On 25-26 September 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the European Cultural Parliament staged a Symposium on Freedom of Expression. IFACCA partnered in the event and has been supported by Creative Scotland to bring a variety of guests from Commonwealth countries to participate.
The Symposium brought together representatives from the European Cultural Parliament and IFACCA to address the issues, challenges and current thoughts on the subject of freedom of expression as well as the role of culture in defining identity; the role of arts policy in relation to freedom of expression; and potential areas for further development, including research. See IFACCA’s topic page here.
With funding provided by Creative Scotland, IFACCA has supported a number of bursaries for delegates from Commonwealth countries to attend the Symposium. The following individuals have been awarded a bursary:
- Dato' Norliza Binti Rofli, Director General, National Department for Culture & Arts, Ministry of Information, Communication & Culture, Malaysia
- Mr Tijaan Kamara, Chairman, National Council for Arts & Culture of The Gambia
- Ms Diane C Haylock, President, National Institute of Culture & History, Belize
- Ms Carole Karemera, Executive Director, Ishyo Arts Centre, Rwanda
- Dr Elise Huffer, Adviser, Human Development Programme, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Suva Regional Office, Fiji
- Mr Tuilagi Seiuli Allan Alo Va'ai, President, Samoa Arts Council
- Ms Arundhati Ghosh, Executive Director, India Foundation for the Arts
The role of culture in defining identity
Cultural players in Europe are constantly examining the issue of identity, sometimes consciously sometimes sub-consciously. This is probably to be expected given the current dynamics within the EU; at a cultural level around "what exactly is European?" (when as the EU expands there are questions around the European identity); at the level of increasing integration (as national governments including the UK feel increasingly under pressure to tow the Brussels line); and with real security issues from within the EU (with the rise of the far right) and perceived security threats from the outside (due to, amongst other things, the foreign policy agendas of EU Governments, but also real threats to democracy). There has not been a meeting of the ECP when these issues have not surfaced in one way or another.
This symposium attempts to place debates about national identity as a backdrop to the main symposium theme of freedom of expression. So while we acknowledge that they are two distinct topics we believe it is feasible to explore both.
IFACCA is pleased to be involved in this Symposium as the topic is of considerable interest to IFACCA members. We thank the bursary recipients for their valuable contribution. A report from the Symposium will be published in due course.