'The cultural field provides a set of individual values that facilitates the implementation of sustainable development models' observed Pau Rausell Köster and Raúl Abeledo Sanchis from Econcult when we asked them to reflect on the role of cultural centres in ensuring the sustainable development of rural areas.
The ENCC and its partners (academics, artists, social and cultural activists, local governments and citizens) took on their agenda to collect and reflect on models and best practices of cultural projects and organisations active in rural areas with a focus on participation and participative processes.
Rural areas continue to be culturally isolated and to have difficult access to information and networking opportunities. However, we discovered during the first stages of our action a wealth of initiatives and participative projects that comforted the fact that we are not dealing with "cultural deserts" but rather "cultural islands". Using participative processes to involve citizens in the definition, implementation, promotion and evaluation of events and activities seems to be the solution to ensure that projects are integrated in communities and answer their expectations.
Debates arise, as expected, around the definition of rural areas and expectations in terms of quality and impact from cultural projects. We chose to include these debates in our working process but not to be stalled by them. What remains the core of our interest and action is to promote best practices, to facilitate cooperation and exchanges between stakeholders, and to mainstream investment in culture and participative processes as a constant of local development policies at local, regional, national and European levels.
We know that "culture matters", we can prove that "culture matters", we are now asking political and economic actors to act on it in our Manifesto, which is a participative process and still in development. Please bring your contribution to it and work together with us.