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The sense of culture



Does culture matter? What use is it? What do we understand by culture? For whom should it be important? And, above all, why? Although these questions are rarely formulated in such an elementary way, they invariably lurk in the background of present-day debate about public and private support of the cultural sector. The current situation of economic crisis has drawn attention to these issues but what it really reveals is an inadequate social perception of the role of culture. In the days when it was believed that resources were abundant, the social benefits or profits accruing from investment in culture were taken for granted. Now, however, fierce competition for funding to address all kinds of social needs has cast doubt on the notion of culture as a common good, especially in the case of cultural activities funded by public money. 

The title of this debate has three senses: it refers to the value of culture, its raison d’être and its definition. In times of crisis its value is reduced to a problem of costs and benefits and the defence of culture ends up being focused on two arguments: that is it an economic driver and an instrument of social cohesion. However, although both points are true, they fail to explain the contribution of culture to human experience. The aim of this debate is not to discuss particular cultural policies or to focus on the circumstances imposed by the present crisis but to come to grips with the essential issues and inquire into the raison d’être of culture, while shunning instrumental and utilitarian justifications. Beyond its aesthetic value, the profits it makes and its social benefits, these discussions aim to highlight the political and ethical relevance of culture. If culture matters it is because it also has a role to play in the realm of politics.

                                                                                                              Antonio Monegal, director of the debate


18 September, afternoon and evening

5.30 p.m.
Antonio Monegal,
Universitat Pompeu Fabra


5.30 - 7 p.m.
Culture as a Common Good
Marina Garcés,
philosopher, University of Zaragoza
Nicolás Barbieri, researcher at the Government and Public Policy Institute at the Autonomous University of Barcelona
Joan Miquel Gual, Barcelona Metropolitan Observatory, Commons Foundation

Moderator: Toni Casares, director of the Sala Beckett theatre


7.30 – 9 p.m.
Culture and Politics
Francesc Torres,
visual artist and curator
Xavier Antich, philosopher, University of Girona, patronage president of the Tàpies Foundation
Vicenç Altaió, poet and critic, former director of the Santa Mònica Arts Centre

Moderator: Rosa Pera, exhibition curator, former director of  Bòlit, Centre of Contemporary Art, Girona


19 September, morning


10 – 11.30 a.m.
Culture and the Media
Catalina Serra
, journalist, Ara Balears
Emili Manzano, journalist and TV producer
Vicent Partal, journalist, director of VilaWeb

Moderator: Teresa Sesé, journalist, La Vanguardia


12 noon - 1.30 p.m.
Identity and Cosmopolitanism
Isona Passola
, film producer, president of the Catalan Film Academy
Francesc-Marc Álvaro, writer, journalist, lecturer at the Ramon Llull University
Jordi Puntí, writer

Moderator: Miquel Berga, lecturer in English Literature, Pompeu Fabra University, editor-in-chief of Catalonia Today


19 September, afternoon and evening

5 – 6.30 p.m.
Culture as Conflict
Eduard Escoffet
, poet and entrepreneur, former director of the Barcelona Poetry Festival
Jordi Oliveras, cultural animator, coordinator of  Indigestió and the magazine
Simona Levi, artist and activist, Conservas director and founder.

Moderator: Jorge Luis Marzo, exhibition curator, writer and lecturer at the Bau School of Design


7 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.
Public Service and Market
Xavier Marcé
, economist, Vice-President of Focus
Ricard Robles, founder and co-director of the Sónar Festival
Han Nefkens, art patron, Han Nefkens Foundation and ArtAids Foundation

Moderator: Marta Clari, manager at the Barcelona Institute of Culture (ICUB)


The debates can be followed online (live videostreaming) 

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