.5 When framing integrated policies for cultural democratisation, take into consideration the paralysing effect of multiple sources of discrimination (such as economic circumstances, where people live, social status, problems arising from various disabilities, but also the specific situation of young people) in order to identify the types of support required so that participation in cultural life can be tailored to these specific contexts.
17.6 Make the obligation to achieve results in terms of cultural democratisation, with frequent interaction between operators, central to the mission of every public institution that contributes to cultural activity, education and mediation.
17.7 Create networks of public and private cultural operators to enable them to share experiences and develop partnerships, whilst pooling resources. Consider the transfrontier aspect of cultural initiatives, with joint projects with various countries.
17.8 Make public funding to private cultural operators conditional upon their contribution to cultural democratisation and to cultural partnerships. Encourage, through fiscal measures, any forms of sponsorship that support democratic approaches to culture and assistance in setting up other private cultural institutions.
17.9 Update and significantly expand the mediation role played by the major cultural institutions and place the following at the heart of their programmes:
17.9.1 the practice of tailoring mediation to particular target groups (the young, the elderly, disadvantaged groups or people who have little access to cultural resources), whilst avoiding focusing purely on one-off activities whose sole purpose is to occasionally attract as many people as possible to cultural places;
17.9.2 the development of “participatory projects” where members of the public are invited to participate directly in the creative process via workshops, in order to involve them personally in artistic practice;
17.9.3 the use of information and communication technologies (screens, internet, virtual reality and augmented reality, etc.) for multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary projects with navigable environments that are likely to encourage active participation by the public.
17.10 Rethink the role of the school as an institution essential for arts education and cultural development, as a place for teaching the skills needed to make the right to take part in cultural life both effective and attractive, and as a place of freedom of artistic expression and extensive contact between pupils and cultural works, with artists, in artistic institutions or theatres and concert halls.
17.11 Better integrate a mandatory course on artistic and cultural practices in national education systems. Encourage practices that seek to foster creativity and sensitivity and that emphasise the link between the cultural life of the region and the education system.
17.12 Provide induction courses in the arts for all student teachers, thereby helping to remove the barriers between traditional teaching, by highlighting the artistic dimension of all subjects: for example, the various pictorial representations of relief in geography, sculptors’ mobiles as an application of the laws of physics and history of art to accompany the teaching of historical events. Obviously, learning to read, write and count is essential; learning to see, hear and feel is equally essential.
17.13 Extend the pedagogical methods used in arts education to other subjects by introducing interactive dialogue with pupils, and taking care to let them speak so that they can ask questions and explain their own individual actions as pupils.
17.14 Support projects that aim to establish within schools places for artistic creation that allow contact between pupils, cultural works and artists and afford pupils an opportunity to learn about free expression and artistic creation.
17.15 Encourage the development of amateur pursuits in extracurricular and out-of-school settings, taking care to offer a range of choices, tailored to different groups of people.
17.16 Draw on local non-profit networks, with facilities for fostering new talent thanks to the support of skilled professionals, thereby enabling people to discover their own inclinations previously overlooked. In particular, give young people access to spaces for creative work, allowing them every freedom to pursue their activities or develop their projects, drawing on youth organisations, encourage them to pool their resources, to share their creativity by forming networks with other associations in order to devise joint projects.
17.17 Support, in particular financially through multi-annual objective-setting contracts, cultural associations that provide opportunities for local cultural mediation for young people but also for people of every generation.
17.18 Encourage cultural and artistic expression which, through a critical view on political, social, economic and cultural conditions of today’s society, contributes to the development of critical thinking and to reinforcing democratic citizenship. Encourage public access to these expressions.
17.19 Take firmly into account the new forms of creative activity and ways of disseminating artistic and cultural content that the technological revolution has made possible, by abolishing geographical and temporal boundaries, and creating an essential space for freedom of expression and sharing. The idea is also to encourage the emergence of, and to identify, new ways of consuming and creating culture made possible by new technologies, particularly when it comes to reaching young audiences.
17.20 Promote multi-disciplinary creations designed via and for the internet (e.g. Net Art) combining several modes of expression and which use interactive digital technologies as a means of creation.
17.21 Ensure that there is a system in place to protect creative endeavour, not least in order to give effect to the intellectual property rights that are part of human rights, thus making a career in the arts an economically viable option for young creators. The digital revolution has brought drastic changes with positive effects on cultural democratisation, but it has also seen the emergence of large-scale pirating of cultural works, posing a serious threat to future creative work. If everyone is to be able to take part in cultural life, ways need to be found of addressing this harmful phenomenon for the sustainability of cultural diversity.
17.22 For cultural development strategies to succeed in promoting participation in cultural life and provide support for creative endeavour, make use of the following principles of interconnection and factors for mutual enhancement: inter-artistic and -cultural, inter-spatial, inter-temporal and inter-institutional.
18. Specific guidelines concerning the use of the principles of interconnection
18.1 Inter-artistic and inter-cultural
18.1.1 Together with a thorough understanding of each artistic discipline, develop an approach to arts education and training that emphasises connections between the arts, not only so that everyone can acquire a comprehensive grasp of the multifaceted and multi-disciplinary forms of artistic expression but also so that each discipline can benefit from other artistic approaches.
18.1.2 Promote arts education projects which emphasise interaction between the arts, between the arts and other fields, and between artists and the public. For example, artistic activities that create connections between plastic arts, music, sound and light arts and a creative dialogue with the public through computers in areas not dedicated to the arts (for example, industrial wastelands, areas in social housing estates for street arts).
18.1.3 Provide more sustained ongoing political and economic support, with multi-annual contracts setting out aims, for theatres and concert halls, exhibition centres, companies of performing and visual artists, as these provide opportunities for contact between all sectors of the arts and, through them, between all the various cultural sectors. They also help to bring together and actively involve a variety of young people, amateur and professional artists.
18.2 Inter-spatial and digital arts
18.2.1 Promote creations produced with local residents (participatory forms) and initiatives where the arts and people can meet in settings capable of linking artistic, philosophical and environmental thinking, thus giving real meaning to the notion of citizenship: reorganise existing covered public spaces (such as railway stations) or open-air public spaces (such as parks) in order to turn them into places of creative participation for local residents.
18.2.2 Encourage local cultural initiatives that seek the cultural, historical, social and economic promotion of a given area, through ties between creators, the public and the various professionals involved in these initiatives.
18.2.3 Implement national programmes to digitise the cultural heritage, one of the goals adopted by the European Commission when developing Europeana, which provides multilingual access to the full range of cultural heritage and contemporary cultural content.
18.2.4 Connect virtual spaces to public spaces and support ground-breaking digital services projects with in situ facilities (3D, augmented reality, immersive virtual reality systems, mobile phones, podcasts, etc.) or web-based facilities that can be accessed remotely (virtual visits, thematic routes, online services).
18.2.5 Make use of the new methods of disseminating virtual cultural content, by transferring for example visual arts to virtual galleries and museums where works could be displayed in online exhibitions.
18.2.6 Adopt a policy of supporting innovative cultural digital services in order to facilitate experimentation with new uses for digital technology and encourage new partnerships between cultural operators and the business community and private and/or public research institutions.
18.3 Inter-temporal aspect
18.3.1 Revive traditional local skills, sources and examples of the artistic creation of the past.
18.3.2 Work with “collective memory” artists (for instance archaeologists) and conversely, construct a vision of the urban environment of the future that one wishes to pass on (prospective art).
18.3.3 Encourage initiatives that create a long-term territorial dynamic (festivals, celebrations, theme days).
18.3.4 Promote activities related to the collective memory and also develop along these lines the role of museum institutions, theatres and concert halls (heritage works, artists from previous centuries and classical theatre, for example), thereby highlighting the heritage and enabling young people to familiarise themselves with their own national culture and that of other countries.
18.4 Inter-institutional
18.4.1 Encourage the setting-up of co-ordination bodies to ensure that cultural policy and education policy are mutually supportive, with permanent committees of professionals that can be renewed at regular intervals.
18.4.2 Build closer links between schools and local and national cultural institutions, not only in order to facilitate pupils’ access to these institutions, but also in order to bring the skills and experience of these institutions and their staff to arts teaching in schools, for all pupils, from a very early age.
18.4.3 Encourage inter-institutional partnerships (between national governmental authorities, and between national and local authorities) and public-private partnerships, right from the strategy development stage, for designing projects and planning, in order to ensure the highest possible level of co-ordination and interaction.

