The Banlieues d’Europe association has come to an end.
The members of the Banlieues d’Europe network have worked together since 1989. The network has been nourished, and has grown; numerous people have been associated in the work, and many organizations have cooperated. These people were actors eager to live, and above all progress, in a world where culture is a precious possession, belonging to all citizens, for sharing and bearing fruit - not reserved for certain citizens because of their education, or even an inequitable social tradition.
Cultural disparity between humans beings has been denounced over the last few decades, whether it be in the combat for education for all, or adult education, or cultural democracy, or cultural creation; education for all is now complete, intact, and available for everyone.
But it seems that the hour of the “white page” has come. This is the page that began to be written by the decision-makers who restructured and reoriented their institutions. Some of them are genuinely, with determination, seeking new avenues in order to democratically attain the cultural objectives which they are unable to fulfil today. Others dream of well-defined actions from a technocratic point of view, of “sure and viable” procedures, leaving out experimentation carried out with the people concerned. And there are those who respect the economic austerity established in sure values - for certain levels of the population only! which block, eliminate and sometimes reduce to zero the public budgets devoted to culture; in particular, those devoted to cultural democracy. Ever since 2014 Banlieues d’Europe has been refused the European subsidies which they obtained before for its work on European networking. As also for numerous cultural actors, other subsidies have either been reduced, or made the object of administrative examinations that do not seem to lead anywhere; putting-off of decisions, non-respected time limits, information a posteriori.
Constrained to very short -term management, and lack of finance, Banlieues d’Europe has been obliged to cease its activities as from August 2015.
As for our network, this is the hour when millions of pages have been torn up.
These torn pages are those written and illuminated by our members and guests, whom we never ceased to meet, get to know, put into contact with others, and to valorize over the last twenty-five years. These pages are those of artistic creations of simple citizens in neighbourhoods, towns, and rural areas who have worked, created, expressed their vision of Utopia through colours, words, movement, forms, images, reconfigurations of the public space, music, cinema, sounds, new media, conviviality, meeting up and cultural diversity, recognized in the facts.
In the words of Edgar Morin, today in Europe, “at any moment, we do not see metamorphosis but rather the process of decomposition, which is already there”. More than ever, we think - because we have experienced and observed them - that the artistic meetings we organized have been the source of positive metamorphosis. More than ever, we think that social and cultural recognition of each individual, by himself or herself and by their co-citizens, is realized in different artistic languages and in the gratuitousness of this expression. More than ever, we are proud of having been united together with you who constitute the network.
The Banlieues d’Europe association has come to an end.
Long live its spirit and the marvellous link that the network has created! That will live on above and beyond institutions and subsidies, and above and beyond our memories!
Long live its spirit in the hearts and dreams of people; far from profits, outside of rules defined by “neoliberals” and the so-called unique laws of the economic market!
Long live its spirit against punishing ideologies! Long may it live on like a resistance nourished by emotions of joy and happiness, of a revolt, moulded and shaped by the hopes we have touched so closely during these twenty-five years of presence and action in the Banlieues d’Europe Network.
Yvette Lecomte, President of Banlieues d’Europe
Contact Yvette Lecomte : : Yvette.LECOMTE@cfwb.be
Au Revoir Message from four hands
Dear Friends, Dear Partners, Dear Members of the Network,
There it is, it is finished!...and it is not by lack of trying, of not having attempted everything in the book; we are beaten. We took up arms, but nothing came of it.
Banlieues d’Europe is a great network but a little association, and we make it a point of honour to present it in this way.
It is not without sadness and emotion that we draft this last e-letter, which for the last fifteen years has revealed more than a thousand artistic projects, implicating inhabitants throughout Europe...a Europe that does not at all resemble that which is shown in the media.
We want to thank the members of our association for having supported our activity and our development during so many years, all the partners, faithful or occasional, for being implicated in our actions, and companions and friends for their unfailing support. We also think of all the people who have invested in the network whether as an unpaid volunteer, salaried, or in the framework of a training course, and who have forged the spirit of Banlieues d’Europe. Our grateful thanks go to all of them.
The Banlieues d’Europe association no longer exists, but the network is above all a human adventure, and we earnestly hope that the relationships which have developed along the years will not come to an end. We are all carriers of the common values of opening up, sharing, respect, and also combat and resistance. We will continue to keep these convictions alive in the vast plains of the possible, which open up before us now!
May the force and courage accompany each and every one of you!
We hope to keep in touch with you, so here are our contact details as from today.
With warmest regards.
Myriam Bentoumi : : firstname.lastname@example.org
Marjorie Fromentin : : email@example.com
Edito April 2015/ 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