The Conference

The Conference “From Democratization to Cultural Democracy: Rethinking Institutions and Practices” was an hybrid event, organised under the auspices of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, between the 27th and the 28th of April 2021.

It took place in Porto Santo Island, on the Madeira Archipelago, one of the outermost regions of Europe. As an hybrid event, it had a strong online presence, involving 490 participants from 37 countries worldwide, mobilising the collaboration of major European cultural networks and non-governmental organisations.

The objectives of the conference were: 

  • To promote a cultural vision that values pluralism, knowledge of audiences, inclusion, participation, social cohesion and citizenship, thinking strategically about the role of the intersection of Culture and Education policies;
  • To critically debate the possibilities and challenges of the relationship between arts, heritage and digital media;
  • To encourage the transformation of cultural institutions into educational territories and of  educational institutions into cultural centers;
  • To reflect on how cultural institutions and their processes contribute (or not) to a more democratic, equal and free society, how they promote access to cultural fruition and production and influence the health of our democratic communities; 
  • To develop a conceptual framework and enunciate practical recommendations addressed to the various sectors of action (governments, institutions and civil society) to guide more inclusive and plural cultural practices, valuing cultural diversity and the participation of communities that are often marginalized;
  • To address the new social realities – the transformations of the digital world, the transformation of democratic values – through the formative potential of publics achieved by the cross work of Culture & Education; 
  • To publish the “Porto Santo Charter” that sees cultural institutions and activities as an open space for each citizen to participate and take responsibility for shaping our common cultural environment and outlines democratic practices at the heart of cultural institutions.

The conference was attended by national and European political leaders, from the areas of Culture and Education; two of the most influential philosophers of our time, Jacques Rancière and Chantal Mouffe; the renowned specialist in the relationship between arts and education, Maria Acaso; personalities of reference in the reflection on post-colonialist and inclusive cultural institutions, Wayne Modest and Maria Lind; with speakers recognised for their experience in the relationship between the arts, heritage and digital territories; the presentation and reflection on the “artivist” practice of the cuban artist Tania Bruguera and other artistic projects that help us think about the relationship between art and the community.

This conference was jointly organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Regional Government of Madeira and the Portuguese National Plan for the Arts. It is in keeping with the New European Agenda for Culture (2018) and with the action lines guiding the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union towards the creation of a more resilient Europe.

The Programme

The event took place between the 27th and the 28th of April 2021, online and in the island of Porto Santo, in the Atlantic Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, with the following programme.

  • 9:00 – 10:00 GMT
    10:00 – 11:00 CET


    Paulo Pires do Vale
    National Plan for the Arts Commissioner

    José Idalino Vasconcelos
    Mayor of Porto Santo

    Eduardo Jesus
    Regional Secretary of Tourism and Culture

    Adrienn Kiraly
    Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel – Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

    Tiago Brandão Rodrigues
    Portuguese Minister of Education

    Graça Fonseca
    Portuguese Minister of Culture

  • 10:00 – 10:45 GMT
    11:00 – 11:45 CET

    Lesson #1

    Aesthetic Democracy

    Jacques Rancière
    Professor of Philosophy at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII: Vincennes—Saint-Denis

  • 10:45 – 11:00 GMT
    11:45 – 12:00 CET


  • 11:00 – 11:45 GMT
    12:00 – 12:45 CET

    Dialogue #1

    Cultural Institutions and Education

    Maria Acaso
    Art Education Researcher
    Head of Education at Museo Reina Sofía

    with Sara Brighenti
    National Plan for the Arts Deputy-Commissioner

  • 11:45 – 12:00 GMT
    12:45 – 13:00 CET

    Learning with artists #1

    A selection of videos

  • 12:00 – 13:00 GMT
    13:00 – 14:00 CET

    Roundtable #1

    Cultural Democracy and Digital Territories

    Veronica Mobilio
    Policy Officer at European Commission, DG Education, Sport, Youth and Culture
    Responsible for implementation of the Digital Education Action Plan

    Marcos Garcia
    Coordinator of the Citizen Laboratory Network Initiative of the Region of Madrid

    Wouter van der Horst
    Head of Content & Learning at Smartify
    Research Associate in Media Literacy at The Media College Amsterdam
    Founder of We Share Culture

    with Altheo Valentini
    Co-chair Europeana Education Community
    Board member ALL DIGITAL – Enhancing digital skills across Europe

  • 14:30 – 16:30 GMT
    15:30 – 17:30 CET
    Workgroups will discuss innovative practices from several European Union member states.

