We, 31.05.2023

The international forum puts a spotlight on creative cultural exchange

, Head Organiser of Kultuurikompass
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Kultuurikompass forum.
Kultuurikompass forum. Photo: Kiur Kaasik

Kultuurikompass brings together cultural organisers, creatives and policy makers from across Europe in Tartu to find solutions to the challenges hindering international cultural exchanges.

The fourth edition of the international Kultuurikompass forum "How borderless is culture?" will bring together world-class cultural organisers, creatives and policy-makers at the Estonian National Museum and TYPA Print and Paper Arts Centre on 18-19 May.

We will take a look at the international mobility and residencies of creatives. We will focus on how the globalisation of culture creates opportunities to survive in the future and to highlight local specificities. Cross-border cooperation is in the DNA of the European Capital of Culture. This means working in international teams, attracting creatives from Europe and beyond, presenting international artists and, of course, having international audiences.

How to kick-start creativity

But are we ready to share our culture and do we want to be part of international creative networks and residencies? Although increasing, less than a third of Tartu's cultural practitioners belong to an international network. The situation is even worse if we only look at cultural organisers in Southern Estonia.

In a survey carried out among Southern Estonian cultural organisers last year, a full 65% of respondents said they had not worked with an international partner or otherwise participated in any cross-border projects in the last five years.

International cooperation is necessary to kick-start creativity. However, if the sample of people from whom to borrow ideas for creating events is small, the culture will remain homogeneous and regional development will suffer. In the wild, biodiversity ensures the preservation of ecosystems. In the cultural field, organising homogenous events with people who think alike, puts the survival of the culture at risk.

Those cultural organisers in Southern Estonia who do not participate in international cooperation see lack of time, partners or resources as the main obstacles. They also cite labour shortage and limited language skills as constraints, or do not see any value in international cooperation whatsoever.

But how do we promote Estonian culture, highlight the local specificities and bring those to Finns, Swedes, Germans as well as to northern Estonians, the islanders and other Europeans?

While international cooperation may temporarily result in workload increase, in the long run it will help to improve local systems and gain a competitive edge over other local businesses. When we collaborate across sectors and with different people, the ideas we develop are more compelling and unexpected.

Culture-led development

The aim of Kultuurikompass is to identify the challenges that hinder international cultural exchange and to find practical ways to develop mobility. It will also provide the audience with real new tips on how international cooperation can help us preserve our culture. Together with other people, organisations and effective international networks, we can make a difference in the cultural field, to preserve our local distinctiveness and make us stand out globally.

The main idea of the European Capital of Culture - the culture-led development - provides an opportunity to initiate activities that contribute to economic and social development through arts and culture. The attractiveness of the region for international talent, investors and businesses will increase.

On the first day of the forum, at the Estonian National Museum, attendees can listen to presentations by experts in the field and take part in three panel discussions on the diversity of residencies. For just one day, an EXPO area will be set up in the museum, where visitors will be able to find out about mobility and residency opportunities in Europe.

On the second day, at the TYPA Print and Paper Arts Centre, one can meet members of the creative residencies and the European Capital of Culture network. There will be workshops, discussions and tours to the residencies in Tartu and South Estonia.

I believe that international professional self-improvement is a sort of vacation that does not end with the anxiety of returning to work and opening the full inbox. Rather, it shakes up the daily routine and offers new ideas on how to do your job better.

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