We are an independent, impact driven organisation with more than 60 years of experience. We catalyse, connect and communicate civil society initiatives in arts and culture to work together for an open, democratic and inclusive Europe. We support cultural changemakers through grants, exchanges, and incubator programmes. Our annual ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture highlights culture as a force for positive change. We connect people to people, the local to the European, and grassroots to policy.
Culture is an invaluable resource for a positive future in Europe. The space where we understand how we can live together, understand our identities, and make it our home. We want to re-think and build Europe as an open, inclusive and democratic space.
ECF nurtures a socially engaged and culturally rooted civil society across Europe. We are committed to making a tangible impact on civil society, citizen initiatives, public opinion and policy proposals, and combat the fragmenting forces jeopardising peace and social progress in Europe.
Advocacy is the groundwork for everything we do - creating a central position for culture and community participation at a local level and in EU policies. We support cultural changemakers and their projects through our grants, exchanges, online platforms and incubator programmes. We highlight stellar examples of culture as a force of positive change through the ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture. We connect the local to the European, the grassroots to the policy, and facilitate collaboration.
The European Cultural Foundation (ECF) was set up in Geneva in 1954.
Its founding figures included the Swiss philosopher Denis de Rougemont, the architect of the European Community Robert Schuman, and HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, under whose presidency ECF moved to Amsterdam in 1960. They all believed passionately in culture as a vital ingredient for Europe’s post-war rebuilding and healing.
The foundation has always focused on implementing European grants schemes enabling mobility and the exchange of ideas, education through culture, and capacity-building. Our programmes have evolved with the shifting dynamics of European politics.
We continue to initiate and support cultural exchange and creative expression across wider Europe, to share knowledge across the cultural sector, and to campaign for the arts at all levels of political decision-making.
Until 2013, we set out to uncover new Narratives for Europe at a moment when the prevailing narratives seemed to have lost their resonance. Informed by research and reflection, this effort led to our thematic focus for 2013-2016 – Culture, Creative Communities and Democracy.
Read this conversation with ECF Director Katherine Watson about the key role that culture can play over the next 60 years.
Our memberships & accreditations
ECF has the ANBI (Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling) status, which means that the Foundation’s objectives have been deemed to improve the well-being of the general public.
ECF also holds the seal of approval from the Central Bureau of Fundraising (CBF) in the Netherlands (‘Keurmerk voor Goede Doelen’).
ECF endorses the principles of the Code Wijffels: ‘Code Goed Bestuur voor Goede Doelen’ and the European Foundation Centre’s Principles of Good Practice. See Codes of Conduct.
ECF is a member of the following organisations, networks and associations: