Highlights from the UBC webinar “Culture and politics in the COVID-19/post COVID-19 times”

On 9 June, 2020 the first event of a series of online meetings presented by the UBC Cultural Cities Commission was held. The main goal of the cycle of online events is to create a space for open discussion, sharing knowledge and know-how, or, simply, inspiration. Also the webinars aim to serve as an informal space to meet and alltogether try to agree on what, in the time of pandemic and crisis alike, matters most, and why.

The webinar covered the topic of culture and politics in the COVID-19/post COVID-19 times. The culture ecosystem is based on the intertwining of several sectors, and it is time to ask: what is the role of the governments across Europe and, specifically, a Baltic Sea Region in sustaining culture during and after the pandemic period? What specific measures are taken in different countries and what is up to come? Also, no less important is to reflect upon what are the challenges, possibilities and responsibilities of a non-governmental field to take action in the face of the crisis? How can the cultural sector transform/adapt its ways of operating in these stressful times and thus legitimize the need for its activities? What new ways and formats are to sustain?

In this first webinar, Maja Wagner (Head of the Cultural Department, City of Gdynia) and Jekaterina Lavrinec (Urban researcher, educator, curator, participatory development facilitator and a co-founder & curator of NGO laimikis.lt) presented cases from Gdynia (Poland) and Vilnius (Lithuania).

The analysis of good practices led to an open discussion that was summarised with a notion that the responsibility of the cities in sustaining culture is paramount, as well as the responsibility and the impact of the cultural sector is dramatically greater than we imagine. As soon as we acknowledge culture as an inclusive tool for cities development, we will create a possibility to be reactive and effective in the presence of any crisis.

Finally, culture needs space where agenda stays present regardless the change of the political powers.

The next webinars on culture will be held on 4 August 2020, 10.00 CET on the topic of "Pandemic and Border Closures - How to Sustain Cultural Exchange?" and on 8 September 2020, 10.00 CET on the topic of "Changing Habits: From Cultural Creation to Participation".

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