The report shows that those participating regularly in cultural activities are more likely to vote, volunteer and participate in community activities, projects and organisations.
A new report on culture and democracy demonstrates that citizens’ participation in cultural activities has a clear and positive impact on civic engagement, democracy and social cohesion, independent of a person’s socio-economic background or education level.
Cultural activities have strong emotional, creative, expressive and collaborative dimensions that create spaces for dialogue, community gathering, sharing and celebration, social interaction and collaboration.
Cultural activities help build social capital, by binding people from various backgrounds and ages together in shared experiences. Social capital is the glue that holds communities together; they help create trust, tolerance and empathy. The report leaves no doubt that investing in citizens’ cultural participation is essential in any effort to promote civic engagement, democratic vitality and social cohesion in the EU.
Culture is at the heart of our democratic societies. Participating is shaping the societies we live in. We need to harness this immense power of culture for the democratic health of our societies. This report comes at a very good point in time, and it will contribute to our efforts to deepen democracy and promote an inclusive and engaged society as we support our cultural sectors.
– said Margaritis Schinas, Commission Vice President for Promoting our European Way of Life.
Cultural activities can help people bridge social boundaries of race/ethnicity, religion, gender, age, nationality and occupational status. They are also a powerful means of communicating across language barriers and of including vulnerable populations such as women, refugees, migrants, ethnic and religious minorities, people with disabilities and LGBTIQ+ communities.
The report finds that people who take part in more active forms of arts participation, such as being in a theatre group or a choir, are also the most civically and democratically active.
There are important inequalities in cultural participation in the EU. They reflect wider socio-economic divisions and have severe consequences. Promoting democracy and social cohesion in the EU requires addressing these inequalities.
Strengthening democracy in the EU is one of the six headline objectives of the Von der Leyen Commission. It is enshrined in the European Union’s European Democracy Action Plan, which seeks to strengthen the resilience of EU democracies. This report contributes to its delivery.
This report is the result of a study announced in the Council’s Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022. The multi-annual Work Plans for Culture guide EU level policy cooperation between the Member States and the European Commission in the field of culture.
The new EU Work Plan for Culture 2023-2026 includes the action Culture and promoting democracy: towards cultural citizenship in Europe.
Activities in this context will bring together key players from the cultural and educational sectors who will share knowledge and examples of how to harness the potential of culture to enhance learners’ citizenship education and democratic attitudes, in a concrete and practical way.
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