La Rencontre de Potsdam - the general assembly 2011
What has the network Les Rencontres to offer in 2012?
At the last October week-end, the Association Les Rencontres met in Potsdam. During those three days, the focus was set on European culture politics in the riding hall A, the location of the children and youth stage of the Hans Otto Theater. At the general assembly, the international network of European cities and regions for culture presented the agenda of its activities planned for 2012.
President Roger Tropeano opened the general assembly with a self-critical call. How are Les Rencontres connected with Brussels, with the European commission? Now, the network has the chance to influence the time after 2019 and 2020. Brussels will receive detailed and practical suggestions for the future of European cultural policy generated by the results of the future meetings.
Les Rencontres has planned a lot for 2012. In March, the first meeting will take place in Maastricht . Vice president Odile Wolfs presented the agenda of the conference in the Dutch city. There are three important anniversaries to be celebrated in Maastricht. 1992, the then existing states of the European Community signed the Maastricht treaty which marked the beginning of the European Union.
At that time, one of its main objectives was the strengthening of culture – in the new union, it was meant to stand on an equal footing with the economy. What has become of that intention? 20 years later, Les Rencontres use the opportunity of this anniversary to reflect critically on the current weighting and value of culture within the European Union in their executive committee.
Fine and European arts
2012 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Malta treaty which handles the protection of archaeological heritage - Les Rencontres will check what has happened with the intentions mapped out in that contract 1992, comparing them with the current status quo.
The practice-oriented conferences are a characteristic feature of Les Rencontres. In Maastricht, fine arts and the European arts market will be another topic on the agenda, too
The Slovenian coty Maribor will be the European capital of culture 2012. Les Rencontres prepares its annual meeting in April in the city. In Maribor, local authorities will have the opportunity to present their cultural projects as examples of good practice. Workshops shall examine to what extent culture can touch or even overcome social boundaries.
What happens in Europe?
In July, Avignon will be the location of the event for the third time. During the Festival d´Avignon , Les Rencontres will focus on the topic of the European capital of culture and the future of this programme. Representatives of cities which are former European capitals of culture, of cities which have already been chosen and will soon be capitals of culture, current applicants for that title, and those who didn’t make it will meet here.
Also involved in this bid exchange meeting are the university of Avignon and the University Network of the European Capitals of Culture (UNeECC) as well as government members and members of the European Commission, so there is practical advice and help for the future hosts and applicants at hand. But this dialogue among the European capitals of culture is also meant to lead to possible operational scenarios for the future eight years of the programme which are offered to the European commission as a recommendation.
Strategy Europe 2020
In autumn, a premiere is scheduled for Les Rencontres on Cyprus: more than 100 participants will meet at a big European campus. Cyprus will preside the Council of the European Union in October 2012. How will concrete models and ideas for a future programme “capital of culture” post-2020 look like? Expert lectures and workshops are needed in order to work out the best possible concrete strategy for Europe 2020, respectively to present it to the European Commission.
The next general assembly of Les Rencontres is also scheduled to take place on Cyprus.
Croatia joins the European Union in 2012.
And there is additional good news: Les Rencontres is paid by the member cities, regions, and municipalities – they finance the network and its activities. In spite of the tight financial situation, treasurer José A. Dielens could assure all members of Les Rencontres of the fact that the fees will not be raised in 2012.