European Spaces of Culture

European Spaces of Culture jury shortlists 11 new project ideas

A jury of six experts has shortlisted eleven project ideas for European Spaces of Culture to be developed into concrete projects for 2023.

After deliberating all 26 concept notes in accordance with the selection criteria during an online full-day session on 11 July, the jury collectively shortlisted 11 project ideas, which are now invited to submit a full project proposal towards the end of the year. If ultimately selected, these projects will run from January-October 2023. The jury found that these project ideas all present an interesting and engaging approach to international cultural relations.

Explore the project ideas

Angola: Enter my Universe
This project draws attention to the difficulties people with physical and intellectual disabilities face in their daily lives, with a special focus on accessibility to cultural life in Angola. In May 2023, an inclusive arts festival will bring together Angolan and European artists with and without disabilities, in the neighbourhood of Cazenga, Luanda, to show that two universes seemingly apart can become one. The festival will include works by artists from Angola and abroad, e.g., workshops for blind people by a circus company from France, an arts exhibition by an Angolan artist who has worked with autism associations, screening a movie casting albino actors, a round table addressing questions of living and working with disabilities in Angola. Its highlight will be the international coproduction of a hip hop opera by artists with and without disabilities from different fields of work (music/dance/theatre/painting). The festival will allow to refurbish the theatre of the art centre ANIM'ART to create Angola's first fully inclusive and accessible art space.

Bangladesh: River Heritage: Learning from Puran Dhaka
River Heritage is the third chapter of a long-running heritage initiative of the EUNIC cluster in Bangladesh in partnership with the EU Delegation. This new project will run between January–December 2023 and aims to highlight Puran Dhaka’s endandgered tangible and intangible heritage. As Dhaka continues to rapidly develop and economically mutate, its oldest and most populated district is at risk of losing its architectural heritage, traditions and culture. An intricate relationship exists between Puran Dhaka and the river Buriganga, along the banks of which it has developed and which continues to provide the primary means of subsistence for the majority of families in this area. The project will explore that relationship and highlight micro-economies and associated heritage that have developed along various river docks (ghats). To do this, various activities will be implemented, including cultural events, university / student exchanges, research and publications. The project plans to support the design of a “floating” events space, which will host cultural activities at these different ghats.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: ARCHIPELAGO [ˌɑːkɪˈpeləɡəʊ] - a trans-national archive platform for public space
ARCHIPELAGO is a transnational site-specific archive platform for public space in the former Yugoslavia that brings together existing war document collections. Thirty years after the wars that lead to and followed the breakup of Yugoslavia, many dedicated – often private – archival initiatives collectively offer a rich multi-perspective view on the recent history of the region, but these voices rarely come together in the real space, and moreover often enough struggle with repression in their respective local contexts. This is where ARCHIPELAGO comes in, turning a smartphone into an easily accessible archaeological device independent of local restrictions, as well as bringing together different archival voices. Historical audio-visual documents tagged with GPS data will be available via an augmented reality app. The digital art and research project connects different archival initiatives exploring the technology of augmented reality as a hands-on participatory archival practice in former Yugoslavia. It will introduce a carefully curated multi-perspective view on the region’s recent history that encourages audience interaction via a mobile app, a website as well as accompanying public events as exhibitions, workshops and film screenings in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Croatia. 

China: More Than Human
More Than Human is a project concept that emphasises and extends queerness to forms of non-normativity beyond and within the spectrum of gender identity. The project will take place at various venues in Beijing during the second half of 2023 with workshops, performative events and people-to-people based dialogues centered around exhibitions featuring different mediums – performance, video, sculpture, and installation. Altogether, More Than Human will constitute a premiere platform in China for nonconformist perspectives and experimental intersections through contributions from both local and international avant-garde artists who represent a wide range of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary backgrounds.

