- Activities and Mission of National Cultural Centers
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- The Romanian Cultural Institute
- The Lithuanian Cultural Institute
- Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes
- The Hellenic Cultural Center
- The Danish Cultural Institute
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National institutes of culture are organizations that aim to promote culture, spread national cultural heritage, and to favor national development by allowing the participation of the community. Examples of these institutes in Europe include the Romanian Cultural Institute, Lithuanian Cultural Institute, Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes, Hellenic Foundation for Culture, and the Danish Cultural Institute. The centers need to carry out various activities to ensure the preservation of the cultures of the respective countries (Paschalidis, 2009). Amongst other things, national institutes of culture have the responsibility of developing cross-cultural understanding that ensures that the community contributes and benefits from cultural programs and policies. They ensure youth participation and cultural development. Such cultural promotions clearly bring out values of the national community. The institutes promote effective integration of arts and culture as part of the school curriculum and encourage the use of the latest technology to make the media contribute to cultural development.
Activities and Mission of National Cultural Centers
Activities that each institution undertakes depend on its location. Besides the core mission of cultural centers being engaging the population in the transfer of their cultural heritage across generations, they must also ensure that they develop exciting and inclusive activities that will put people and especially the youth in mind of other cultures from different parts of the contemporary world. Institutions should embrace the wealth and talent of new communities and individuals and allow hybridization and innovation in artistic creation. For this purpose, they need to adopt new working methods, which will allow for experimentation and innovation, while still maintaining excellence and high cultural standards. If needed, cultural institutions may revise their operations to address the needs of a more culturally diverse society in the modern age.
National cultural institutions bring various benefits to society. They promote social and economic development, attract tourists, deliver essential services, and develop innovations. In addition, through activities of such institutions, society recognizes cultural diversity (Vecco, 2010). For states, it promotes harmonious living and reduction of sources of conflict. Individuals benefit from such institutes too due to the provision of responsibilities and elimination of discrimination. The core mission of cultural institutes, namely, transferring cultural heritage across generations, has the power to facilitate and improve social interaction as well as enable society to pursue creative interests.
Centers for cultural preservation have various economic impacts on nations. They create jobs, attract visitors, retain businesses and revitalize places. People who come to visit museums or attend cultural festivals spend money on their entrance fee or tickets, hotel bookings, meals in local restaurants and goods in local shops. As a result, there is the creation of revenue to the local economy and ‘profit’ to institutes. In addition, the engagement of the youth in cultural activities has a positive impact on their social and civic participation. Cultural resources have a strong effect on the lives of the youth. According to research, they enable young people to volunteer more and reduce social class differences among them. Therefore, it is important for cultural institutions to encourage the youth to participate in cultural activities (Prieur, Rosenlund, & Skjott-Larsen, 208).
Apart from cultural institutes benefiting the economy and the youth, they assist the whole community. When people participate in cultural activities, there is reduced social exclusion and isolation and contribution to social cohesion. As a result, the involved communities feel stronger (Brodie & Apostolidis, 2007). Perhaps, the major way in which participation in cultural activities contributes to social inclusion is strengthening relations and interaction among people, thereby bringing a broad range of positive effects to society at large.
The Romanian Cultural Institute
The aim of the Romanian Cultural Institute is to promote the Romanian culture around the world. The establishment of the institution was in 2003 (Paschalidis, 2009). Currently, it has eighteen branches in major cities that are outside Romania, namely, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Chisinau, London, Lisbon, Budapest, Madrid, New York, Vienna, Prague, Stockholm, Warsaw, Tel-Aviv, Rome, and Paris. For the institution to raise awareness about the Romanian culture, it supports national cultural projects around the world. In addition, it disseminates information about the Romanian culture and provides courses and scholarships in the Romanian language. The national image that the institution aims to portray is that their culture encourages dynamic interactions between organizations and individuals. Additionally, the Institute presents a compelling and interesting Romanian culture to international audiences and in the process connects the Romanian culture with international values. The Institute preserves traditional Romanian cultural values and formulates action lines that enable the development of new ideas among various organizations and individuals (Paschalidis, 2009).