B Explanatory memorandum by Ms Marland-Militello, rapporteur

1 Introduction

Culture takes diverse forms across time and space and … this diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and plurality of the identities and cultural expressions of the peoples and societies making up humanity

(Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, UNESCO, 2005)

1.1 Terms of reference and stages in the preparation of the report

1. On 7 July 2009, a number of colleagues and I tabled a motion for a recommendation on “The right of everyone to take part in cultural life”. On 2 October 2009, the Committee on Culture, Science and Education was seized for report on this subject.
2. I was appointed rapporteur on 8 December 2009. Having taken cognisance of the project “Making culture accessible” implemented by the Council of Europe’s Directorate General of Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport,Note I suggested a series of activities to the committee to help collect information from the different sources and ascertain the viewpoints of various stakeholders on the question of the right to participate in cultural life.
3. The committee held a hearing in Istanbul on 10 May 2010.Note At this hearing, Ms Annamari Laaksonen presented the study on “Making culture accessible”, which had just been published by the Council of Europe. A second hearing was jointly organised with the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Education of the French National Assembly on 3 November 2010. This meeting was held under the patronage of Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, in the presence of French and international experts.Note The statements were extremely diverse and provided a wealth of information on the subject. On the same day, an exchange of views took place on the policies and activities of the Musée d’Orsay to promote youth participation in cultural life.Note
4. After the November 2010 hearing, I requested the co-operation of Professor Patrice Meyer-Bisch, a member of the Observatoire de la Diversité et des Droits Culturels and Co-ordinator of the Institut Interdisciplinaire d’Ethique et des Droits de l’Homme (IIEDH) and the UNESCO Chair for Human Rights and Democracy, University of Fribourg (Switzerland). His contribution analyses the issue of participation in cultural life from a more specifically legal and sociological angle. I would like to thank him for this work, which was a great help to me in preparing this report, particularly as regards the factors facilitating mutual enhancement of cultural resources and development of cultural policies geared to improving social cohesion.
5. In the meantime, at its January 2011 meeting, the committee decided at my suggestion to gather information on initiatives taken as part of member states’ cultural policies to promote the participation of young people in cultural life, both as members of the public and as creators of culture, in particular in the areas of the performing and visual arts. To this end, a letter was sent to the chairs of the national delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly, asking them to seek replies to the following questions from the competent authorities in their countries:
1. What action or project(s) could you give as an example of your country’s efforts to:
  • promote young people’s access to culture – targeting especially the 15 to 25-year age group;
  • support young, innovative creators? 
2. What results has this action achieved, in particular in terms of:
  • increased participation of young people (as members of the public and artists) in cultural life;
  • reducing inequalities in access to culture and to artistic production? 
6. A letter was also sent to the members of the Council of Europe Steering Committee for Culture (CDCULT) and the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ) so that the relevant ministries would know about the initiative and could help prepare the responses.
7. Since this initiative, the authorities of 27 countries have sent in contributions, some of which are very detailed.Note I would like to thank the authorities of these countries most sincerely for their efforts.
8. Drawing on the information collected, I have identified recurrent themes emerging in the field of youth cultural policies and ascertained the extent to which these experiments foster the development of projects based on mutual enhancement and enrichment of cultural diversity. I also thought it would be useful and legitimate to highlight specific achievements as potentially valuable practical examples.

