European Capitals of CultureΠοιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Authentic cultural development - Sonderborg 2010 - 2017

Note: this was presented at the conference held in Sonderborg Dec. 14, 2010

"There is no culture without touching human pain and no knowing the agonies of life, if cultural expressions are not convey by a sign of love for life, but it can be so intense that words fail to express what is being felt!"


The time has come to ask whether or not one is willing to travel as did Kapucinski with Herodotus, in order to question cultural truths claimed in our times? Due to all the risks of over commercialization and everything being reduced to mere festivals, there is a need to strengthen the argument for an authentic cultural development.

Experiences made along the way should open up perspectives not only in terms of economic development, but a new way to comprehend innovation. For once derived from the arts, it can entail senses and technical mediums as being interrelated in the new forms of expression. Here even dance can become an experimental method to understand materials better. Human language has to heed the lesson of materials but also continue to develop a sense for man's own freedom and capacity to imagine things. That means the term 'experience' stands for many things, including what visitors take with them once they have visited a place.

Culture in the making should include theatrical performances, poetry translations, philosophical reflections and artistic expressions. It matters that culture expresses the real experiences made by people in all walks of life.

Kapucinski: My travels with Herodotus

(dedicated to Beata Waldeck who recommended this book)

In this age when many people travel, something should be said prior to setting out on a new journey. After all European Capitals of Culture do measure their success in terms of how many visitors they manage to attract throughout that one year. Yet it will be of importance what people have in mind when they set out from such a place which has become a European Capital of Culture, ready to either travel anew within that place having been transformed or else to depart for other places. Some might return and bring back some changes in self understanding by which they can take a new dialogue.

To describe this effect of going and coming back, Ernst Bloch uses the 'face to face, back to back' terms of 'Entfremdung - Verfremdung' (alienation - estrangement). They designate the kinds of changes a person goes through when leaving home, a familiar place, the friends and family and by traveling through the wide world what happens in terms of self-understanding. Upon leaving there is discovered the stranger within oneself. No wonde then when returning that no one recognizes the stranger that one has become.

It was the fate and luck of Odyssey when he returned to Ithaca. Not the friars of Penelope, but only his dog recognized him even though already blind and quite old. The importance of this double structure of alienation / estrangement is that it gives one the opportunity to reflect upon one's own self-understanding. Once home again, it will be possible to reflect what Adorno meant by saying 'the only self-understanding is that there is no self-understanding'. This means questioning one's own acclaimed cultural truths is a healthy achievement and that is why Kapuscinski's 'Travel with Herodotus' is so interesting. Herodotus stood for questioning the claims by the Greeks that their Gods were their own invention when Herodotus upon traveling discovered that they were but borrowed from the Egyptians and then refined. Since it takes courage to question what others believe very deeply, cultural truths should be taken at the very least as not something absolute, but as something which can be questioned to make way for further cultural development.

The story by Kapuscinski, a Polish journalist who died recently, is rich in details and covers many continents. It begins with him taking up the assignment of a foreign correspondent from Poland in India without ever having learned to speak the English language. He packs his things once the decision has been made by his editorial board. Among the things he packs into his suitcase is the book by Herodotus. Thus begins the journey. Whenever he is in difficulties, alone or wishes to have another kind of dialogue, he continues reading in that book. In this way ancient wisdoms blend in with what he encounters. There are the many Indians serving him, one for his shoes, the other for his bed and the third one for his food. He needs to get used to it. Since he does not speak a word of English, he stays at first mainly in his hotel room to learn the language. A few weeks later he suddenly realises that his attempt to learn to speak English may not be the right thing to do. Coming from a Socialist country Poland was at that time, he felt suddenly guilty in learning the language of the oppressor, colonialiser and occupier.

Later on his journalist work takes him from India to Africa where he travels extensively from local community to local community. He relates to what Herodotus says about cultural diversity and the different sources of human knowledge, namely that the Greeks did not invent the Gods, the Egyptians did. Kapuscinski comments on the courage of Herodotus who dared to question the beliefs of the Greeks that they had invented their Gods. This is a first indication of the risks involved when someone dares to question the cultural truths acclaimed by any specific community. There are obvious but also hidden truths which need to be observed if one wishes to integrate oneself into such a community. And it is obvious that sometimes a stranger remains a stranger has he tends to observe other Gods and therefore upholds other truths. If anything, the philosopher Bart Verschaffel would say in his essay 'public truths and public spaces', cultural development comes about when it is possible to question the self acclaimed cultural truths in public spaces provided to discuss and to question them.

Questioning of cultural truths is not the only thing any community should worry about when it comes to relate to the cultural development in the making. For truths and cultural values are inherently connected with the way people communicate with each other. Precisely cultural diversity is for Kapuscinski a matter of each unique culture knowing how to communicate with the outside world and therefore with other cultures. If 'cultural diversity' is to have any meaning at all for EU cultural policy, then in terms of this crucial and vital aspect which allows different modes of communication to function. They reflect the existence of diverse cultures which altogether form a way human beings stay in touch with lived through realities.

An interesting example is provided by Kapuscinski when describing his chauffeur. The guy does not know how to speak the English language except for two words: 'problem - no problem'. For when they drive through a territory filled with dangerous bandits, the face of the driver grows dark and serious. While driving he would only say: 'problem". Once out of the territory and around the bend to put behind that dangerous zone, his face lits up and he loudly assures Kapuscinski as much as himself with the acclaimation: 'no problem!'

It would be important for Sonderborg 2017 on the way of becoming a European Capital of Culture to practice this kind of communication by just making sure everyone knows when there is a problem compared to 'no problem' in formulating the ideas for the cultural program to be implemented in 2017.

A first slogan: be authentic in communication and keep it to that level of 'problem / no problem'

The difference between “no problem, problem” can be understood in terms of being authentic or not. Definitely problems are incurred when not!

Authenticity has to do with honesty. It is something the philosopher Edmund Husserl discovered only late in his life. And when he did so, he had to admit this was the most difficult question he had to face throughout his philosophical work.

Jean Paul Sartre would say in communication honesty begins when a man declares his love for a woman and when saying that to her would put his hand on hers to reinforce his declaration of love. If the woman would not love this man and therefore could not respond to his declaration in an open way, it would be dishonest of her if she left her hand on the table. By removing it, she would show to the man the discrepancy between words, actions and what she would perceive as to the meaning of love.

