Máté Tenke, cultural manager at Pro Progressione

Máté Tenke, cultural manager at Pro Progressione

  • 27 March 2023

Máté Tenke works for Pro Progressione as a cultural manager at the PP Green Pillar. Having obtained a first-class Joint Honours degree in Politics & Theatre Studies from the University of Glasgow, he combines the analytical skills of social sciences and the creativity of art. His studies and work experiences in Hungary, France, Scotland and Brazil help him to adapt quickly to new environments and to work with people from diverse cultural and social backgrounds.

Can you tell us why you chose to join the project?

Pro Progressione joined LeCAKE because we believe that culture and art have a crucial role to play in the transformation of Europe to become more sustainable both socially and environmentally. In fact, we see cultural sustainability as a prerequisite for social, economic, and environmental sustainability. As long as sustainability is not considered a priority and a core value in a given culture, societal willingness to adopt the required structural and grassroots-level changes will remain low. For instance, sustainable transport is only achievable if there is a culture of sustainability both among policy-makers, creating willingness to invest in such infrastructure (e.g.: creating safe bike lanes) and also among citizens to actually use it, instead of more polluting forms of transport.

However, efforts to involve the CCS in this work remain fragmented and isolated and the sector is still not treated as a relevant stakeholder by the EU’s sustainability policies. To change the value proposition of the CCS, we find it crucial to build a network of environmentally engaged artists, equip them with in-depth knowledge and tools to tackle climate change, and facilitate collaborations among policy-makers, environmental experts and cultural professionals.

What do you think the fact of working at the European scale is bringing to the project ?

There is undeniably a gap between Eastern and Western Europe in terms of training and funding opportunities related to sustainability and art. To fill this gap, knowledge-sharing is essential among professionals from different regions of Europe. Moreover, evidently, the nature of the environmental challenges faced by Mediterranean or Nordic countries are different which makes it a matter of negotiation what issues we invest resources in. To preserve and enhance the integrity of the European Union, it is crucial to establish inter-regional empathy and a common understanding on issues related to climate change as the basis of effective cooperation.

At the same time, since climate change is a common challenge for all EU Member States to tackle, national-level efforts are not enough. EU Member States must apply collective EU-level action to catalyse change and to encourage EU Member States and citizens to act. In this context, European CCS have much to gain in exchanging knowledge and good practices in enabling and inspiring green transition inside and outside CCS. Therefore, it is only by joint EU-level action that we can maximise the role of CCS in the green transition.

How do you see your role within the project, what can you bring to this partnership ?

Pro Progressione has been a trailblazer in making sustainability a priority on its agenda as a cultural organization in Hungary, and more broadly, in Central- and Eastern-Europe. It can bring a unique perspective on local and regional challenges as well as a decade of experience in transnational project management. Furthermore, through its involvement in various other sustainability-related projects and networks, it brings additional knowledge, connections and synergies. For instance, as the coordinator of the Environmental Working Group of IETM, the world’s largest performing arts network, Pro Progressione has expanded the network and outreach of the LeCAKE project via running a joint webinar with high-profile experts on the European Green Deal.

What are the most common challenges faced your organization in terms of ecology?

Well, there are the already mentioned issues of the lack of funding for cultural organizations to become more environmentally sustainable and the lack of training and knowledge-sharing opportunities on environmentally engaged art practices. These are not easy challenges to solve but I can see progress being made. What I don’t currently see a solution for is transport-related emissions.

You could say, it’s in the “DNA” of transnational cooperation projects that they are environmentally unsustainable because of all the traveling they require. Yet, they also serve a crucial environmental purpose – establishing European integration, cooperation, and synchrony on climate action through cross-cultural cooperation. One of the most important challenges for our organization is therefore to balance which travels are absolutely necessary, where does environmental damage outweigh the cultural-environmental benefits of certain project meetings.

Besides using less carbon intensive transportation wherever possible, we are trying to organize multiple project meetings at the same place, for instance, we are holding our kick-off meeting for The Big Green project in Denmark after the IETM conference in Aarhus. As many project members would be traveling to the conference anyway, we decided it’s better to add an additional few days for the kick-off meeting there instead of making everyone travel to Hungary where Pro Progressione is based. Despite all these efforts, travel-related emissions remain an unresolved issue for us and for the sector as a whole.

What do you hope LeCAKE will bring to your organization and to the cultural sector as a whole?

International agendas such as the UN Agenda 2030, the SDGs, the European Green Deal and the New European Bauhaus are action plans vaguely known by most professionals working at the intersection of the environmental and the creative sector. But if you asked them to explain in depth what these agendas cover, and crucially, what are their implications, you would receive pretty superficial answers – at least that’s my bet anyway. LeCAKE gives a chance for us as Pro Progressione to engage with international agendas and their implications more in depth, think about how the CCS can help implementing them and share this knowledge with the wider sector. Besides insufficient efforts from policy-makers to make these agendas graspable for the average citizen, I think we need to do more in terms of knowledge sharing between academics / environmental experts and cultural professionals. Artists definitely need to deepen their knowledge on environmental issues, but equally, scientists have much to gain from having creatives as their ally, “translating” science in a comprehensible and engaging way to citizens. After all, that’s what art is all about: Communicating a thought, a feeling, a message or an instinct in the most creative, effective and precise way.

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