Conclusions of the subjects 2002

Theme 2002: Social Cohesion

International Christian Artists Symposium
August 20-25 2002

The 22nd International Christian Artists Symposium was held from August 20st to 25th, 2002. The task of this year’s meeting was to evaluate and reflect on Social Cohesion.

Why Social Cohesion?

“Building bridges over troubled waters”

Society is developping into a complex multi-cultural puzzle. This diversity has its own richness and beauty. All these cultures make the European house an interesting place and a challenge to progress. Continuity is secured by social cohesion. Social cohesion is the glue, holding all the pieces of society together. Social cohesion can bridge the gaps of diversity and difference. Some forces contribute to social cohesion. Other forces and actions weaken that cohesion. Large undercurrents like the “fragmentation of society”. and the “limits of tolerance” have been discussed at previous CA-Symposia. And it is important to look ahead, this was done at the CA-Symposium 10 years after the cultural paragraph of Maastricht, published under the name: “The Art of living“ (2001). This “Art of living” is only possible if social cohesion is unterstood and promoted.

So, this symposium was financed by the EU and EZA and gathered approximately 200 delegates from various organisations, including politicians, artists and trade-union representatives from all over Europe. The CA-Symposium included lectures by key people from different countries working in a variety of fields involving research, culture and the arts.. In addition to these lectures, participants could attend forums, workshops, debates, discussion-groups and private meetings. The board of the International Association of Christian Artists evaluated all the material in order to present the following CONCLUSIONS & SUGGESTIONS:

  1. Agressive mass-media, global companies/economic interests, environment problems, political instability have eroded a (big) part of social cohesion. (The effects of globalization will be discussed at the next CA-Symposium.)
  2. Because of these growing global economic, political and cultural tensions it becomes more and more important to have relationships and solidarity.
    Those relationships are the basics for social cohesion bridging the gaps between cultures, individuals, nations, tribes, rich & poor/social class, levels of education, gender. Individuals, groups, associations, politicians are called to invest time in developing those needed relationships.
  3. Having expressed the need for a new social cohesion awareness it becomes important to reinforce or even find new instruments to stimulate social cohesion.
  4. Instruments for social cohesion are only possible if there comes
    • political conviction & perseverance
    • governemental funding and funding form the privat sectors
    • participation from every level of society
    • the power of global industries stay under political control as their globalisation effects enlarge social and economic differences
  5. Social cohesion is the glue holding the “global” and “local” villages together.
  6. One of the powers creating culture, creating social cohesion is religion. Here religious groups like churches have to search not to hide in ghettoism and fundamentalism, which will enlarge the cultural gaps. Religious leaders have to guide their flocks unto meadows of compassion and peaceful pastures, as Jesus said: “Love your neighbour”.
  7. In the European societies it is recognised that a growing number of generation gaps are arising. As grey-power will become the majority (according to demographic changes) within a few years, and youth becomes a minority, it becomes important that grey-power creates new bridges of understanding with youth-power.
  8. We touched the problems of integration. That dilemma multiculturality verses the basic values and norms of western society needs to be addressed in a next symposium. Sure is that in all cities where social cohesion is low, there is a lack of integration, even segregation & fundamentalism became a dangering force for social cohesion.
    An active role of (local) politics is needed to move various (minority) groups from exclusion into inclusion. The symposium participants heard with enthusiasm about some promising activities to reinforce social cohesion like “Opzomeren” in Rotterdam. Change is possible, but it needs an active role of many participants of the social midfield / civil society AND local c.q. national politics.
  9. The CA-symposium calls upon the EU, the commission, the EU Parlement to have a more active role to stimulate social cohesion and forms of integration.
  10. The CA-symposium calls upon artist, cultural organizations to play a more active role to bridge the gaps, as arts can overcome the walk of exclusion and separation, so that social cohesion can grow. Artists and educators should bring this message as well into school-curriculum.


  • Josine Westerbeek - the Netherlands
    Vice-chairman of the CNV (Christan National Trande Union), member of the SER (Social Economic Council, acvicebody of the Dutch-Government).
  • Stephen Quashi - United Kingdom
    Development officer with the National Council for voluntary youth services, region South-East England & London.
  • Jeroen Debroey - Belgium
    Student, member of the Cultural Youth Council of CA/CNV-Kunstenbond.
  • Aart van Boeijen - the Netherlands
    Coordinator Opzomeren of the City Council of Rotterdam.
  • Leen La Rivière - the Netherlands
    Chairman of the International Association of Christian Artists; writer, speaker.