ART LINE - A BALTIC COLLABORATION

This catalogue describes the unique cross-border art project Art Line. It is much more than a mere record - here you can read essays from a number of scholars, curators and artists from the south Baltic area. This region has never before seen collaboration of this kind and certainly not to this extent. The European Commission appointed Art Line a flagship project and it is a part of the Action Plan for the Baltic Sea Strategy. Art Line is seen as a high quality project with a focus on contemporary art and as a role model for art co-operation in Europe. If you are in the least interested in contemporary art in the context of public space, digital media, storytelling and/or new technology, this is for you!

Art Line consists of 14 partners from 5 countries around the Baltic Sea which have created a co-operative platform for art and academia in Poland, Sweden, Germany, Russia and Lithuania. The project period was 2011–2014, but the network and the platforms the project has created will live longer than that.

It’s an exceptional project, in any number of ways… art reentering our daily lives rather than being an exclusive place, this is essential. And it is great that art institutions and museums are those who are doing it, because basically at the same time they are recognizing that they can’t stay within their own institutions, either…

Chris Torch, Intercult, October, 2013

Collaborate!
Creating an infrastructure for art and interdisciplinary cross-border projects around the Baltic Sea by Torun Ekstrand

by Torun Ekstrand

Proximity
1. the state, quality, sense, or fact of being near or next to closeness
2. nnearness in place, space, time, relation

There is an infrastructure for cars and ferries in the Baltic area, but not for art and culture. We wanted to change this and build a network to connect resources and expertise in the art institutions, museums and academies involved. How can we coproduce projects, create opportunities for artists and bring people together in the macro-region of the South Baltic area? There is a tradition of collaboration around the subjects of, for instance, environmental issues, law enforcement and safety at sea, but there have been few professional cultural exchanges between cultural institutions. A long-term interdisciplinary cooperation anchored in several institutions was missing. We are neighbors who want to get closer to each other not only geographically, but also culturally. Art and cultural exchange plays an important role in the European cooperation as a whole and in a more broadminded Europe. The joint efforts and a lot of work by individuals in all of our partner institutions made our joint ownership of Art Line visible and possible.

Art Line was an international art project with the main goal of creating a cooperative platform for art and academia in Poland, Sweden, Germany, Russia and Lithuania. The important outcome is a growing network between art halls, cultural centers, museums, an institute of technology and an art academy where the art scenes of the Baltic institutions has been developed and strengthened.

The project has led to opportunities for artists, who have been able to present themselves in new contexts, interacting with people in public space, on the internet, in exhibitions, in workshops and on the Stena Line ferries between Gdynia and Karlskrona. The project period and its extension period was January 2011- March 2014, but the network and the platforms the project has created will live longer than that. A new cultural landscape without borders is under development.

3,000 characters is the strict limit when describing a project in our EU-project report summaries. 3,000 characters to sum up an extensive interdisciplinary cross-border art project which included many projects within; to describe a cooperation with fourteen partner institutions from five countries around the Baltic Sea; to present the work of the art institutions, museums and academies involved; to reflect upon art projects in the public domain - in physical and digital space; to analyze workshops, seminars, conferences, installations, exhibitions, contests, lectures, meetings, art tours, study visits, presentations, interviews and experiments and to describe the many artworks presented in exhibitions and in projects. It is a limitation that we are going to exceed in this catalogue. If you are holding a printed version in your hand, you can read, see and hear even more in the online catalogue. If you are reading this catalogue online, it’s possible to get a printed version to hold and to keep. The two versions are in a dialogue. Since the Art Line projects have revolved around art both in physical and digital space, the cross-media factor is important. The catalogue contains artworks, texts and reflections from different fields connecting art, digital media technologies and public space.

It is an unusual experience to have several years to explore and learn the culture of countries in a defined geographical area around the Baltic Sea. It creates a fertile soil for art projects, which are rooted in the area. We had the privilege and luxury to focus and dig deeper and to have a chance to grasp and understand parts of the history, society, culture, values, traditions and politics in the countries of our partners. Our countries have similarities and differences that stimulate and develop working methods. A sharing and linking of knowledge and experience added new unexpected perspectives, enriched and cross-fertilized. Our frames of reference tied us together.