Likewise we know problems in love begin when either he or she estranges and has an affair with someone else without the partner knowing it. All what the partner can notice upon the other returning home is a slight change in the expression of the face. Feelings are like intuition not solid evidences but rather guesses. Thus the one seeing the changes in the face of the other may only ask if something happened today at the office. If the other does not reply honestly, but 'lies', and there are many ways of doing so, then the other will doubt the initial feeling as it can only exist if verified by the other.

Communication in democracy does depend upon body-mind linkage and openness. When Thomas Mann shock the hands of the prime minister of Czechoslovakia (before the Second World War), he immediately felt this man to be one of democratic spirit. By contrast there are many politicians whose hand feels like a rubber glove when shaking it.

For Sonderborg 2017 and its region it would be crucial to know when there is a problem as it reflects the possible loss of authenticity. Repeatedly advisors will say a city has only then a chance when bidding for the title of European Capital of Culture when true to its 'self', that is when staying authentic and therefore able to put up a programme which truly reflects capacities and resources so as to guarantee that it can be implemented. Being honest with oneself is, therefore, a prerequisite for any European Capital of Culture in the making.

Second slogan: being honest when becoming creative is more difficult than just mentioning plain facts as to what is possible, what not in view of the tasks ahead as European Capital of Culture.

There are countless criteria for good and honest art in reflection of the kind of culture it is embedded in. Lately there is a worrying trend within European Capitals of Culture. It is linked to over commercialisation and culture being used to fill merely hotel beds by having one festival follow another. Guenter Grass mentioned this a long time ago when director of the Academy of Art in Berlin that artists need phases in which they do nothing for only then can they regenerate their creative energies and become productive in an artistic and cultural sense.

In other words, loss of authenticity means creative processes are at risk of being institutionalised for commercial purposes only. The risk of commodification of culture and the arts is a given. Consequently too many artists have allowed themselves to be a part of this process leading on to mere superficiality as no real investment in the future. Instead they allow themselves for the sake of money to become mere prostitutes of the cultural industrial trend towards more and more superficial events. Umberto Eco said it already about Italians having no longer any interest in truth but only whether or not the spectacle will continue ands therefore they will live with someone like Berlusconi. Thus it was not surprising to hear at the European Conference held in Berlin 2007 and in particular in the workshop on European Captials of Culture the question being posed whether or not European Capitals of Culture have succumbed since it started with Athens in 1985 too easily to fireworks and other kinds of spectacles? If yes, it would mean to have moved so far away from the original idea Melina Mercouri had in mind and would pose indeed a danger for the continuity of this institution since no more cultural substance would be added to the already existing European cultures.

But to give an example of natural creativity, and this in reference to Michel Angelo who said a natural stone untouched by man's hands is more complete than any sculpture he could make out of that stone, there is not a wall mural which attracted my attention when visiting Belfast but an advertising board which had been worked over by rain, wind and sun.

Advertising board in Belfast, Northern Ireland - Sept. 2009                                           @hf

•Give space to question cultural truths – but difficult to create space without wishing to occupy it oneself
•Listen to the wind, respect resistance of things and beauty
•Never cover up things and no public lies
•Culture is an expression of a search for truth and gratitude
•Nothing is self understood and identity is non identity
•Culture is sharing true stories
When it comes to telling stories, yes, they need to be authentic, but not perfect. Here the poet and web publisher of poetry, Norb Blei in the United States writes recently:
So, what’s the story anyway?
Something to be explored, told, experienced, enjoyed, as I bring many plates to the table in the days ahead, variations on the theme of who? what? when? and where?
This, like any creative endeavor, will be a work-in-progress. Which is the way we learn best. Success and failure. To throw in everything including the kitchen sink, whenever the mood strikes. I begin this work as I begin almost any new piece of writing or painting–no outline, notes, plans, nothing but a head full of images and a burning passion. Let it all tell itself, be its own story, find its own way till it forms some kind of shape that leaves me space (minutes, days, weeks, months, years later) to go back in and refine. The art of writing is rewriting…reading your own words aloud. Remembering Picasso’s words as well: “Not every painting need be a masterpiece.” I make no promises, apologies, or commitments concerning the stories I choose, the ideas I examine on Once Upon a Time. . Only ask you to bear with me. Enjoy. Take what works. Ignore what doesn’t. But give it all time to settle. Do something
with it if you care. Read more…write more stories if you will. Comment occasionally if you are so inclined. (Thank you.)



I shall come back to story telling and what it means for Sonderborg and its region. But before that we need to remind ourselves of the story of European Capitals of Culture which started with Melina Mercouri and Athens in 1985.

Melina Mercouri and Athens '95

This poster was part of the ECCM Exhibition "Twenty years of history" shown in Patras 2006 with Spyros Mercouris as curator. Athens was in 1985 the first European Capital of Culture. Today there exists in Athens the Documentation Centre for recording the stories of European Capitals of Culture. For this saga of European Capitals of Culture does continue. It is one of the most successful EU Projects to date.

One year prior to being the turn of Denmark and Cyprus respectively in 2017, there shall be selected one city in Poland and in Spain to receive this designation. Of interest is in this context of a debate about a successful strategy for the bid, what Wroclaw 2016 declares when it comes to making use of space. The latter should enable people to live but also to let them appreciate different cultural influences over time and this within one tiny space: a city in Eastern Europe and in Poland. Wroclaw has similar experiences to Sonderborg as this region was once under German influence, hence the old name being Breslau and which has since then experienced borders being redrawn. The city is, therefore, a location of cultural diversity:

"Wrocław 2016, a Polish city with a cosmopolitan history, is where the greatest diversity has accumulated within a small space. Openness has been a constitutive feature of our city.

Our goals

  • The citizens of Wrocław – inhabitants of a city with a past and a city of the future – apply for the title of European Capital of Culture because they:
  • feel that they have obligations towards the historical heritage and contemporary cultural achievements and to its past and present creators representing many nations;
  • wish to support the process of cultural integration of Polish society with the peoples of Europe, a process that lags behind economic and political integration;
  • believe that a life devoid of contact with works of authentic art is impoverished and incomplete;
  • think that culture is not merely a supplement to the material aspects of the lives of individuals and social groups, which they can do without with little damage to the quality of their lives;
  • are against the instrumentalisation of cultural goods and works of art and against harnessing them in the service of other goals;
  • stand up in defence of genuine freedom of art from economic, political, and ideological pressures."


Along this road many cities have implemented in various forms the designation of being European Capital of Culture. They can be grouped according to their disposition in handling culture and the degree to which they allow the questioning of culture truths acclaimed within Europe. This questioning is made possible according to certain principles by providing public spaces for debate and by promoting dialogue between artists themselves, artists and citizens and together on how to understand their situation in Europe.

