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Culture is a bridge between the past and the future. Artists are the first to perceive future trends even before they become visible to the eye. Yet nothing emerges out of a vacuum. Every creative genius, however disruptive and revolutionary, builds upon the legacy of the preceding generations. This inter-generational dialogue – as much as creative engagement with the changing environment – opens up new paradigms for our perception of the world and possibilities of the future.

Today, we are facing a unique moment. On the one hand, the brutality of global socio-political developments resembles the pages of history which we thought were a thing of the past. On the other hand, we are standing on the brink of a truly new world where new technologies can either compete with human creativity or, on the contrary, allow it to reach previously unseen heights and horizons.

At a time when the world is rushing headlong into the future, amid intensified geopolitical competition and existential challenges to democracy and liberal values, the cultural component of the European project has acquired new relevance and urgency. As Europe grapples with authoritarian forces seeking to stifle dissent and centralise power, both outside and inside the EU, the cultural and creative industries provide a powerful tool for fostering freedom and critical thinking, nurturing democratic resilience, and shaping a future where the vibrancy of human expression and creativity remains unbridled.

The density and variety of artistic traditions, movements, and genres shape the sophisticated quilt of Europe’s cultural legacy. It is important to cherish this unique richness and diversity. But it is even more important to nurture modern cultural production as the ultimate laboratory for creative ideas, innovation, and visionary solutions.

This issue of the Future Europe Journal delves into the multifaceted importance of cultural and creative industries in the context of the European Union, its democratic and socio-economic resilience, and its global standing. By examining the intricate interplay between culture, creativity, and the democratic ethos, this issue underscores the urgent need for strategic investments and policy measures that empower these industries to flourish, ensuring a free and vibrant future for the EU and its democratic counterparts.

Reflecting the complex nature of this dynamic field, the contributions to this journal take on a variety of formats: from academic articles and intellectual reflections to opinion pieces by leading policymakers as well as civil-society and industry representatives. Their evidence- and experience-based insights highlight the domains that are of strategic importance for the EU and that will require support from policymakers in the coming years to realise their full potential, both social and economic.

The topics cover both the internal – democracy and freedom – and the external – global influence – dimensions of culture’s significance for the EU. Section 1 explores the interplay between culture and freedom in the global context of the threats to liberal democracy and includes contributions from representatives of major European cultural organisations. Section 2 presents case studies for overcoming national fragmentation and unleashing the full potential of Europe’s rich cultural capital from the first-hand perspectives of two liberal mayors. Section 3 focuses on digitalisation as a source of new opportunities as well as obstacles for the European creative industries and culture creators. It includes special notes from a leading Member of the European Parliament on culture from the Renew Europe Group and from representatives of key European industries.

The diversity of issues, as well as colliding perspectives, shed light on the legitimate dilemmas and questions that the sector – as well as European societies overall – are facing in these unprecedented times. Investing in and championing European cultural institutions and industries is an indispensable strategy for strengthening our democracies and increasing Europe’s political, cultural, and economic influence globally.

Facing Permacrisis: to Stay the Same, the EU Needs to Change 
Dr. Maria Alesina

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