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2 minutes to read Posted on Thursday June 24, 2021

Updated on Friday June 25, 2021

portrait of Beth Daley

Beth Daley

Editorial Adviser , Europeana Foundation

portrait of Maria Ines Cordeiro

Maria Ines Cordeiro

Director-General , National Library of Portugal

Putting culture into the Portuguese Presidency programme - an interview with Maria Inês Cordeiro

On 3-4 June, Europeana hosted an online event in association with Portugal’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union on the subject of building capacity for the digital transformation of the cultural heritage sector. We talk to Maria Inês Cordeiro, Director-General of the National Library of Portugal, about how the Presidency put culture at the heart of both its policy and its event programming.

Maria Inês Cordeiro, Director-General of the National Library of Portugal

Title: Maria Inês Cordeiro, Director-General of the National Library of Portugal

Institution: National Library of Portugal

Country: Portugal

CC BY-SA

The Presidency’s cultural programme included concerts, art installations and exhibitions. It used theatre, cinema, music, dance and the visual arts to confirm the importance of a resilient, social, green, digital and global Europe. The cultural programme demonstrated how culture and cultural activities are relevant to and can be used to shape high level policy thinking, and to drive policy in a range of areas. 

How was the National Library of Portugal involved in the Presidency? 

The National Library of Portugal (NLP) was involved through the organisation of the Europeana conference as an official event of the Portuguese Presidency. NLP has also been involved in some other initiatives related to the Presidency, such as the transcribathon Manuscripts on stage organised with Teatro Nacional D. Maria II. This was an excellent opportunity to highlight the importance of actively engaging the public in the enrichment and reuse of European cultural heritage, towards an effective democratisation of culture.

All I Want - Portuguese Female Artists from 1900 to 2020. 2 June to 23 August 2021 | Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon

Title: All I Want - Portuguese Female Artists from 1900 to 2020. 2 June to 23 August 2021 | Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, ©MNSR/DGPC/ADF/Manuel Palma © MNSR/DGPC/ADF/Manuel Palma

Creator: Autoretrato, 1900 (Aurélia DE Sousa, 1866-1922) e A Casa, 1979 (Helena Almeida, 1934-2019)

Country: Portugal

All I Want - Portuguese Female Artists from 1900 to 2020. 2 June to 23 August 2021 | Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon

We can see that the Presidency really put culture at the heart of both its policy and its event programming - why is that?

The Portuguese Presidency has made a strong statement about the importance of culture throughout the semester, highlighting the essential role that culture plays in promoting social, territorial and economic cohesion, as well as the potential of cultural activities and assets for the economic recovery in the post-pandemic context. That is the reason why Portugal has put culture at the heart of the Presidency.

What was the most important issue for you in the policy programme?

Promoting the role of culture and media in building inclusive and cohesive societies has been one of the main priorities for the Germany-Portugal-Slovenia agenda for 18 months, demonstrating the importance of culture in the future of the European Union.

Another aspect to underline is the transition to a greener, more digital and more resilient economy  - the main goal of the recovery and resilience plans. The Presidency is a unique opportunity to push forward the digital transformation in culture that the cultural heritage sector and Europeana have been working on in recent years.

The Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP), for example, will include a significant component to support promoting the digital transition of cultural heritage institutions. The RRP will support digital network activities and funding for the digitisation, accessibility and reuse of Portuguese cultural heritage. These investments will also be crucial for the conservation of  heritage.

How did incorporating a cultural programme shape the discussions taking place throughout the event? 

The cultural programme was essential to get a wide variety of communities involved and to elicit discussions and other forms of participation that otherwise would not show up in the political context of the Presidency. And it provided an international opportunity to showcase  Portuguese heritage and cultural life.

Find out more

To find out more about the Europeana Portuguese Presidency event on building digital capacity for the cultural heritage sector, watch our videos from the event! 

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