At the start, the initial idea of Melina Mercouri understood culture as meeting place of people. Then, when Bob Palmer was director of Glasgow '90, culture became a tool for urban renewal. To some extent this shift in priority and in the way culture is made use of since then has been acknowledged by many cities which followed. Weimar, Sibiu and others like Genoa engaged in tremendous urban restoration and renewal to bring out the old beauty while adding new dimensions to this cultural heritage in their respective cities.

By 2008 a new trend became even stronger, namely to use culture to alter the image of a city. This was already the case with Genoa which converted from an ugly duckling harbor city into a beautiful swan. The same did Liverpool '08 by shedding off its image of being a sullied port city with no future to one filled with new dynamism and a vibrant cultural life. Here the flagship idea was embraced and applied, even though the more successful stories when it came to creating lasting audiences were side projects never funded by the official program. The same applies for Linz '09 which did depart from a wish to show the cultural identity of the city but then converted to promoting the image of the city while leaving the cultural off scene on the sidelines. Since then ever more resources are shifted to big projects making up the creative sector. There has yet to be found a successful story of a European Capital of Culture which would take in a sustainable way artists and cultural workers on board.

Along this path of innovation of the institution of European Capital of Culture, cities started to adopt the concept of a city in relationship to the surrounding region as was done by Lille 2005 and even more so by Essen / Ruhr 2010.

Looking back, the entire institution changed already very much once 9 cities were selected to be European Capitals of Culture in 2000. It was intended to celebrate throughout Europe the millenium and to initiate at horizontal level a dialogue between cities within Europe e.g. Cafe 9. Still, it did alter the networking capacity between the cities themselves and consequently the nature of the ECCM network attempting to link former, present and current European Capitals of Culture underwent alterations but without finding some practical answer to the growing demand and needs of the newly designated cities which became ever more once the European Commission started to select two cities each year and in 2010 even three, namely Essen / Ruhr 2010, Pecs in Hungary and Istanbul in Turkey.

Since each of these cities have stories to tell, an important question raised by evaluators and the European Commission alike is what legacy is left behind? What is left after this one crucial and critical year is over? Legacy is more than mere cultural sustainability. Legacy has to do with claims of truth as to what took place in reality and which is beyond any kind of fiction! This is said even though culture does deal with mainly fiction, that is if this distinct category of narrative can be cited. (For instance, in German this term does not figure as much in literature as it does in the Anglo-Saxon world.)

There is one way to sum up this quest of European Capitals of Culture. If culture is according to Michael D. Higgins a search for truth, then these cities must take up this quest and prove themselves by gaining in consistency when it comes to handling the demands of an authentic culture. Such a culture at European level is needed in order to redeem the member states and their distinct use of culture to uphold national, regional and local identities with the idea of Europe being not just another but much more a necessary fiction. According to the philosopher Bart Verschaffel, this is an important prerequisite to bring about the possibility of questioning cultural truths in public spaces.

Here then some of the European Capitals of Culture but there exists as well a full list

  • Athens ’85
  • Glasgow ’90
  • Antwerp ’93
  • Weimar ’99
  • 9 cities in 2000
  • Patras 2006
  • Luxembourg + Sibiu 2007
  • Liverpool ‘08
  • Linz ’09
  • Essen – Ruhr / Pecs / Istanbul 2010
  • Turku, Tallinn 2011
  • Mons 2015
  • One Polish and one Spanish city in 2016
  • Aarhus and Sonderborg competing in Denmark for the designation in 2017 while three or four cities in Cyprus compete likewise to be European Capital of Culture in that same year.


To all this can be said from now on: Que sera, que sera – the future is not mine to see! when going down that road of European Capitals of Culture.

Juergen Mittag: Story of European Capitals of Culture
Note: There exist by now many references, but of course the most outstanding one is the Bob Palmer Report of 2004. The book edited by Juergen Mittag contains an interesting collection of essays showing what took place prior to 1985 when European exhibitions were attempted and as always not free of controversies e.g. Turkey objecting to a painting by Delacroix called "Slaughter of Chios" to be included. All this indicates redemption work is needed all the time, in order to bring Europe together. That aim should stand determine the kind of cultural program a city seeks to implement when a European Capital of Culture. Marseilles 2013 is aiming to do that with regards to the long neglected dialogue between Europe and the Arab world.


The selection process 2011 – 2012 for 2017 in Denmark: Aarhus and Sonderborg

Since the European Commission has gone over to selecting not one but two cities every year until 2020, and competition between cities has prompted huge investments in culture and other related activities e.g. building of cultural infrastructures, in order to get the bid, attention has to be given to this kind of competition. Definitely it should not mean literally speaking a kind of cultural war between cities especially if, as is the case with Sonderborg, much is done on the basis of a claim to have overcome war in the region.

As cities not successful in the bid but still interested to sustaining some of the activities initiated in the application phase, there have been found several solutions. There has been created, for example, in the UK a network of those cities which were not successful when Liverpool gained the bid for 2008. After Liverpool '08, and in the wake of that success, there has been created by now a system by which one city within the UK shall be awarded something similar to the European idea, but now it will be exclusively a national designation.

All these modifications of the original idea reflect the growing importance of culture to the economy. Already key terms indicate this trend towards using culture for economic, tourist and other purposes e.g. 'creative industries' or 'creative economy'. This trend has been fortified by the EU 2020 vision which refers to an 'economy of experience'. It is based on the hope that the future development shall be based on the Green Economy.

To this EU 2020 vision European Capitals of Culture have to respond and at the same time undergo a much more rigorous demand of evaluation. Yet culture is not only a most difficult matter to evaluate (Eric Antonis) but also very often an unknown filter as to what is applied and can be realized.

The aim should be to safeguard people and their ways of life against one sided economic and political encroachment. That entails the globalisation debate but this aim to support local identities has been given up especially in those countries which have due to their huge state deficits opt for a bail-out path as determined by the International Monetry Fund and the EU but under still to be established new principles of EU economic governance.

To realize how important culture is for the economy but equally to what extent the economy should be embedded in culture, here some of the writings by Louis Baeck are of great importance to this kind of debate as prompted on by the KEA studies published by the European Commission in 2007.

Now for 2017 Denmark only two cities are competing for the designation: Sonderborg and Aarhus. A quick look at their respective websites indicates already a vast difference between a vibrant cultural city that Aarhus is due to its 40 000 students and 350 000 inhabitants and Sonderborg with no more than 30 000 inhabitants in the city centre and another 40 000 in the nearby periphery with largely a regional domain being inclusive for also a culture across the Danish-German border.

