Introduction Speech of Bernd Fesel, ECBN Director, on April 21 2021
at Kickoff of the Conference FUTURE UNLOCKED of the Slovenian EU-Presidency 2021



WELCOME AT the UNITED NATIONS WORLD day of creativity and innovation

Screenshot from 325 Participants on April 21

Today is the KICK OFF event of the conference FUTURE UNLOCKED on Sep 12 to 14 in Ljubijana and a series of Breakout Sessions (BOS) in advance, on May 20 and June 23 as well as recommendations coming from these BOS compiling them to a White Paper 2021

IT IS the FIRST WORLD day of creativity and innovation and it is the first time – for most of us – that we are in lock down and we are living with Covid-19 for more than one year.

It is NOT the first time however that A Future is unlocked


it is not the first time that CCS are contributing to unlocking our Future – yes I say this in sight of our daily fights and struggles and deaths by Covid – to raise our awareness and spirits in this crisis.

Marisa Henderson, Chief of the Creative Economy Programme at UNCTAD, said:

Creativity is the answer we’ve been looking for – now is the time to embrace and invest in it

Yes – the cultural creative sectors are mostly closed and locked down, but we all here to insist

Locked down, but not knocked down

Today we are here to do what cultural creative sectors have done for generations – re-generate especially in difficult or even lost spaces and areas, social settings of turmoil and or no go areas.

The G20 ITALY put it on the international policy agenda last week rightly so:

culture led regeneration !

While we do know that CCS can contribute to unlocking future, CCS stakeholders face a new challenge at this start in the 21st century.

We want more that just re-generate

The European Union – as President von der Leyen said – wants to re-built better; we not just want to recover, but overcome the mistakes of the past

  • by embracing the green and digital transformation,
  • move from GDP to well-being,
  • move to an education for the skills of the future
  • to a fairer economy and more inclusive society in planetary boundary

All dreams? All nice words?
No – but all work to do for us! And more precise: It demands also that the CCS changes itself and accepts that it often is not ready to rebuilt better. So how do we get better ourselves?

In the widst of a crisis a re-birth is prepared – a new type of Renaissance!

Is it daring to say so? Over the top given all the pains and deaths of Covid-19? I see „Renaissance“ as a thought model, not a historical description, but as a mind shift.

The Policy Call for the Cultural and Creative Sectors has a number!

Culture and Creativity, knowledge and technology – this magic mix has created markets and wealth, but now it must create sustainability and well-being.

A mix that has created around 4% of the GVA of the economy in Europe.

That is why ECBN calls for 4% of the Recovery Funds and Next Generation Investments, currently it is just 1%. That is the main policy call for the CCS – we want the share of Recovery Funds we earned and put in in the first place.

What does it needs from the Cultural Creative Sectors to Re-Built better? THAT IS OUR CONCRETE QUESTION for NOW

So let us get to work !

We – the CCS – must improve in four areas to Re-Built Better

  • Innovation and Investment
  • Climate Adaption
  • Skills
  • Public Services or Better Bureaucracies


Ambassador Grmek, Director General for Economic and Public Diplomacy at Ministry for Foreign Relations

Dr. Christian Ehler, MEP, full member and coordinator of the Committee for Industry, Research and Defence (ITRE) and a substitute member of the Committee of Culture and Education (CULT)

Alison Tickell, Founder and CEO of Julie´s Bicycle

Rita Orlando, Head of Open Design School, Matera 2019

Charles Landry, Founder of the Creative Bureaucracy Festival

Caroline Norbury, Chair of ECBN and CEO of Creative Industries Federation UK

The conference Future Unlocked! is a joint event by the European Creative Industries Summit (ECIS21), and the Centre for Creativity Slovenia which is hosted by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The European Creative Industries Summit (ECIS) is a yearly conference since 2010 organised by the European Creative Business Network (ECBN).

My name is Bernd Fesel, I am your host of the day and co-founder of the European Creative Business Network (ECBN) in 2010.

The Europen Federation for the Creative Economy

ECBN is an off-spring of the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010 and THE non profit foundation with some 155 intermediaries, agencies, funders and agenda setters from 117 regions & cities in 42 nations, we reach out via our partners to 8 Mio. stakeholders: We promote the wider recognition, the deeper understanding, an independent research and better regulatoric frameworks for CCS in the European Union since ten years. I am proud to announce that ECBN will be re-named in 2021 to be The European Federation for the Creative Economy.

Bernd Fesel
April 21 2021