Opening by Minister of State Michelle Müntefering at the Conference “VigoniForEurope 2019”

17.09.2019 - Speech

And after now three times in Milan within my 18 months in office – I’m worth saying: Dear friends - Cari amici!

I’d like to welcome you all to “VigoniForEurope”.

I’m pleased that you have already had such lively discussions and that we managed to bring about this conference.

A year ago, enchanted by the wonderful atmosphere between the cypress trees of Villa Vigoni, we – Germany and Italy – decided to establish a more regular and targeted exchange between our societies and to combine our strengths to an even greater extent.

Partly in the light of the centrifugal forces which are having such an impact on our countries and their inhabitants, we wanted to stick together. German-Italian relations are too long-standing, too deep and far too important not to hold on to them, work on them and to expand them further. This also includes a more profound, better understanding of each other.

The power of culture, ladies and gentlemen, can help us not only to better understand but also to work together successfully on the issues that will shape the future.

They are the major issues of our time: sustainability and climate protection, migration or multilateralism as such for which we – for which Europe – has to find answers.

The creatives are not working in a vacuum here. On the contrary. They’re making a decisive contribution when it comes to finding an answer to the question: What kind of world do we want to live in?

In very concrete terms, by the way. We saw this at the Triennale at the beginning of this year.

I still remember the Dutch group which presented tableware made of a new material – a mixture of plastic and glass. Made of seaweed.

As it said in the invitation to this symposium, together Italy and Germany have one third of all those employed in the creative industries in Europe.

That adds up to three million jobs. The creative industries are part of our economy’s backbone. Maybe you’ve heard this in detail at yesterday’s part of the conference in Villa Vigoni.

And we can learn a lot from each other. Italian design, whether it be furniture or fashion, is among the best in the world.

That’s due to the manufacturers as well as the creatives. Stefano Boeri, who is with us today, showed me round the Design Museum, here in Milano.

Countless classic objects have, in the truest sense, found homes around the world – starting with the expresso maker La Conica by Alessi.

Especially after the Second World War, in Italy it was architects in particular who were so enthusiastic about furniture.

This helped make Italy a design nation.

The Triennale has made a crucial contribution towards this since it was founded in the 1930s.

One of the most influential German design movements was emerging back in 1920. It was the Bauhaus, whose anniversary we’re currently celebrating.

And this development – especially that of the Bauhaus – shouldn’t simply be considered as something to look back on, no matter how beautiful its design.

The Bauhaus is one of the best examples of a global cultural influence. It’s an example of the interaction between interior and exterior, but also of the shifts that art, culture and ideas make possible.

It represents these shifts in design, but also in social terms, in our society.

To me, Bauhaus means: never form on its own but also always content. The Bauhaus is thus a cultural ambassador for Germany even today.

After all, the history of the Bauhaus is also a history of Germany in the world.

At the same time, we look with fascination at the Italian tradition, at its enthusiasm for trying out something new, its ability to improvise.

The artistry of its craft. The inseparability of beauty and function.

However, it will continue. We will certainly need creativity in the future. And for the future. We must make it useful for the here and now.

That’s why “Re-Thinking Creativity in a Changing Society” was chosen as the theme of “VigoniForEurope” this year.

During this conference, we’re thinking about

  • how we can come together as German Europeans, as Italian Europeans, as European creatives,
  • how we can do more in future to promote creative cross-border co-productions,
  • ow we can create and protect spaces for art and for culture professionals and, on the other hand, make art and culture accessible to everyone.

I’d like to thank each and every one of you for engaging with this.

I believe we need to tap the power of culture to embark on an optimistic journey into the future.

We should do this quite consciously in response to all those who want to bury themselves in a nationalistic past.

Art and culture do not stop at national borders, they were and will remain international.

And let me conclude by saying that I’m especially pleased that Italy’s new Minister-designate for Culture has been so directly involved in this initiative and is with us today. Thank you for being here at “VigoniForEurope”.

For Germany – as well as for all of us who have come together – this is of great value.

It is the concept of exchange, of space for free thinking with free thinkers – under a free European sky.

To me in the metaphorical sense, this freedom – which brings people together and makes the best possible – no longer just means “Made in Germany” or “Made in Italy” but “Created in Europe”.

So: Let’s make european creative industries – strong because they transcend borders – an international brand with the message: we want to shape this world, protect its natural resources and foster peace among people.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you and especially everyone who makes this conference happen and have a great time together.


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