We were not looking for a common expression, but were in a curious search for identities. It is not easy to talk about one common identity in a specific geographic area, since global and local identities are in constant flux and transformation. Geographical limits are pretty uninteresting in the digital world - at least in Europe where access to the internet is easier than on other continents. We need to disregard the mental boundaries between our countries and instead see where we share experiences.

Art Line was an international art project investigating and challenging the concept of public space in the physical and the digital domain. How can one engage the “new” public audiences and digital spaces supported by the internet for the creation and the communication of art? How can physical public space and digital space coexist in art practice? Can temporary interactive art projects in public space be called public art? Can a temporary interactive art project on the Internet be compared with a bronze sculpture in a city square?

The partner institutions formed a coproducing hybrid, a social and spatial organism of academy, white cube settings, public space, workshops, technology, digital media, artists, faculty, curators, and seafarers. We organized a wide range of art projects: workshops, exhibitions, public space projects, contests, conferences and seminars about art and science, art and technology, art and digital media and about art in public space. We also arranged tailor-made art tours to Gdańsk and its surrounding neighbourhood.

The partner institutions worked with different methods and in different arenas, in order to examine questions revolving around the public domain, among other things. The institutions stepped out from their safe havens to meet and interact with a new and broader public and to reach people who normally don’t attend cultural events, through, for example, public space projects, digital media projects, the many interviews with storytellers and civil cooperators around the Baltic Sea and through projects onboard the ferries.

Artists showed their works in the public institutions of our partners, in art museum/art hall settings and relocated to other types of museums or industrial technological parks in the cities, regions and countries that the Art Line partners represent. Works were presented outside the gallery and museum context in the public spaces of our cities, in housing areas, in parks, outside shopping centers, on the sea, on the ferries touring in between Sweden and Poland and on the internet and on smart phones or tablets - Art Online and Art Applications. Artists created works in cross-media projects combining digital and real space and performed experiments in technological laboratories and beyond. Groups of people in our tailormade art tours to Poland visited art projects in public spaces, as did politicians and cultural bodies.

There is a short distance over the sea between the fourteen art institutions, museums, academies and the shipping company, which were partners in the project. The geographical proximity facilitated meetings, itineraries, transport and the common development of all projects. Not long ago, during the Cold War, the Baltic Sea was a border between countries. “The Baltic is not what separates us but what connects us” is a phrase we have carried with us from one of our first meetings where we exchanged stories about our shared cultural history.

The ocean is more than a view. We have worked in concrete form with the sea both as the theme and subject in several projects and we have worked on, and even under the sea’s surface. We traveled on the sea to meet and work. We spent the very first joint workshop onboard one of the ferries and since then the ferry has been an arena for exhibitions, sound installations and for interactions and workshops.

Many ways to explore the sea have been undertaken in artworks. The sea as a domain for artists’ studios, the sea as a graveyard, the sea as a “playground”, the sea as a source of superstition, the sea as a place for battles and emigration, the sea as an underwater world for divers and environmental researchers and much more has been a subject for artists.

The sounds of the sea were collected for a joint artists’ composition in the project, Baltic Sounds Good. The movements of ships in the Gdańsk Bay were transformed into the live sound installation Baltic Sea Radio. The augmented reality installation Barbarum Fretum made it possible to virtually swim and dive into the Baltic Sea. The Water Memory application remade the reality, history and choreography of a river area in Gdańsk. Artists in the project Art & Apparatus experimented with waterjet cutting. The rivers of our Baltic countries were cut out as fragile blood veins connecting our countries in one artist’s work. The sea front was symbolically used to show 24-hour art videos commenting on public space in Space Matters. The stories told by hundreds of storytellers from sea areas around the Baltic and the artwork created for Telling the Baltic are all connected to the sea and we got to re-think the traditional version of European history. One visitor even revealed a story about an encounter with a mermaid…

The interactive digital artwork The Baltic Agora by Mateusz Pęk and Klaudia Wrzask can be looked upon as a symbol for the cooperation as a whole. They created an agora made up of the bottom of the Baltic Sea as a 3D topographic map in reverse. The agora served as a forum for meetings where all the input from people in our Baltic countries became a visible and changeable structure.

