Recap of the INVENT Conference 2021

Last week the first INVENT Conference 2021 took place in Rotterdam, The Netherlands on the 23 and 24th of September. The theme of the conference centered on capturing the societal values of culture: towards inclusive and participatory European cultural policies.

At this much awaited event, the INVENT consortium presented the preliminary results to come forth from the project since its commencement in February 2020. The findings derived from the large-scale survey conducted among INVENT’s nine participating countries, the analysis of Twitter data, and secondary analysis of longitudinal European data were presented in 8 sessions. Throughout these 8 sessions spread over two days, central themes in relation to cultural participation were addressed such as globalization, diversity, social inequality, and digitalization.

The presentations given by members of the INVENT team were accompanied by multiple keynote presentations by scholars from different European countries and disciplinary backgrounds, notably Ian Woodward, Dave O’Brien, Marc Taylor, Laurie Hanquinet, Susan Oman, Sabina Mihelj, Adrian Leguina, Roza Meuleman, Massimo Airoldi, and Femke Vandenberg. The presentations offered novel perspectives and approaches to the study of audiences and cultural participation, with a special focus on the social embeddedness and impact of cultural practices and the implications of research findings for cultural policies. Topics covered included cosmopolitanism as a potential source of social division; how to interpret culture and wellbeing data; interaction rituals of attending online music concerts; and social boundaries and inequalities in digital cultural participation, ranging from music consumption on YouTube to visiting libraries, museums and libraries online.

One of the highlights of the INVENT Conference 2021 was the lively panel discussion on the topic of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in cultural policy and practice. D&I has become a priority in the Dutch cultural sector in recent years, as evidenced by the Diversity and Inclusion Code. During the panel discussion, moderated by Sylvia Holla from the INVENT team, the four panelists — Bente Bergmans (Netherlands Museums Association), Janpier Brands (Worm – cultural venue and production house), Vinesh Oedai (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science), Olga Smit (City of Rotterdam) — challenged one another in discussing the progress and shortcomings in approaches to addressing diversity and inclusion in the cultural sector.

The panel discussion was preceded by a special presentation from Zsuzsa Kravalik who presented a practical case in the form of Project ForwArt that assumes a D&I perspective in creating social transformation for youth at risk in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

The turnout for the event exceeded initial expectations. The INVENT project was happy to welcome over 200 attendees most of whom joined the conference online to partake in one or multiple sessions, and some participants who even joined live at the conference venue at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Due to its hybrid format, the conference was able to attract widespread and international attention, having attendees join from 30 different countries.

The interest and backgrounds of those in attendance were just as varied as their nationalities. The conference welcomed not only a cross-section of the academic community involving researchers, Ph.D. candidates, and students from various disciplines, but also cultural advisors, policymakers, and representatives from an array of cultural organizations interested in staying attuned to state-of-the art cultural research and the implications thereof for cultural policy and practice.  

Suffice it to say, that the wide interest in the conference, the myriad exciting research insights and approaches that were discussed, and the lively interaction among participants have certainly made this first conference a successful one!

INVENT Congress – INVENT Culture

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