Edito / Yvette Lecomte, President of Banlieues d'Europe
In the Banlieues d’Europe network, we are seeing a dwindling of support for, and even interest in, cultural actions carried out in neighbourhoods or suburbs where citizens live at a low social and economic level. We know that the situation of these people often accumulates difficulties because of low socio-educational capital, often “acquired” through school courses that practice negative discrimination - analyzed scientifically for the last forty years.
Can one today still put forward the question of a discriminatory role, but positive for culture? Perhaps, no!
What are the actual priorities for cultural policies? One can doubt that there is a wish to exercise cultural missions for the benefit of everyone, by taking into account the differences that exist between individuals and social groups. One can regret reading, less and less, in the main lines of cultural action, of a major role being assigned to cultural practices in view of the emancipation differentiated to all citizens. There is no longer a cultural policy concerning all citizens in a discriminating manner. No longer a question of discrimination...the question will progressively be buried.
Why? Why diminish, extinguish, the means that serve to carry out policies for which, on the contrary, scope is necessary? Why rapidly bury interest for the artistic production of neighbourhoods already manifested in France, notably since the beginning of the eighties - and which has certainly had an increasing effect at the European level?
Artistic creation realized by and with people from the neighbourhoods should be valorized: it is anchored in their situation and in their condition. It flies away with their dreams; that which can be done in a Europe which aspires to be integrated and see all its citizens participating, in a union that defends democratic values. But the realization of this project risks being feeble if political programmes do not more effectively take into consideration all communities for their cultural contributions. And not only for their economic contribution! Now popular culture, that of the people, of the “people down below” , neighbourhood culture, has shown the powerful role that it can have in mobilization of bodies and minds. Take, for example, the urban culture that Banlieues d’Europe has just valorized during the meeting organized in Brussels with seven European partners, from Finland to France, by way of Great Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium. One again, this meeting demonstrated that young people have produced their own aesthetic and culture, set it up, and shown their capacity for creation and a cultural, social and political contribution to society.
It is important that political action and the management of neighbourhoods also take into account citizens’ imaginative expression - not only their obligations as producers, but for their capacity to create, including the artistic domain, to communicate, to make themselves known, enriched, voluntary, wishing to construct a future in the States they come from, thanks to diverse languages, and thus encourage democratic debate.
One of the political obligations in our democratic countries comes from a commitment enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: - “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”.
There is therefore an obligation for our democratic States and communities to permit cultural creation by and for everyone. This, like an alchemic transmutation, results in thoughts, a way of life, habits and customs and dreams somehow changing substance and transforming from a “ vile nature” to a “noble nature”, thanks to culture. Is it not better to transform human relations into consumers of culture and the humans themselves into consumers? Is it not better than transforming women and men into objects of consumption , becoming materialist, even dehumanized, as well as the virtual games in the circus that we know today?
From the “everything is allowed”, from the pre-chewed, so-called cultural, to the murder games in which one can participate because they are virtual, to prefer all is allowed, including the dream, because it is embodied in a cultural production shared with neighbours: people or neighbourhoods, towns of countries, nations or continents. We invite you to reflect on this, when one know what happens “sometimes”, that certain people watch real killings followed closely by the emotion and compassion of nations dumbfounded by what they are keeping in their heart.
Yvette Lecomte, President of Banlieues d’Europe
A Look Back at the Annual Meeting of Banlieues d’Europe in Brussels
On 28 March last, in the framework of the Lezarts Urbains Festival, Banlieues d’Europe organized, in collaboration with the six partners of the 7STEPS Network, a European Meeting on the theme “Hip Hop Dance, Urban Dance in Europe” in Brussels.
Motivated by the observations and preoccupations of European partners in their respective territories, this meeting, the climax of a great international experience, enabled one hundred participants from six countries (England, Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Netherlands) to collectively evaluate the developments and evolution of this European dance movement.
The priority of this day of reflection, first of its kind in Belgium and the Wallonie-Brussels Federation, was to enable the urban dance sector to consolidate and to valorize its artists, as well the operators who accompany the projects throughout Europe, and at the same time providing space for common reflection and themed workshops in small groups.
An exceptional event in the framework of the annual Festival of Lezarts Urbains closed the day, with the presentation on stage of the European creation “7STEPS”, for ten dancers, choreography by Mourad Merzouki (Käfig Company), as well as “In the Middle” by Marion Motin (Swaggers Company) and a selection of unmissable Belgian choreographed shows.
A report of this day is being prepared, and we will keep you informed when it is published!
Information about 7STEPS project : : www.7steps.eu
Banlieues d'Europe website : : www.banlieues-europe.com