Cultural conference - pooling ideas and developing perspectives

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Culture and cultural policy face numerous challenges today. These include, for example, dwindling resources, demographic change, digitalisation and issues of environmental sustainability. At the same time, culture is increasingly taking on functions outside of its core tasks, such as social revitalisation and networking, education, tourism and other urban and regional development functions. Against this backdrop, future questions arise regarding the development and strengthening of culture and the actors who revitalise and shape it. At the same time, these questions no longer allow for simple answers due to their complexity. Rather, it is important to pool the knowledge and experience of many and thus arrive at joint solutions that are sustainable and can be implemented with shared responsibility.

The cultural conference is an instrument of choice for bringing together the "many" mentioned above to focus on topics and issues. Here, a large number of cultural stakeholders and representatives from politics, administration and, ideally, other areas of society work together over a period of 1-2 days to discuss issues relevant to the future of culture. The advantages of such an approach are manifold:

1) Bundling effect: the cultural conference concentrates people, ideas and challenging questions, in terms of space and time.

2) Performative framework: At the same time, as a special event, it creates a framework with performative power: Here and now, everyone is dealing together with the big questions that would otherwise only receive attention alongside day-to-day business - if at all.

3) Broad knowledge base: The discussions and results of the conference are based on the diverse knowledge and different perspectives of the stakeholders involved.

4) Strategic development: Complex topics and issues are dealt with holistically, sensibly structured and taking into account relevant interrelationships.

5) Creativity and innovation: Collaboration between different stakeholders creates new shared perspectives and innovative ideas for the further development of the cultural landscape.

6) Knowledge exchange: Stakeholders benefit from each other through knowledge exchange, best practices and innovative ideas become more visible.

7) Networking: Conference participants have the opportunity to make new contacts and explore potential for future exchange and possible cooperation.

8) Acceptance and shared responsibility: Participants are more willing to support concrete measures as outcomes of conferences if they themselves have contributed to them. Working together on solutions also sensitises them to their shared responsibility for implementation.

Conferences are flexible formats and can be tailored to the associated objectives and purposes in the event concept. For example, a conference can be aimed at a municipal cultural landscape or a specific stakeholder group (e.g. a cultural sector). In addition, a conference can take a holistic view of future cultural issues or focus on selected topics (e.g. digitalisation, cultural education). In this respect, it is suitable as an independent format or as part of a larger process of cultural development planning.

Regardless of the goals and purposes of a cultural conference, there are a few key success factors to consider:


Clear goals

They not only serve as targets when designing the event, but also as orientation points for the participants during the conference.


The right people

They bring extensive knowledge and diverse perspectives to the discussions and work phases and act as ambassadors for the results after the conference. Their selection should be based on clearly defined criteria.


Sophisticated process concept

Structured and sensibly sequenced workflows ensure that participants can work on issues efficiently and comprehensively. However, they also leave room for manoeuvre in the right places so that participants can recharge their batteries or exchange ideas with each other.


Experienced moderators

They ensure open and clear communication, motivate the participants by contextualising and communicating in an approachable way, among other things, and take on the role of "conference manager".



Aufgrund umfangreicher Projekterfahrungen sieht actori in Kulturkonferenzen ein bewährtes Instrument der Partizipation, das nicht selten die Erwartungen noch übertrifft, so beispielsweise bei der Zukunftskonferenz für die Kultur in Detmold.


Ein Beitrag von Dr. Sebastian Lücke, Projektleitung.

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