Colombia: First Edition of the International Community Film Festival
Can you imagine a place where historically marginalized communities teach an international audience what it means to build peace through art? An event where they are not only the protagonists but the hosts, and where their stories are the ones being understood and discussed? The proposed project is the 1st edition of the International Community Film Festival. In 2022, during a year-long alliance between EUNIC Colombia, Historias en Kilómetros (HEK) and the Colombian Truth Commission (CTC), community filmmakers have been trained to become sustainable production companies. These filmmakers will be ready to host this festival. Tierra Grata, Cesar, will host this unique gathering, a community born with the Colombian peace process, where former FARC guerrillas laid down their weapons and transitioned to civilian life. This festival will bring together 8 local production companies from the regions most affected by the armed conflict to show the work they have created with the CTC. This event will have screenings of national and international documentaries selected by a jury of Colombian and European experts and host panel discussions with CTC's representatives on how film can represent a community's resistance and plans for a peaceful future.

India: The Restoration Toolbox
The Restoration Toolbox project will create tools and spaces to promote participatory heritage conservation in India, using open-source digital technologies to empower citizens and local communities to preserve their own heritage. To achieve its goal, the project is sustained on three main activities: technology sharing and knowledge transfer, capacity-building, and dissemination to a wider audience through hybrid models, seminars and co-creation workshops. The participatory processes towards heritage conservation will be conducted on a Decidim instance, building on previous experiences from EU partners in deploying, developing modules and working with Adaptive Heritage Reuse communities. Decidim offers a stable, ethical and modular architecture to build such a platform, backed by a strong international community maintaining its code and ethical compass, facilitating the sustainability of the Restoration Toolbox platform. The expertise from local partners in from-the-ground community development and maker culture will frame the approach to engage participants. EU and local partners will exchange knowledge on open governance, financing models, Private-Public-People partnerships, reuse models, grassroots community development and holistic approaches to heritage.

Kenya: Kibera Fashion Week
Fashion is often associated with exploitation of workers and local communities, unsustainable production, and social exclusivity, reinforcing global colonial hierarchies of production and consumption. The scene in Nairobi has been sprawling over recent years by turning towards a different, more ethical approach rooted in local crafts and communities. This project wants to take this as a starting point to rethink the future of fashion and establish Nairobi as a regional hub for innovative and ethical fashion production. The KIBARA Fashion Week plans to bring designers from East Africa and the EU together in Nairobi to collectively outline a new sustainable, decolonial and inclusive vision of fashion and build a strong network for ethical fashion. By centering itself in the community of Kibera it subverts global hierarchies, gearing itself not towards global markets and elites, but instead being a platform for the other side of fashion and starting to build a sustainable future with local communities. This is seen an opportunity to create a captivating cultural program focusing on important contemporary questions such as sustainability, but also to realize the potential of the local fashion scene and leave a lasting economic impact, through expanding local markets, enhancing production capacities and supporting new African brands.

Morocco, Egypt & Algeria: SHAEIRAT
The Shaeirat project aims to build a regional as well as international network in the MENA region that will organize public bilingual poetry performances in which Arab women poets perform their own works. The objective is to encourage and strengthen the exchange of poetry and cultural performance within Arabic speaking societies as well as in Europe. The project was initiated in collaboration with a collective of Arab women poets (Asmaa Azaizeh and Carol Sansour - Palestine; Rasha Omran - Syria; Soukaina Habiballah, Morocco) and a French director living in Morocco, Henri Jules Julien. The poetesses selected will perform their respective poetry in other countries than theirs, and will be involved in the programming, mediation and promotion of the poetry performances by the others when they come to their own countries. All performances will be accompanied by a variety of meetings, workshops, and mediations will be set up with different partners and audiences. As a result, Arabic poetry performances within the MENA region will contribute to the increase of translated Arabic poems and this will strengthen Arabic/European language bilingualism.

Palestine: Mentorship and mobility program for contemporary artists from Gaza, Jerusalem & West Bank
This project focuses on supporting a new generation of Palestinian visual artists from Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem to unleash their full artistic and professional potential in an innovative and inclusive cultural exchange project. Inspired by a pilot academic programme which was implemented by the Spanish cooperation in 2020 and was created in response to the demand of artists and art associations in Gaza. This project is inspired by a pilot academic programme implemented by the Spanish cooperation in 2020, created in response and collaboration with local institutions to the demand of artists and art associations in Gaza, which thanks to this partnership will be further developed and upgraded with a mentorship, mobility and exhibition new scale for a greater impact locally and internationally. This project is based on 3 pillars: the implementation of a training and support programme for emerging visual artists through master classes open to the public and mentoring sessions led by European and Palestinian cultural professionals, the production of a collective exhibition to be presented in Palestine and Europe, and the creation of a mobility and residency programme for Palestinian artists with European partners.