1.2 Scope of the investigation and purpose of the report

9. Right from the outset I was forced to admit that it is impossible to address all the aspects of such a vast subject as participation in cultural life by several social or cultural groups. The number of variables (and their combinations) rules this out. Therefore, as I told the committee, I chose to concentrate the analysis on the category of citizens who embody both the present and the future of cultural life in our societies, namely young people.
10. There were several reasons behind this choice. First of all, youth is the time of life when we learn and garner new experiences, before settling into working life and before our social position begins to weigh on our behavioural and cultural choices. Young people are a fairly autonomous human group as regards their position in society, with fewer social and philosophical preconceptions. It is therefore important that political action on youth should provide them with a variety of opportunities which they lack in their home and geographical environments. Then, like all citizens, young people are a group which cuts across the whole of society, which means that any policy targeting them concerns all the components of the community and of society, which can have positive effects within families and the different groups in society. Furthermore, heightening youth awareness of culture and promoting their cultural development are vital for ultimately fostering participation by as many citizens as possible in cultural life, since young people are tomorrow’s audiences, practitioners and creators, both benefiting from and being responsible for society’s cultural development and transmission. These are decisive factors in designing and promoting effective public cultural policies. Lastly, opting for a specific study of youth will optimise our understanding of how the digital revolution, which is part of their universe, can intensify participation in cultural life, as potential art-lovers or artists.
11. Cultural life cuts right across the board: it covers all actions concerning the aspirations of the mind, the eye and the ear and which call for reason, the senses, sensitivity and imagination. However, I wanted my report to concentrate on two particular fields: the performing arts (theatre, music, opera, circus and street performances, etc.) and the fine and visual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, exhibitions and performances in situ or on the Web), because such artistic resources are expressed in places of encounter between audiences and artists, and among audiences, whether physically in actual geographical locations or virtually on the Internet.
12. It is a case not of confining cultural life to the arts or of detaching the latter from overall cultural life, but of specifying proposals for policies that can facilitate the development of an artistic activity in which everyone can take part from a very early age. The role of artistic expression in the development of a young person is essential. It is not just one activity among many others, providing “improved well-being”: it is a vital process of learning about creativity, shared experience of what is meaningful for each person, and therefore individual and collective liberties.
13. In a word, the arts generally have a liberating and fulfilling function. Moreover, in the fields of the performing arts and the fine and visual arts, which forge a direct link between creation and the audience, I feel that it is possible to develop targeted actions for young people capable of having a substantial and lasting impact, and consequently of improving the social integration of these future responsible citizens. After all, Aristotle defined man as a “political animal” whose essence was to live in society.
14. Now that we have defined the scope of the investigation, two fundamental questions must be considered and answered.
  • The first concerns the effective recognition of all the ramifications of the right to take part in cultural life. What is the specific scope of this right where present and future generations are concerned? How can it help instigate the diversified cultural dynamic on which the future of human civilisations depends?
  • The second question relates to the practical implementation of the right to take part in cultural life. This question can be analysed from different angles. First of all, what factors hamper the exercise of this right? And what type of action can be taken to ensure the implementation of this right, particularly at a time when public budgets must be controlled and when all the available resources go into meeting the citizens’ most urgent needs?
15. The challenge is not only to find the resources but also to use them to expand the number of people covered by cultural policies, without dissipating the (limited) available resources on activities which will have no lasting impact or falling into the pitfall of mooting cultural activities and services which will ultimately prove impossible to provide.
16. In order to ensure the effective enjoyment of this right for all citizens (particularly young people), we must endeavour to make culture not only physically and economically but also psychologically accessible by eliciting a “desire for culture”. Without such a desire there will never be any real motivation for people to exploit the possibilities for improving their knowledge of their own culture and opening up to other cultures. Nor will they ever be really motivated to become players in cultural development or cultural creators.
17. This begs the question of the efficiency of cultural policies in Europe: do they really provide young people with a suitable environment for participating in cultural life as audiences, amateurs or professionals? Do they genuinely promote the emergence among the young of a desire for culture, inducing the wish to encounter others and their cultures?

2 Definition and scope of the right to take part in cultural life

2.1 A fundamental right at the heart of the human rights system

2.1.1 International recognition of the right to participate in cultural life

18. The right to take part in cultural life is recognised in Article 27.1 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” Article 15.1.a of the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights calls on states to recognise the right of everyone to take part in cultural life.
19. The international Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989 states that a child who is indigenous or belongs to a minority “shall not be denied the right … to enjoy his or her own culture” (Article 30). Then, it establishes that: “States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.” (Article 31.1) and that: “States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity” (Article 31.2).
20. At European level, Article 1.a of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro Convention – CETS No. 199, which entered into force on 1 June 2011) states that “rights relating to cultural heritage are inherent in the right to participate in cultural life, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”; Article 4.a requires parties to recognise that “everyone, alone or collectively, has the right to benefit from the cultural heritage and to contribute towards its enrichment”.
21. The right to take part in cultural life or essential aspects of this right are also mentioned in several other international instruments focusing on vulnerable categories and highlighting the need to ensure that this right can be exercised under conditions of equality.NoteNoteNoteNoteNoteNoteNoteNoteNoteNote
22. We should remember the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, Article 2.7 of which sets out the guiding principle of equitable access, as follows: “Equitable access to a rich and diversified range of cultural expressions from all over the world and access of cultures to the means of expressions and dissemination constitute important elements for enhancing cultural diversity and encouraging mutual understanding”.
23. For a long time, despite the many international texts which lay down the right to participate in cultural life, this right appeared unimportant. The brief provision in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration was largely overlooked by doctrine and disregarded by strategies to implement human rights. The terse formula in Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights perhaps epitomises this neglect.
24. The provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child seem to reduce children’s cultural rights to a series of specific activities, ignoring the contribution of artistic and cultural activities to the child’s well-being and mental and physical development.
25. The right to participate in cultural life, like the right to education (the best known cultural right), is in fact the quintessence of all cultural rights, which are themselves vital for human rights, whose exercise they facilitate. The United Nations Human Rights Council recalls this principle of indivisibility: “cultural rights are an integral part of human rights, which are universal, indivisible and interdependent”.Note Its place in the Universal Declaration, between the right to education (Article 26) and the right to participate in a democratic order (Article 28), symbolises the fact that this right has a lever effect on all human rights: its implementation provides people with access to the requisite cultural resources for their development and the exercise of their citizenship.
26. It is important to note that this right corresponds to a duty of non-interference and also to a positive obligation for states. As the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights points out in its General Comment No. 21 (November 2009), in order for this right to be ensured, states must comply with both an obligation of abstention and an obligation to act. This means that they must not only remain neutral vis-à-vis cultural practices and access to cultural goods and services (condition for freedom of access and freedom of creation), provided that these do not violate other fundamental rights, they must also take “positive action (ensuring preconditions for participation, facilitation and promotion of cultural life, and access to and preservation of cultural goods)” (paragraph 6) (condition for equal access). A fair balance must be struck between a neutral stance respecting freedom of choice and an active, committed policy geared to promoting equality of access and participation.

2.1.2 Universal scope of the right to participate in cultural life in its diversity

27. It is in the very nature of every fundamental right to have a universal scope and to apply to everyone without any discrimination. Of course, the fact that it is a right recognised for “everyone” does not rule out its being exercised in conjunction with others, or within a community or group.
28. Insofar as everyone is different, the right to take part in cultural life cannot be guaranteed effectively without an effort to adapt to the needs of various beneficiaries. Cultural policy must take account of diversity. Furthermore, diversity should be an essential component of every cultural policy. True culture can only be plural, as it is based on the very essence of humanity’s freedom and the diversity it entails.
29. It should be stressed here that the adoption in September 2001 of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and in 2005 of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions constituted a major political turning point: whereas cultural diversity had previously been considered as a curb on development, an obstacle to modernity and therefore to progress, science and democracy, it is now increasingly seen as a resource for each of these fields and for peace. Culture is now perceived as a raw material for social, economic and political development and the enrichment of the cultural heritage.
30. Nevertheless, understanding diversity and framing a cultural policy which takes account of this diversity (and the diversity of the cultural needs of the different groups of beneficiaries) implies neither cultural relativism nor that states should abandon promoting their historical culture (which may well be composite) and the corresponding cultural heritage. Rather it is a question – depending on the context of each country – of making room for diversity as a source of enrichment in cultural exchange.
31. However, respect for indivisible and interdependent human rights is what facilitates the mutual enhancement of the whole diversity of the various cultural milieus. Intercultural dialogue improves understanding of differences and of human universality and pinpoints practices which infringe human rights under the pretext of culture. Respect for cultural rights ensures the participation of all in the shared heritage, that fund of resources formed by cultural diversity. The exercise of cultural rights, freedoms and responsibilities is both the end and the means of such preservation and development, because it means that everyone can participate in this diversity, draw resources from it and help enrich it.
32. Furthermore, the attention to be paid to the difference in situations and individual needs does not mean that cultural policy should be fragmented into a multitude of personalised actions. It would be unrealistic and unfeasible to advocate such an approach: such an attempt would not be viable (regardless of the resources available) and quite probably it would be dangerous as it would mean losing sight of the collective dimension of culture and cultural life. The objective must be to make culture accessible, through an open cultural policy, and not to dissipate it. However, this collective approach to cultural policies must be combined with more individual cultural provision so that everyone can appropriate his or her own artistic expression and conceive the desire for culture.
33. Seeking to reconcile the universal scope of the right to take part in cultural life and the diversity of individual situations should under no circumstances lead to public policies offering only the lowest common denominator on the ground that the cultural offer is thereby accessible to all. The aim of a true cultural policy is to raise individuals up and not to pull everyone down to the lowest level. It is essential never to lose sight of the quality requirement due to everyone, the public and creators, and not to make do with a “cut-price right”. Recourse to professional cultural mediators is vital, and the role of experts in guiding without imposing is a major step towards securing a satisfying mode of participation for all.