The Lithuanian Cultural Institute
The Lithuanian Cultural Institute in Paris aims to increase the competitiveness of the cultural heritage of Lithuania and implement cultural projects that form a conducive cultural climate. The institute follows events in European countries linked to programs implemented by it, provides suggestions, recommendations and decisions to the European Commission, and organizes Lithuanian cultural programs. In addition, the Institute has created a cultural platform that encourages the participation of the community and strong networks with other countries’ cultural institutions. Further, the center aims to enable people to view Lithuania as a country where innovative and quality cultural projects exist (Paschalidis, 2009). The core functions of the Institute include organizing and coordinating programs that represent the Lithuanian culture, preparing and spreading the Lithuanian literature abroad, implementing Lithuanian cultural projects abroad, and producing informational publications about the national art and culture.
Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes
The Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes are non-profit organizations all over the world. They contribute significantly to the promotion of the Finnish culture (Paschalidis, 2009). They also focus on researching and teaching their culture to people who may be interested. The functions of the Finnish Institute in Paris include the implementation of cultural exchange programs, organization and coordination of international cultural events, provision of courses on the Finnish culture, and the development of educational publications. There are sixteen Finland cultural and academic institutes abroad. Their core mission is to promote cultural exchanges. The bbranches are located in Paris, London, Copenhagen, Antwerp, Berlin, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Stockholm, Madrid, Oslo, and Budapest. In addition to these divisions, there is a Finnish-Swedish cultural center established in 1975 in Hanasaari, Espoo, Finland, the primary aim of which is to promote cultural interaction between the two countries.
The Hellenic Cultural Center
The institution aims to spread the Greek language as well as promote the Hellenic culture all over the world (Brodie & Apostolidis, 2007). Since the establishment of the institute in 1992, it has created branches in Berlin, Alexandria, and Paris. It closely works with individuals and organizations to support its core mission. The institute promotes culture through education, publications, and other programs. In addition, it ensures that there is a direct cultural exchange and contact with other countries. Some of the functions of the organization include the organization of exhibitions, concerts, seminars and lectures, participation in cultural events, promotion of the Greek language by offering courses, and the cooperation with local authorities to undertake educational initiatives in learning institutions.
The Danish Cultural Institute
House of Denmark in Paris aims to promote the exchange of information, opinions and ideas between Denmark and other countries, including France (Prieur, Rosenlund, & Skjott-Larsen, 2008). In addition, it is responsible for arranging events aimed at bringing Danish cultural experiences to people of other countries and regions. Further, the Danish Cultural Institute promotes mutual understanding, provides information on how the country organizes its cultural practice, as well as coordinates and supports international cultural projects. Each year, the center holds various events aimed at attracting more people to accept and embrace the Danish culture. The headquarters of the Institute is in Copenhagen, Denmark. Over the years, the location and number of branches have increased. Previously, there were divisions in the Netherlands, France, the United States, Austria, and Northern Italy. Currently, there are branches in the United Kingdom, Russia, Poland, Latvia, China, Brazil, and Belgium. Such structure and collaboration with other organizations globally enables the Institute to create dialogue, mutual inspiration, and exchange. The work of the cultural center embraces areas that unite people of different cultures, creating a platform for culture, art, and society. Consequently, it facilitates intercultural communication and improves international understanding.
For national cultural institutions to achieve their goals and missions, they should understand the requirements of communities where they operate, identify peculiarities of their audience with diverse social and cultural backgrounds, and maintain integrity in their work by promoting quality in every aspect. In addition, institutions should encourage real co-creation and participation, especially among the youth, and embrace new technology to preserve their culture. In the discussion above, focus was put mainly on institutions based in Europe. However, the core missions and goals seem to be related to such institutions all over the world. Such cultural centers have an aim of ensuring the preservation of cultures of their respective communities and transfer of cultural heritage from one generation to another. Moreover, institutions have to increase their international competitiveness. They can achieve this by opening branches in major cities.