One year into the COVID-19 pandemic and creatives across Europe face a bleak future. Most cinemas, theatres, music halls and art galleries have been shuttered for months. No one knows when the curtain will rise again for musicians and performers or when audiences can safely regather. For the nine million Europeans employed in the cultural and creative industry, endless national lockdowns bring financial pain and mental anxiety.
The European Young Leaders (EYL) Working Group on Arts and Culture was established to share and brainstorm ideas for collaborating on pan-European projects related to arts and culture, drawing on the wide range of artists, musicians, writers and cultural practitioners in the EYL network.
The Working Group on Arts and Culture met online for the first time on 24 February 2021 and welcomed European Commission officials and members of the EYL network. Against the background of a devastating pandemic, their focus was on identifying practical actions to financially preserve Europe’s creative sectors while boosting EUwide cultural exchanges.
The European Young Leaders Working Group on Arts and Culture draws on the wide range of artists, musicians, writers and cultural practitioners in the European Young Leaders (EYL) network.
Working Group members include: Anne Solène Rolland, head of museums at the French ministry of culture; Beatrice Leanza, director of the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon; Agnesta Filatove, executive director of Vilnius International Film Festival; Romanian pianist Alexandra Dariescu; bestselling author of the Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series Francesca Cavallo; Spanish conductor Eduardo Portal, Slovenian artist Jasmina Cibic and Irish writers Mary Fitzgerald and Una Mullally.
Taking a pan-European approach
The Working Group was established to share and brainstorm ideas for collaborating on pan-European projects related to arts and culture. It places a particular importance on how arts and culture can be used as tools to help build a sense of ‘European-ness’ among citizens of Europe. Several members of the Working Group participated in the Euresilience project, a storytelling platform founded by EYL alumna Mary Fitzgerald in March 2020 where people across Europe shared their experiences of solidarity, community and resilience during Covid-19 lockdowns.
The Working Group will examine and contribute to proposals in different member states aimed at mitigating the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the cultural sector (such as the proposed basic income scheme for artists and cultural practitioners in Ireland).
The Working Group will also examine how Brexit will impact the wider cultural conversation across Europe, disrupting previous funding streams but also affecting cross-cultural exchange, and how this can be mitigated.
Developing recommendations for change
The Working Group aims to produce a policy briefing in the autumn of 2021 with recommendations that tie in with the French presidency of the EU’s ambition to showcase and augment the role of culture in Europe. Culture is about shared basic values such as freedom of expression and solidarity, this unites us. The EU’s motto is: united in diversity. Our job will be to promote that diversity while responding to common challenges.
The Working Group’s recommendations will be brought to the attention of high-level policymakers at European and national level. They will be published in a policy briefing paper to be handed over to and discussed with EU commissioner for innovation, culture, education and youth Mariya Gabriel and Clément Beaune, Europe Minister for France ahead of France taking over the EU rotating presidency in 2021.
Arts and culture are one of Europe’s core industry, as well as its soft power and identity. Among the sectors worst hit by the pandemic, they have brought solace during lockdowns and kept people hopeful. It is time to launch a new renaissance for Europe, informed by its core values: cooperation, unity in diversity, and fundamental freedoms. This online exchange aims to brainstorm on concrete actions needed to financially preserve the arts and culture sectors while galvanising cultural exchanges in a time of thickening borders and rising populism.
Director, Climate & Energy, Health, European Young Leaders, State of Europe
European Commission Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture
Head of Unit for Creative Europe at the European Commission Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (EAC)
Deputy Director-General at the European Commission Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (EAC)
Researcher and Analyst specialising in the Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya, Trustee of Friends of Europe and 2013 European Young Leader (EYL40)
Guillem Anglada-Escudé is a well-known astrophysicist and scientist, whose current work focuses on exoplanet detection and planetary exploration. Most notably, Guillem and his team discovered the Proxima b exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri, our closest neighbouring star and the nearest star to the Sun. He- has previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, University of Goettingen, as well as Queen Mary University of London, where he became a reader in astronomy. He has conducted research in several countries and has been actively engaged with space agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency. In 2016, Guillem was named among the ten most prominent scientists worldwide by Science Magazine and one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
Andreas completed courses at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In 2002, he founded a theatre productions company, Alpha Square, to enhance theatre in Cyprus and provide spectators with an inspirational selection of plays. Andreas has already directed 14 stage productions in his country, including several award-winning plays and his own musical-comedy adaptation of Cinderella, which will tour Greece in 2017. Andreas has also written several plays, such as ‘The Rich Also Cry’, which was staged by Theatro Ena in 2007. He has translated numerous theatre texts from English to Greek and published a collection of articles in Phileleftheros, the biggest-selling newspaper in Cyprus.