Aarhus 2017:



Not just culture – a city that creates itself

•         The vision of Aarhus as the European City of Culture 2017 is not just a cultural project, but a process which will strengthen and develop the city within a number of focus areas: Aesthetic urban redevelopment, integration, business, education, tourism and the establishment of new international contacts and collaboration.

•         The work will involve participants from all environments – artists, cultural and educational institutions, trade and industry, decision-makers etc., and not least the involvement of the city’s citizens. Aarhus will have to define and create itself as a capital of culture.”




•         In 2017 the European Capital of Culture shall benefit the border region.
Therefore, Sonderborg unites South Jutland and Schleswig in a common candidature. This site will answer your questions about

•         • Who, What and Why
• EU’s Requirements for Candidate Cities
• How Other Cities Gained










By implication but very evident is that Sonderborg proposes to be a project which benefits the region while Aarhus defies the notion of just being a mere project by wishing to define its candidature as being a part of the process. The latter bears the hand-writing of Trevor Davis who was already the artistic director when Copenhagen was the first European Capital of Culture in Denmark 1996.

It should be noted that a website is already a crucial entry point for outsiders wishing to understand the respective candidate cities. A lot more can be said as to what springs, so to speak, immediately to the eye when looking up these respective websites.


Sonderborg 2017

•Sonderjyland-Schleswig become a cross-border intercultural region
•Gain in international profile
•Boost creative economy
•Increase tourism and employment
•Raise educational level
•Attract highly qualified people to region
•Increase self-awareness
•Promote intercultural understanding and social cohesion
•Knowledge for new research


Determining factors: religion, royalty, military, economy

It is obvious that to understand Sonderborg and region, one has to depart from the key determining factors. To this can then be added some special features in order to draw a first conclusion as to what kind of cultural program would be suitable for 2017?

At the sight of a church the question arises how dominant is still religion in Denmark, and what influence different religeous concepts exert upon outlooks on life?

The sign of royalty on the main bridge in Sonderborg indicates a type of society which is further underlined by four castles used by the royal family of Denmark being located in Sonderborg and region, while people seem to live in high respect of this royalty by even linking their wedding days to a royal day. This means a special significant structure dominates to determine but also to appease certain values and dispositions in society. Thus the Danish society differs from those who have abolished their kings and therefore follow another dialectic of securalization when it comes to understand the relationship between culture, religion and state.

The sign of a former military outpost along with the information that these cultural heritage buildings date back to Bismarck times while Sonderborg is used by the Danish marine as training area for their cadets and naval officers does suggest a strong military presence which has always an influence upon culture and way of life in a city.

In terms of economy, there is no way to overlook the presence of Danfoss, a company which started out with one inventor and has gone by now international with 30 000 employees around the world and a management concept relying still on 'just in time' way of assembling resources in order to produce things on demand. It is said that this dominance of Danfoss is huge in the area and therefore there is a need of the region to emancipate itself first of all from this 'one company - one town' kind of mentality.

The questions of Sonderborg 2017

In a second step the best way to get to know the candidacy of Sonderborg 2017 is to take a look at what questions were posed at the outset of the first conference meant to gather ideas for being European Capital of Culture in 2017. Since this was very much the initiative of Stephan Kleinschmidt, member of the German speaking minority in Denmark and in the Sonderborg region with him being chairperson of the committee for culture and business development, a first reflection is needed if there is really at the moment the strength to work out the most crucial question to be faced when a city and region strives to become European Capital of Culture. As Bart Verschaffel, coordinator for literature when Antwerp '93 implemented that one year program, would say, all cities desire to receive this designation but few are really in a position to handle the high demand that goes with being European Capital of Culture. Working out the question which can be answered by the people is something Juergen Mittag would advocate, for often the wrong set of questions will put the bid already right from the start on a wrong track. This is said in reflection of the mounting criticism of European Capitals of Culture becoming increasingly so cultural industries which spend a huge amount of money on communication i.e. public relations and public diplomacy exercises and rather than investing in culture and cultural development stay at a superficial level with regards to the arts and artists. This danger is especially given if the bid is driven by solely a managerial point of view wishing to respect merely the economic needs of the region and its major economic players. As Brendan Kennelly, the Irish poet of the epic poem 'Judas' would advise, a European Capital of Culture should mean entering a learning process to know how to use and not abuse culture.

Example of the questions raised at the First Conference:

  • Ideas for cultural cooperation with Cyprus?
  • How can culture attract and retain highly educated people to the region?
  • Ideas for new and different meetings between the creative class and industry, tourism etc.
  • How can Europe and the world learn from our border region?
  • How can culture attract investment and business
  • How can culture become an even more important growth factor?
  • How to retain and attract the creative class?
  • How to undo mental barriers between all cultures?
  • Ideas for intercultural cooperation?
  • How to highlight the cultural diversity in our border region?

Already the frequent use of 'how' can be taken as an indication of a value orientation towards using culture for economic purposes and therefore risks being devoid of questions of content pertaining to culture itself.

A possible answer: 3 strands and 5 objectives

Crucial when attempting to give advise to Sonderborg, then is to take into consideration as well something Atlantis, artistic director of Patras 2006, said at a recent workshop in Athens about European Capitals of Culture. The discussion took place in the context of the Cultural Parliament of Europe. He said there are two directions any city can take, namely to bring either European culture into the city to show it to the local residents who have otherwise never the opportunity to get to know different cultures existing in Europe or else to go outward by showing to the rest of Europe what the city and its region has to offer. He added the critical point that both cannot be done at the same time. From experience he knows how confusing this can be.

Thus already after two sessions spend with the Jugglers, the leading group of the Sonderborg 2017, some conclusion can be drawn in view of the need to simplify the entire complex undertaking. This can be identified as having three strands to the bid to be made along with five objectives around which all cultural activities can revolve in order to institutionalise a learning process as to how Sonderborg and region can enter a new phase in cultural development within Europe.

Three strands:

A. Open up the door and greet your neighbor – since Ancient Greece good neighborhood practice contributes to a happy life if strangers are let in and good neighborhood practices form the foundation of society.

B. Design models of existence which link nature, cities and region by cultural development by responding in time to the current crisis linked to financial, environmental and social problems and thus contribute towards 'cultural governance'.

C. Enrich the cultural dimension of EU foreign policy in order to sustain life on this earth by facing jointly problems linked to war, climate change, economic crisis to be done by giving culture the public space needed to participate in the creation of conditions of peace.