The series of conferences and seminars on art, science, digital media and technology have all given in-depth knowledge and offered different perspectives. For instance, Augmented Reality has been a topic as well as a technique used in art projects for public space and in research. Familiarity with digital media, tablets and smart phones has been an intermediator between contemporary art and the public, especially the young audience. Mixing realities (#Mixitup!) was not only the title of one seminar, but also the atmosphere of the events arranged. There were many new and unforeseen projects as well as unplanned side effects within the Art Line project. Every meeting created butterfly-effects of new exhibition collaborations, new contacts with other cultural institutions, advice given to institutions that wanted to create an international culture project, new applications, new collaborations and study visits.

We applied for funding from the EU program, the South Baltic Cross-Border Co-operation Programme. In the beginning of 2013 the European Commission appointed our project to be a Flagship project. Art Line is now a proud part of the Action plan for the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), which is the first macro-regional strategy in Europe. Culture has been acknowledged as an important part of the development in the region and culture will have a larger role in the new Baltic Sea Strategy. The European Commission selected Art Line as a role model for cooperation in the arts. For the Art Line partners, not one of which is a national authority or state museum, it is important to be recognized in such a selection process where the European Commission is very restricted. To be appointed a Flagship as a culture project is rare. Art Line is seen as a project that focuses on quality with a concentration on contemporary art, digital media and technology. Important criteria were that the partnership is based on mutual learning and the exchange of knowledge; that it shows how cooperation has made the results stronger; that the results achieved are of interest beyond the specific local and national context; that the project focuses on “life after the end of the project” aspects and on creating a network for collaboration; that many of the projects have a visibility in the regions through different types of public projects; that the emphasis is on culture and cultural heritage in our regions; that contemporary art is combined with technologies and digital media; that it employs interdisciplinary working methods; that there are variety of partners in the partnership, and that Art Line involves as many as five countries. Art Line took part in the historical, first meeting for cultural Flagship projects around the Baltic Sea and our project was the only appointed Flagship project under the cultural heritage priority with results and experience to share so far.

What difficulties did we anticipate before deciding to write an EU application? In some notes made during the first large pre-Art Line workshop in Gdańsk we stated the following difficulties: No Money. Lack of time. Developing ideas takes time and to create ideas in small institutions is difficult. Finding common subjects. Bureaucracy. A lot of paperwork. Geographical distance. Different art policies. Little experience in EU projects. Language.

We continued with the question: Why should we cooperate? What we came up with was: Inspire. Exchange ideas. Broaden our experience. Change the mentality. Borrow practice and working methods. Take part in the experience of other audiences. Search for new audiences. Mix and share national habits and culture. Gain a better understanding of one another and get to know each other better. Create a community through actions and joint events. Create new opportunities for artists. Change the mentality of where we can show art as public art - on a political level too. Create a platform for the future. Curiosity. Self-confidence.

The matters we saw as obstacles were transformed into something opposite. For instance, we had already gathered a base of ideas that could be fruitful for all of the partners to develop and we had found common subjects in earlier visits and in research. If we were granted funding we would capture valuable knowledge of EU projects and grasp the potential for the future.

It was a challenge to think of realistic goals. What could we change in society, in the institutions, in ourselves – in terms of an art project? We composed an agenda from the perspective of art and thus boldly claimed the independence of art. There are many aspects of a complex and wide-ranging project. What is its relevance to European problems and issues? Is it possible to bring together European, national, macro-regional, regional, local and institutional viewpoints and goals? How about the artists’ work? How about the cross-borders aspects? How can we construct and find synergies between different disciplines in our practices?

The European economy looks bad and sad overall. The rule seems to be to cut funding to cultural institutions, rather than increasing it. The Finnish philosopher and professor Pekka Himanen gave a talk in Wrocław during the European Culture Congress and compared creativity periods with the cultural politics of yesterday and today. “It is no coincidence that Athens and Florence flourished”, he said. “Why do we look back at those times in amazement? Because 1/3 of their city budgets were spent on culture. What city would do that today?” The photographer Oliviero Toscani talked about art as subversive and contrary to the system and existing rules. How can bureaucrats deal with that? “Money needs culture. Politics needs culture. Culture needs money”.

