31 May 2018

Closing Plenary 2018 – Culturally diverse and politically ‘one’

The last plenary session of the conference got off to a comical start with Geoff Meade, a journalist with over 35 years’ experience of covering EU affairs, a speaker and conference moderator, and a comedian. He was awarded an MBE for services to the British community in Belgium in 2016. Meade entertained the audience with a comedy routine on Eurovision, European identity, and culture.

Luc Luyten, Chair of the Belgian Federation of Philanthropic Foundations and Chair of the 2018 Conference Host Committee, then took the stage to thank the members of the 2018 Conference Committee; the King Baudouin Foundation for hosting the networking evening events; the moderators and speakers; the Walk and Talk hosts, organisers and volunteers; and the EFC staff.

He finished off by thanking the 600+ delegates for their enthusiastic participation in the conference, which clearly showed that, “Institutional philanthropy has a critical role to play in supporting culture in the long term.”

Culturally diverse and politically ‘one’ – The key to Europe’s future

Massimo Lapucci, Secretary General, Fondazione CRT, and Chair of the EFC wrapped up the conference, linking the theme of culture to the core values and competencies of philanthropy, and outlining the challenges ahead.

“The need to care for culture, protect it, to pass it on to future generations, is where we see the model of institutional philanthropy really come to the fore,” he said. “With our ability to think and work in the long term, we can help build the bridges between the generations to ensure that culture is both an asset to be enjoyed in the now and a legacy to be appreciated in the future.”

Lapucci emphasised the importance of citizenship in solving the problems faced by Europe today. “Philanthropy must raise its voice in order to confront the biggest challenge that we face – to create more conscious citizenship in individual countries and across Europe,” he said.

The greatest challenge for the Europe we want to live in, he said, is reconciling two things that in principle seem irreconcilable: cultural diversity and political unity. “Without cultural diversity, Europe will be impoverished, because the variety of languages, cultures and local traditions among us is an endless source of wealth, and therefore must be protected and strengthened,” he said. “At the same time, as history has taught us, without political unity Europe is condemned to destruction. Europe must be politically ONE and culturally diverse. Only in this way will it be able to give the best of itself and not resign itself to irrelevance.”

Heading into the EFC’s 30th Anniversary Year

Lapucci laid out a number of areas where the EFC is actively working on behalf of its membership – from working towards a Single Market for Philanthropy to innovative peer-learning exchanges to launching new thematic networks of funders. The EFC is also supporting the Wellcome Trust’s call to improve collaboration between the philanthropic sector and the European Commission in the area of research, a key funding area of many EFC members.

“I am proud to be Chair of such a diverse, dynamic and innovative EFC membership which is continually recalibrating to find solutions to the challenges our sector – and greater society – faces,” he said.

A sneak peek at the AGA and Conference 2019 – Paris

Frédéric Théret of Fondation de France, Chair of the 2019 Conference Committee, gave delegates a preview of what they can expect for the conference next year, set to take place 23-24 May in Paris.

Théret invoked the national motto of France, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”, and noted that fraternité has the same root meaning as philanthropy. These concepts, he said, are integral to a key text of the French Republic, the Declaration of the Rights of Man. “Today these foundations are being challenged,” he said. He invited delegates to come to Paris to discuss these issues, and help find new ways for philanthropy to meet the critical challenges that Europe is facing.