2.2 A set of rights structuring identity and relational aspects

2.2.1 “Culture” and “cultural works”: linking up through meaning

34. In order to fully grasp the meaning of the term “taking part in cultural life”, we must agree on what we mean by “culture”. In the strict sense of the word, culture denotes the field of activities relating to works of art (paintings, sculptures and visual arts), the performing arts (theatre and music), literature, and classic and modern cinematographic works, but culture also refers to the customs and lifestyles of specific communities. These two acceptations overlap within societies.
35. Culture is therefore whatever man adds to nature in time and space, which implies that:
  • cultures are not entities which transcend persons,Note and persons in motion are the main focus within living cultural milieus, with their hybrid, changing forms;
  • the dignity and intimacy of all individual human beings in their freedom of expression and freedom to develop their identities are expressed via cultural constructions;
  • works conveying “identities, values and meanings”Note promote interpersonal communication;
  • the cultural field provides meaning for the prevailing social and political fabric but also determines man’s place in the world;
  • lastly, art and culture have their own specific purpose and permanence: to promote the life of the mind, sensitivity and imagination oriented towards the quest for meaning and beauty, which vary depending on the time and place.

2.2.2 “Taking part”: access to culture and contributing to cultural life

36. Taking part in cultural life involves exercising, in a freely chosen manner, all the fundamental freedoms secured for citizens in a democratic society. The right to take part in cultural life is a common denominator which covers all cultural activities contributing to the construction of human civilisations and the meaning which the latter wish to ascribe to the place of human beings in their universal history. Cultural rights cannot be confined to a social purpose. Culture has a specific purpose and permanence, expressing the creative freedom of the human condition.
37. Therefore, the right to “take part” in cultural life is a complex right, comprising several interdependent components. For the purposes of this report, the main distinction will be between two aspects: access to culture and contribution to cultural life. It should be noted that these two main components do not correspond to chronologically different phases, but rather they interlock, the first being likely to engender the second.
38. The right to access culture is, essentially, the right to fulfil oneself freely, to construct one’s cultural identity in relation to that of others. This first component covers everybody’s freedom to seek out, choose and develop their own cultural identity, to be open to and/or to come face to face (in a constructive and non-confrontational sense) with other cultural identities. It therefore concerns the right to come into contact with, experience, understand and assimilate various elements, as well as to enjoy them in a way which will allow individuals to shape their cultural identity.
39. This identity is built up in cultural diversity, without which there could be no freedom because there would be no choice. Only democratic and liberal law-based states can promote such freedom. Access to this diversity facilitates knowledge of other people’s cultures. To that extent, the right of access to culture greatly promotes intercultural dialogue and fosters understanding among peoples, while also enriching the specific input of each individual by means of shared practices.
40. The right to contribute to cultural life is the right to act, as an amateur or a professional, as a creative subject and an agent of cultural development. This second component (often neglected in discussions on cultural policy) covers, first of all, everybody’s right to take part in the creation of the perceptible, aesthetical, spiritual, material and intellectual expressions of the community. It is a question here of recognising and making effective the right to exercise, as an amateur or a professional, one’s own cultural practices, to share one’s cultural heritage with others and enrich one’s creative reflection with that of others.
41. The right to contribute to cultural life also includes the right to take part in formulating and implementing policies influencing the exercise of cultural rights for all.Note
42. The acquisition of the items of knowledge and know-how facilitating equal access to and participation in cultural life involve school education, because “there is no place other than school that can organise the encounter of all with art. There is no place other than school that can establish contact with works of art at an early age. There is no place other than school that can reduce inequalities of access to art and culture” (Jack Lang 2000). School enables us as adults to enjoy the forms of expression making up the past and present heritage and to prepare their future.
43. Lastly, it must be stressed that for children and teenagers, implementation of the right to participate in cultural life is a prerequisite for playing a fundamental role in society, namely that of cultural mediators among different social and cultural groups. Young people find it easier than adults to move on from one realisation, one cultural construction, to another. However, without a sufficiently sound grounding in their primary cultural references they can be manipulated and may adopt discriminatory or indeed violent attitudes.

2.2.3 “Cultural life”: a dynamic and interactive process

44. In its General Comment No. 21 of November 2009, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stated that “the expression ‘cultural life’ is an explicit reference to culture as a living process, historical, dynamic and evolving, with a past, a present and a future” (paragraph 11).
45. It added that “the concept of culture must be seen not as a series of isolated manifestations or hermetic compartments, but as an interactive process whereby individuals and communities, while preserving their specificities and purposes, give expression to the culture of humanity” (paragraph 12). 
46. In other words, cultural life cannot be reduced to a simple abstract relationship between an individual and the cultural elements he or she has experienced, a relationship deriving simply from the field of knowledge but in which the individual remains alone; the concept of cultural life also refers to past and present relationships between individuals and to a dynamic process of interactions which continues throughout one’s whole life, although the artistic adventure sometimes follows an apparently solitary path.
47. Cultural life can also denote an experience of sharing knowledge and works. “An individual does not exist socially until he or she is recognised as participating in (cultural) life, which is the space for social communication. Special recognition of the dignity of each individual is attached to the trust placed in him or her vis-à-vis his or her capacity for learning, transmitting and creating. Participating in cultural life implies an experience of reciprocity for individuals and communities alike.”Note Thus cultural life affects individuals at the core of their human dignity and their relational capacities.
48. Finally, cultural life as an interactive process cannot be confined to places specifically set aside for them. Cultural life is to be found everywhere where there is human thought and action, be this in public spaces, cultural institutions, outside or at home thanks to the Internet. In this respect, the technological revolution opens up new prospects for access to culture by abolishing geographical and temporal frontiers; it also opens up other modes of cultural creation and consumption. The emergence of talents on the Internet is extremely promising for the future of artistic and cultural life, connecting audiences, artists, computer experts and entrepreneurs.

