How can the Bonn Process be a support in the development of national level policies? Especially when it comes to policies that are cross-sectoral and linked to the youth sector through the inclusion of young people?
Sara Barriga Brighenti shares with us this example from Portugal where the National Plan for the Arts (NPA), which is primarily linked to education and culture, is currently in the planning stage of its second stage and where the European Youth Work Agenda and the Bonn Process are providing guidance for its development.
The National Plan for the Arts
The National Plan for the Arts is a task force that has been commissioned by the Portuguese Government and covers a period of ten years starting from 2019. The mission of the NPA states: “The National Plan of Arts promotes social change, mobilising the educational power of the arts and heritage in the lives of citizens: for all and with everyone.”
The National Plan of Arts promotes social change, mobilising the educational power of the arts and heritage in the lives of citizens: for all and with everyone.
The NPA was strategically designed in two halves, this was so they could initially just focus on the first five years and have the option to make changes for the second five years based on lessons learned from a full evaluation throughout 2023. There is currently a lot of rethinking going on in terms of what they have planned and what could be added as the new priorities, particularly in the light of the many changes that took place in the world in the last four years, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
European Youth Work Agenda as a key factor
One of the changes that has happened in the last period has been the introduction of the European Youth Work Agenda in 2021. This is now a key factor they are taking into account for the second five years. They are looking at how they can link with the Bonn Process, how it can support the National Plan of Arts in relation to young people, and how the NPA in turn also supports the European Youth Work Agenda in Portugal.
Within the NPA they work broadly across the sectors of education, arts and culture, building bridges and networks, and so see themselves as having a strategy that is very much connected to the Bonn Process.
Stakeholders and Partners
In order to realise the NPA fully, there needs to be a strong working commitment with stakeholders and partners in order to accomplish the aims of the plan. Stakeholders and partners currently include schools, municipalities, theatres, archives, libraries, and in the last two years universities.
Sara Barriga Brighenti
Sara Barriga Brighenti is the Deputy Commissioner for the National Plan for the Arts for the Republic of Portugal. For most of her working life Sara has been working in culture and education, she has experienced both sides and in between. Much of her work has been trying to combine these two areas. Her background includes being a teacher in all levels of education, a museum professional and a theatre programmer.
Their strategy so far has been to work mainly with young people and children, this is not to the exclusion of adults but gives the focus to children and young people. It is intended that this should continue for the second phase. This approach also means including youth organisations as partners for the future and working alongside the Bonn Process.
Inclusion and Participation: Working together with Young People
Inclusion and even more participation are a key part of the NPA and this is done with and not for the [young] people. However, both inclusion and participation need a lot of time and take a lot of time to achieve, one of the reasons for this is because it is about transforming the education and cultural institutions. They use the following expression: “Cultural institutions are educational territories in the same way that schools are cultural territories.”
Cultural institutions are educational territories in the same way that schools are cultural territories.
What this means is that when working with schools they need to train teachers and students in cultural aspects so they can become emancipated from the strictures of the formal education system in order to work with the whole environment and with the partners. At the same time they are training the cultural mediators to work in the schools in order for them to see themselves as a part of the educational territories.
Young People have a Very Present Voice
The NPA is very much about looking at the present. Too many strategies are postponing doing anything because they are about the future, the strategy of the NPA is very much based on working in the present. Especially the work with the young people, the people behind the NPA see them not as the future but the here and now, they are not something that will become they already are.
Young people are also seen and treated as having a voice. This does not mean working to give young people a voice, it means working with themselves and the communities they work in, to learn how to listen to the young people because their voice is already there.
The voice of young people is a key element to the strategizing of the next five years of the NPA.
The voice of young people is a key element to the strategizing of the next five years of the NPA and is linking into the European Youth Work Agenda and working with the Bonn Process. This is to support them in foreseeing the future with the eyes of the young people; asking them about what they see for the future, what are their aims, their dreams, what future problems do they identify, what are their priorities, and how do they see the world!
Connection to the Bonn Process
Part of the work of the Bonn Process is looking “beyond the youth work community of practice”. The work of the NPA connecting to the Bonn Process and recognising the importance of the European Youth Work Agenda is a strong and important example of this. This also supports the “promotion and recognition” of youth work as the work of the NPA is largely focussing on young people and receiving support from the youth sector to do this.
Porto Santo Charter
Involvement with the Bonn Process has also put the spotlight on the Porto Santo Charter which was published at the Porto Santo Conference in 2021. The full title of the Charter is: ‘Culture and the Promotion of Democracy: Towards a European Cultural Citizenship’. In 2023, they are going to start working on a revision of the Charter, specifically to include the cultural rights of young people – about how young people see their cultural rights.
When the original Charter was written, young people were not included in the process, they worked with the institutions that worked with young people but not the young people themselves. They are now in the process of trying to ensure that the new version of the Charter is in line with young people's goals in terms of their cultural rights, needs, interests and expectations.