The European Union made it possible to co-finance our cooperation, to co-create and to do something institutions normally don’t do in their activities. We found that the networking gave us another kind of wealth: an understanding and a knowledge.

Europe is based on differences and this means diverse culture. The Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman said during the EU Culture Congress in Wrocław “that Europe is a multicultural mosaic and that ‘the other’ is not an abstract figure, but a neighbor” and he continued to talk about the equality of the other in a limited space. “Look at Europe as a research laboratory”, Bauman continued, “and see the ability to learn from one another. Don’t compete to be the best in class, don’t fight each other as nations, and cooperate instead”.

In a later discussion during the forum, two experts in cultural industries and cultural economics, Pier Luigi Sacco and Philippe Kern agreed that culture is more cosmopolitan than the politics in Europe: “Cultural practice precedes policy by approximately ten years”. One of them added: “No healthy brain would come up with the idea that the state should not subsidize the arts”.

Art Line offered a context, a framework, ideas, research and possibilities during an extended period of time. Our project may have formally ended in March 2014, but will continue in new shapes. The network will be sustained with programs arranged by two institutions yearly and people will continue to cooperate on different levels. The project idea includes a plan for the future, which is to expand the network with new partners and new forms of cooperation and to find new creative ways of exchange and financing. We have created an interdisciplinary “think tank”. The European culture expert Chris Torch gave us advice for a future collaboration, which was to be courageous and take the idea all the way. We have, for instance, continued the long discussion about creating a Baltic Biennale, with the tradition of the Ostsee Biennale at the Kunsthalle Rostock during the 80s and 90s in mind. A dream scenario would be a vessel that constantly traveled around the Baltic Sea. Artist residencies could be arranged onboard in interdisciplinary collaborations with experts, curators, researchers, digital media technologists, people from the partner institutions, collaborators and audiences – a multinational vessel arriving in the harbors of the Baltic cities and connecting activities and people to each site.

The main issues in art and science have nothing to do with geography, but rather: What is it to be human? What connects us? What creates a real community? I hope that many of the partners and artists can feel that we belong not to just one but to several places around the Baltic area. The continuity in the dialogues between us has been valuable. A little bit of Poland lives in Sweden, a little part of Russia lives in Germany and so on. It is both foreign and familiar at the same time.
We coproduce.
We coexist.
We have new insights.
We have an understanding of the world beyond.
We are heading forward towards new adventures.
We are interconnected.
We are changed.

I express my warmest thanks to each of you partners, artists, collaborators, storytellers, experts, and lecturers. Thank you to all of those who contributed to this catalogue. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to work with you.

Sincerely, Torun Ekstrand

Torun Ekstrand is a project leader of Art Line, she has been a freelancer since 2002, working as a curator and a project leader for public art projects in Artland.

International voices about Art Line

John Peter Nilsson


Chris Torch on Art Line and international cooperation


The weak and strong term “European Arts Project”

by prof. dr. Gernot Wolfram

The term “European arts project” sounds convincing. It expresses promise and hope, but perhaps it has not been properly backed up by reality. Reflecting on the term, one might think: artists from various countries on this huge continent come together, share their ideas, exchange their knowledge and create new aesthetic experiences. This fascinating idea is very much present in the speeches of politicians and on the websites of art foundations and funding programs all over Europe. It also embodies an important approach to cultural programs in the European Union. But does it accurately reflect visible reality? When we look at the fields in which European artistic exchanges take place in practice, we can see many forms of sustainable cooperation (such as the Art Line Project around the Baltic Sea Region), but the potential for new possible art projects remains much greater than one might expect.

Economic factors very often lead to forms of European culture suffering from serious imbalances. For example, we are currently facing a wide gap between the countries of northern and southern Europe. Many art projects in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy find it difficult to present their ideas to audiences due to a lack of money. Have we so far had a serious discussion about solidarity between artists and art projects? I fear not. The term “European culture” at present does not embody the necessary spirit for a holistic approach to common values or a strategy for artists working together in Europe, even in a time of economic and political crisis. What we have instead is a broad approach towards the so-called creative industries on the continent. Based on the recognition that creativity is not only part of the arts, many countries believe that a solution for art projects is to encourage creative people to reflect more intensely on the economic potential of their projects and ideas. This is in general an important idea, but does it really improve relations between artists? Or does it divide the art scene into areas of economic success and areas seen economically as “losers”?