3 The right to take part in cultural life and young people

3.1 The state of play: obstacles to, and measures to promote, participation

3.1.1 Factors limiting participation in cultural life, particularly by young people

49. Young people, like everyone else, are a socially, economically, psychologically and culturally heterogeneous category, but they are at a time in their lives where they lack financial independence. The fact that they are to a greater or lesser extent subject to parental authority and their low level of cultural acquis make them a human category that is vulnerable to inequalities and negative influences, but also a generation open to all offers, receptive without the preconceptions of their elders. Policies to promote their participation in cultural life must take account of these different parameters, in addition to those that apply to all generations. Decreasing costs of access to artistic and cultural practices, efforts to develop such activities close to the young people’s local areas (in both rural and urban areas), transport facilities to bring youngsters to cultural resources located in far-distant areas, and information on the different types of cultural provision, particularly via the Internet and social networks, should help reduce the numerous de facto inequalities still affecting young people.
50. Some of the replies to the questionnaire explicitly mention these factors. For instance, the Finnish reply states that according to the “2009 Youth Barometer”,Note cost is a major obstacle for a quarter of all young people; according to the same survey, in connection with encouraging young people to take part in cultural life, family and friends play a vital role, while the role of youth workers and persons supervising artistic activities is less important.
51. Similar findings could no doubt be made throughout Europe: for all youngsters, the social milieu of belonging largely determines the possibility of both gaining access to a wide range of cultural services and becoming involved in a creative activity. For young people in particular, when their family environment is mainly concerned with ensuring their material survival, culture takes a back seat. Only dynamic public support policies can overcome such obstacles.Note
52. On top of all these problems, there are numerous geographical divides, notably the concentration of certain types of cultural services in the major towns and cities and tourist areas. For example, the Latvian reply mentions not only a critically low rate of access for low-income families, but also the fact that the youth opportunities in this field are concentrated in the capital, Riga, and there is a significantly lower rate of participation in cultural activities by young people from other regions.
53. The problem of unequal opportunities between women and men for taking part in cultural life may arise in specific socio-economic milieus in some countries. Although significant progress has been made, the weight of tradition and different pay for the same responsibilities borne by women and men still sometimes affect women’s ability to enjoy a relaxing cultural activity, and their only means of access to culture is often via the TV set.
54. Lastly, for all the efforts to ensure that people with disabilities can enjoy cultural assets and services, there is still discrimination in this field, especially in terms of the ability to transcend the role of spectator to become involved in satisfying artistic creation. In this connection, information and communication technology provides a wide range of opportunities (“dematerialised” access, audio description, augmented reality, etc.) in order to make cultural assets and services accessible to persons with disabilities.
55. Other factors may restrict access to culture, such as hospitalisation or incarceration. In hospitals, more and more original schemesNote are being implemented, and professional cultural mediators are co-ordinating cultural and artistic activities involving patients, healthcare professionals and administrative staff. These activities radically change the atmosphere of the hospital, making it a living environment with a human face. Installing works of art in hospitals triggers spiritual, emotional and aesthetic processes in the people who contemplate them there. Art at hospitals improves the well-being of patients and the success of the treatment provided. In prisons, exhibitions of works of art by prisoners and live evening performances humanise these places of incarceration and preserve the link with society, which facilitates the prisoners’ rehabilitation on release.
56. The strategic analysis of the report attempts to identify transversal dysfunctions liable to affect all young people, especially those who suffer discrimination. A few of these are mentioned below.
57. Lack of time. It is interesting to note that a third of all young Finns complain of lack of time as a factor restricting their ability to engage in cultural activities they find attractive. This provides food for thought on the tensions felt by young people between participating in artistic and creative activities and, for instance, their time for studying and vocational training, working time, time for family and friends and sport and leisure time.
58. Inappropriate provision. It would appear that the problem here is more cultural than social. Although specific pricing policies for young people are useful, they are not enough on their own to influence the cultural practices of 15- to 25-year-olds. Some cultural activity organisers speak of social and cultural intimidation with reference to the fact that young people do not necessarily feel concerned by the cultural activities provided and that they see such provision as being alien to their way of seeing themselves and living their lives. The difficulty is how to give young people an appetite for activities which are difficult to apprehend because they are far removed from their experience, while enabling them to take part in cultural life in their own way, by building cultural bridges between the forms of culture to which youngsters have easier access and the other types. It is a case not of forcing young people into a given cultural system, but simply of giving them the keys to an understanding which will allow them, if they so wish, to reappropriate certain cultural forms which they would tend to reject, and to build their cultural identities on these pillars. Starting off from the present and moving back to the practices and aesthetics of the past is one of the methods that have proved their worth.
59. Inappropriate mediation. In order to feel a desire to approach any cultural work, people must be able to interpret and decode it in order to appreciate it. They must be put at ease and realise that the activity is accessible and potentially beneficial to them. The failure of cultural democratisation can also be explained by shortcomings in the work of mediation and interaction. The strategies used, which are often overly theoretical and insufficiently pedagogical, do not manage to elicit enthusiasm from young people. The presence of artists with their living experience prompts a desire to learn about the arts, particularly among young people.
60. Compartmentalisation of the various forms of cultures. Compartmentalisation, whether between arts and artists as presented to their audiences, in the definition of policies to promote culture or in the articulation of cultural education and the internalised perception which each individual forges for himself or herself, isolates cultural players and their audiences and shuts them into narrow cultural fields. Whether it be elitist, popular, heritage or contemporary, every living culture is multimodal and must accept comparison and mutual criticism without formal or substantive prejudice. Compartmentalisation is particularly noticeable in arts academies and colleges, where the perfectionist ideal which prevails in each discipline limits interdisciplinary exchanges and discourages future amateur enthusiasts, concentrating exclusively on potential future professionals.
61. The influences of the Internet on cultural behaviours. The impact of the digital revolution on young people’s cultural practices is broadly characterised by a preference for English-speaking culture, which probably derives from the supremacy of the US stakeholders (iTunes, Universal, Warner, etc.). However, contrary to what we might expect, the digital world is not in competition with the physical world: access to culture via the Internet encourages young people to attend performances by artists they have discovered on the Web, just as it can awaken curiosity to go and see the actual works of art presented on the Internet, thus securing a different type of exchange than is possible via a screen. We might just note that fewer newspapers and physical books are being read, but TV programmes are also responsible for this reduced consumption. We should also note the importance, in the 15-25 age group, of much more individualised practices linking people up to new communities (usually virtual ones). A genuine screen culture is thus emerging (with people accessing culture at home by downloading music and films, “visiting” exhibitions and watching performances via the Internet, etc). Unfortunately, the Internet is primarily a matter for young people with qualifications, a group which is already the most intensively involved in the cultural field, which limits its (very real) efficiency in terms of cultural democratisation.
62. The lack of venues for artistic creation. There is no shortage of artistic venues in general. However, only recognised, indeed professional, troupes can secure authorisation to use them. We must be able to provide a range of such venues, of varying sizes and in a variety of locations, without any predefined aim, to enable groups to exercise freely and organise their projects.