Dawood is one of the most promising young journalists and scholars of his generation in the UK. He has been working for the BBC World Service in London as a Senior Broadcast Journalist and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Westminster, where he teaches Globalization, Power and International Governance. He joined the BBC in 1998 and also worked as the BBC World Service Bureau Chief and Editor in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was also a visiting scholar at Ohio State University, USA. He holds three Bachelor’s and three Master’s degrees, including Science, Law, International Relations and Diplomacy. In 2010, Dawood became the youngest person to ever win the biggest award in the BBC, the “Global Reith Award for Outstanding Contribution”. He is also a poet/writer, calligrapher and painter/artist.
Anne founded ReDI School, a vocational training programme that teaches programming and tech skills to migrants and seeks to fill vacancies in the German IT job market. With five schools throughout Germany and Denmark, ReDI hosts 1,000 students per semester, 65% of which are women and girls. She also founded the Berlin Peace Innovation Lab, which focuses on technology’s role in facilitating emerging and measurable social change towards global peace. Prior to this, Anne spent two years in Japan, researching open social innovation, and received the prestigious Rotary Peace Fellowship. She previously worked as a corporate social responsibility consultant, during which time Anne developed and implemented Samsung Electronics’ award-winning corporate social responsibility strategy for Scandinavia.
Malcolm is an Irish politician for the centrist Fianna Fáil party and currently serves as a Senator for the Cultural and Educational Panel of the Irish Parliament. Malcolm formerly served as a member of the lower house for the Wexford constituency from 2019 to 2020, prior to which he was a member of Wexford Country County Council from 2009 to 2019 and Mayor of Gorey. Additionally, Malcolm was the Head of Communications and Public Affairs with the Higher Education Authority, the statutory agency in Ireland that allocates public funding to higher education and advises government on higher education and research policy. Having worked for various lobbying and representative organisations throughout his career, Malcolm was also the first commercial manager with myhome.ie, Ireland’s most successful property website. Outside of his professional career, Malcolm has completed over 30 marathons.
Francesca Cavallo is a bestselling author of children’s books, entrepreneur, and founder and CEO of Undercats Media. She is the co-creator of ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’, a collection of 100 tales of extraordinary women that has become a publishing sensation. Francesca’s career began in theatre, where she worked as both a manager for a theatre company and as a playwright. In 2012, she moved to California to co-found a children’s media start-up called Timbuktu Labs, Inc. Since then, she has authored nine picture books that have been translated into more than 47 languages. Her most recent international bestseller is the children’s book “Doctor Li and the Crown-wearing Virus”.
Jasmina works across a range of media including photography, performance, installation and video. Most often characterised as a visual artist, her artwork is focused on the positioning and analysing of space vis-à-vis other societal categories. She is the author of numerous exhibitions which have been shown all over Europe, as well as the recipient of prestigious Slovenian, European and international awards, including the Bevilacqua la Masa (Venice 2002 and 2005), the Slovenian Trend Award for Outstanding Achievements in Visual Art (2011), and the Catlin Commission Award (London, 2011). She represented Slovenia at the 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.
Alexandra is the creator and producer of “The Nutcracker and I”, a ground-breaking multimedia performance created for a piano solo with dance and digital animation. She currently teaches piano at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Alexandra made her debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York and has performed in many prestigious orchestras, including the Sydney Opera House, London’s Wigmore Hall, Dubai Opera House and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. She was the first female Romanian pianist to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Alexandra is an Honorary Associate Artist at the Royal Northern College of Music, Patron of Music in Lyddington, Cultural Ambassador of Romania and Officer of the Romanian Crown. An activist for gender equality in classical music, she is a recipient of the UK’s Women of the Future Award in the Arts and Culture category and dedicates her life to education projects, building bridges and reaching out to the younger generation.
Agnesta is a Lithuanian image and executive specialist with extensive knowledge of the creative industry and public advocacy. She was the head of Lithuania’s annual Vilnius International Film Festival (VIFF) ‘Kino Pavasaris’, one of the biggest film festivals in the Baltic States. In 2019, VIFF screened around 170 films in 17 cities, 34% of which were made by women directors. Agnesta’s long career in the cultural environmental also extends to the role of coordinator at the European Commission’s 2007 MEDIA programme office in Lithuania, as well as a number of cultural projects, including the Latin American culture festival ‘In Latino’ and the educational cinema project for youths ‘Cine Book’ in Lithuania.
Mary Fitzgerald is a researcher and analyst specialising in the Mediterranean region with a particular focus on Libya. She has consulted for a number of international organisations including in the areas of peace building and civil society.
