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Culture and sports ministers of the European Union: culture must be accessible and coaches valued in society

21. November 2017 - 19:30
EL kultuuri- ja spordinõukogu pressikonverents. Vasakult paremale: Rahvusvahelise Olümpiakomitee president Thomas Bach, kultuuriminister Indrek Saar ja volinik Tibor Navracsics. Foto: EL Nõukogu
EL kultuuri- ja spordinõukogu pressikonverents. Vasakult paremale: Rahvusvahelise Olümpiakomitee president Thomas Bach, kultuuriminister Indrek Saar ja volinik Tibor Navracsics. Foto: EL Nõukogu

Today, 21 November, the second day of the two-day meeting of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council that focused on cultural and sports issues concluded in Brussels. Chaired by Estonian Minister for Culture Indrek Saar, the ministers adopted conclusions on promoting access to culture via digital means, and on the role of coaches in society. The ministers also discussed the role culture in creating cohesive societies, and with the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, the main challenges for sports in the 21st century.

According to Minister for Culture Indrek Saar, Europe is not just about economy and the single market, it is also what we create, what we read, what we listen to, what we play. "Culture, art and sports is a glue that binds our communities together. They create a sense of belonging, and contribute to healthy, inclusive and cohesive societies," Saar said. "In these challenging times for Europe, it is all the more important that we step up our efforts at all levels to help people get involved in culture and physical activity. I am confident that the Council conclusions adopted today on access to culture via digital means and on the role of coaches in society will help to reach these goals," stressed Saar.

The culture ministers who met in the morning, exchanged ideas on the role of cultures in making for cohesive societies in the context of increased migration and mobility. Ministers discussed what can be done jointly by the European Union to reinforce action that promotes cohesion at the national level, as well as the specific role of cultural and heritage organisations. The exchange of ideas of culture ministers was opened by Helen Sildna, the founder of Tallinn Music Week, who gave the inspirational speech 'Culture and creativity – a tool for change and inclusion'. In her presentation, Sildna highlighted how the European cultural sector can make considerable contributions to solving social problems and global challenges. "Culture and creativity help us understand that diversity – both cultural and gender diversity - is the foundation for rich and free self-expression, uniqueness and authenticity that create opportunities for society as a whole. This also means that a conscious effort must be made in the creative sector to support women," Sildna noted after the speech. She called on the EU cultural ministers to make sure that cultural policy motivates the cultural sector to take on greater responsibility in society and to support smaller initiatives and innovation. 

"We must be steadfast in creating a judgement-free, supportive and trusting society that creates opportunities for new, small, fragile ideas and people. It is  part of a vision of a cohesive society, but it is also a prerequisite for innovation. We have to ensure that our cultural life is not only led by established institutions, instead, we need to make sure to create space and opportunities for something new," Sildna emphasised. Read the full text of the speech here.

The Council adopted conclusions on promoting access to culture via digital means. The conclusions highlight the opportunities presented by new technologies for cultural organisations to better target audiences.

The sports ministers of the European Union met in the afternoon and discussed with Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee, the main challenges facing sport in the 21st century and how to address them, as well as cooperation within the EU, between national governments and with sports organisations.

Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee, who participated in the meeting of the EU sports ministers for the first time, thanked the Council and the Estonian Presidency for the invitation to participate in the Council and stressed that sport plays an important role in building cohesive societies. “Sport is a common language that promotes many values we need in our society, “Bach said. The President of the International Olympic Committee recognised the Estonian Presidency priority in sport – role of coaches in society. „Coaches need to be more valued in society as they invest into society by teaching and strengthening the values of fair play in sport, “Bach said.

Speaking about the main challenges facing sport in the 21st century, the President of the International Olympic Committee stressed the utmost importance of preserving the European Sport Model, which is grounded in values as well as on the volunteer input. „If we look at sport only from a business perspective, the social value of sport is lost. I hope that today’s discussion in the Council will help to make the cooperation between the European Union and the sports movement even closer in the future, “Bach stressed.

Chaired by Estonian Minister for Culture Indrek Saar, the Council also adopted conclusions on the role of coaches in society as well as a resolution aiming at further developing the existing high-level structured dialogue between EU institutions, member states' authorities and the sports movement.

Additional information on the agenda of the Council and background information, including photos and videos, is available on the website of the Council of the European Union

Additional information:
Kai-Ines Nelson
Spokesperson of the Estonian Ministry of Culture
+372 5568 9644
kai-ines.nelson@kul.ee

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