Artistic projects today are often seen as an important part of the creative industries in different countries. The symbolic and economic impact of the term “art” leads to new strategies of representation. One such example is the new orientation of the official funding program of the European Union, which is closely connected with this development. The title of the 2014-2020 program is Creative Europe. This means that projects should demonstrate not only an artistically innovative approach, but should also present a concept focused on their economic goals and the means of realising them. This is a tremendous change, leading to a completely different understanding of cultural projects in Europe. This orientation towards economic success will probably change the perception of events within artistic circles and with their audiences. On the other hand, this change also reveals new potential for artists to prove their broad knowledge and to present their work in a more comprehensive way. As in the United States, different art scenes will transform into complex areas in new economic fields. This also has consequences for arts management, as Gordon Torr states in his book Managing Creativity.

We are used to imagining music, dance, theatre, literature, crafts and the visual arts as the most significant aspects of our cultural experience. Around them we visualize those newer forms of artistic expression that include things like performance art, video art, installations, computer and multimedia creations. (…) Underlying this way of looking at culture is the romantic assumption that the activities at the centre are somehow worthier than those at the circumference because they are less tainted by commercial ambition. (…) The trend is clear. The high-end cultural stuff that survives only through the beneficence of state or municipal subsidies – the opera, ballet, national theatres, public galleries and museums (…) – has had to make way as the products of the creative economy claim centre stage.1

This critical approach towards the traditional structures of so-called “high-culture” is at first sight very convincing because there is undoubtedly a growing problem in terms of the acceptance and resonance of these artistic areas, especially among the younger generation. On the other hand, one of the tasks of the arts and arts management is to prevent the cultural sector from completely changing into a profit-oriented creative business. It is necessary to find solutions for managing the special needs of those who explore new aesthetic values, innovative art formats and new personal interactions with audiences. Otherwise, every theatre would offer musicals - one of the most successful formats of the last 20 years. But would theatre represent cultural developments in the proper way by fulfilling the momentary desires of the dominant majority? Or, looking at the visual arts, do we believe that paintings which suit the current tastes of a large audience and would quickly lead to buying behaviour are automatically the right developments for this field? Viewed from a conventional management perspective, one might agree. Just following the needs of the market would lead to a purely customer-oriented perspective, which would not fit into the self-understanding of the Arts and Arts management.2 Perhaps it is necessary to remember at this point that innovative artistic ideas need time and space to present new aesthetic values. As Pablo Picasso once said when he turned to cubism as a style of painting: “New things in the arts are always ugly, like a newborn baby. After a while people understand why they are worth discovering within a new kind of beauty”. Do we give artistic projects today this time? Do we bear in mind that creating artistic products is different from the production of perfumes and shoes?

Innovative artistic formats need a smart concept, funding opportunities, marketing activities, a media presence and a proper time schedule, as well as a knowledge of how to implement new approaches to audience development. 3 Within the non-profit-sector, cultural and subcultural developments grow under completely different circumstances than the creative industries, where conventional management approaches are a generally accepted basis for all issues concerning creative products and services. The gap between the for-profit-sector and the non-profit-sector is very often not properly reflected when it comes to questions about how to organize artistic projects.

Here we face some exciting challenges for artists. To avoid pressure from institutions outside genuine fields of culture, artists should find definitions for how they see their capacity to promote and “sell” their products. Not every artist, especially early in their career, has the opportunity to have a manager at his side. So artists are forced to organize for themselves a space in which they can survive - without losing their values and - let’s use here an often underestimated word - their ideals.