  • 16:45 GMT
    17:45 CET

    A Canção da Terra

    “On that piece of land lost in the middle of the sea…”

    In 1938, Jorge Brum do Canto debuted his first feature film shot on the island of Porto Santo: The Song of the Land. It won over the critics with its exemplary editing, the telluric strength of its images, and earning a special place in the history of Portuguese cinema for the modernity and rigour of its direction. The film deals with the very difficult daily life of the inhabitants of Porto Santo, the long droughts and the difficulties of farming. Some of the island’s inhabitants were even extras. A Canção da Terra premiered at the São Luís and Condes cinemas on March 29th 1938, and at the Arriaga Theatre in Funchal (today the Baltazar Dias Municipal Theatre).

    Film screening. Subtitles in English. Text excerpt from the Brum do Canto Museological Space, Madeira Culture Board, Porto Santo Island.

  • 9:00 – 9:45 GMT
    10:00 – 10:45 CET

    Roundtable #2

    Europe and Cultural Citizenship: Diversity and Empowerment

    Matjaž Gruden
    Director General of Democracy at the Council of Europe

    Sabine Verheyen
    Member of the European Parliament
    Chair Committee on Culture and Education

    with Ângela Ferreira
    Portuguese Deputy Minister of Culture and Secretary of State for Cultural Heritage


  • 9:45 – 10:00 GMT
    10:45 – 11:00 CET

    Learning with artists #2

    A selection of videos

  • 10:00 – 11:00 GMT
    11:00 – 12:00 CET

    Roundtable #3

    Democracy and Cultural Practices

    Maria Lind
    Curator, writer and educator
    Councilor of culture at the Swedish Embassy in Moscow

    Wayne Modest
    Director of Content National Museum of WorldCultures, Wereldmuseum
    Head of the Research Center of Material Culture
    Professor of Material Culture and Critical Heritage Studies at the Vrije Universiteit

    with Maria de Assis
    Scientific Council Chair of the National Plan for the Arts

  • 11:00 – 11:15 GMT
    12:00 – 12:15 CET


  • 11:15 – 12:00 GMT
    12:15 – 13:00 CET

    Artivism: an imaginary dialogue with Tania Bruguera

    with Paulo Pires do Vale
    National Plan for the Arts Commissioner

  • 12:00 – 12:45 GMT
    13:00 – 13:45 CET

    Lesson #2

    Agonistic Democracy and Cultural Practices

    Chantal Mouffe
    Political theorist, Professor at the University of Westminster
    Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy

  • 12:45 – 14:00 GMT
    13:45 – 15:00 CET


  • 14:00 – 15:00 GMT
    15:00 – 16:00 CET

    Porto Santo Charter: Presentation

    Paulo Pires do Vale
    National Plan for the Arts Commissioner

    Ernesto Ottone Ramírez
    UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture

    Margaritis Schinas
    Vice-President European Commission

    Graça Fonseca
    Portuguese Minister of Culture

  • 15:00 – 17:00 GMT
    16:00 – 18:00 CET

    Porto Santo Charter: Next steps


The Workgroups

The afternoon of 27th April will be dedicated to four parallel thematic sessions and workgroups. Participants will be randomly positioned in one of the four workgroups, taking full advantage of interesting and innovative cases. On the 28th April, a discussion group will try to answer to two questions inspired by the Porto Santo Charter and share some ideas for the future.



