ENCATC Congress on Cultural Management and Policy

Brussels, Belgium

Click, Connect and Collaborate! New directions in sustaining cultural networks

Save the Date for ENCATC's biggest annual gathering and celebrate its 25th anniversary with academics, researchers, cultural operators, representatives from local, regional, and national governments, artists, and policy makers. 

Experience exceptional content and programming on cultural management and policy, learn from top experts, gain access to the latest trends, participate in exciting cultural offers, and enjoy many convivial networking moments with participants coming from Europe and around the world! 

At the occasion of our 25th anniversary, ENCATC wants to reflect on the future role of networks in the cultural sector. Created as a network in 1992 to foster the relations with our cultural partners in Eastern Europe, ENCATC wants to look at the future and, in particular, the future of cultural networks in general during its Annual Congress from 27 to the 30 September in Brussels.

A network is a specific form of collaboration between several organisations or between few protagonists, who decided on a volunteering basis to collaborate around certain common activities. Networks often arise organically because there is a need for international communication, exchange, sharing knowledge or experiences or simply because of a perceived need for international collaboration or representation of the sector (Sluys & Verbeke 1999).

Following World War II the desire for reconciliation and peace-building led to the formation of a first wave of European networks through culture. The European Festival Association for example was undoubtedly linked to the creation and development of the European Community after the WWII.

A second wave took place in the 1990s. Cultural Networks became very popular after the fall of the Berlin wall and the approval of the European Treaty of Maastricht, the First European Treaty in which a cultural paragraph was included (article 128, 1992). A common belief in a unified Europe based on cultural diversity was an important engine for the creation of new cultural networks. ENCATC was founded during this period.

The context has now drastically changed. The European Union has enlarged to 27 Member States and because of migration, terrorism, and a lack of European leadership, the confidence of the citizens in the European institutions has never been so low.  Since the Berlin Conference ‘A Soul for Europe’ in 2004, the European Commission is trying to strengthen the notion of ‘European identity’ through culture. Different programmes for Culture have been steadily developed since 2007. Not so long ago, the Commission even organised a reflection about its own existence.

It is in these circumstances, that we need to appreciate that the role of cultural networks has multiplied further; not least because they bring people together, they want to stimulate exchange and the mobility of artists and also can stimulate the debate about the role of culture for society and Europe.

In 2007 EFA organised a conference on the future of cultural networks (Give, Get or Get off! Challenges of cultural networking today). Ten years later, many of these same insights are still relevant but nevertheless ENCATC wants to go a step further, look back after 10 years and rethink the role of cultural networks in the future.

Therefore, we can ask what is the real value of cultural networks? Why are they essential? And are networks the right format to communicate and meet each other nowadays? Together with other cultural networks located in Brussels we want to question ourselves. The following questions will be discussed: 

  • What is cultural networking today?  How do we use digitalisation to involve the members of our network? Also vice-versa: What is the added value of joining a network for them? What is the network functionality? What is the quality of the relations?
  • How can cultural networks measure their own impact on society? Are networks capable to develop their own indicators in order to measure their impact? What kind of models are there?
  • How entrepreneurial are cultural networks today? Which business model are they looking to develop? How sustainable are they? Are they capable of collecting other financial resources in addition to membership fees and funding from Europe?
  • How can cultural networks collaborate internationally? Which strategies are networks using? Should we create a network of networks instead of internationalizing?

The main question during the conference will be: What is the good practice of networking? What can we learn from each other?

At the end of the conference we hope to develop some recommendations.  

ENCATC Congress on Cultural Management and Policy

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