European projects can help to encourage artists to see their strength, their power and their abilities to stimulate the awareness of people to transcend borders. But to have real cooperation, artists should concentrate on discussing artistic ideas which are strong enough to attract the attention of audiences in different countries. At the center of cooperation there is always an idea! Not a concept about how to bring people together or how to fund cooperation! These are also important factors, but a strong idea will lead to audiences - and fascinated audiences, as we can observe in the area of crowdfunding, are able to push an idea forward. So, the term “European art projects” is weak when it is used to endlessly repeat the historical shifts in memory and politically correct patterns of being one community in harmony. The term is strong when it is an expression for lively new artistic ideas which bring people from different countries together, and, perhaps much more importantly, fascinate audiences beyond national borders.

Prof. dr. Gernot Wolfram works as a journalist, writer and professor for Arts Management and Cultural Studies in Berlin at the MHMK University for Media and Communication.

References:
1. Torr G. (2008), Managing Creative People: Lessons in Leadership for the Ideas Economy. Wiley and Sons.
2. Chong D. (2009), Arts Management. 2. Edition. Routledge.
3. Sims W. S. (2011), Creative Change: Audience Development and Cultural Engagement in the Nonprofit Arts. Proquest.




A new priority area in the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region

by Larry Okey Ugwu

Culture is a new priority area in the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. This is the outcome of an initiative by the Governments of the Republic of Poland and the Schleswig-Holstein Land, with the support of Ars Baltica and the Nordic Council of Ministers. This EU gesture will definitely not be a financial boom for Culture, but it has a clear significance in signalling the strengthened role of arts and culture in building the future of the Baltic Sea Region.

The Baltic Sea Cultural Centre (BSCC) is proud to be part of this process. For six years, we had the pleasure and honour to host the Ars Baltica Secretariat, and assist the Ars Baltica Committee in shaping and boosting cultural co-operation in the region. In June 2009, when the Strategy was announced, the role of culture was marginalized. In November of that year, the BSCC was the venue for the Ars Baltica conference: Cultural Policies for the Baltic Sea Region. We asked then: “How did it happen that despite the engagement of many people, culture and the Baltic Sea identity were not included in the Strategy as an essential and indispensable factor for the Baltic Sea becoming ‘an accessible and attractive place’?”

Today, I am happy to say that the positive energy and engagement in the field of culture generated around the Baltic at that time was not in vain. I would like to thank, most of all, my colleagues from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Government of the Schleswig-Holstein Land, together with the Ars Baltica Initiative for Cultural Cooperation and the Nordic Council of Ministers for their efforts to assure culture a significant place in the Strategy. I am writing this text not only as the director of the BSCC, but also as a representative of the cultural sector of the Pomeranian region and its government, as well as a board member of Culture Action Europe.

The questions I’d like to address are: “What could we, authorities, professional cultural operators and citizens, do to make culture a trigger for the BSR’s further growth?” How do we permanently secure its place in the European and regional development policies and financial programmes?” In recent years, the Baltic has indisputably been a European success story. A region once viewed very much as the periphery of Europe has become the heart of the continent thanks to transnational collaboration and policy-making. A good example of such effort comes from the Pomeranian Regional Government in Poland, which in 1992, at the milk stage of its democracy, established an autonomous cultural institution dedicated to accelerating cultural collaborations within the Baltic Sea Region. They believed then – and that belief is still very strong – that investing in culture and education not only generates prosperity, it is essential to fostering both freedom of expression and creative thinking, which leads to sustainable prosperity. Moreover, cultural exchange brings hope and fosters civic engagement, thereby contributing to a repairing of the torn social fabric. Culture therefore means practicing democracy and giving content to citizenship.1

The idea of the Baltic project is by no means new. Already at the beginning of the 13th century, the Hanseatic League demonstrated an unprecedented level of economic transnational co-operation. The cultural values developed by the Hanseatic League towns survived the disintegration of the League itself. The artistic achievements of the period, especially in culture and art, spread far beyond the Baltic area, and are still appreciated to this day. Our duty today is to push cultural collaboration even further and guard against its disintegration, to avoid ending up like the League, whose break up was caused by the individual ambitions of its partner states.

We can be proud of the region’s rich cultural heritage. There have been many projects implemented to preserve this heritage and to make it available to the public in an attractive way. The Monitoring Group on Cultural Heritage in the Baltic Sea States has been very successful in networking various initiatives.

