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The Art of Being Europe
—a 6 part radio series

a radio series produced by Lyn Gallacher
Artworks—ABC RN—March/April 2011



It was Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission, who first suggested the idea that Europe needed a soul. ‘No one ever fell in love with a trade agreement,’ he said.


Over six weeks, The Art of Being Europe confronts issues such as Hollywood’s threat to the European film industry, the difficult relationship between art and money and exactly how creative communities can rebuild a city.


From Victor Hugo to Wim Wenders, the series celebrates the idea of Europe. It joins in the shouting as Estonia embarks on its year as a European Capital of Culture, and becomes the first former member of the Soviet Union to join the Eurozone.


Across Europe as the GFC bites and manufacturing industries fade, culture is on the climb and art is now an asset.


In 2007 the European Union launched an agenda for culture. Its aim was to mainstream culture into all areas of policy and show that it can help the EU achieve its political and economic objectives. This new co-operation between the economy, politics and culture drives The Art of Being Europe series, and tracks the progress of a group of artists, intellectuals and young people who are searching for a European soul.

Part 1—The Soul of Europe is Steeped in Blood

What is the connection between art, politics, economics and the European soul? In answer to this question we take the long view, going back to the beginning of European Union, to what Victor Hugo calls its ‘noble gestation.’


This program celebrates Estonia’s move to the Euro and we meet Elie Barnavi, former Israeli ambassador to France, who now works for the Museum of Europe in Brussels. It’s his way of keeping the vision of Europe alive.

Radio NationalThe Art of Being Europe Pt.1 - The Soul of Europe is Steeped in Blood

Part 2—The Economy of Culture

In Europe, creative and cultural industries generate 2.6% of gross domestic product. That’s more than the chemical industry and more than the real estate sector. But how does this figure help the arts during an economic downturn?


The European Cultural Agenda is the source of funding for all sorts of programs. Within the EU, and even in countries like ours, EU policies have helped Australian artists, students, researchers, curators and radio program makers alike. It all points to a new emphasis on creativity.


This week’s episode of the The Art of Being Europe begins in Helsinki at the final rehearsal for the International Jean Sibelius violin competition. It is one of the top violin competitions in the world. Everyone is a little tense, particularly the competitors.

ABC Radio NationalThe Art of Being Europe Pt.2 - The Economy of Culture

Part 3—Film and the EU

How many European films would survive Hollywood without EU support? Is the next generation forgetting how to watch European films, growing up instead on a diet of American blockbusters? Wim Wenders is worried.


The King’s Speech wasn’t the only European film to do well at the 2011 Oscars. Another film, In a Better World by Danish director Susanne Bier, won best foreign language film. Both were backed by the European Union’s Media program, which is the subject of today’s feature.


This week Lyn Gallacher begins part three of her tour through Europe by taking us to to the movies. It’s a Finnish film.


Film director and President of the European Film Academy, Wim Wenders, addressing the European Parliament in October 2010 about the importance of film to European identity.

ABC Radio NationalThe Art of Being Europe Pt.3 - Film and the EU

Part 4—Process Theory

The future of Europe is inconceivable without the contribution of culture. That’s the starting point for Europe’s 2020 strategy. And while it sounds obvious on one level, what does it really mean?


Today we meet two artists who are working in industry, and who in very practical ways are involved in designing different ways of thinking about things. It’s called Process Theory and it’s all about getting your hands dirty.


This is part four of The Art of Being Europe and it begins with Lyn Gallacher stuck at the airport. Because of snow, all the planes have been grounded.

ABC Radio NationalThe Art of Being Europe Pt.4 - Process Theory

Part 5—Capitals of Culture

The European Capitals of Culture scheme is arguably one of the most successful of all of the EU’s cultural programs. It began twenty-five years ago. Athens was the first city to be named European Capital of Culture. Since then forty-eight different European cities have held the crown. This year the honour goes to Tallinn in Estonia and Turku in Finland. It is like an olympic city title. To even bid for the prize a city has to transform itself and show how culture can improve the region now and in the future.


This week Lyn Gallacher starts part five of her European tour on a Finnish building site. She’s wearing a fluorescent jacket and a blue hard-hat.

ABC Radio NationalThe Art of Being Europe Pt.5 - Capitals of Culture

Part 6—A Soul for Europe’s Future

What would make you get out into the streets with thousands of other people, hold hands with a stranger and sing? Twenty years ago citizens of the Baltic States did just that as they regained their independence from Soviet rule. It’s all part of the quest to find Europe’s soul.


And why does Europe need a soul? Well, because a society that’s the sum total of its self-interest is no society at all. The European Union began with trade. But now, arts, culture and creativity are fast becoming the conduit for the European ideal.


In this last episode called A Soul For Europe’s Future, Lyn Gallacher begins with the discovery of a Finnish jug in an artists’ village about an hour out of Helsinki.

ABC Radio NationalThe Art of Being Europe Pt.6 - A Soul For Europe's Future



Lyn Gallacher, Producer


Michael Shirrefs, Researcher




© 2011—Lyn Gallacher & ABC RN

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