Turkmenistan: Contemporary Dance in Turkmenistan - Looking for a common language of expression
In a country where life and especially public expression is highly restricted, contemporary dance has no space at all. In the early 2000’s, ballet performances were forbidden in Turkmenistan and the Asghabat Opera-Ballet Theatre was destroyed. Nevertheless, local partners, artists as well as cultural sector public servants, are hoping for change, voicing their own interest in contemporary forms of expression. This project wants to take up these needs and establish ties between the local scene and the EU, while at the same time initiating the development of a Central Asian network. The first step will be a residency for a dance group from the EU, in which they will work out a joint performance with Turkmen dancers and perform it in Ashgabat, and the second step will be a residency for a Turkmen dance group in Kazakhstan. The combination of dance with digital elements will contribute to sustainable raising awareness of modern forms of expression.

Uganda: ENGERO
The project takes as starting point the displacement of the Batwa, who used to roam in the Great Lakes region and who were evicted from their ancestral lands in Uganda to make way for agriculture, logging, and national parks. Their resettlement to outside communities where they have been–and still are–discriminated against and marginalised, is the problem the project aims to address. This marginalisation implies a loss of their cultures (in dance, music, history) and knowledge (in traditional medicine) and beyond that, of how notions of otherness and tradition are addressed in Uganda. This project wants to raise awareness and interest in this small group, but beyond that it should be seen as a pilot project which aims to question the place heritage, its diversity and transmission in Uganda. The stakes of the project are to reflect on how the community of Batwa in Uganda can be integrated into the larger communities of western Uganda while preserving their traditions and knowledge; to question the place of local traditions in a context of regional integration and globalization; and to examine, based on the case of the Batwa, how we can think together about issues of safeguarding, preservation and creativity.

The European Spaces of Culture jury consists of:

  • Katelijn Verstraete, independent cultural consultant, co-author of EUNIC’s Not a toolkit! Fair collaboration in cultural relations: a reflAction and former Regional Director Arts for the British Council in East Asia
  • Kateryna Botanova, Cultural critic, journalist, curator, former director of Foundation Center for Contemporary Art Kyiv
  • Marijana Cvetković, independent cultural manager and cofounder of the Platform for theory and practice of the commons, Belgrade
  • Marina Barham, General Manager and Co-founder of Al-Harah Theatre and Performing Arts Training Center (PARC), Palestine
  • Natasha Ginwala, Curator and writer, Associate Curator at Gropius Bau, Berlin and Artistic Director of Gwangju Biennale 2020 with Defne Ayas and Artistic Director of Colomboscope, Sri Lanka
  • Yemisi Mokuolu, Independent producer and creative industries consultant, founder and CEO of HATCH Africa, and co-founder of Asa Bako festival, Ghana

The selection meeting followed the third Call for Ideas under European Spaces of Culture, which was launched in March and invited EUNIC members, EU Delegations and their local cultural partners in countries outside the EU to come together and design innovative collaboration projects in cultural relations. The Call requires proposals to be co-created by local stakeholders, EUNIC members and EU Delegations, in the spirit of mutuality, reciprocity and people-to-people contacts outlined in the EU strategic approach to international cultural relations and the EUNIC Strategic Framework 2020-2024. Applicants were encouraged to investigate transnational and transregional projects. The Call resulted in 26 applications, involving 134 local EUNIC members, 108 local partners and 24 EU Delegations.

The selected project teams are now invited to further develop their ideas into concrete proposals for projects taking place between January and October 2023. In September 2022, representatives of the project teams will meet in the online Spaces Lab to meet as peers and discuss the process, their partnerships and evaluation models. Deadline for submission of the final project proposals will be 20 November 2022, with the ultimate selection of projects to be done before the end of this year.

  • Cultural relations
  • European Spaces of Culture