She has worked with the International Crisis Group (ICG), the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) among others. She is a Non-Resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington DC, an Associate Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, King’s College London, and an Associate Fellow at ISPI in Milan. Mary has also worked on wider initiatives with UNESCO, the Anna Lindh Foundation, the British Council and other cultural organisations. Her writing has appeared in publications including Foreign Policy, The New Yorker online, the Washington Post, Financial Times and the Guardian.
Prior to founding Project Alloy, Jakob was the CEO and Co-Founder of Tinyclues SAS, a Paris-based software startup with the objective of industrialising datamining on Big Data with the help of advanced machine learning algorithms in a Cloud Computing environment. Previously he was a partner and consultant at McKinsey & Company in Germany and France where he worked on topics ranging from Banking to Public Sector Reform to Global Public Health issues, notably the creation and distribution of child HIV treatments. Prior to McKinsey he briefly worked at the World Bank. He holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science from the University of St. Gallen. Jakob is also a founding partner of the “Cercle du Leadership”.
Maria Lucia is an internationally renowned fashion designer, who has seen her clothes worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna. After working several years in Paris and Milan as a textile designer, Maria Lucia returned home to Romania to open her own shop with a modest 800 euros investment and two second-hand sewing machines. After gaining a substantial number of followers on social media and being discovered by Hollywood, she currently runs her renowned fashion brand with 70-woman employees from Bucharest. Additionally, Maria Lucia is a strong advocate for women’s rights and has publicly criticised the excessive consumerism upon which the fashion industry thrives.
Ivan is a political scientist, economic advisor and writer from Slovakia. Shortly after joining the Slovak Ministry of Finance as advisor to the minister, Ivan instigated the setup of the Slovak Investment Holding (SIH). Since being appointed its CEO in January 2017, Ivan led this state-owned fund in investing in strategic sectors of the economy, and driving economic development throughout the country. As of 2022, Ivan now leads ESCO Slovensko, a joint company of Czech and Slovak energy companies as a board member and head of Strategy and M&A. He previously served as deputy finance minister, and held leading roles during the Slovak Presidency in the EU Council. Ivan is a keen writer and has seen the publication of a number of his works, including a popular study of the 2008 Financial Crisis he co-authored and a children’s book.
Throughout an extensive and wide-ranging career in international organisations and institutions, Sandro Mendonça’s work has focused predominantly on the economics of innovation and industrial strategies. Mendonça is a Fellow of The German Marshall Fund of the United States and was a Visiting Fellow at King’s College London. In addition to serving as a board member of the Portuguese Communications Regulator (ANACOM), Mendonça was a science officer at the official Ibero-American Programme for Science and Technology (CYTED). He has published in major international journals and has taught doctoral programmes in mainland China, namely Guanzhou and Chengdu. Sandro’s research has been used by various international organisations, including the United Nations, the European Commission and the US Senate. Mendonça was named a European Young Leader (EYL40) in 2015.
João is the Secretary General of the Business Council for Sustainable Development in Portugal (BCSD Portugal), a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Global Network. Prior to assuming his current role, João held several roles in the public, private and non profit sectors. He served as Secretary of State for Youth and Sports in the Portuguese Government, had several roles in the Portuguese startup ecosystem (as head of Startup Discoveries, a venture capital fund, head of the REACTOR – Innovation Hub, and head of the Mouraria Creative Hub). He also served as director of GABIP Mouraria, a mission unit reporting to the mayor of Lisbon that led the rehabilitation of Mouraria – in the past a deprived area in the center of Lisbon, but also its most traditional and multicultural quarter. Finally, he’s the founder of HUB 2050, a consulting firm acting in the field of innovation for sustainability, and author of two books about management and innovation.»
A leading voice on LGBTQ rights and politics, Una is one of Ireland’s most reputable young activists. As a journalist, broadcaster and author, she has written for prominent news outlets such as The Guardian and the Sunday Tribune, in addition to contributing a weekly column to the Irish Times. Her two books, In The Name Of Love, and her anthropology, Repeal the 8th, trace the historical developments which culminated in the two separate referenda on marriage equality and reproductive rights in Ireland. She was the Independent Chair of Ireland’s National 2018 LGBTI+ Youth Strategy, which is the first of its kind. A poet and screenwriter, she has authored the documentary, I Am Irish, co-founded a music documentary film festival, co-created the pro-choice podcast, Don’t Stop Repealin’, and co-founded the Irish Times Women’s Podcast.
