In 2011, ECF and Soros Foundation Moldova launched a two-year project in rural Moldova to improve conditions in small-scale local communities facing enormous challenges – growing poverty, high levels of youth unemployment, underdeveloped public services and social disintegration. The programme ran until December 2013.

The project unites regional administrators, local houses of culture and non-governmental organisations in powerful ‘trios’ that are bringing locally available cultural resources back to life. Underused cultural infrastructure that already exists in Moldova’s villages made up of a large network of houses of culture – known as ‘dom kultura’ – plays a key role in the programme.

Carefully selected cultural operators from rural locations all over Moldova have attended a series of workshops, taken part in study visits and developed plans for activating local cultural resources. The emerging cultural development projects are supported by Trio. Throughout this process, the ‘trios’ are guided by local consultants and international experts to bring them best practice examples from across the cultural sector – as well as offering specific training to each of the troikas in cultural mapping.

Increasing cultural activity in the project locations across Moldova attracts tourism and new business, and improves the quality of life in these long-neglected rural areas. In May 2013, 30 cultural operators involved with Trio spent a week in rural West Yorkshire, meeting artists, craftspeople, local entrepreneurs and regional politicians to bring home new ideas and inspiration for regenerating their own village communities. The Moldovan visitors saw some of Yorkshire’s cultural highlights, including the industrial village of Saltaire that’s home to David Hockney’s gallery, the Bronte sisters’ village of Haworth andLeeds Art Gallery.

They also experienced a few culture shocks along the way – including the opportunity to meet a female accountant-turned blacksmith called Annabelle Bradley, who now runs a successful independent business from the picturesque village of Malham. Read more.

Led and supported by ECF, the Soros Foundation Moldova and the Centre for Cultural Policy Moldova, Trio is co-financed by the Arts & Culture Programme of the Open Society Institute – Budapest.