In 2014, as ECF celebrated our 60th anniversary, it was against a troubled backdrop. Young Europeans were facing rising unemployment, tragedy was befalling thousands at sea in their attempt to reach European shores, disenfranchisement and alienation were breeding increased violence in our communities, and war had broken out in Ukraine.
Connecting Culture, Communities and Democracy is the overarching theme of ECF’s current four-year plan (2013-2016). Key to this are the goals of supporting connections between culture and other sectors, the recognition of the role of Europe in a global context, nurturing a strong ECF presence in the Netherlands and developing as a learning organisation.
ECF is a hybrid foundation that combines grantmaking with operational programming and advocacy – aiming to catalyse, connect and communicate. This has resulted in a robust programme to respond to the challenges facing Europe. To a far greater degree than before, all of our initiatives connect to one another, helping to increase the impact of our actions.
We know that change is sorely needed in Europe and we also know that change most often happens at a local level first. We see this through the stories from individual travellers who have received STEP Beyond Travel Grants; through cultural managers who have participated in the Tandem exchange programme; through the laureates of the ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture; through the network of community hubs that come together within our Connected Action networked programme; through the 25 R&D grants that offer new perspectives on engaging people with public space; or through ECF’s inaugural Idea Camp. This growing network of individuals, organisations and communities is demonstrating that Europe can be a very different place. They embody citizen engagement and democracy in action.
ECF could not have accomplished what we have without strong and committed partners in civil society, philanthropic organisations and governments. We are very grateful for the ongoing support of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, through whom we receive annual income from the lotteries in the Netherlands. We are committed to diversifying our income base and in 2014 we raised more than double the amount of non-lottery funds compared to 2013. Going forward, we will continue to forge and foster new strategic partnerships across sectors, as well as finding new networks to collaborate with in the philanthropic and corporate sectors.
ECF stands firmly behind the contribution Europe can make to a more just and democratic world through culture, and that is what drives all of our work – today, tomorrow and for the next 60 years.
HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands