Culture Lab

June, 2020
More info +
The Participatory
Action Research

More info +


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Participatory Action Research Labs

Krytyka Polityczna
Warsaw, Seville, Zagreb, Marseille, Chisinau
January 2018 - December 2019

Artists and cultural animators often position themselves at the fringes of society - so they are able to remain outside and challenge what others consider normal. This could explain why in societies where we are encouraged to see ourselves as individuals, consumers and choice exercisers - artists and cultural animators have become particularly interested in art and culture as a way of exercising solidarity, mutuality and community bonds. In a fragmented Europe, you could say that ‘society’ has become an avant garde idea. The objective of the Participatory Action Research phase is to explore this further and identify solidarity in cultural practices in 5 European contexts.

The researchers use ‘art based anthropology’ to identify social interactions that are oriented towards empathy and mutuality. ‘Art based anthropology’ encourages research subjects to take part in an an unusual activity that accentuates a subtle behaviour, making it distinct enough to be forensically investigated by a researcher.

Next, teams of artists and researchers program and research a participatory activity, in order to showcase and upscale concrete ways of how solidarity is exercised. Thus the project will result in ten analyses of social solidarity practices exercised in 5 different European communities.

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Labs for Europe

Europe wide
December 2017 - May 2020

The public forum throughout the project is a dedicated Lab for Europe - an open source online space for research, debate and campaigning. In the context of “Culture for Solidarity” over a hundred cultural changemakers will discuss collaborative cultural practices on the platform. Other users of the platform (currently over 12.000 registered users) are invited to join these conversations.

A team of researchers and a network of bloggers identify and collect research reports, case studies of cultural practice, videos and other materials in four areas:

  1. Cultural practice which brings residents together at neighbourhood level,
  2. projects by museums and galleries which uses innovative methods to bring a community together,
  3. activities which fade the line between civic activism and art making, and
  4. the role of festivals and street culture in supporting collaborative culture across Europe.

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“Culture for Solidarity” Encounter

April 2019

The “Culture for Solidarity” Encounter will be innovative meeting of peers to examine how collaborative cultural practices can help institutions to include their audiences in their practices and how the wider public realm can be improved with more participatory policies and actions. This mobile event will take places across six different venues in Seville and will combine talks, collaborative exercises, film screenings and walks - creating an atmosphere in which sharing and learning thrives. The Encounter will have three goals:

  • Bringing funders, key-cultural organisations and policy-makers together with the creators, initiators and architects of collaborative cultural practices to learn from one another in a peer-to-peer way.
  • Creating a european network of scholars, artists and civil society actors who build relationships which continue long after the encounter.
  • Taking forward online discussions from Labs for Europe into a physical setting while sharing the 10 Action-Research outcomes related to solidaristic practices in culture.

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Culture Lab Europe
(Idea Camp)

June 2020

As a format and methodology developed by the ECF in 2014, the Idea Camp is a three-day collaborative working platform that seeks to provide mobility to a myriad of cultural change-makers, and help a European-wide community to emerge that uses the power of culture and creativity to breathe new life into democracy. This time and as part of this project, the Idea Camp will be used at Culture Lab Europe: Spaces for Solidarity.

In 2019 a Call for Ideas was launched, thematically inspired on the outcomes of the Action Research, the online conversations on Labs for Europe and the results of the Encounter. The call will be disseminated all over Europe and its neighbouring countries. Based on previous experience, we got more than 2.000 ideas from different sectors and almost all countries in Europe. 

ECF has selected 50 ideas that are considered most relevant. The activists, cultural workers, writers, researchers, artists and other active citizens behind those ideas, were  invited to Rijeka to meet and work together in April 2020 but due to the Coronavirus crisis it has been cancelled. 

Now it is going to happen online in June 2020 (check the programme!). The selected ideas will demonstrate how cultural projects involving their audiences as participants, can bring unlikely, polarised and unusual communities together. The aim of the camp will be to strengthen these ideas, in the company of an invited pool of foundations, opinion-formers, journalists and policy-makers. 

Culture Lab Europe: Spaces for Solidarity will encourage those bringing ideas - the ‘Idea Makers’ – to see how their ideas connect with one another and whether they could be strengthened through collaboration. The event is founded on the principles of free and open culture. It provides a safe and inspirational space for the cross-pollination of ideas, allowing projects and partnerships to emerge and it is both a meeting place and a working place, fuelled by workshops and people that will help the selected participants to:

  • Investigate and further develop ideas to counter fragmentation
  • Exchange knowledge and find new collaborations
  • Inspire and connect with other practitioners from different sectors
  • Explore and challenge new democratic alternatives fostering solidarity

Culture Lab Europe: Spaces for Solidarity will inform the grant making of the European Cultural Foundation: 25 grants with an average of 10.000 euro per grant will be made available for the ideas developed during the event.

The event was going to happen in Rijeka in April 2020 but due to the Coronavirus crisis it has been postponed physically and it will have some digital activities in June 2020. 

Check the participants and the programme.