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Cultural heritage in Europe: linking past and future

European Parliament Brussels Plenary Chamber

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ExPartibus visits the European Parliament in Brussels on the high-level conference in the Year of European Cultural Heritage 2018

On Tuesday, June 26th, we had the honor of being among the highly-selected newspapers to attend the High-level conference Cultural heritage in Europe: linking past and future that was held at the European Parliament in Brussels.

An exclusive conference from 2 pm to 7 pm in which leading figures from the political and cultural world of the EU, “testimonial” of the European genius, as President Antonio Tajani said during his inaugural speech, intervening to illustrate the current strategy for the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

The initiative, strongly desired by the president, represents the continuation of a series of high-level meetings already organized on topics such as the future of digital, immigration, tourism and relations with Africa. The main purpose of these meetings is to make this strategic place a real citizens’ parliament. Given the strategic importance and the repercussions on millions of European citizens, it is necessary to tell the event in great detail.

Let’s begin in order. The appointment with our representatives responsible for the Information Office in Italy is at 12:45 am in front of the entrance to the building. The staff, led by Maurizio Molinari, Santina Romei and Valentina Parasecolo, has impeccably coordinated us since prior to the start. In addition to the useful documents for the conference, in fact, they provided us, via email, logistical indications to move comfortably in the city and to reach the meeting place. Additionally, a very useful WhatsApp group app, specially created to exchange information in real time, keeps us constantly updated on the steps to take.

In fact, despite the many people present, we can easily find Valentina who comes to pick us up to deliver the badges and, after security checks, leads us to Maurizio, engaged in telephone communications with colleagues. We reach the Spanish Sara Martos, to make sure that we sign every document necessary for registration. We will not personally meet other talented collaborators who, however, they support us perfectly behind the scenes.

Waiting for all the companions of this adventure to reach us, in total, if I’m not wrong we are in 31, Maurizio shows us the afternoon program. He doesn’t fail to emphasize that, in respect of some focal moments in which we will move in groups, we have a certain freedom of movement between one panel and another in case we want to interview some of the guests.

We enter the Plenary chamber, the famous room in which the destiny of our Europe is decided.

The Italian group, compact, sits at the seats of MEPs, mine is 499, central, directly in front of the table of speakers above which stand the flags of the Member States and the emblem of the EU. As much as I have imagined it, the thrilling feeling of being there overwhelms me.

It is impossible to describe in detail all the remarkable contributions. It would take an infinite space; I will try to summarize, as much as possible, to give an idea of ​​what it meant.

The rich program is divided into an opening section, three panels – Cultural heritage and European spirit, which will highlight the political and social importance of cultural heritage; Preserving and promoting cultural heritage, which will focus on the need to make European citizens aware of the issue; Innovation and economic potential of cultural heritage or how we can innovate to promote growth in the creative sector and in the tourism industry – and a closing section interspersed with wonderful live musical moments.

There is also a very interesting video Arte reportage of ‘History and Big Data: the Venice Time Machine’, which illustrates the digitalization project in progress of documentary series. Finally, ‘The exhibition on the history of the video game’ of the Museum of Video Games, VIGAMUS Foundation of Rome, Interactive Software Federation of Europe.

The first group of guests will enter in perfect time on the roadmap to kick off the opening section. The EUYO, the European Union Youth Orchestra, composed of musicians from all EU Member States, gives us an intense live music performance with some of the most famous arias of all time, including Verdi’s Nabucco chorus and the Ode to Joy, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

The 40 young artists of Europa inCanto, which with its initiatives wants to approach the students of the compulsory school with the enchantment of the theater in all its forms, music, dance, singing, children between 6 and 12 years perform, suitably in costume, perform now in the marvelous choir of Aida.

It’s just been over ten minutes and we already had two concrete expressions of high-level culture!

The conference will be multilingual and, as subsequently underlined by the German Johannes Erbert, Secretary of the Goethe Institut, and reiterated by many others, the work of the interpreters is excellent. They simultaneously give life to a harmonious concert in 23 different languages, allowing everyone to follow the various speakers, regardless of the spoken idiom. Color note, for the Italian version just wear the headphones and select the number 4.

The atmosphere in the room is very high when Antonio Tajani opens the works.

After the ritual thanks, he explains that:

Here in Parliament, in the home of citizens, we are convinced that creativity is the soul of our being European.

The keywords of the President’s introductory speech, who will receive us later in the lobby, focuses on the continuous contamination of genes from all over Europe. Then follows the greeting of the Luxembourgian Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. Both interventions last approximately 10 minutes. The special guests tell their experience, each one for his specific field. There are composers, musicians, conductors, pianists, chefs, photographers and designers, directors, ministers, commissioners, rectors, museum directors, presidents of cultural associations and co-artistic directors of theaters.

We deliberately choose to overlook, for now, the most significant moments of the entire conference that we will report in subsequent articles; what we want to tell here is simply the sensations of the on-site visit.

The speech of the composer Ezio Bosso on the importance of music for identity and the union of peoples is particularly touching and enlightening. Once concluded, the staff invites us to go to the press point where we can meet him. Silvia Costa, President of the Culture and Education Commission, will join us. Meanwhile, in the Plenary chamber work continues.

They bring us to another wing of the building where they explain to us the important campaign of institutional communication prepared for the political elections of 2019, entitled This time I’m voting, independent of any political party and ideology,  whose goal is to promote the commitment democratic in the European elections. As mentioned before, we will talk about it elsewhere. Then comes Isabella Adinolfi, member of the Commission for Culture and Education.

The rich calendar of events is over. We greet the Italian staff with gratitude and we go out. We are very satisfied. The experience, to say the least, was exciting and has enriched us immensely.

It’s about 7:20 pm and the sun is still high in the sky, I’m not used to it. Some of the colleagues organize themselves to dine together but, I take the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Brussels.


European Parliament Brussels Plenary Chamber

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Autore Lorenza Iuliano

Lorenza Iuliano, vicedirettore ExPartibus, giornalista pubblicista, linguista, politologa, web master, esperta di comunicazione e SEO.