These last months at Interarts we have been doing a retrospective exercise. We have been analyzing the work done throughout 25 years of history with the aim of looking forward and thinking about the future. We have been accompanied by colleagues in the sector who we sincerely thank for their participation and commitment. As Jesús Martín Barbero says culture is above all a long conversation.

Interarts was born with the aim of becoming a space where to reflect on cultural policies and on the essential role of culture in the development of municipalities or regions in Catalonia, Spain and Europe. These 25 latter years have been years of very deep changes and transformations at social, economic and political levels but we remain firmly convinced of the strategic role that this sector can and should play in defining our future’s imaginary.

What is, today, the point of local and international public policy investment in culture? What relationship should there be between third sector entities like ours and public administrations? How can the sector contribute to contemporary social challenges?

The questions are not new, but the context in which we move is. Firstly, the idea of culture as “glocal” has never been as obvious as it is now. Also, political agendas are becoming increasingly “glocal” and the old split between proximity and internationality has been nuanced by working in networks of local governments, actors and creators, entities and projects located in specific places but in constant dialogue with Europe and with the world. We have, during these years, talked a lot about networks, how to understand them and work with them, how to turn them into spaces of political advocacy. Interarts has always considered that investing in leading and participating in alliances and platforms as its working philosophy, and we intend to continue doing it.

The second question is also very old, but also very modern and concerns the relationship between the public and private sectors or the third sector. How many debates haven’t we had on this issue over these last 25 years?  What has changed today is the definition itself of what is public, private or civil. Here also borders are blurry, especially in international spheres and the world of cooperation where institutional bodies compete for resources for cultural projects with creators and /or entities such as Interarts. In the future, we have to redefine the responsibilities and tasks of one and the other, through collaborations based on shared objectives.

And finally, there is the great question about the contribution of culture to social challenges, an axiom from which sociocultural animation emerged in the 1980s. This approach faded in the 1990s when culture begins to be assessed as making a contribution to the economy, both to national GDPs and world growth. Indeed, the last global, financial, economic, political and social crisis has led us, once again, to understand that the added value generated when we freely participate in cultural life, when we can express ourselves creatively and when we can develop individually building diversity from our own identity, has to be taken into consideration.

The synthesis of all this is found in the “glocal” agenda in which all public, private or social actors converge today, the 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals. From Barcelona and open to the world Interarts will continue to provide spaces where to think collectively about culture. We will call these spaces dialogues for culture and we will dedicate them to those who have come before us. As of now, we invite you to participate in the next dialogue that will take place on November 28th with a focus culture and the SDGs.

Gemma Carbó, President of the Board of the Interarts Foundation.