This year, for the first time, members of the ENCC Team attended the Cultura Viva Comunitaria Cultural Congress of Latin America. The meeting brought together organizations from 18 Latin-American countries, and was organized by the network Cultura Viva Comunitarias Ecuador, in cooperation with local and international partners.
The third Congreso Latinoamericano de Cultura Viva Comunitaria IberCultura Viva took place on November 20-26, in Quito, Ecuador and brought together cultural organizations from 18 countries. Cultura Viva Comunitaria Ecuador had been designated to host the event during the previous Latin-American congress, two years before. Cultura Viva networks are non-formal, national platforms of communication and cooperation that link very diverse cultural organizations throughout the arts disciplines. The first national Cultura Viva network was founded in Brazil, 10 years ago; the initiative has now grown to the 18 national networks.
The Cultura Viva network is based on principal values of community building: collaboration, tolerance, equal human rights, openness, and freedom of artistic expression.
The CVC Congress takes place every two years. The general purpose of this meeting was to strengthen the Cultura Viva Movement and face Latin America's political crisis through collective reflection and action. Among the topics discussed were autonomy, sovereignty and territory; social economy and sustainability; community art, communication and education; gender and diversities; intercultural health; and spiritual ties and ancestral ties. There was a focus on Latin American cultural practices, such as the close cooperation between cultural institutions and alternative culture movements, and the role of tradition and spirituality in cultural activities. Reserving a special place for the culture and beliefs of indigenous inhabitants of Latin America is an important principle for Cultura Viva! networks. Open workshops allowed international representatives to discuss the core values of the social movement Cultura Viva, as well as its priorities and strategies for the future. An especially inspiring topic for the ENCC team was an ongoing program in several Latin American countries called: 'Puntos de Cultura' (Points of Culture), which supports social organizations and cultural collectives, with or without legal status, and links them in networks.
The Congress was based not only on debates, workshops and plenary sessions, but also on vibrant and diverse cultural offerings, with the participation of international artists. Exhibitions, concerts, theatre and dance performances, circus and acrobatic shows, entrepreneurship fairs and seed exchanges were part of the week-long event.
The event was also an opportunity for members of the IberCultura Viva intergovernmental programme to come together. This '8th Meeting of the Intergovernmental Council', titled '3 Years of Progress and Collective Constructions', was attended by governments representatives from the ten member countries of the program: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Spain, Peru and Uruguay. Participants discussed about the Network of Cities that the IberCultura Viva program is trying to articulate and establish, and worked on reformulating the vision, mission and objectives of the program. 'Promoting respect, 'creating community', 'safeguarding cultural diversity', 'promoting participation' and 'defending equality' are the values cited in the new Triennial Strategic Plan.
The ENCC learned about Cultura Viva! organization in 2014, when we co-organized the First World Summit of Community Arts Centres and Networks with the International Council for Cultural Centres (I3C) in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. During the Quito Congress, our president Ivo Peeters, Project Officer Graciela Murga and ENCC Secretary and Board Member Piotr Michałowski met with cultural managers and artists from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay, to discuss cooperation in terms of sharing expertise, know-how, and building common international projects. We'll be looking to time our collaboration to the next CVC Congress, which, as announced in the last days of the conference, will be held in Argentina in 2019.