Dr. Bruno Gross am 5. Januar 2015 Rede von Dr. Bruno Gross zum Auftakt des Projekts ARTECITYA in Thessaloniki

Das Projekt „Artecitya. Envisioning the City of Tomorrow" ist eine Kooperation des Goethe-Instituts zusammen mit mehr als acht Partnern aus verschiedenen europäischen Städten. Das von der EU geförderte Projekt bringt Künstler, Architekten, Stadtplaner und Bürger zusammen, um die lebenswerte Stadt zu gestalten. Herr Dr. Gross hielt die Rede zum Auftaktworkshop in Thessaloniki.

Es gilt das gesprochene Wort.
Dear Mr. Boutaris,
Dear Ladies and Gentelman,
Dear partners and friends of the Goethe-Institut
Liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen:
The last days have been very intense. I was impressed by the creative and cooperative atmosphere of the working sessions I took part in. You have used the available time in the best way possible in order to bring ARTECITYA forward.

Defining and realizing a project with more than eight partners from six different countries is a highly complex issue. There is the logistic part and there are the intercultural differences, which are even more apparent in the working context. I am sure that eventually all of you made the experience that even small misunderstandings can lead to serious problems if they are not cleared up. I would like to encourage you to consider mishappenings as normal and as opportunities to make a unique intercultural experience. One has to change his or her point of view sometimes in order to come away with a new perspective.

The hours you spent together in order to develop the multiple facets of ARTECITYA are also part of the project. Dialog is a core principle of our work. At the Goethe-Institut we value the process of creating at least as high as the final product. This should be also the case for ARTECITYA.

Let me remember you that Europe above all is a cultural project. We, the Europeans, have the possibility and the obligation to shape our future. Europe is what the Europeans make out of it. Beyond political or financial issues, a shared cultural history and common values keep us together. I think this should also be the spirit of ARTECITYA. Facilitating cultural exchange in order to leave no space for cultural prejudices is a very important task these days. Even in Europe, where boarders disappeared many years ago, it is essential to maintain the intercultural dialog on all levels for the social cohesion.

ARTECITYA offers a unique possibility to promote intercultural dialog on a range of different levels. The framework of the project speaks for itself:

8 European partners determined to work together and to open up their networks to more than 180 cultural operators in Europe and in third countries

40 residences involving directly and indirectly more than 300 international artists and curators

More than 150 art critics, experts, researchers and cultural workers traveling to participate in workshops and
A project budget of 4 Mio. Euro and 4 years in order to really make a difference!

The core element of the project is the involvement of civil society, not only as spectators but as active participants. We at the Goethe-Institut have many experiences with participative projects. One example for a successful European project with public involvement organized by the Goethe-Institut was We Traders - Swapping Crisis for City, which took place in Madrid, Turin, Berlin, Lisbon, Toulouse. In this project Citizens across Europe took the initiative to re-appropriate urban space. They redefined the relation between value, profit and public good and were able to motivate fellow citizens to follow suit. I had the occasion to see the project in Madrid and I was very impressed by the engagement of young people and the wide interest citizens took in. It seems to me that people want to participate in order to actively shape their surroundings. They want to get inspired and make their own experiences.

Participation is a key element of today´s society. This is the reason why the Goethe-Institut has chosen participation as one out of three strategic topics for the next four years. Artistic activities in public sphere, street art, environmental sculpture, community activities are just a few examples of participative formats we are working with Young people do not want to be just spectators in a museum, they want to be part of the change, make a real difference!

I think this readiness is a chance also for ARTECITYA. By involving the local artists, as well as local cultural agents, entrepreneurs and private persons you can start a process which could go far beyond the project. Art and culture can help to provide long-lasting and sustainable solutions to pressing problems of the city's inhabitants and social needs. Creative Industries very often are an alternative path of development for cities and its inhabitants.

In today´s world with many crises from Northern Africa to the East of Europe institutions like the Goethe-Institut are more important than ever. With our 160 institutes and our vast partner network we try to build cultural bridges and provide free space for a future oriented dialogue.

I thank you very much for your time and engagement and I very much look forward to the next steps of ARTECITYA.