Cultural Democracy, Cultural Citizenship
and Digital Challenges

workgroup co-chairs

Corinne Szteinsznaider
Coordinator of Michael Culture

Cristina Da Milano
President of ECCOM

Altheo Valentini
Co-chair Europeana Education Community
Board member ALL DIGITAL – Enhancing digital skills across Europe

Case study
Embracing culture: networking for democracy and citizenship

Nada Požar Matijašič
Coordinator for art and cultural education at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, SLOVENIA

Uršula Menih Dokl
Director of the Media Directorate at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of SLOVENIA

Nataša Bucik
Coordinator for art and cultural education at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of SLOVENIA

Case study
Democracy, equality and digital tools in transforming world

Iina Berden
Special Government Advisor at the Ministry of Education and Culture, FINLAND

Kimmo Aulake
Special Government Advisor and Deputy Head of Cultural Exports and Exchange Unit at the Ministry of Education and Culture, FINLAND

Case study
Modernization of the cultural education system

Ugne Rinkeviciute
Coordinator of Cultural Education Interventions, LITHUANIA

Vida Graziene
Culture, Audiovisual and Copyright Attaché at Permanent Representation of LITHUANIA to the EU



Cultural Democracy, Cultural Citizenship
and Change

workgroup co-chairs

Tere Badia
Secretary-General of Culture Action Europe

Mercedes Giovinazzo
Director of Interarts

Joaquim Jorge
Special Advisor to Portuguese Deputy Minister of Culture and Secretary of State for Cultural Heritage

Case study
Democracy, technology and cultural education in the Czech Republic

Mgr. Martin Fatura, Ph.D.
Director, Department of EU Affairs, CZECH REPUBLIC

Case study
Democratic participation in cultural education, the Austrian case

Anna Steiner
European and International Cultural Policy, Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport, AUSTRIA

New circumstances – New challenges for Cultural Institutions.
Recommendations for more open and inclusive cultural organizations

George Kalamantis
Director of International Relations and EU, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, GREECE



Cultural Democracy, Cultural Citizenship,
Communities & New Ways of Participation

workgroup co-chairs

Piotr Michałowski
Secretary & Board Member, European Network of Cultural Centres – ENCC

Burak Sayin
Community Manager, Trans Europe Halles

Dea Vidović
Director of Kultura Nova Foundation and Co-Chair of Arts & Culture Thematic Network of EFC – European Foundation Centre

Case study
Riksteatern – The National Touring Theatre of Sweden

Dritëro Kasapi
Managing & Artistic Director Theatre Department, Riksteatern, SWEDEN

Case study
Backpack full of culture

Mia Vranješević
Programme associate – A Backpack (full) of Culture, Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of CROATIA

Case study
Cultural heritage to build citizenship

Ioana Dan
Researcher in education at CNPEE – National Center for Politics and Evaluation in Education and non-formal activities coordinator are Liceul Teoretic National (Theoretic National High School), ROMANIA

Case study
Making Culture Together
Stimulating cultural participation via co-productions of cultural and health & well-being professionals

Marlies Tal
Head of Cultural Participation and Policy at LKCA – National Centre of expertise on cultural education and participation in the NETHERLANDS

Wim Burggraaff
Cultural policy officer at Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in the NETHERLANDS



Cultural Democracy, Cultural Citizenship,
Creativity and Education

workgroup co-chairs

Glen Coutts
Professor of Applied Arts Education, University of Lapland, Finland, and President of the International Society for Education through Art – InSEA

Joan Parr
Director of Arts and Engagement at Creative Scotland and Chair of the International Teaching Artists Collaborative – ITAC

Lígia Ferro
Professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Porto, Board member of the European Network of Observatories in the Field of Arts and Cultural Education – ENO

Case study
PECA – Parcours d’Éducation Culturelle et Artistique

Catherine Stilmant
Project Leader PECA – Parcours for Education through Culture and Arts, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, BELGIUM

Jean François Fueg
Directeur général adjoint, Administration générale de la Culture, Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, BELGIUM

Case study
Kulturtanken, the cultural schoolbag and children as co-creators

June Mariann Breivik
Head of Department, Kulturtanken – Arts for Young Audiences, NORWAY

Case study
The element of creativity for cultural citizenship

Zhivka Haskiya
Senior expert, Ministry of Culture of Republic of BULGARIA

Case study
The National Plan for the Arts

Paulo Pires do Vale
Commissioner for the National Plan for the Arts, PORTUGAL

Sara Brighenti
Deputy-Commissioner for the National Plan for the Arts, PORTUGAL

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