We - a European-wide network of commoners and cultural organisations accelerating the movement of the commons in Europe – urge European decision-makers to embed culture as an important value and panel of practices contributing to the commons in their policy deliberations.
But instead of acknowleging cultural diversity as a chance and strength for our societies, we observe tendencies on political and civil society levels in many European countries promoting the concept of the one national identity and culture and mobilising against people with different cultural backgrounds. These movements are a threat to democracy and human rights. The recent Brexit is only one concrete example, which threats the cohesion of the European union. Populisme, xenophobia and radicalisation are on the rise.
These developments increase the need to give the same rights to all citizens independently from their cultural background and social or economic status, which includes access to education, health care, citizen rights (right to vote), to social services, without any discrimination. Local governments need to make sure that citizens feel accepted in their cultural difference, are represented to take part in decision making and in the democratic processes.
At the same time, the emergence of ‘commoning’ practices across Europe and beyond, as collective ventures of co-development and co-government, dramatically affect the way we look at our societies by challenging the duopoly of the state and the market. In these inclusive, collaborative and co-creating practices culture is a key factor to encourage equality, experience and accept diversity and negotiate participation. Cultural and artistic processes create spaces where working together is more important than the success of an individual. They provide a way to express oneself to debate and narrate our societies, and to create a space to establish meaningful relationships beyond status and cultural affiliation.
"Our current system of galleries, collectors and even public museums is not designed for a commons in art." - Europeana is a EU-funded institution that works towards the "commoning" of artworks, artefacts and cultural heritage at a European level. They provide legal advice and work closely with cultural institutions to make their collections available online. They are probably one of the strongest alliesfor institutions that want to make their collections commons.