Eduardo is a conductor and violinist, who founded the Conducting Academy, an online academy to share valuable information with those passionate about conducting. Having made his debut and conducted over twenty performances with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall and throughout England, Eduardo has been invited to conduct orchestras across Europe and the Americas, including the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Madrid and Valencia Symphony Orchestras and Sao Paulo Estate Symphony Orchestra, among others. Widely acclaimed by musical critics and particularly committed to contemporary repertoire, Eduardo also founded and serves as the Music Director of Antares Ensemble in Spain, which focuses on the performance of new music and studies its links with historical and rarely-performed masterpieces.
Cristina is an Italian businesswoman and social entrepreneur with a passion for emerging technologies and a goal to ensure everyone has access to a digital future. She is the CEO of Tercanni Futura, an Italian cultural EdTech hub and the product of the Treccani Scuola acquisition of Impactscool. Cristina co-founded Treccani to raise awareness about innovative education, stimulate reflection on the ethics of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and encourage citizens to adopt a more forward-thinking approach to technological change. She led Impactscool as CEO for five years, prior to which she co-founded Wish Days, where she served as general manager and a board member. Her motto, “the future is open source”, acknowledges that the future is shaped by and accessible to everyone. A published author, Cristina is also a member of the International Advisory Board of the Institute for Ethical AI in Education and an Independent Advisor on the Advisory Board of Fondo Italiano d’Investimento SGR.
Michael has over 15 years of experience in the commercialisation of R&D results, innovation consultation and non-profit management, having worked for several companies and organisations across the globe and participated as a trainer and speaker at conferences on philanthropy and the concept of giving. He currently serves as the Director of Programming at The Hellenic Initiative, a global, non-profit and secular institution which aims to mobilise support and investment for sustainable economic renewal in Greece. He has overseen the Hellenic Initiative’s philanthropic work since the institution’s founding, having managed over $16.5mn in support of the future of Greece. Michael is also the co-owner of Green Systems, an engineering procurement and construction company in Athens, and Brainomix, a start-up company that develops medical imaging software to assess the eligibility of acute stroke patients for life saving treatment. He serves as a committee member of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, dedicated to achieving Greek competitiveness through properly informing and adequately motivating business employees.
Anne-Solène heads the department of museums at the French Ministry of Culture. A fierce advocate for history and heritage, she has shaped her career around showcasing the societal benefits of cultural conservation. As a curator of heritage, she has held leading positions at the prestigious Quai Branly Museum and the French National Museum of Immigration History. Anne-Solène has also been director of research and collections at the Louvre Museum, where she oversaw the acquisition and lending of the museum’s artwork. She played an instrumental role in increasing the availability of the world’s finest art to a greater number of people.
Kamilla is a bridge-builder and a solopreneur based in Helsinki. She has had a successful sales career in Scandinavian shipping companies including Maersk Line, where she was in charge of a global sales strategy execution in more than 20 markets spanning Eastern Europe, Nordics and Middle East. A gifted adviser and passionate advocate, Kamilla has done over 10 years’ worth of activist work in influencing debates, policies and practices in the field of gender equality, inclusion, empowerment and cross-cultural dialogue in the Nordics and the EU.
Diva is an Italian scientist and entrepreneur with a fervent interest in robotics and sustainability. She channelled her passion by creating a home robotics start-up Solenica and developed an AI-powered smart mirror that reflects natural light around the home. The idea to transform indoor spaces came to Diva while working towards her doctorate in Computational Biology in Cambridge, where she spent much of her days inside craving sunshine. Diva is also a graduate of the Singularity University programme on exponential technologies at NASA in 2010. She was awarded the Premio Giovane for the Environment and the Young Global Innovator Award by the MIT Tech Review for Italy, as well as the Pleiade International Award for Innovation and New Technologies.
Yuriy currently serves as Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Culture. Prior to this, he was a Country Manager for Bulgaria of the International Foundation “Reach for Change” which supports social innovators and social entrepreneurs in 18 countries at 3 continents. He has more than 20 years of experience in the non-governmental sector in Bulgaria and Europe working for the capacity building of the independent social and cultural organisations, as well fighting for government transparency and effectiveness. He believes that the change starts from bottom up and the innovation emerges from the periphery, not from the center. German Marshall Fund and Salzburg Global Seminar Alumni. Member of the Strategy Group of the European Initiative “A Soul for Europe”.
Darya is an Irish entrepreneur and influential global pioneer of the role that ‘augmented reality’ (AR) can play in education. She recently created CleverBooks to provide personalised educational content for students by utilising three-dimensional AR technologies. Darya has been widely recognised for her work, having won the Digital Female Leaders Award in Entrepreneurship as well as being named an Innovator by the Irish Times and a Young Irish Entrepreneur. She has been featured in Inc.com, Forbes, CBS and many other global media platforms for her efforts to bridge the technology gap in classrooms around the world and boost student outcomes.
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