Still, more efforts should be made to create attractive packages for cultural tourism. This has great potential in terms of its geographical set-up, taking into consideration the short distance between countries. However, due to the fact that the cultural assets of the Baltic Sea Region cannot be restricted to its past alone, we must not forget about the importance of contemporary arts in all their aspects. NGOs need to be highly motivated in order to create as many partnership Baltic arts projects as possible. The current Art Line project is a good example of what cultural cooperation and partnership is all about. Culture operators should be encouraged to support joint projects in the arts that would involve artists from different Baltic states and have a diversified audience spread throughout the Baltic Sea Region.

Does the Baltic Sea Region have a shared identity? Strong ties in cooperation and competition, and rivalry in the Baltic region are imprinted in the history of the region. The sea linked people and countries, encouraging them to reach for hegemony over the area. For hundreds of years, it remained a region of intensive commercial activity and trade, as well as frequent, fierce, and long wars for power over the Baltic.2

This is why searching for a common Baltic identity in our history may prove a difficult task. Let’s not forget that the Baltic Europe of today is a region of increasing cultural diversity. Its residents have their origins all over the world, enriching the meaning of Baltic culture. I suggest therefore that in celebrating our common Baltic heritage, we should remember to cherish the beauty of a modern Baltic Europe. Coming from Gdańsk, the city of Solidarity, I postulate that the idea of solidarity should be interwoven into any discourse on Baltic co-operation. Solidarity against all odds, against any temptation to deviate from utilizing this rare opportunity given by the EU’s new strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The idea of solidarity should be realised in an educational programme introduced into school curricula for the younger generation.

Undoubtedly what unites people around the Baltic is the Baltic itself. Culture and art should reflect this. As people of culture, we should turn towards the Baltic for inspiration. Moreover, we should help to protect it. Through art, we can deepen knowledge of the sea among the people living around it and increase their motivation to protect it. More emphasis should definitely be put on networking and developing partnerships. That is why financial mechanisms should promote the mobility of artists and their works, as well as build residency programmes.

In this context, I’d like to praise the idea of the Seed Money Facility, which is a step towards reaching this goal, as it enables the development of the concept of the Baltic projects. It is also necessary to lobby for more financial opportunities for cultural projects around the Baltic, for example, to include them in the Baltic Sea Programme 2014-2020. Moreover, application procedures and project implementation reports should be made more simple for culture operators. Many creative ideas and initiatives are abandoned today due to bureaucracy. I want to stress that this is a major social and economic obstacle for our society.

Another factor uniting the people of culture around the Baltic is their audiences, the development of which should be embedded in the way cultural operators work, strategically and operationally, with clear goals and target audiences. People nowadays want greater interaction and dialogue in all walks of life, and they are no longer willing to be passive spectators when it comes to the arts. To reach these audiences, cultural institutions or operators must move outside their walls into the community, into public spaces, unconventional venues, creating innovative experiences, and developing partnerships with other sectors, such as tourism, heritage and environmental protection, education, transport, city planning, etc.3 Engaging the public with European culture is a priority for the European Commission, as well as for most cultural organizations and public authorities in Europe. Audience development is a strategic, dynamic and interactive process of making the arts more widely accessible. It aims at engaging individuals and communities in experiencing, enjoying, participating in and valuing the arts through various means available to cultural operators today, from digital tools to volunteering, from co-creation to partnerships.4

Talking about culture without education is like talking about the Baltic Region without the Baltic Sea itself. As a member of the executive committee of Culture Action Europe, I will quote a paper issued by three strong organizations: The European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning, The Access to Culture Project, and Culture Action Europe in Brussels, March 2013. This paper calls the EU to bridge education and culture strategies and policies at EU level to upgrade our people’s transversal skills, increase their employability but also and especially make them socially included, fulfilled individuals and active citizens.5 And I quote; “Integrating cultural activities within a life wide approach to learning enables to realize that the education and culture sectors have a lot in common in terms of target groups. The most obvious overlapping takes place within formal education through the introduction of culture and the arts at school.6 This is why the EU action shall incite Member States to revalue culture and the arts in schools to develop a whole set of key competences, from basic to transversal ones. Beyond school, it is also necessary to invest in high quality, initial and continuous education for culture professionals, as recommended by the 2010 UNESCO Seoul Agenda.”7