Five objectives:

  1. Learn the art to bring people together by giving recognition to what each can contribute.
  2. Out of ‘theory’ of cultural actions learn how things work in culture to create memorable experiences e.g. the year 2017
  3. Live in context of meanings at specific locations by relating to cultural diversity within Europe
  4. Bring things into existence whose forms respect nature and man as critical tension to become creative.
  5. Sustain artistic freedom + integrity of memory to attain authenticity over time


Recommendation 1: bring about a change in terminology from 'Culture across border' to living and experiencing cultural diversity within the 'Neighborhood'

The crucial criterion of what a European Capital of Culture has to fulfil, namely to bring and to sustain a vibrant cultural scene, that can be linked to the concept of neighborhood

  • What is a vibrant cultural scene? This criterion is a part of the EU outlook for what shall be an indication if a European Capital of Culture is sustainable, namely that it can say to have brought about a vibrant cultural scene which will remain after the one year is over and which shall contribute to the cultural life in that city. All too often the off scene / cultural scene / free artists and their organisations are ignored by the overall concept and thus the supportive structure for any cultural life neglected when it becomes a mere matter of having prestigous events making headlines in accordance with what the traditional media considers as being a signficant event. Since the media is driven by a 'pathology of communication' according to the philosopher Juergen Habermas, and he means by that also the dominance of such persons as Murdoch and Berlusconi who have no regard for democratic practices based on the premise that no 'free conscience' can be bought, it does not know really to recognize what is important for future cultural developments just as Vincent Van Gogh went unnoticed while still alive.
  • Cities alive have cafes with voices of discussions in the air to facilitate a flow of ideas! A lively place means to know in the city you can find others ready to discuss with you the ideas circulating and which need to be tested if viable to be lived. In Ancient Greece this debate was inventive as the culture opened up to new ideas which could be reformulated or reinvented to become novel ideas.
  • Boats can tie up together and form neighborhoods on water! Sonderborg as a port in linkage to other ports like Flensburg can show an extension of the neighborhood idea on water. Some beautiful encounters on boats forming neighborhoods can be envisioned for that special year of 2017. The imagination can be enriched by the Chinese tradition of making huge festivals on the water with boats carrying laterns and music being played in other boats coming across the water clearly and so enchanting that the imagination entices everyone to visit each other.
  • Many different neighbors can live in one and the same European house: rummelighed. This Danish word was proposed by the philosophers discussing the prospects of Sonderborg and region to become European Capital of Culture. It is an extension of the Greek word 'kosmos' meaning both the universe with all the stars and people forming altogether a 'world' or 'kosmos'. That means people await to see how far the eyes can see a human horizon forming all kinds of landscapes in which to be at home in.
  • "Coming home in Europe”: this last point is a derivate from a book written by Simon Mundy called "Making it Home". Nowadays it not just traveling and coming back, but important in reference to Europe to speak to the others and then to take them with you back home so that the European stage is not one for self performance while no others form a part of the audience, but instead making possible such changes that citizens arrive really in Europe and not in place of the imagination. Europe is real and people live and work everywhere. A lot of mobility of artists and other workers has been a key component of EU funded programs making possible such projects that enhance the skill of being at home everywhere.



Rummelighed means in Danish 'space and inclusion'. It can give the European dimension of a neighborhood practicing something along the line of 'rummelighed' an extra value which Sonderborg and the Danish-German region can contribute.

  • 2010 is the year to combat poverty and social exclusion, and this effort to include people through culture and education but also good neighborhood practices should be continued till a true open society shall be lived and experienced by everyone.
  • At the first conference was mentioned ‘poverty of culture’ but what does this mean for future development till 2017 and beyond? Here some good thoughts have been developed by the artist Anka Landtau. She does point out that social and cultural norms in Sonderborg and region are derived from everyone taking primarily into consideration what the neighbors think, and this determines much more what is possible, what not so that a certain 'culture of poverty' does exist and which is in need to be addressed if the cultural development to be initiated by Sonderborg 2017 is to be successful.
  • Poverty as intangible term means lack of knowledge and no one able to understand the situation one lives in and has to deal with.
  • It was already the aim of Athens ’85 to make culture into a meeting place for people so that they can exchange ideas and discuss.
  • Hence forthcoming is any culture which is open to new ideas and willing to debate them by challenging their premises.
  • Most difficult is a debate about values. Often they are set, not discussed and if someone wishes to change them, it leads to conflict. Cultural development based on non violence is needed.
  • If in the Greek language Kosmos means both universe and people, then it suggests what is needed most is cultural space for discussions and development of new models of existence. All that can be enriched by the Danish word 'rummelighed' meaning "space and inclusion” according to Rasmus Ahrenkilde.


Rick Towle and Anka Landtau

Both Rick Towle and Anka Landtau are tremendous artists who have and can contribute a great deal to understand Sonderborg and the specific characteristics of the region. There is some special quality to artistic perception of things, even what space is available. That means when looking at venues, then every public space available can be examined if to be used for a special cultural performance and / or event.

Public square down at the water front of Sonderborg

And in the winter this can include skating outdoors with everyone ready to greet whoever passes by and is willing to give a smile at the sign of such lively enjoyment outdoors.


Another way to tell neighborhood stories

Ever since Andersen contributed to an enrichment of not only Danish, but European culture, there exist the interest in Danish Tales.

That can begin with sitting like Andersen underneath a tree to think about the next story to write and to tell.

But there is also the possibility of acknowledging in the region the kind of story telling taking place across the bridge in Sonderborg.
Bridge of Sonderborg - a bridge means walking over to the other side
The bridge of Sonderborg as perceived by painter Stoerbecker.


When looking at the Danish-German cultural cooperation, then it is interesting to note that in Flensburg there does exist an association of 'story tellers'. This might be a good start to spin out more stories along the line of how people ended up to determine the border by themselves, through a plebescite rather than having it been drawn and imposed from above by some 'invisible' powers.

Regional identity based on cultural heritage and culture of excellence

The second strand, and as discussed at this conference "European Capital of Culture in the Making", can be viewed as the macro level where culture and regional development allow some assumption about the cultural identity prevailing in this area of Europe. It is certainly fed by Danish and German sources and thus can take on an identity which is neither Danish or German but within Europe an identity based on cultural diversity. If one includes the English language, and in 2017 the cultural cooperation with Cyprus so that one does include as well the Greek language, then the 'square of the circle' will be the beginning of multiple stories about European integration and cohesion.