3.1.2 Examples of initiatives in the field of participation, notably by young people, in cultural life

63. In the replies to the questionnaire, the aspect most commonly mentioned is the interconnection between school and access to culture. Most of the replies describe activities linking up the performing and creative arts with school. The latter is not only a prime forum for pupils to learn cultural concepts and discover various artistic practices, but also a place where creators (including young artists) and young audiences can come into contact and interact.
64. In Sweden, for instance, under the Creative Schools Initiative, evaluation of the action plans presented by schools takes account of the long-term co-operation models between schools and the cultural sector as set out in these plans. In Denmark, the Interface project is geared to developing partnerships between secondary schools and local museums; furthermore, a specific system is available for funding secondment of professional artists to schools for periods of varying lengths, in order to implement projects promoting partnerships between schools and local artists. In Germany, cultural education is considered a vital tool for fostering youth participation in cultural life; a survey is scheduled of the co-operation agreements concluded by the cultural institutions and schools.
65. Various replies stress the educational role played by the cultural institutions, almost mirroring the schools’ cultural mission. Examples are: the educational programmes run by the Slovak National Gallery and the Museum of the Republika Srpska, which have set up Education Departments in their administrative sections; the Equipo educational project run by the national museum Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, in Spain; the educational mission of the Grand-Hornu Museum of Contemporary Art, and, more generally, the new educational services in museums in Belgium; and the National Educational Plan for Danish museums, which concentrates on developing their educational role.
66. Several replies stress the social function of culture, mentioning projects aimed at groups of vulnerable persons and individuals facing specific difficulties with taking part in cultural life.Note A number of projects deserve a special mention; they are examples of activities which combine culture, multiple integration and citizenship and which validate new modes of participation (links between cultural life, social life and non-confrontational political life):
  • the Youth in Action programme in Bulgaria, the We and Others programme in Serbia, and the projects on access to culture and reinforcement of cultural rights for Roma in the Slovak Republic, concentrate on cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue;
  • the Danish National Museum has developed a project devoted to women between the ages of 15 and 30, using digital technology and a virtual profile on Facebook;
  • in Belgium, agreements are being concluded with associations involved in developing projects to reduce inequalities in access to culture and socio-cultural work with deprived youngsters in the rural or urban environment and young people of immigrant origin.Note
67. In addition to organising international fairs or festivals, many projects stress openness to the international level: in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Sarajevo “Talent Campus” (linked to the Sarajevo Film Festival) fosters encounters between young directors from various countries and the development of co-operative projects; and the Croatian Ministry of Culture is funding the participation of young artists in international competitions and events; the Mobility programme run by the Bulgarian National Cultural Fund supports exhibitions by young artists abroad; Germany funds cross-border exchanges of expertise and know-how in the field of cultural education; and in Switzerland, financial support is available for associations involved in organising international intercultural exchanges for the young. Other activities stress interdisciplinary and/or intergenerational co-operation and exchanges: in Poland, for instance, the Cultural Education programme run by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage promotes cultural education projects which take a variety of artistic forms and are based on co-operation among individuals from different age groups.
68. The use of new technology is also mentioned. In Denmark, the Heritage Agency and the Ministry of Education are co-operating on a digital platform relating to the educational resources of Danish museums. In Portugal, the Young Creators programme has been used to reward the work of artists emerging in the field of digital art. An interesting Polish project is the Orange Academy. This programme, which is financed by the mobile phone operator Orange, supports computer-assisted musical composition projects and the creation of interactive educational games and interactive regional maps.
69. From the methodological angle, one aspect often highlighted in the replies is the importance of co-operation and attempts to create inter-institutional synergy (covering educational and cultural, public and private institutions at the different government levels), at both the programming and design and the implementation phases of the project. Networking of various stakeholders is vital for ensuring the sharing of knowledge and acquired experience.
70. Some replies mention the importance of involving pupils in the design and/or evaluation of projects. In Belgium, for instance, grant applications under the Soutien aux projets jeunes scheme are examined by an evaluation committee made up of representatives from the youth sector. In Denmark, the Network for Children and Culture acts as an adviser to the Ministry of Culture and has presented it with a report on Youth culture in a new framework. In Portugal, responsibility for running the Young Creators Programme has been assigned to the Instituto Português da Juventude (Portuguese Youth Institute).
71. A remark: project evaluation is not automatic and both the tools and the methods of evaluation are seldom a component part of the projects themselves. This is perhaps something that ought to be addressed, in order also to facilitate the pooling of experience at national and European level.

3.2 Towards a new strategy for implementing young people’s right to take part in cultural life

3.2.1 An approach based on mutual enhancement and interaction

72. The need for intellectual pleasures and the pleasures of the eye and ear and the need to create by imagining unexplored worlds are basic human needs. Not every youngster, however, has had the opportunity to satisfy these needs, owing to the fact that they have been twisted or stifled by multiple discrimination, by the levelling-down effects of mass consumption, by inappropriate provision or lack of places for sharing and creating. These many factors show the major obstacles facing policy makers when it comes to developing initiatives capable of having a lasting impact on participation in cultural life.
73. The first requirement for effective action is to recognise the problem and its seriousness, as problems often go unnoticed and therefore remain untreated; violations of cultural rights deprive their victims of the sense that their lives are meaningful:
  • such persons are deprived of a part of themselves, of connections with their past, their roots and their social environment; they are denied the opportunity to discover beauty wherever it exists and hence of a crucial means of achieving freedom and personal fulfilment: admiration;
  • they are no longer able to participate in the work of the communities around them, or in the process of constructing identity: their actions are devoid of meaning, freedom and of any potential future and become narrowly focused on the task of meeting their immediate animal needs. The pride of creating and giving and the pleasure of receiving that are specific to humans then cease to be part of their everyday lives.
74. Violations of cultural rights also pose a threat to the long-term future of the cultural diversity and heritage without which human beings would effectively be cut adrift, without roots or connections.
75. In short, without participation in cultural life, we find ourselves dispossessed of our past and present, and without ambitions for the future. Cultural excellence, on the other hand, is a factor for excellence in other areas of life, enabling us to make plans for the future as an extension of, or in reaction to, the past, and to be part of the continuing human story in time and space.
76. Participation in cultural life is also a responsibility. It is for young people to decide what references (content and forms) are, in their view, necessary in order to build their identity and their relationships with others; and what references they wish to develop in order to enhance their artistic and cultural heritage. To do this, they need to be able to draw on individuals and educational and communication institutions that give them access to cultural works, together with the necessary insights to interpret and appreciate or challenge these works.
77. Promoting culture is as much about the variety as the quality of choices: variety allows freedom of choice, while high-quality references grant us the freedom to be and to achieve personal fulfilment through mastery of a particular cultural discipline. Political action, however, cannot develop on the basis of an indefinite number of options and variables or it will remain superficial and ineffective. The replies to the questionnaire point to numerous, highly beneficial initiatives which are well worth publicising and sharing. This flurry of activity, however, does not always seem to be based on a clear political strategy that is consistent over time and space.
78. Among the countless cultural activities available, those that provide a meeting point between different cultural fields and, at the same time, between people from different backgrounds and age groups manage to play an important role and get priority support in public policies. A core element of any strategy is the need to achieve greater synergies between the different fields of culture, to promote mutual enhancement of resources and diversity of connections and interaction between people and skills, without ever losing sight of the requirement for quality, as a mark of respect to the men and women who have access to culture or who are involved in the arts as amateurs or professionals.

