ECF Collaboration Grant 2013 ©Marta Jonville / PointBarre -

The European Cultural Foundation (ECF) is an independent foundation based in the Netherlands. We are dedicated to supporting and connecting artists and cultural change-makers in Europe whose work contributes to an ongoing cross-sectoral debate on Europe and Europe’s place in the world.
For almost 60 years, we have been striving towards an open, democratic and inclusive Europe in which culture is a valued and key contributor. Our understanding of culture and of Europe is broad, with a firm commitment to cultural diversity.

There are three main objectives underlying everything we do: Empowering and engaging people through arts and culture, Linking cultural policy and practice, and Connecting sources of knowledge for the future.


Empowering and engaging

ECF supports arts and culture not simply because it is ‘European’ or because it happens in Europe, but also because of the contribution it makes to Europe. Through arts and culture, people are engaged and empowered to make change and to contribute to the future of their communities.

Youth & Media

The Youth & Media Programme’s driving force is a network of hubs called Doc Next Network. It brings together cultural organisations based in different European countries that work with young people and the media to scale up local potential and to create new methodologies and projects for addressing common concerns. In 2013, Doc Next Network activities revolved around Remapping Europe – A Remix Project Highlighting the Migrant’s Perspective. Doc Next films were screened at some 20 events, ranging from the Cannes Film Festival and ZEMOS98 Festival to Gezi Forum screenings during the Gezi Park protests.


Through our Grants programmes, we fund organisations and support projects that stimulate transnational cultural collaboration and the mobility of artists and other cultural players. In 2013, a Collaboration Grants call was launched for projects with a focus on transnational and cross-sectoral work and emphasis on change-making from the grassroots up. In mid-2013, the management and ownership of the Balkan Incentive Fund for Culture (BIFC) was devolved to the Sarajevo-Skopje-Belgrade based organisation Art∡ngle. ECF remains the main funder. And last year, in its tenth anniversary year, STEP Beyond Travel Grants awarded 238 grants to applicants from 49 countries.


Events offer invaluable opportunities to reach new target groups, to consolidate existing relations and to generate broad media attention. Events also allow us to shine a spotlight on the issues ECF is addressing, helping us to make our activities more tangible for a wider audience. High-profile events in 2013 included The Dwarfing of Europe?, the ECF Princess Margriet Award (PMA), ECF City Talk Istanbul and a concert by the International Mahler Orchestra conducted by PMA laureate Yoel Gamzou.


Linking cultural policy and practice

Interior of Filip Berte’s House of Eutopia. ©Anna van der Kooij

ECF is committed to projects that contribute to cultural policy development locally, nationally, regionally and at a European level with the knowledge that robust policy is enhanced by strong links to practice.

European Neighbourhood

Over the past 15 years, ECF has stimulated civil society working in culture to influence policy reform and societal development in the Balkans, Kaliningrad, Moldova, Turkey, Ukraine and countries of the Arab-Mediterranean region.

In 2013, an ECF-initiated civil society advocacy group for cultural policy reform in EU neighbouring countries discussed key policy recommendations at a high EU level. Some 54 cultural managers took part in Tandem exchange programmes, with applications from 119 others to participate in the second edition of a capacity building and exchange programme in Arab countries.


ECF fosters cultural policy development and the cultural sector’s role in advancing the development of our societies and communities, through campaigns and advocacy initiatives. Throughout 2013, ECF continued to partner with national cultural institutes and independent foundations in More Europe, we are more, Voor Europa Door Cultuur and the new Preparatory Action on Culture in EU External Relations. We also joined the New Pact for Europe, a consortium of 12 European foundations, and participated in the Borders to Cross international conference in Amsterdam. In addition, we celebrated ten years of the Cultural Policy Research Award.


Connecting sources of knowledge

Tandem participants Sofia Hamaz (Freitext, Berlin) and Serkan Türk (Ada, Trabzon) ©Nicola Mullenger

ECF shares and connects knowledge across the cultural sector and links culture to other knowledge spheres. By working across and between disciplines and sectors, and in the exciting space of intersection between them, we will be in the best position to address our European and global challenges.