At the same time, it is obvious a region which suffers under the fact that out of the ten young people which depart for studies, work and life in Copenhagen, Hamburg or Berlin only two return, that something needs to be done to address the attractiveness of this region. The reasons for staying have to be strengthened as it is obvious reasons have to be given so that newcomers feel welcome. It is to be underlined while the region undergoes a transition in more than one way, much is prompted by its leading companies like Danfoss which have to respond to the global challenge. They do so quite successfully. After a slump in economic development, they are now hiring again people and seek to attract highly qualified people who will locate themselves in the region only if among others their cultural needs are satisfied. This goals becomes obvious when reading all the materials published to date by Sonderborg 2017.

It is, therefore, suggested to learn something about cultural heritage of the region becoming the organisational base for the future and that a sharing of values in doing good work to allow a distribution and decentralization of tasks from large to small firms, the latter having more of the innovative capacity, would have to mean bringing about a 'culture of excellence' (Phil Cooke). Regions like Baveria and Baden Wuerttenburg in Germany are deemed to be more successful precisely because of this sharing of the same values which guarantee good work is being done by everyone and therefore large companies like BMW or Mercedes Benz are more willing to distribute work to outside and smaller companies. How culture can guide towards the making of a viable region should be, therefore, a major learning task. It is conditional that the cultural identity of the region facilitates change while people can perceive their own identities in terms of continuity and in being rooted in these liveable neighborhoods.

Thus a first task would be to identify the cultural resources in the region and then see how it shall become possible to work with them to bring about a sustainable development.

Alsion hall offers a concert hall, university and office spaces as a new cultural hub

There is cultural heritage to be valorized for the future such as the wind mill of the old times.

The connection to the sea is an element all but lost with the philosopher Oleg Koefoed stating a reconnection of the people with the sea might be worthwhile striving for when Sonderborg becomes European Capital of Culture in 2017.

Then there is Flensburg where a debate goes on as to what shall happen to its port? It is about the possible use of the port: should it become exclusively one for tourist and sport purposes only or as shall it for economic reasons retain the industrial part of the port? It seems any answer depends on what shall determine the overall regional development. The latter shall give shape to a port like Flensburg but in anticipation of future use, it would be important to perceive ports as important junctures to the sea and therefore to an international connectivity. To smell the salt water, to hear the sea gulls and to remember the days when sailors were often paid with rum rather than with hard currency, all that would entail responding to maritime history.

A first philosophical axiom for Sonderborg 2017: connect people to the sea

The writer Ernst Schnabbel

Literary examples reminding of life at sea or beside the sea:

  • Argonauts and the Myth of Travel
  • Marco Polo
  • Three mast schooners and the triangle of tools, slaves and cotton
  • Hemingway: Man and the sea
  • Ernst Schnabel: after a war people need time before they begin to dream again about travels while during the war he served as captain of a merchant ship and where he wrote his stories at night by the latern when alone on deck to steer the boat through troubled waters.
  • Hermann Broch, Esch und die Anarchie is about men sailing past coastlines they long to go ashore but to no avail as the boat sails on.
  • Genoa Port: the Container traffic altered the use of ports dramatically
  • Rum trade in the past is remembered in a BBC program
  • pirates of Somali coast spell dangers at sea of today

Naturally all these literary elements would entail in terms of a possible narrative the working out of new ideas about people and the sea to be found in Sonderborg and the region. It was said already that this can include the boats tied to each other in order to create floating neibhborhoods or else museums in the area networking to tell the Maritime story.

A second axiom: since Danfoss and a certain educational system does shape the regional identity, it goes without saying that cultural development is only possible when it goes hand in hand with cultural emancipation from a certain kind of tutelage to the equation 'one company - one identity'.

Conference room at Danfoss Headquarters

Thus it becomes important to go from the micro level of neighborhood to the macro level of the region in order to see and to understand what factors determine cultural identity. There is no way of overseeing the single dominance of the Danfoss company. In terms of the usual slogan known as well in the United States where one company rules the entire town, and this by owing as well the company store where everyone has to buy all things, it has to be acknowledged that the entire region needs to emancipate itself. Therefore, a crucial question is if that can be brought about by Sonderborg taking on for one year in 2017 the institution of European Capital of Culture. If it not only promises but does bring about a new kind of cultural development, then some progress shall be made when all enter a learning process in order to see how that goal can be reached. Certainly these questions exist in combination with what visions shall prevail in the region and how through a wise redistribution of resources this goal shall be realized in cooperation and collaboration with whom? The latter may stand for Europe, that is for all the others with whom the region shall interact as the global reach of Danfoss indicates already with 30 000 employees world wide. To this external strand more shall be said in a moment. Right now the key focus should be, however, on what cultural resources are available or are offered by various actors, organisations and institutions, so that cultural development can by facilitated not merely by a new type of cultural governance, but equally by an ability to work through contradictions in an effort to bring about consistency within EU policy being applied at local and regional level. The fact that the region has obtained an Interreg Project is an indication in that direction.

Music hall of Alsion is not only outstanding in accoustics but used in a multiple way to include theatre and opera as well

Evening concert during Electronic Music Festival in Alsion Hall

Augustiana offers exhibition space and a sculpture park close to nature

Sun set seen from Augustiana sculpture garden

The relationship between economy and culture

Given the dominance of Danfoss, something more has to be said about the growing awareness within the European Commission as to the importance of culture for the economy. In a study by KEA study published by the European Commission in 2007, it is argued that the creative economy sector is one of the fastest growing ones with more and more people employed in this area. As this is linked directly to the impact of a European Capital of Culture, it will be important to examine this claim that such a title will bring these economic benefits as envisioned and in part promised or at the very least suggested. It amounts to assessing the benefits of being a European Capital of Culture often done in terms of number of tourists coming to the area and flow of money turning into new sources of income as a result. While some European Capitals of Culture have ventured into new brands of tourism i.e. conference tourism, others like Ruhr 2010 have taken on the task of institutionalizing within the entire region the notion of the creative economy.

Sonderborg 2017 will have to take the EU Vision for 2020 into consideration. By that time, the coming decade will have been completed already at three quarter markation and thus it shall be the proper time to begin an assessment of what has been achieved within Europe and due to this concept. For instance, the Lisbon strategy which preceeded the EU 2020 vision is considered by many a failure as it has not put Europe into a competitive mode based on the ability to have viable growth. Instead many economies within the Euro zone have to apply severe austerity measures in order to get their huge state deficits under control. Also the goal of achieving better employment opportunities for all has not been achieved. While there is a scarcity for highly qualified people, there are equally many who end up being the 'radical losers' of such a system basing a lot on innovation and creativity as the two main factors of economic growth.

