Over 40 local and regional politicians from EU member states will meet in Sofia on Friday 19 May to discuss the role of culture as a driver for social inclusion, social innovation and intercultural dialogue in Europe's cities and regions. The event is organised by the SEDEC commission of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR).
The seminar will be opened by the President of the European Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula, Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova and CoR member Malina Edreva (BG/EPP), who is the chair of the Committee on Education and Culture in the Sofia Municipal Council. Representatives of the European Commission will present the ongoing preparations for the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018, which coincides with the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU.
"Sofia has become a city of cultural and creative industries. We have invested in cultural infrastructure and the city has benefitted from the creation of new museums. We have had the first long-term municipal strategy for culture, even before the state, and it was made together with the artists and the people who are involved in cultural activities", Mayor Fandakova said.
Local and regional leaders from other EU countries will learn from Sofia’s experience in the field of management of cultural processes, funding culture via innovative public-private partnerships and regenerating spaces for cultural production. Member of European Parliament Eva (Paunova) Maydell will participate in a debate on the potential of culture in digital society and the role of technologies for cultural and social inclusion, with particular focus on creating employment opportunities. It is estimated that cultural and creative sectors provide over 80 000 jobs in Bulgaria.
Culture can be a key factor to the social inclusion of migrants, Roma community and people with disabilities. The Sofia city administration is addressing the challenges faced by the Roma via an innovative model which includes professional orientation and entrepreneurship training for young people. Much of the work at grassroots level is done by civil society organisations such as MultiKulti Collective , which is helping migrants to integrate in the Bulgarian society and educating local people through immersion in the customs, food and traditions of others. This and other similar cases will be presented to the participants.
The CoR's commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC) is organising the seminar in partnership with the city of Sofia.