Conference poster

14 October 2019
Monday, 9.30 am – 6 pm
São Luiz Municipal Theatre, Lisbon

In the last two years, Access Culture has promoted a series of debates and seminars to reflect on our society and the contribution culture professionals and cultural organisations can or should make in this common construction.

As the idea of ​​neutrality is being intensely questioned, as cultural activism becomes more and more present in different spaces and contexts (a result of internal or external initiatives), Access Culture is inviting you for another moment of reflection on the political role of cultural organisations and of those working in or with them.

What does it mean to be political? Can a cultural organisation do politics? How not to fall in the trap of opportunism? How to deal with censorship? And with self-censorship? What does society expect of us? Are we up to the challenge?

In the hope of being able to listen to multiple and diverse voices, to take part in an intense and challenging debate, we designed a conference that will be made of two keynote speakers, a panel discussion and a long table.

Organisation: Hugo Sousa and Maria Vlachou
In collaboration with: Alesa Herero and Alice Azevedo



Reception of the participants

9.45 – 10.00am
Opening session

10.00 – 10.45am
Álvaro Laborinho Lúcio

With the thought of Umberto Eco as a starting point and his presumptions regarding the knowledge of art – intelligence, morality and sentimentality -, can one reach a universal idea of culture? Is culture a superstructure that imposes itself on scientific and technological knowledge, these being closer to the dimension of doing and acting? In the face of these questions, as a matter of culture, how do you formulate the answers, as a matter of politics? After all…

What politics can one expect from cultural organisations?


What culture can one demand of political organisations?

10.45 – 11.15am
Coffee break

11.15am – 1.15pm    Panel discussion
Cíntia Gil, Isabel António, Liliana Coutinho, Maria Vlachou, Mark Deputter
Moderation: Alice Azevedo and Alesa Herero

Following a debate promoted in 2018, Access Cultura intends to continue to reflect on issues such as: Neutrality … does it exist? How to deal with current affairs without being or seeming opportunistic? Can we take sides? Do we run the risk of alienating part of society? How to manage our principles and our relationship with organisational hierarchies and organisations that support us? How can we be political without being partisan? What does silence say?

In addition to all these questions, one more: What do our younger colleagues think about these issues and the role of cultural organisations? We invited Alice Azevedo and Alesa Herero to be the provocateurs / moderators of this debate.

1.15 – 3pm

3 – 4pm
Corinna Gardner, Victoria and Albert Museum

Recent acquisitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London include a Pussy Power Hat worn at the 2017 Women’s Day March in Washington DC, a mosquito emoji created as part of a public health campaign and a pair of camera-enabled sunglasses that mark a step toward ubiquitous computing. All have been acquired as part of the V&A’s Rapid Response Collecting activity – a model of collecting that through objects seeks to raise questions of globalisation, mass manufacture, demography and the law. Taking Rapid Response Collecting as a starting point, in this talk, I will make a case for designed things and their ability to tell social and political stories and ask what role museums can play in helping navigate the realities of today’s digital age.

4 – 5.45pm
Long table

We want to be able to hear other voices, new voices, voices that we do not normally invite as formal speakers at our conferences.

We decided, therefore, to adopt the format of the long table, developed by the artist and academic Lois Weaver. This is an open public forum that is a hybrid of performance installation | roundtable | discussion dinner, designed to facilitate dialogue on difficult issues with people with common interests. “A performance of a dinner where conversation is the only course.”

Long tables begin with a group of people sitting around a table, where there are also empty chairs. To start the conversation, a question is asked and participants who wish to speak can sit at the table. You can enter and leave the table at any time. If there are no chairs available, the person interested in talking touches the shoulder of someone sitting at the table and that person should give up their place.

5.45 – 6pm