Culture Lab

June, 2020
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The Participatory
Action Research

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In recent years a number of political and cultural shifts have led to what the art critic Claire Bishop has called a ‘social turn’ in the arts and cultural practice. When an artist, a museum or director stops making work ‘for’ an audience, but instead works ‘with’ citizens as participants, the line between activities that are clearly artistic and those that are clearly social is fading.

New spaces are created where working together and creating new forms of meaning are what matters, rather than the opinion of one artist. In these spaces culture functions as a language to describe reality, to express feelings and opinions and to imagine ways of living together. Projects that practice what Charlie Leadbeater identifies as ‘The Art of With’ can establish relationships that strengthen social ties within communities and start new debates within our societies.

Culture for Solidarity explores how these practices form the basis for cultural and social strategies that help to bring polarised societies together

- The project -


Brings together inhabitants of neighbourhoods from diverse backgrounds, who usually don’t attend cultural activities. We consider them as “audience”, but also as “participants”. They work with an interdisciplinary team of artists and cultural anthropologists who will identify and quantify solidaristic ‘behaviours’.


The conversations in physcial ‘Research Labs’ are continued online on ‘Labs for Europe’, an open source platform for research, debate and campaigning.


The insights gathered from this research and online conversations are discussed at an ‘Encounter’ where cultural practitioners examine how participatory cultural practice could help make institutions more inclusive.


Finally an ‘Idea Camp’ will bring together 50 idea-makers from across Europe with new ideas to depolarise neighbourhoods from across Europe. After Idea Camp, as a follow up to this project, 25 of these ideas will be financially supported by ECF.