Vienna, 5 September 2011 - „Times of crisis are times of reflection, in which old structures, habits, and patterns of thought must be questioned and, if necessary, be abandoned to make room for something new. This requires creativity“, said Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger at the opening of the 2011 International Cultural Policy Conference in the Museum for Applied Arts (MAK), which this year was dedicated to the theme “Crisis demands creativity – International cultural policy work in times of change“.
„Despite a very tight budget in difficult economic times, we can draw a thoroughly positive summary again this year“, Spindelegger expressed his delight. In 2010 alone, more than 5,400 cultural events were organised in the 30 Austrian Cultural Forums, the Embassies and Consulates General, the 60 Austrian Libraries, and the nine Austria Institutes in 110 countries, attracting some 7.7 million visitors.
„I am certain that the new International Cultural Policy concept will help us repeat the previous success of Austrian International Cultural Policy" said Spindelegger, taking advantage of the opportunity to present the new international cultural policy concept developed by the cultural department of the Foreign Ministry together with its international cultural network. The concept focuses on the innovative-creative potential of Austrian artists. The international culture network is to “act a bridge”, facilitating the participation of Austrian creative minds in the international dialogue on culture. Another priority emphasized by Spindelegger was that Austria intended to become more involved in the "further development of European integration". „In future, we will further strengthen our participation in European cultural initiatives and develop projects for enhancing a common EU awareness together with other partners“, said Spindelegger. This objective also includes the geographical priority of the Danube Region and the Black Sea, where several projects are to be implemented next year.
An important aim of international cultural policy is to make a lasting contribution to global confidence-building and peacekeeping, Spindelegger continued. „We intend to achieve this in particular through further initiatives in the area of intercultural and interreligious dialogue“, said the Foreign Minister, who highlighted dialogue as an important instrument for the promotion of intercultural and interreligious coexistence and of integration in Austria and Europe.
Even on an EU level, the people very much acknowledged the cultural value of Europe since its establishment and are attributing an ever increasing importance to its economic factor. He concluded by pointing out to the growing network of the European Union National Institutes for Culture, of which Austria is a founding member.
At the end of the conference on international cultural policy, State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner will address the project of "nation branding“ planned by the Federal Government. „For Austria, this project represents an excellent opportunity to review its international positioning and adapt to new developments. It is particularly important for us that the area of arts and culture is given the significance it deserves“, said Waldner.
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Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs
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