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Cultural Policies in Europe: A participatory Turn?

International conference organized as part of the project Be SpectACTive! 2

► 21st and 22nd of May 2019, Université de Montpellier (France)

Bâtiment 1 - Rue de l'École Mage - Montpellier

The University of Montpellier and Occitanie en scène join forces to host the first international conference of the new edition of the Be SpectACTive project on May 21st and 22nd in Montpellier.


If cultural policies are confronted to the issues of "cultural democracy" since a long time, today this debate tends to widen, beyond cultural diversity and cultural rights, to the issues of decision sharing – whether they concern creation processes or programming choices. The proliferation of initiatives involving a "participation" of non-professionals in cultural policies thus seems to constitute an attempt to respond to the crisis of legitimacy of representative democracy, and to the exacerbated mistrust of public institutions, political power and expertise, which cultural institutions do not escape. These "participative" responses raise hopes and opportunities (answer to the failures of cultural democratization, renewal of audiences, social re-legitimization of the cultural institutions), but they do not happen without involving conflicts and fears (specter of the "populism", submission to the "demand", end of the monopoly of artistic expertise, loss of autonomy).


Therefore, participation is both a permanent dimension and a growing concern in cultural policies. Its meaning, however, may vary according to the periods, the territories, the cultural sectors and the actors themselves. The international conference “Cultural Policies in Europe: A participatory Turn?”, organized by the CEPEL in the framework of the European network Be SpectACTive!, is inviting to debate on the diverse conceptions of participation within cultural policies: is "participation" everywhere? What kind of participation are we talking about? Who participates in what, how, why? What are the instruments and paradigms of participation in cultural policies? How does participation contribute to the debates on democratization and cultural democracy? What do cultural operators expect from a cultural policy oriented towards participation?


After four previous Be SpectACTive! international conferences organized in Sansepolcro (Italy, 2015), Barcelona (Spain, 2016), Sibiu (Romania, 2017) and York (United Kingdom, 2018), this is the first time that France hosts an event in this context. The scientific team assembled to design this conference (Emmanuel Négrier and Félix Dupin-Meynard, CEPEL, Lluís Bonet and Giada Calvano, University of Barcelona, ​​Luisella Carnelli and Elettra Zuliani, Fondazione Fitzcarraldo, Turin), have published two books reviewing a first wave of action-research on participation in the performing arts (Challenging Participation in Performing Arts, Editoria e Spettacolo, 2018 ; Breaking the Fourth Wall: Proacive Audiences in the Performing Arts, Oslo: Kunnskapverket, 2018). It is time for broadening the reflection at the level of cultural policies and giving it a comparative dimension.

This conference is aimed at different types of actors. It brings together Be SpectACTive ! partners – a panel of about 40 professionals from 14 different European countries (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden), with invited speakers from the research field, as well as officials in charge of cultural policies (some of them coming from other countries : Danemark, United-Kingdom). The conference also concerns local cultural operators, interested in the way in which participation could change their practices, and more globally, by the different conceptions of cultural policies in Europe. Finally, it is aimed at advanced students in the arts and culture and public policies sectors, whose professional horizons are increasingly inscribed in participatory dynamics.


>>> Places are limited, register quickly!



21st of May 2019


09:00 a.m.



09:15 a.m.


- Creative Europe, European Commission: to be confirmed

- Ministry of Culture: Laurent Roturier (Drac Occitanie)

- Région Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée: Dominique Salomon (vice-president in charge of Culture)

- CEPEL: Emmanuel Négrier (CNRS)

- Be SpectACTive! : Giuliana Cianco (co-curator, project manager) and Luca Ricci (project leader)


09:45 a.m.


- Félix Dupin-Meynard (FR) and Anna Villarroya (ES): Participation in cultural policies: a European panorama

- Estelle Zhong Mengual (FR): Participations. Artistic genealogies and political imaginaries.


10:45 a.m.



11:00 a.m.

ROUND TABLE 1 - Instruments, incentives and conditions: evidences from the ground

Introduction and moderation: Luisella Carnelli (Fondazione Fitzcarraldo, IT) and Luca Ricci (Be SpectACTive !, IT)


- Marta Martins (Artemrede, PT)

- Bojan Milosavljević (Student Cultural Centre of Novi Sad, RS)

- Frédéric Sancère (Derrière le Hublot, FR)

- Richard Schweitzer (Brut Wien, AT)

- Frédéric Stein (Théâtre Albarède, FR)

- Willie White (Dublin Theatre Festival, IE)


12:30 p.m.



02:00 p.m.

ROUND TABLE 2. Participation and cultural policies : a comparative perspective

Introduction and moderation: Giuliana Ciancio (Be SpectACTive ! BE/IT) and Félix Dupin-Meynard (Université de Montpellier, FR)


- Pedro Costa (Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, PT)

- Leila Jancovich (University of Leeds, UK)

- Hanka Otte (University of Antwerp, NL)

- Niels Righolt (Danish Centre for Arts & Interculture, DK)

- Jaroslava Tomanova (University of Leeds, UK/CZ)


03:45 p.m.



04:00 p.m.

WORKSHOPS. Formulating a Wish List addressed to policy makers for improving the place and forms of participation in cultural policies

4 groups (2 in English / 2 in French)

05:30 p.m.


- Luca dal Pozzolo (Fondazione Fitzcarraldo, IT): Participation and Cultural Policies: a critical position

- Sandrine Teixido (Les Nouveaux Commanditaires / University Toulouse Jean Jaurès, FR): Participation, a last chance for cultural policies?


07:30 p.m.

EVENING AT “Gazette Café” (6 rue Levat, Montpellier)


22st of May 2019


09:30 a.m.



- Representatives of each workshops

- Representative of Creative Europe, European Commission

- Anne-Christine Micheu (Ministry of Culture)

- Fabrice Manuel (Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole)


10:30 a.m.



10:45 a.m.

ROUND TABLE 3. Participation and cultural sectors: a comparative perspective

Introduction and moderation: Lluís Bonet (University of Barcelona, ES) and Emmanuel Négrier (CEPEL-CNRS, FR)


- Antonella Agnoli (IT): Literature and public libraries

- Laura Guérin, Culture Agency of Nouvelle-Aquitaine (FR): Young audiences

- Sandrine Teixido (FR): Les Nouveaux Commanditaires / Music

- Estelle Zhong Mengual (FR): Contemporary Visual Arts


12:15 p.m.

CONCLUDING KEYNOTE: Loup Wolff (Department of Studies of the Ministry of Culture, FR)


12:45 p.m.


>>> Download the presentation of the speakers

>>> Online registration


The conference is organized in the framework of Be SpectACTive! 2

with the support of the French Ministry of Culture, Occitanie en scène, University of Montpellier and CNRS.

The project Be SpectACTive! 2 is supported by the Creative Europe program of the European Union.



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