Our 2023 annual meeting took place in Orihuela, Spain, on March 29-31, 2023.
Download the event's brochure here
Joining the Dots has been three intense, inspiring days of exchange, discovery and experimentation around new imaginaries and cultural practices. Despite outstanding transport strikes across Europe, the event gathered 60 participants from 16 EU countries plus Ukraine, Serbia, UK and Mexico.
Day one opened with a welcome by local authorities and the ENCC team. In the panel discussion that followed, speakers agreed on the need for a joint reflexion and the creation of new narratives in order to move towards sustainable social systems. ENCC Board member and environmental sustainability expert Vittorio Bianco spoke of the need for a new approach to sustainability, introducing Daly’s triangle as a more suited framework (you can download his presentation here). Psychologist and director of The Green Room Heather O' Donnell introduced the systems thinking method as a possible holistic approach to addressing and making sense of the climate crisis; Mariachiara Esposito, policy officer at DG EAC of the European Commission, gave us an overview of the EU's cultural cooperation schemes and spoke about the recently-issued Stormy Times report. Graphic designer and teacher Pierre Huyghebaert and artist researcher Jara Rocha stressed the importance for socio-cultural organisations of reclaiming ownership of their digital practices, highlighting that technology is in fact culture.
The conversation on digital ecologies continues in our working group on ethical digitalisation: find out more and join us here
Day two was dedicated to hands-on experimentation, opening with an inspirational talk on digital ecologies by artist and researcher Femke Snelting, co-founder of the Institute for Technology in the Public Interest, who warned us against the ongoing trend that she describes as "digital depletion", which results in generalised cultural flattening and loss of plurality (you can find her full speech at the bottom of the page). The talk was followed by a plenary workshop by Jara Rocha and Pierre Huyghebaert, who encouraged participants to dare to imagine a collective mutation where socio-cultural centres become active creators of the digital spaces they inhabit. More workshops followed in the afternoon: “For an ecology of human resources and mental health in culture”, by Heather O' Donnell; “Possible worlds”, by Alicja Brudlo and Beata Kwiatkowska from the Ochota Cultural Centre in Warsaw; and “The environmental sustainability of socio-cultural centres”, by Vittorio Bianco.
The day ended at the Palmeral, a palm grove just outside town, where we took the much-awaited sound walk prepared by Climaginaries and introduced by resercher Ruben Ritzén from Lund University. It was an intense and purposefully unsettling experience aimed at raising awareness on the dangers of environmental collapse, underlining the importance of the choices we make now in shaping our future. You can download the sound walk here.
View more pictures from the event here
and interviews of the speakers here
The last day opened with a keynote speech by Lisa Lang, policy director of EIC Climate KIC, who illustrated the think tank's mission and activities and spoke of the importance of an EU-wide, future-proof climate strategy (you can download her presentation here). In the panel that followed, Lang was joined by architect and urbanist Alfonso Vegara Gómez, founder and president of Fundación Metrópoli, Marga Crespo from Innovarte and Enrique Vargas from Secretaría General Iberoamericana (SEGIB), for a multidisciplinary and multi-perspective exchange on the potential of culture to regenerate territories, empower and connect communities.
Orihuela, a little-known town in the Alicante province whose foundation dates back to the Visigoth age, welcomed us with its fascinating traditional music, beautiful baroque architecture and blooming orange trees. There were walking visits to some of the town's historical sites, including the Colegio Diocesano Santo Domingo and the Cathedral in the casco antiguo, and at night we were lucky enough to witness the singing of cantos de la pasion in preparation for the upcoming Easter. On the evening of day two, we were delighted by a chamber concert by string quartet Ensemble San Pablo.
Joining The Dots was hosted in Auditorio La Lonja and organised in collaboration with the Municipality of Orihuela, Casa Mediterráneo, the Diputación de Alicante and the Catedra Iberoamericana Alejandro Roemmers de las Industrias Culturales y Creativas of the Universitas Miguel Hernandez. It was endorsed by the New European Bauhaus and funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Commission in the framework of our 3-year project CUBE. We would like to thank the local events agency ATAMA for their invaluable support throughout.
At the very beginning of the event, our coordinator Sara Turra quoted climate journalist Mary Heglar: "For too long, the climate fight has been limited to scientists and policy experts. While we need their skills, we also need so much more. When I survey the field, it’s clear that what we desperately need is more artists". Joining The Dots has been an attempt at starting a collective move in this direction. If you want to share your ideas on how cultural and socio-cultural actors can play an active role in the transition, don't hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.