3.2.2 Interaction or the principles of interconnection

79. Four interactions or principles of interconnection should therefore serve as key criteria when making policy decisions. The purpose of these criteria is to achieve greater mutual enhancement and hence greater recognition of existing resources and a better return on investments, economically, culturally, socially and politically speaking.
80. Interartistic and intercultural element. Every artistic discipline provides opportunities to express and realise a dimension that is capable of revealing some rewarding aspect of ourselves. When it interacts with other artistic expressions, it expands the range of communication between the person and the artistic expressions and each art form is enhanced by other forms, with each one becoming more visible and attractive through interaction with the rest. Such interaction also fosters contact between different sections of the public and between actors and the public, as the public is more tempted by the number and variety of artistic offerings, providing opportunities for social integration. Theatre, where creative writing meets the performing arts (dance, music, singing, speech and mime, costumes and set design) is a classic example of this.Note Other hybrid forms of multidisciplinary arts are contemporary circus (which also includes theatre, dance, music, etc.) or sound and light shows, which also make use of natural surroundings and/or landmark buildings, visual art performances in association with video-makers and sound and light artists.Note Interaction of this type can facilitate social integration projects, but there is no question of manufacturing programmes for “marginalised” groups. The arts are an end in themselves and are not intended to be a form of social therapy: one does not introduce people to the arts for the purpose of making good citizens. Far from seeking to exploit art in this way, the idea is to invite and attract these sections of the public to activities that serve, in a general way, to bring communities together and highlight connections between people who thought they had little in common.
81. Interspatial element. While activities aimed at particular target groups are important for developing particular disciplines, there is a need to promote hybrid meeting places which draw both on the capacities of a given urban or rural area and on the diversity of the groups invited to use it for the duration of, say, a festival or in the longer term (multipurpose venues: town squares, streets or buildings). The idea is to protect and develop full-scale cultural “ecosystems”. The transformation of former industrial wastelands into venues for exhibitions and arts performances is one very successful example of this. The cultural development of any given area is about more than just the arts; it also has social and economic benefits, thanks to links between creators, the public and the various professionals who participate in the activity.Note When reflecting on “spaces”, furthermore, it is important not to forget about the virtual gateways to culture made possible by the Internet (and which are by nature interspatial) and also digital art and the “net artists” who operate in the digital world.
82. Intertemporal element. Culture never stands still, it is constantly evolving. The “intertemporal” element refers to the accumulation of cultural capital over time, and its transmission from one generation to another. Of primary relevance here is the role of arts education in schools and universities, academies, art colleges and museums, and the ways and means provided by new information and communication technologies (NICTs). The intertemporal approach should allow us to dip into the past, and even archaeology, for sources and examples of willingness to live together,Notebut also to project ourselves into the imaginative future of prospective arts.
83. Interinstitutional element. This is about achieving optimum synergies between institutions so as to promote the cultural rights, freedoms and responsibilities of each individual. Central to the mission of every institution that plays a part in arts education and communication (schools, art colleges, universities, academies, public authorities, cultural associations, cultural enterprises, media, etc.) should be the obligation to interact in order to forge links between education and culture, between science and culture and between the economy and culture. To this end, there needs to be greater cohesion and interaction between:
  • policies in the fields of education (including arts education), conservation and management of cultural heritage (local and national, tangible and intangible), youth and social welfare;
  • projects and initiatives introduced by the authorities at various levels (local, regional, national and international);
  • the projects and initiatives of education and cultural institutions, both public and private;
  • the activities of these institutions and those of other partners, in particular the media, patrons, sponsors and associations, including notably youth organisations.
84. The more activities are guided by these four criteria, the greater the personal, cultural and social benefits will be. These are the activities that have the greatest lever effect on development, incorporating the various dimensions, both personal and social, including the economic dimension.
85. The performing arts are undoubtedly the ones best placed to meet all these criteria at the same time. They help to highlight connections between the arts concerned, between artists and the public, between places and time scales and between institutions, including across borders. One thinks here not so much of companies that tour around, playing to seasoned audiences, but rather of those that create cross-boundary spaces, reaching out to new audiences (streets, schools, training institutes, enterprises, museums, etc.) by bringing out forgotten memories.Note
86. One final point to note is that the international dimension simultaneously enhances the dynamics of interconnection by interlinking experience acquired in different countries, by encouraging us to look to other horizons and to discover what we have in common within a context of cultural diversity. The European construction process will reap the full benefit of these cultural interconnections between countries.

