Kim H. Veltman

Goals of Culture and Art

Lecture to the International Institute of Communications, Kuala Lumpur, September 1999. Also on the site of the International Institute of Communications, (
Published electronically in TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften, vol. 1, Vienna, (

1. Introduction
2. Culture beyond Art
3. European Goals of Culture
4. Threats to Culture
5. World Map of Culture
6. New Meta-Data
7. Conclusions

1. Introduction

Culture is a many splendoured thing with many definitions. In the West, culture is often associated with the fine arts (painting and sculpture) and the performing arts (opera, ballet, symphony, music, theatre). In other parts of the world it includes many other aspects. In Ancient China, for instance, "calligraphy, poetry and painting" were considered the three perfections. In modern China culture one definition of culture is "mass media, education, art and sports." In the Arab net, culture is defined primarily in terms of "people, language, food, media and religion." Other categories of culture on Arab net include: arts, beekeeping, calendar, ceramics, clothing, embroidery, frankincense, the Hajj, jewellery, tents of the Arabian desert and the role of women.

Cultural heritage is certainly much more than paintings in galleries and objects in museums. As UNESCO has made us aware cultural heritage includes archaeological sites, historical cities and remarkable natural sites (e.g. Plitvice Waterfalls in Croatia). At a deeper level cultural heritage is a key to understanding how each culture has its own principles of knowledge organisation, interpretation and expression. Culture relates to how we see the world differently and is thus closely linked with philosophy, our principles of truth, our theory and practice of society. Culture relates to how we learn and how we transmit what we know in different ways. Culture and education are thus intimately linked.

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