From my experience with Ars Baltica, I know that cooperation with Russia is not easy, but that does not mean we should forget the importance of Kaliningrad, especially the highly talented artists from that part of the Baltic. Culture Institutions and operators should therefore be encouraged to include Russia and the East in their new arts projects and programmes, since such a cultural smile and movement can bring significant cultural, social and economic benefits for Europe as a whole. Art Line has, for instance, engaged the National Centre for Contemporary Arts in Kaliningrad as a skilled associated partner.

To sum up, I maintain that the inclusion of culture as a priority area in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region means new tasks and new challenges for our cultural sector. This Strategy at present is an open document, and we cannot relax until it comes out after numerous amendments in its final form. This should be a document that reflects well our goals and aspirations for culture in the Baltic Sea Region. Larry Okey Ugwu graduated in 1988 from the law faculty of the University of Gdańsk. Since 2004 he has been the Director of the Baltic Sea Cultural Center, Gdańsk, Poland.

References:
1. Letter to Jose Manuel Barrosso from the CAE, 2013.
2. Palmowski T., From an Idea to the Strategy of Baltic Europe 3. Torch C. (2012), Audience Development, European Audiences: 2020 and beyond conference, Brussels.
4. http://www.cultureinmotion.eu/European-Audiences/index.jsp
5. Building synergies between education and culture (EUCIS-LLL, ACP, CAE).
6. EC Final Report (2010), European Agenda for Culture.
7. Erydice (2009), Report Summary, Arts and Cultural Education at Schools in Europe.






ART LINE PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Project leader: Torun Ekstrand
Financial manager: Annika Thelin
Information officer: Ingemar Lönnbom
Core group: Agnieszka Wołodźko, Torun Ekstrand

Project management board: Torun Ekstrand, Annika Thelin,
Ingemar Lönnbom, Agnieszka Wołodźko, Martin Schibli, Kristina Koebe
Prolongation board: Aleksandra Kminikowska, Kirsti Emaus, Torun Ekstrand,
Annika Thelin, Ingemar Lönnbom, Agnieszka Wołodźko, Kristina Koebe
Blekinge museum
Tullan Gunér and Marcus Sandekjer, directors 2010–2012 and 2013
Christina Berup, exhibition producer
Jonas Günzel, exhibitions onboard
Karin Nilsson, antiquarian
Susanne Ström, PR
Lennart Lilja, economist
Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art
Jadwiga Charzynska, director
Agnieszka Wołodźko, senior curator and program coordinator
Berenika Podrucka, assistant
Katarzyna Steńczyk, PR
Kunsthalle Rostock
Jörg-Uwe Neumann, director
Ulrich Ptak, curator
Kristina Koebe, financial and administrative coordinator
Gdansk City Gallery
Iwona Bigos, director
Dorota Lewandowska, PR
Baltic Sea Cultural Centre
Larry Okey Ugwu, director
Aleksandra Kminikowska, project coordinator
Marta Korga-Bistram, PR and information
Aleksandra Musielak-Dobrowolska, producer
Anna Zalewska-Andruszkiewicz, curator
Kulturcentrum Ronneby
Kirsti Emaus, coordinator
Maria Lundström, PR
Lena Brorsdotter, director culture Ronneby
Art Exhibition Hall of Karlskrona
Annika Eklund, director culture Karlskrona
Birgitta Göransson, PR
Blekinge Institute of Technology
Lissa Holloway-Attaway, coordinator
Pirjo Elovaara, senior lecturer in Technoscience
Kalmar konstmuseum
Bengt Olof Johansson, director
Martin Schibli, curator
Britt Söderberg, PR
Baltic Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Arts
Elena Tsvetaeva, director
Yulia Bardun, vice-director
Zina Shershun, coordinator
Nida Art Colony of Vilnius Academy of Arts
Rasa Antanavičiūtė, director
Vytautas Michelkevičius, artistic director
Stena Line Scandinavia AB
Marcus Fredriksson, coordinator