When it comes to culture many more mistakes are made in subsuming culture under the economy or in letting budget cut-backs be felt first of all in the cultural domains. That this must not be the case would be argued by Stephan Kleinschmidt who attempts as a politician in the region to point out to decision makers the linkage between cultural and economic competences. In other words, there exists already a convincing political positioning with regards to funding of the arts and culture since it is argued without cultural development there shall be no economic growth.

Here then I would like to draw the attention to the position taken by Michael D. Higgins who as former Minister for Culture of the Republic of Ireland knows that truth matters. He is both a politician and a poet and who is very much engaged in bringing about an authentic culture.

Michael D. Higgins             @Kostas Kartelias

Thus, Michael D. Higgins would want to remind among many other things, that:

This should be kept in mind when conceiving the program for Sonderborg 2017, namely not to reduce culture to being subserviant to the economy.

A first blue-print for the cultural program in 2017

One of the first thematic outlines articulated when coming to Flensburg and Sonderborg is that the museums of the region would like to network among themselves in order to articulate the Maritime Heritage existing in this area. That would include also the informal structure of boat owners who have their own knowledge about the sea and what life goes with sailing with the winds in search of the next harbour.

Then Oleg Koefoed and other philosophers have already started to discuss how to overcome the disenchantment after the COP 15 in Copenhagen last year? This discussion can be linked to the vision of Sonderborg for 2029 to attain cultural sustainability by becoming a region saving energy and being free of any carbon emission. This philosophical backbone can be interpreted as a wy to go beyond Kierkegaard's 'either/or' testimony he used to prove that love is impossible. Juergen Habermas deems the categorization of alternatives into either/or as being always the false ones. Important is that culture understood as binding power for an entire region entails as well redemption and love. This means a special narrative structure will have to be developed in order to facilitate that. A lot can be learned already out of the reconciliation efforts between the Danish and German people while opening up to the question of different minorities existing in modern society can complement such an effort to reach out and to become an open, that is an inclusive region based on 'rummelighed' principles.

Then, in view of the democratic gap in Europe between citizens and European institutions, it should be noted that the writer and painter Jan Jensen has together with other artists formulated already the “Flash back” manifesto of artists. This manifest seeks to ensure that a democratic conscience stays not only alive but becomes creative in advancing the idea of Europe not as a political project, but as something felt and experienced out of which new perceptions and possibilities for European integration can grow. The manifest has the aim to make Augustiana a centre of European cultural cooperation.

Not everything can be done within one year while it is very easy to lose the oversight if there is no cultural tool to organise the planned cultural events, festivals, happenings etc. In memory of Uwe Johnson’s “Days of the Year”, I propose that Sonderborg 2017 should have a digital diary to be written by various people and organisations every day throughout the year of 2017. This would mean becoming aware of what is happening that same day to the people and cultures in Europe. Uwe Johnson would start every day with citations taken from the New York Times who would like a much distinguished wise aunt perceive events from a distance and show thereby an amazing ability to comment upon a contradiction of a different kind, namely more people being killed a day in New York than in Viet Nam for around that time when the book was written and the war was raging in Viet Nam, but also Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated (namely from August 1967 to August 1968). As a model linking diary to cultural calendar, people would not only have orientation but let their memories work over and again some of the initial experiences they made and which they may want to repeat or develop further by returning to the places where these experiences were made. Reliance is at times a matter of finding certainty in the senses by which experiences are communicated but which require the arts to become memories of meaning in life and in human relationships.

And then there is the need for cultural cooperation with Cyprus and the city selected there to be at the same time in 2017 European Capital of Culture. Cultural cooperation can mean the entire strategy of Sonderborg 2017 to be 'outgoing'. Rather than bringing Europe into Sonderborg, it would be advisable to make Sonderborg into a meeting place prior to departure into other parts of the world. In this way the original idea of Melina Mercouri could be combined with modern needs to gain in skills of cultural diplomacy and thereby add to the EU foreign policy in terms of competences already gained in the German-Danish across border cultural cooperation and now newly named good neighborhood practices.


The island is divided into a Northern and Southern part with the 'green line' running through the entire island to show where is the Turkish and where the Cypriot claims at home. There are many ways to understand the practical and the political nature of this conflict but in reality people live and have experienced despair due to this division. Whether now this prevailing division - the people of Cyprus prefer not to speak about a border which would fuel further conflict - can be perceived as compatible with the experiences made in Sonderborg region, namely to overcome war and conflict in order to live together peacefully, that is a matter of developing a model for comparison and more so as Spyros Mercouris would wish by entering a 'dialogue between cultures' and which Stephan Kleinschmidt would term more appropriately as an opportunity to listen to 'cultures in dialogue'.

Abandoned house after the seperation of the island

Three major issues can be identified with regards to Cyprus:

  • Living in the shadow of occupation which started in 1974, and prompts still today another round of  failed negotiations between Northern and Southern Cyprus.
  • In Cyprus a major theme is the destruction and reconstruction of identity or as the conference held 12 - 13 November 2010 in the Chateau Status in Nicosia indicated, there is a need to look at Conflicts and Values of Heritage: The Cyprus Case and Beyond with many lessons being drawn as well from places of destruction and division such as Dresden 1945 or Palestine since 1948.
  • As to the EU focus on Turkey as Nato member and on Cyprus as EU member, it means literally all things are blocked at the negotiation table due to these contradictory alliances and allegiance.

The task for Sonderborg and the city of Cyprus, once selected to be European Capital of Culture in 2017, will be to use cultural dialogue and exchange of experiences to promote mutual understanding. This means a need to enter some cultural adaptation and an open learning process in order to understand the 'other' in a different sphere of influence. Through this dialogue it should become apparent that Northern Europe is quite different from what exists in the Mediterranean region. Thus the outward going nature of this task should entail an effort to enrich EU policy on this matter as well as enrich the EU foreign policy by substantiating its cultural dimension. Linked to a still to be formulated international strategy in alignment with what the companies of the region of Sonderborg 2017 drive for, the purpose would be to base both cities on a matter of coming home in Europe. As it has proven to be very successful in the case of the Danish-German border, cultural lessons to be drawn from this practical experience need to be assessed whether or not they can be applied to the future of Cyprus and the development there.

Understanding of the 'other' means acknowledging despair of people and what deeper pain there exists ever since the island was divided in 1974.

