Culture is a long term thing
Enrico Lunghi, Adriano Picinati and Michael Moses share the same passion. Although working in different sectors, the three men have dedicated their professional life to the arts. All three will speak at the Art as an Investment Conference at the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM), organised by Luxembourg for Finance in collaboration with Deloitte. Our interview with Enrico Lunghi, director of the MUDAM, is the first in our series on why we need to put more passion into our investments.
In 1995, Luxembourg was “cultural capital of Europe”. Did political awareness change as a result of this experience and has Luxembourg become more attractive from a cultural point of view?
Since 1995, Luxembourg has been increasingly perceived, nationally and internationally, as a city with a dense and diversified cultural scene. During the same period, it also became a respected participant in European cultural developments in several artistic fields, such as the visual arts, contemporary music, dance, theatre and literature.
The Golden Lyon for the best national pavilion won by Su-Mei Tse at the Venice Biennale in 2003 is a good example of this recognition. The Government created new institutions to respond to and encourage this trend. But culture is a long term thing: it is only in 10 or 20 years that we will be able to evaluate what has been achieved so far.
Did 1995 provide a boost for the local cultural scene?
For sure, the enthusiastic atmosphere of 1995 created new possibilities and, especially, direct confrontation with the international scene established new standards. Before 1995, it was easier to ignore developments outside Luxembourg, while today many Luxembourg artists are playing at a European level.
Did the general public become more aware of the fact that Luxembourg was not a cultural desert?
I think Luxembourg was never a cultural desert: the music and theatrical scenes were always very active and, in the visual arts, things were conservative but not inexistent. The fact was, that as long as you did not make comparisons with other large cities you could have an interesting and bourgeois cultural life here. The change came with the increasingly international role of Luxembourg: as a European capital and global financial center it needed more credibility in cultural affairs, too.
What major changes have there been to the cultural scene since Luxembourg and Greater Region were joint “cultural capital” in 2007?
I put it another way: I think the major change was the introduction of the Euro in 2001! This made the “Grande-Région” possible, meaning that you can now cross the borders without changing money after 20 km in any direction from Luxembourg.
The cultural year in 2007 also created awareness that in cultural terms we cannot consider the national borders as the reference, any more, and that we should act together to promote the cultural scene in Saarbrücken, Metz, Trier and Luxembourg; there's only a one hour distance between these cities. What is missing, is a sort of regular "metro service" between them.
Has public opinion evolved with regard to developing a cultural infrastructure and the tax burden that is implied?
I think public opinion has changed very much in the last 20 years. Most people accept the importance of artistic and cultural credibility to a city like Luxembourg. Why do we want to live and work here? Because we have a small, green city with a great cultural offer in a broad range of fields.
The younger generation, especially, is growing up in a new and open atmosphere: this will be very important for them when they have to face the rest of the world.
What is your policy for the Mudam? Do you focus more on exhibitions from broad or art from the region?
Mudam is an international museum which is attentive to regional expressions in the visual arts and which conceives and organises its own original exhibitions, without importing them from abroad. This gives us the international attention and credibility that we need as a small and new place in the global artistic world.
In which contexts does culture have a share in shaping the identity of a nation and in what ways do cultural events influence its branding?
EL: In all contexts and ways!