4 Conclusions

87. The right of everyone to take part in cultural life encompasses the full set of cultural rights which, if they are observed and equally distributed between people and areas, afford everyone:
  • the opportunity for contact with the arts and a variety of cultures;
  • the possibility of choosing how they wish to engage with the arts and culture (on a permanent basis or episodically, as amateurs or professionals);
  • the assurance of being able to exercise their other rights freely and responsibly.
88. Indeed, respect for the right of everyone to take part in cultural life ties in with respect for human rights and enables human rights to be exercised as it requires that certain material and psychological conditions be met, allowing everyone to achieve their full potential to be thinking, feeling beings, and to construct an identity for themselves as individuals and as citizens, in harmony with their cultural, social and political environment.
89. The creation and development of these cultural rights are an indication of human beings’ ability to draw on culture as a social resource, and to develop, through contact with cultural diversity, an awareness of where they fit in relation to others, and where others fit in relation to them. The “glue” needed to form social and political bonds is surely provided by activities tha t have a high cultural content. The creation and development of these cultural rights are also a sign of human beings’ need to create tangible and intangible works that transcend them, in order to forge civilisations that can be passed on to future generations.
90. Yet even though their importance is recognised by all national and international authorities, and despite the many initiatives and projects under way across Europe, the fact is that cultural rights are not enjoyed by everyone in equal measure. There is no equality of opportunity when it comes to accessing knowledge and artistic and cultural practices.
91. Societies’ cultural development and the harmonious sharing of their wealth among citizens of the same nation and between citizens of different countries are hampered by the following:
  • the unevenness of provision across regions and countries and repeated failures to tailor it to the aspirations of different sections of the public;
  • socio-economic inequalities in access;
  • the shortcomings of the system of education, training and arts teaching;
  • inconsistent or haphazard political and financial support, depending on socio-economic constraints;
  • the fact that culture tends to be seen as a mere accounting variable, that can be adjusted in order to balance national and local budgets.
92. Only states and public authorities are truly in a position to effectively remedy all these problems and forms of discrimination. They are the ones in charge of basic public services (including cultural services, which should be enjoyed by everyone). Not only are they able to act as initiators and promoters (in the same way as private bodies) but also, most importantly, they have the power to regulate interaction between all of the parties involved (between different sections of the public, and between the public and private sectors). They have a duty to protect and promote cultural diversity in order to preserve everyone’s identity and freedom of expression.
93. The starting point for equal access to culture, which is the responsibility of central governments, is education. School is the pre-eminent place for equal access to education, and the right to take part in cultural life is inextricably linked to the right to arts education, to learning the skills that it provides, to the freedom of creative expression that it generates and to the many contacts between pupils, cultural works, artists and institutions that it fosters, contacts that should be ongoing and mandatory throughout pupils’ school careers so that they get long-term exposure to the incalculable benefits of cultural life and discover their “desire for culture”.
94. Outside school, the aim of any policy aimed at realising the right to take part in cultural life should not be merely to fund and organise shows, exhibitions and a variety of high-quality cultural resources. It is also very important to organise encounters between the public and creators, and to promote settings in which the learner, the mediator and the creator can share sensory, aesthetic and philosophical experience in reciprocal relationships that are beneficial to all, amateurs and professionals alike. It is because the public discovers in itself the potential to be a cultural actor and actively engages with a particular cultural work or event that such practices can generate a “desire for culture” without which any efforts to improve provision will have little impact on the effective exercise of the right to take part in cultural life.
95. Standing as they do at the crossroads between childhood and adulthood, young people are a key means of transmitting cultural resources and values within society. From an intergenerational and social cohesion perspective, one of the main responsibilities of policy makers is to motivate them. Therefore, policy makers need to involve them more directly in cultural activities, promote ground-breaking initiatives and bring out any practices that create cultural, social and political bonds, and favour artistic and cultural resources that enable encounters. Special attention also needs to be paid to the ways in which young people access artistic and cultural activities, which greatly help to build their self-confidence by enabling them to discover the many facets of their nature.
96. Participation in the arts serves to enhance our societies’ artistic and cultural heritage, thanks to the many and varied creations that it generates. Support for innovative young creative talents is vital therefore because without them, our future heritage would be sadly diminished. Policy makers have a duty to embrace innovation boldly in order to secure for future generations what they will, in time, come to see as a classic heritage of universal value, as bequeathed to us by our forebears.
97. At the same time, the state has a duty to take account of the radical changes in the way we access culture, with the boom in digital culture and Internet technology, to facilitate the emergence of new artists and new forms of expression and to further develop new ways of disseminating cultural content in order to make them accessible to all. The globalisation of exchanges made possible by the Internet provides an opportunity for artists to learn from one another and allows Internet users (in particular young people) to participate in expressions that originated in distant parts of the globe.
98. If successful, such policies can help combat the sort of self-censorship that is practised by some people, in the mistaken belief that they are not suited to cultural and artistic pursuits or to artistic creation. When it comes to dealing with psychological barriers of this kind, arts education and policies that encourage young people are particularly effective, at a time in youngsters’ lives when they are experimenting extensively and are less subject to cultural and social conditioning.
99. The right to take part in cultural life is also hampered by the multiple types of discrimination suffered by anyone, including youngsters, who for various reasons have had little contact with artistic and cultural provision and practices: economic problems, geographical remoteness from cultural resources (rural areas, mountain regions, etc.), confinement in closed institutions (hospitals, prisons, etc.) and disability (physical, sensory or mental) are all potential sources of disadvantage. It is the duty of central government to deploy the necessary material, human and financial resources to mitigate the impact of these factors.
100. The role of the state in regulating interaction is crucial here. If successful, co-operation with local authorities can help establish a better balance between local provision and offerings that are more national or international in scope; more rational use of pooled resources with input from the private sector is vital given the current budgetary constraints, and more needs to be done to break down barriers between the different artistic and cultural disciplines in order to improve access for all to a rich and varied artistic and cultural life.
101. The different factors for mutual enhancement of artistic and cultural resources, namely interartistic and intercultural, interspatial, intertemporal and interinstitutional factors, are one of the avenues I suggest for implementing and evaluating public policies to promote cultural democratisation, especially policies aimed at young audiences or practitioners. On this basis, I have prepared a number of guidelines for policy makers, which appear in the appendix to the draft recommendation.
102. The international dimension of cultural initiatives should complement and enhance the dynamic generated by each of these factors. For the right of everyone to take part in cultural life is also the right to enjoy and to contribute to the production of Europe’s cultural heritage; the right to engage with European cultural diversity, with its past, present and future bound up with the promotion of the democratic and human rights values championed by the Council of Europe. Ideally, therefore, closer consideration should be given to the “cultural rights” dimension as a transversal element in the Council of Europe’s projects on education for democratic citizenship, quality education, youth, the information society and social cohesion. The right of everyone to take part in cultural life, moreover, has a pre-eminent place in the process of building the “living together” society.
103. Art and culture should not be locked behind borders. On the contrary, it is important to facilitate their dissemination and to promote transfrontier artistic and cultural activities. In this respect, the Council of Europe has recognised expertise in developing intergovernmental co-operation, but also co-operation between local and regional authorities (something that is very important in the cultural sphere) and partnerships between public institutions and civil society. The Council of Europe could mount fresh efforts (and at less cost) for joined-up action by the various parties involved with a view to ensuring effective protection for the right of everyone to take part in cultural life, and in order to co-ordinate the exchange of good practice and Europe-wide collaborative projects in this area.
104. Lastly, art and culture are powerful vectors for sharing and promoting values in a calm and collected intercultural dialogue. In the case of the European area, this means being able to engage with the rest of the world, starting with the countries close to the Mediterranean region and conveying through art and culture the democratic, liberal values that bind us. The North-South Centre should pursue its goal of promoting better understanding between civilisations. The interplay of cultures is central to mutual understanding and trust, which are the basis for peace.