Despair written in faces of people wishing to understand the incomprehensible

Photo by Anikitos Hadjicharalampous


Photo by Anikitos Hadjicharalampous

Shadows are cast by those walking past the green line marking where the separation begins and ends at one and the same time. That was in Hegels terminology the circle of the 'negation of negation', a kind of emptiness, in real terms 'no man's land' and therefore something keeping out the otherness as well as the differences by setting an absolute premise called 'spirit'. Now culture, and more specifically theatre can change that. This was the theme of the conference organised by Pia Kleber at Toronto University, namely 'Europe performing' after the fall of the Berlin Wall with still the Cyprus issue remaining unresolved.

Then there are photos to be found in the book "Nicosia in Dark and White" by Thodoris Tsalavras.



Sonderborg harbor seen from the bridge

“Coming home in Europe – the memories others have of you”

There is the beautiful story by Guenter Herrmann who once let a son ask his father what is 'home'? Instead of replying the father sat down to type out the answer: "is home the place where you are born - no!", "is home where you speak the common language with others - no!", "is home the whole world - no!" No, my son, he added, important what others remember of you and the collectivity of memories that others have of you is your home.

Thus some basic conclusion can be deduced out of that and thereby we return to the topic of this presentation, namely what constitutes an authentic cultural development:

  • Authentic development depends on memory work but a lot of memory is silenced! To understand this, it might be important to experience the difference between living in a system demanding routine and following certain values and an open ended development to be experienced only by stepping out of the system and into the emotions of experience all of which can create the memory path. (Sigmund Freud) Memories are prerequisites for becoming and staying differentiated in the relationship to reality. That is why success depends on a process remembering what steps were taken prior to finding a solution.
  • Living in the present is only possible if you know the future (Sartre). That means 'le vecu' – the lived through experiences - should be the source of ideas and be the base of narratives.
  • Culture is about anticipation with the imagination giving insights into goals (Aristotle).
  • Cultural heritage reflects not only upon past experiences in terms of history, for every lived moment in the present entails some insights into new potentialities and therefore as memories of the future it is important to hold onto them until they can be realized. The Greek poet Ritsos never lets the soldiers die for when they lie in their graves, they hold onto the rope of the church bell for they wait for the day when they can ring the bells since freedom and peace has come.
  • Democracy is based on memory in order to know what had been agreed upon prior to starting the action and thus not forgetting means more than just being just to each other; it means as well consistency and fairness in the way of dealing with contradictions between words and actions for if the Hamlet trap is to be avoided, there is a need to step outside the Shakespearan taulogy. Shakespeare formulates in Hamlet not only the question "to be or not to be" but as well "should the words be suited to the actions or the actions to the words". In Democracy true words are needed if a cultural development is to be reflected in terms of being authentic or not. There is a problem when not!
  • The key question of Hamlet: “suit the words to actions or actions to words”?
  • Culture reminds what people can do when children grow up and seek to learn out of previous experiences without being prevented from making their own experiences.
  • Europe is about not forgetting the Two World Wars and that Europeans have come a long way since 1945.

Since a European Capital of Culture is a huge opportunity to get to know the complexity of reality, a lot depends upon 'cultural governance' or how things are organised in cultural terms. There is a crucial measure, namely what culture allows people to understand in which situation they are living in and therefore what can artists do to enrich but also to question the self understanding existing in Europe and in its manifold local places. The artist as mediator between culture and economy can become a new task to describe as well cultural developments initiated by museums, art galleries, theatres, and continued in writings whether now poems or full poems.

There is always a need of trust and where trust exists, there is a poem possible:

signs in the snow

for lotte

signs in the snow

seen from far away

seem to be shadows lying on the ground

but closer up they appear like eyebrows

pronounced over the surface of the earth

marked by the feet of children

dancing in evolving circles

till they reach the destiny of their imagination

lit by a lantern at the next street corner

around which awaits spring time

to lurch forward like a cat would do so suddenly

that even the birds up in the trees would be startled

and eyes till then forlorn would start to focus on what lies ahead

as trust in change lets the snow recede

to make way for new waves of grass growing

till the wind can stroke it

like a brush to ensure no hollow room is left behind

but all is filled with simple messages

which had been written in the snow

and kept there like in Freud's wax plate

by the earth breathing now hard

to keep up with ever more letters being written

in the air by spring tides

moving in fast and swift

if only to sojourn for the day

when the winds have died down

and someone just repairs his socks

worn thin by walking endless miles

through the now imaginary snow fields

left behind unploughed and unprotected

by this gaze circling around the tiny park

to come to rest there where snow rests

to remind of pockets of resistance

against these changes of the seasons.

Hatto Fischer 18.12.2010


Two tasks lie ahead:

  1. the most difficult thing to evaluate is culture (Eric Antonis)
  2. learn to create an audience for the world needs artists but artists need people who can listen.


Of crucial importance is therefore a refinement of cultural planning based on a kind of monitoring and evaluation more like an ongoing research process (Else Christensen Rezepovic). That means the steps taken by the Jugglers and others are vital to further this ongoing learning process.

Meeting of Jugglers in Alsion, Nov. 18, 2010 and chaired by Hatto Fischer

Since the experiences made along the way are the most valuable, equally intangible things, this outcome should be linked to the creation of an audience which can listen because knowledgeable about the arts and culture.

If culture facilitates discussions and reflections, then it can be defined altogether as 'the art to bring people together'. It is best done by giving recognition what each person can give to the others. By recognizing this gift or potentiality, while learning how to criticize it in terms of being or not sufficiently authentic, it can bring about an ability to work together. This then is the need of democracy, namely that people learn to govern themselves in a most truthful way despite all complexities and set-backs. For there is only one way, namely to 'go on' in a way which is in agreement with basic human values and ensures that democratic practices are upheld. Therefore, cultural criticism of how the system works nowadays is very much needed.

There is a need for 'critical' assessment when it comes to deal with the power of money and what usual methodologies are applied at managerial level since resources need to be allocated so that the artists and arts can unfold and therefore give the European Capital of Culture a truly high artistic quality:

  1. Consistency allows an ongoing learning process in cultural adaptation so as to handle change and complexity while realizing cultural actions, exhibitions, theatrical performances etc.
  2. Authentic development means new forms of participation further ‘cultural governance best done by creating critical audiences which do not let things pass by unnoticed or left standing in the shade of silence.
  3. European Capital of Culture is about becoming responsible as to what is happening to culture in Europe, our home.
  4. To evaluate a smile of a child can already suffice at the sight of a pantomime. But there is also the excellent example of the theatre in Liverpool ’08 with the best audience although not funded.

One last advice: if Sonderborg stays authentic in its attempt to become a European Capital of Culture in 2017, then everything shall be a 'Kinderspiel'!

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