Conference from the Distance: Barbara Gessler and Mikko Dufva

28 March 2020

Conference from the Distance
Series of interviews with some of our conference speakers 2020

This weekend would have been the Tallinn Music Week 2020: Creative Impact Conference. Instead, we hope to see you in Tallinn and in Eesti Kunstiakadeemia / Estonian Academy of Arts on 28th and 29th of August, but meanwhile we’d like to share thoughts and experiences of this strange time by some of our brilliant conference speakers.

We are proud to present interviews by:

Barbara Gessler, Head of Unit Creative Europe – Culture, European Commission. The European Commission has launched #CreativeEuropeAtHome, a social media campaign running on its Creative Europe accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It wants to crowdsource the efforts to highlight great online cultural activities happening in the Creative Europe community. #CreativeEuropeAtHomewill make them available to culture lovers currently confined to their homes.

Mikko Dufva, who works as a leading foresight specialist at the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. In his work, he examines future trends, the tensions between these trends and mental images connected with the future. He has extensive experience in foresight studies and a doctorate in science (technology) on the creation of futures knowledge and systemic foresight.

#physicaldistance #socialsolidarity

How has the situation affected you / your organization?

Barbara: We are all in home office since almost two weeks but we are well connected and have good working tools. This is important so we can keep on communicating and reflecting on how to best address all the concerns our, your, sector is facing. We receive a lot of letters, requests but also very constructive ideas and support and we try to be as reactive as possible.

Mikko: I am now working from home. I have been a bit surprised how smoothly the transition to remote working has gone in the end. It is a different situation for sure, but things are moving ahead quite well, all things considered. And my days include recesses with my daughter which means a lot more jumping in a trampoline than before.

What is your biggest concern and your highest hope?

Barbara: Our biggest concern is for the artists and cultural organisations that are facing real trouble as their basis for a living is under concrete financial threat. Another obvious one is the recession that may have an even more long term impact for the sector and also for the financing of our programme.

My highest hope is that we can somehow help to alleviate these concrete challenges by continuing our actions at the European level. It is difficult for us to act just like national or other governmental levels can, our means are more restrained and the budget at our disposal for the whole of Europe obviously only minor. But my wish is that we can at least continue contributing to the European creatives exchanging, cooperating and, as such, build up new resilience.

Mikko: My biggest concern is that we lose the connection to one another and give in to fear and hate. This is a stressful situation, but also a chance for a change of direction. I hope that this situation acts as a catalyst to many of the changes we need to make, especially regarding climate change and loss of biodiversity. Many of the things that seemed impossible are now easier to imagine.

What is the role of music, arts and culture in the future? What will change?

Barbara: In my opinion, we will have to re-think the way culture is produced and presented but for me, it becomes clear in this crisis that culture is the essence of what makes us human beings. This is the real opportunity: That everybody recognises this role of culture for society, in such a difficult time. It is so great to see that so many artists around the world are reaching out to their audiences directly. I am also happy that our Creative Europe priority “tackling the digital challenges” has actually led many of our beneficiaries to look more closely into these possibilities.

Mikko: The transformation we need is not just about technology and economy. It is about a change in our culture towards a more sustainable, inclusive and equal way of living. Music, arts and culture has a huge role in depicting what futures may hold for us.

What is your dream scenario for the future as a result of this?

Barbara: That we stand together, as Europeans, that Creative Europe will have proven its validity, that we will be able to continue our support to the sector, maybe even with more money.

Mikko: That we learn to listen and appreciate one another and understand that we have crossed the limits of our planet. And that we can still change our way and together create better futures.