On August 25 as an effort by Trans Europe Halles member Kultuuritehas Polymer
and friend centre Noor-Eesti Loomekeskus
initiator Madis Mikkor, a symposium was held in MoKS in South Estonia. The opening words by Egge Kulbok, a co-organiser and researcher at Jyväskylä University were: “The precondition for major changes in the culture is economical development”. This started a lively dispute, where many agreed that the feeding hand places an order for social services and demands a certain level of obeying (often masking it as “level of required quality” and “professionalism”) but initiatives hold the key to the legitimacy the ruling power needs, taking upon them the responsibility of keeping their values clean of the conjuncture.
A question of elitism in culture also rose. The past, where many forms of culture (the mainstream culture of fine and performing arts, music and literature) emerged under the protectorate of the power elites, entitles us to a question: “Is our creative and artistic activity actually also a reflection of the changing face of the elites, who gain the global right of setting up demands backed with the argument of funding the freedom of expression in their respective countries?”
Not surprisingly a disaccord struck in the struggle to find a common denominator for professional and folk culture. State owned professionally run cultural houses attract a joint membership of roughly 10% of the population. Being measured by the same criteria is not appealing to the marginal number of self organised cultural practices active in the field of contemporary art who seem to gain their identity through opposing to the “mainstream folk culture”.
The symposium added to a series of discussions going on in Estonia during the summer and fall of 2012 collecting ideas and propositions from among the third sector to be included in the composing of the new priorities of the state cultural policy.
One can follow a certain pattern in the evolution of independent cultural networks in Europe, where local initiatives create international networks as TEH, while this in turn gives its power back in the form of know-how, contacts and encouragement to see the institutionalisation of regional cooperation like Anténa or Red TransIbérica.
And dear readers, feedback from you is most welcome, especially if you can tell us about other networks or collaborations of independent cultural centres acting on a regional or national level.