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Foreign Minister Schallenberg: “Art Requires Freedom. An Attack on That Freedom is an Attack on Art”

AUSTRIA, September 5 - Foreign Minister Schallenberg at the 2022 International Cultural Policy Conference – Foreign Ministry creates international initiatives on the topic of “Future Culture”

The war, inflation, the threat of welfare loss, the energy crisis, the climate crisis and the pandemic are all creating uncertainty and anxiety. Now in particular, art has a special role to play: Art is a source of courage. Art is a call for freedom. Art is food for the soul. And we need all of that now,

said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg during the 2022 International Cultural Policy Conference, held at the Ankerbrot factory in Vienna, on the topic of “Future Culture”.

The intellectual resilience that we need now is unthinkable without art,

emphasised the Foreign Minister. It was crucial, he said, that since the start of the war, a large number of measures had been taken in the framework of Austria’s international cultural policy to support artists and creative workers from Ukraine. However, even art was being instrumentalised, said Minister Schallenberg. Despite all the indignation, we must never lose our sense of proportion. Schallenberg:

If people are asking whether we can still play Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky, then that is a development entirely in the wrong direction, and it should set off alarm bells. Art requires freedom. An attack on that freedom is an attack on art.

In light of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Austria’s international cultural policy in 2023, Helga Rabl-Stadler, the recently appointed Special Representative for International Cultural Policy, and Christoph Thun-Hohenstein – who will succeed Teresa Indjein as the Head of the Section for International Cultural Affairs – introduced the “IMAGINE Arts & Ideas” initiative and the first general topic DIGNITY. International cultural policy will thus focus even more extensively on eco-social, digital and ethical challenges. The interplay between art and science, climate culture projects and digital humanism, as well as dialogue with dissenters will become pillars of a future culture. The goal is to create a vision of a new, integrated system of ethics as the basis for democratic, societal and economic renewal.

Humanism and ecology were likewise at the centre of the presentation by French philosopher Corine Pelluchon, who talked about the significance of these guiding principles for the European Union. Previously, a public “NachmittagSALON Zukunftskultur” (Afternoon SALON on Future Culture) had explored major future issues like climate and recycling culture, artificial intelligence and extended reality. Here, participants again addressed the diverse potential of various artistic branches, working cooperatively with the sciences, to drive positive change. Panel discussions were led by Martina Mara, Linz Professor of Robot Psychology and Artificial Intelligence, as well as climate researcher Helga Kromp-Kolb, among others.

With its worldwide network of cultural forums and embassies, Austrian international cultural policy is constantly developing new programme ideas – with the goal of increasing Austria’s visibility and providing international prospects for Austrian artists and creative workers. The “Year of Literature 2022” and the call for tenders titled “On the road again”, for Austrian visual artists, are just two examples of the wide range of international cultural initiatives launched by the Foreign Ministry.

The 2022 International Cultural Policy Conference was once again certified and carried out as a “green event”.