’Madam, I’m afraid your hand luggage is over the 10kg limit, you must take something out, insisted the Airline Customer Service Assistant, but you don’t understand, I implored, I’ve been to the EFC Conference, my suitcase is full of fantastic ideas (and waffles) that I just can’t leave behind!’
The balmy Belgian sunshine provided the perfect backdrop for the 29th EFC Annual Conference, a positive boost of energy with a strong injection of Culture all taking place inside a futuristic glass cube. What more could one ask for.
After the first couple of hours delegates acclimatised to their temporary surroundings, navigating their way through the (numerous) stairwells and settled amongst the rivers of coffee and mountains of buttery pastries.
I am fairly sure that they didn’t just come for the pastries, though this is still up for debate…
Through my albeit limited experience of EFC conferences (this was my fourth) I find them to be a high point of the year, providing vital food for thought and moments of reflection for our work, and I must admit that this year did not disappoint.
It was clear from the projects, initiatives and foundations presenting that the EFC membership know how to value cultural heritage, and more importantly know its crucial role in communities and society.
We saw culture in all shapes and sizes: from the King Baudouin Foundation’s collaborative art exhibition ‘From Tiepolo To Richter, European Dialogue’, to the individual initiatives showcased during the sessions, to Fondazione CRT’s Virtual Reality experience taking you back in time to the 1930’s OGR train workshops in Turin, to the myriad of cultural experiences in the networking tours and an evening of dancing at the BELvue Museum – a night at the museum to remember!
People make society, and people make a conference.
For me the conference reinforced that each and every one of us has a unique cultural background.
We all have something different that we can bring to our individual work; be it from where we grew up, to where we studied, and even our sense of humour (translation sometimes required).
At the same time, our strength lies in the diversity of our culture, and it is this that must be protected and valued.
And as EFC Chair Massimo Lapucci rightly said in his closing speech, cultural differences are not the obstacle, they are the stimulus.
Ripples were felt during the second plenary when we heard of the extent of discrimination that remains in everyday life for people living with disabilities.
It highlighted the need to listen to each other, that everybody is a leader.
Zoe McDonagh, International Activity, Fondazione CRT