The 9th Ministers of Culture gathering of the Baltic Sea Region was held in Gdansk on 16th of September and was the highlight of the “Culture Gathering” conference, held under the CBSS Polish Presidency priority “Creativity”. It was the first high-level meeting on culture since 2008, with the Ministers discussions focusing on the role of culture in building a future vision for the Baltic Sea Region, and it’s effects on other fields, such as education.
The meeting was opened by the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Prof. Małgorzata Omilanowska, who chaired the meeting on behalf of the Polish Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. In her welcoming words Minister Omilanowska invited the delegates to give their view on the current state of play in cultural affairs and the set-up of financial instruments and frameworks for collaboration. Ms. Monika Smoleń, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland, gave an introduction to the meeting and a presentation of the current landscape of the Baltic Sea Region cultural cooperation, commending Balticlab, the innovation programme for creatives and entrepreneurs, run jointly by the Council of the Baltic Sea States & the Swedish Institute, as a notable network in the region.
The Director General of the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat, Mr. Jan Lundin, introduced the current work of the CBSS under the long-term priority “Regional Identity” and explained: “We simply want to build a stronger sense of family in the region, so as to facilitate cooperation and contacts, and ultimately to build trust.” Mr. Lundin underscored that cultural cooperation is an excellent way to establish regional identity, through the establishment of a strong common creative sector and continued collaboration on the project level.
The meeting included presentations on the current activities of the Monitoring Group on Cultural Heritage, ArsBaltica, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region Policy Area Culture and the Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture. The Ministers reflected on the positive developments in the framework of cultural cooperation in the region since 2008. Continued support was expressed for the work of the Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC) and the Cultural Heritage Monitoring Group. The 5th CBSS Senior Officials Group on Culture meeting, in 2014, in Kotka, Finland, was highlighted as an example of increased cultural collaboration. The European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) Policy Area Culture has since its establishment in 2013 also become one of the central points for cultural cooperation in the region. Run jointly by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland and the Ministry of Justice, Cultural and European Affairs of Land Schleswig-Holstein (Germany), PA Culture focuses on promoting and visualizing BSR culture and creative industries, on preserving and showcasing its cultural heritage and on improving and facilitating cultural cooperation.
The Ministers also elaborated on the value of culture and its connection to economics and sustainable development, especially in the field of creative industries, as well as the importance of bottom-up cooperation and interdisciplinary collaboration to boost culture and innovation in the region. However, some concerns were raised in regards to the risk of duplication and fragmentation, with possible mitigation of the challenge lying with the need to build synergies, coordinated efforts and a flexible allocation of existing funds.
The Ministers also agreed on Ministerial Conclusions, which can be accessed here:
The Heads of Delegation of the meeting were as follows:
Denmark – Mr Per Nylykke, Head of Department of International Relations, Ministry of Culture of Denmark
Estonia – Mr Tarvi Sits, Undersecretary on Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture of Estonia
Finland – Ms Hanna Lehtinen, Ambassador of Finland to the Republic of Poland
Germany – Ms Cornelia Pieper, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Gdańsk
Iceland – Ms Ásta Magnúsdóttir, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Iceland
Latvia – Ms Dace Melbārde, Minister of Culture of Latvia
Lithuania – Mr Šarūnas Birutis, Minister of Culture of Lithuania
Norway – Ms Åse Vøllo, Acting Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Culture of Norway
Poland – Ms Małgorzata Omilanowska, Minister of Culture and National Heritage of Poland
Russia – Mrs Olga Andonieva, Deputy Director of the International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation
Sweden – Mr Per Olsson, State Secretary to the Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy, Ministry for Culture and Democracy of Sweden