Research & Development

Through our Research & Development activities we share the knowledge, experience and expertise that we have gathered through our work with others in the cultural sector. We also put this knowledge to good use in our own organisation and in the development of our activities.
In 2013, we were able to focus time and resources on incorporating impact assessment into our activities. This helped us to design the new Networked Programme and to embark on the development of an evaluation toolkit.



ECF Labs

In 2013, the new ECF Labs architecture was released – a fully-fledged social network that invites the European cultural field to connect and extend the reach of its communities, discussing issues with their peers and their audiences. This architecture also connects knowledge gained through ECF activities.

Networked Programme

ECF seeks to bridge the gap between people and democratic institutions by connecting local cultural change-makers and helping a European-wide community to emerge that uses the power of culture and creativity to breathe new life into democracy. In 2013 we welcomed the first six organisations to the network: Culture 2 Commons (Kroatia), Les Têtes de l’Art (France), Oberliht (Moldova), Platoniq (Spain), Krytyka Polityczna (Political Critique) (Poland) and Subtopia (Sweden).

Tandem Turkey participants Firat Bingöl and Ahmet Sinoplu (‘biber’ means ‘pepper’ in Turkish, related to the pepper spray used during Gezi Park protests in Turkey) © Emrah Gökdemir



ECF publications are a means of sharing knowledge stemming from our own and our partners’ activities. Related to our thematic directions, they are an integral part of our programmes and research and advocacy work. Publications in 2013 included, among others, the essay book The Dwarfing of Europe? Perspectives from the Balkans, Belarus, the Middle East and Asia. Our publications can be found in our ECF Library:


Moving forward

Landing ©Sylvain Raybaud

2013 was the year in which we completed and rounded off our previous theme, Narratives for Europe. It was also the first year of our new four-year plan, Connecting Culture, Communities and Democracy, and the year in which we launched a new way of working – the Networked Programme.

This new networked way of working will enable us to respond more quickly to societal issues and will provide space for and nurture grassroots initiatives. It will also enable us to enhance existing strategic relationships and forge valuable new ones with other sectors, beyond the cultural sector. We have, for instance, taken the first steps in forging lasting connections with businesses and individuals (ECF Circle of Friends).

On an organisational note, 2013 was a year of streamlining processes, such as connecting the ECF Princess Margriet Award more closely with our thematic focus and connecting our advocacy work with research and development. By also enhancing our project-based support with a more process-based support, we expect to scale-up the impact of our work.

Looking at the world around us, we see that people are rapidly losing their belief in Europe and that the gap between the people and institutions is still growing. As support for ‘European’ organisations dwindles, our work becomes more and more necessary. We believe that tapping into the powerful resources lying dormant on our continent will help us find solutions to the urgent issues at hand. To do so, we need to amplify the positive voices at the grassroots level and ensure that they are heard at the highest levels. We expect our networked approach to help us do so and thus provide a solid basis to support the change that Europe clearly needs.

“Democracy is a creative act, engaging people in a conversation beyond the ballot box. Democracy needs imagination.”
Peter Vermeersch, quoted in “Reclaiming Public Space: Democratic Practices Reinvented?”


Communications and Business Development

Angry Turks by ©Murat Mıhçıoğlu and Cem Özüdürü, a comic from ECF collaboration grant project Reframe.

We were able to further expand ECF’s brand recognition, creating visibility
through events, publications, media coverage and our online presence.
Higher visibility enabled us to create new partnerships and
we saw our audiences develop on several levels.

2013 was a year of changes for the Communications & Digital department. Digital activities took a two-pronged approach, connecting ECF Labs more closely to programmes and locating Business Development within the communications team, as a development and enrichment of the previous Fund Development activities.
Through our events, we succeeded in reaching audiences at a higher level in the cultural and international sectors. We continued to expand our network of press and PR contacts throughout Europe. The ECF website was successfully revised and relaunched and we have seen an increase in the numbers of followers on Social Media.





©Xander Remkes

ECF’s Operations focused on the following areas in 2013:

• Reinforcing the financial foundation of our organisation

• Supporting and facilitating staff changes related to the 2013-2016 Strategic Plan

• Reducing costs and improving IT support for all key processes

• Submitting an application for the CBF Keurmerk (seal of approval of the Central Bureau of Fundraising). The application will be decided upon in 2014.