Launched in October 2016, the Indicator Framework on Culture and Democracy (IFCD) was developed by the Council of Europe (CoE) in Strasbourg in collaboration with the Hertie School of Governance research team – led by Prof. Helmut Anheier, with the support of ECF and CoE Member States.
The IFCD is a tool for assessing and optimising cultural policies on the basis of reliable, comparative data and for examining links between culture and democracy within and among the 47 CoE Member States. The first thematic report, Cultural participation and inclusive societies (2017) highlights the links between culture, trust in society and inclusion. The IFCD policy maker’s guidebook (2016) explains the logic and how to implement the framework.
Claudia Luciani is the Director of Democratic Governance at the Council of Europe. Here she explains how the IFCD is a remarkable advocacy tool for anyone in the cultural sector who wants to strengthen democracy and a culture of democracy across Europe and the EU Neighbourhood.
Claudia Luciani became Director of Democratic Governance (within the Directorate General of Democracy) at the Council of Europe (CoE) in 2012, after working for years as Director of Political Advice and Co-operation. Her work focuses on three specific areas: 1) the solidity of democratic institutions in CoE Member States by ensuring an equal application of European standards and by looking at the critical interaction between different levels of governance (local, regional and national); 2) “managing” the increasing diversity of our societies in a way that is fully respectful of fundamental rights and freedoms; 3) the relationship between culture and democracy through indicators and impact assessment.
Claudia Luciani on the Indicator Framework on Culture and Democracy (IFCD)
In times when European democracies are being challenged by forces of division, lack of trust and autocratic governance attempts, how do you think the IFCD knowledge and tools could help to foster open and inclusive societies? What difference could the IFCD make in this landscape?
Tolerance and the acceptance of differences – and respect for them – are considered to be key cornerstones of more inclusive societies. A common measure of tolerance is the percentage of people who said they would not refuse to have immigrants, people of a different religion or race or homosexuals as neighbours (as recorded by the World Values Survey 2014). This measure turns out to be strongly associated with the IFCD measure of cultural participation. The Indicator Framework concludes that, where a country’s population participates more in cultural activities of various sorts, people tend to be more tolerant than in countries where participation is less common.
We are not talking about a causal relationship between participation in culture and tolerance (and the same goes for “trust in others”). However, there is a striking coincidence. I believe there is something highly interesting going on, and I am convinced that promoting participation in culture together with education activities (i.e. citizenship education, human rights education and the development of capacities such as empathy) will help to strengthen our democracies against the challenges of division, mistrust, discrimination and marginalisation.
How will the CoE embed this knowledge in its work from now on with its Member States? What are the next steps that the CoE will take to promote and develop the IFCD?
Increasing Member States’ interest in using the IFCD for domestic information and policy purposes is of huge importance for us. We envisage offering training to our governmental partners – the policy-makers from Ministries of Culture of Member States – on the different uses they can make of the IFCD: for information, reporting, comparisons or policy orientation work. During the IFCD development phase, its concepts of practical applications were already tested with representatives from Ministries of Culture in ten Member States. Currently we are running a survey with all Member States. In addition, networking and peer review with relevant indicator/index exercises of other organisations will be a priority for ensuring the best possible quality.
The research outcomes will contribute to the topical areas of the CoE’s work, such as the Reports by the Secretary General on the State of Democracy, Human Rights and Rule of Law (annual reports assessing the readiness and ability of CoE Member States’ to build democratic societies, including highlighting trends and recommendations).
The technical upgrades of the online tool to simplify its uses will be implemented in 2017. So far, a beta version of the Interactive Data Explorer is available so users can explore and analyse the publicly available IFCD data. I would encourage our readers to check it out.
The first thematic report on Culture and Democracy, focusing on Cultural Participation and Inclusive Societies in 2017, was made available to our intergovernmental partners and other interested public or specialised practitioners. A second report is planned for later this year. It will deal with issues of digital cultural participation as these relate to democracy.
The IFCD database currently covers 37 CoE Member States and still has some gaps. Ten CoE Member States are still missing completely from the Indicator Framework (due to insufficient data availability at this stage). We will continue our efforts to make the IFCD more comprehensive and representative for all our members.
How is the IFCD of most value for cultural sectors and civil society – in Europe as well as in the EU Neighbourhood?
I see three best values or main uses of the IFCD:
The IFCD is the first comprehensive and empirically based attempt to show how culture relates to democracy. We know about research on culture and economy, culture and well-being, culture and health, etc. but so far, culture and democracy has not really been analysed in depth. Therefore, the IFCD is a remarkable advocacy tool for all players in the cultural sector, education, civil society, politics who want to strengthen democracy and a culture of democracy and who also use ”resources” such as arts and culture in their work. Culture thus comes to the forefront – much as it does in the work of the European Union and the European External Action Service (EEAS) when drawing on culture in international relations and conceiving a cultural diplomacy strategy. It is an asset that the IFCD is not limited to the 28 EU Member States, but aims to include all 47 CoE Member States. This is, of course, an ambitious goal to be addressed in the future.
Secondly, the IFCD provides key findings for both the culture sector and civil society in two domains: culture and democracy. It highlights specific areas in need of attention and possibly in need of further investment/development. The IFCD collects data on culture and democracy broken down into 17 components and 41 indicators, summarising some 170 variables – for 37 countries. So, cultural professionals and civil society can benefit not only from the detailed information on where policy intervention may be desirable, but can also check their countries’ position in Europe in these domains.
Thirdly, the IFCD may instigate research at a European level on topical issues since its data is publicly available and covers many areas of interest, such as access to culture, participation in and financing of culture, digital cultural participation, creativity, cultural industries, cultural education and infrastructure. In combination with the components and indicators on the democracy side of the equation, countless research questions may be addressed. This offers a powerful resource in the light of current political challenges of migration, inclusion, populism, digitalisation – to name just a few – that need to be addressed.