Press Release 15/03/2016: 2016 ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture presented to KRÉTAKÖR (HUNGARY) and MEDIALAB-PRADO (SPAIN)

PRESS RELEASE -Amsterdam, 15 March 2016

Photo by Xander Remkes

Photo by Xander Remkes

Today, the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) awarded the 2016 ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture to socially-engaged theatre-makers Krétakör (Budapest, Hungary) and citizen laboratory for digital culture Medialab-Prado (Madrid, Spain). The laureates received the Award for their exceptional bodies of artistic and cultural work in developing critical spaces of social participation and political experimentation through culture.

Attended by more than 550 international guests, the award ceremony was hosted by ECF’s Director Katherine Watson at the Stadsschouwburg, Amsterdam. The laureates received the award from HRH Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, while the opening speech was given by HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, ECF’s President.  


In her speech, Princess Laurentien touched on the issues that currently challenge Europe: “Our solidarity is being tested by the challenges and reality of our time: large groups of people fleeing war and violence on the one hand and people being worried about their future and their way of living on the other. It is at this time that cultural exchange is more important than ever before, as it connects people, which fosters solidarity – so it feeds our imagination and genuine effort to look through the lenses of others and understand the perspective of those we may not agree with. We have no other choice than to find shared solutions for these challenges we face.” The full speech of Princess Laurentien can be found on

Creating communities

On behalf of the international jury Tate Modern Director Chris Dercon praised this year’s laureates, who were chosen from a shortlist of candidates nominated by experts from across Europe.  Both collectives are community-builders, but each operates in a truly unique way. “Medialab-Prado enables ordinary citizens to learn, experiment and become actively involved in shaping culture through technology. Their common aim is to reinvent the public arena.” On the other hand, Krétakör’s persistent questioning of conventions and stereotypes helps us address the complex realities of democracy. Ultimately, this encourages us to re-imagine democracy as community-building in progress rather than an end state.” 


Before the Awards were presented to the laureates, Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, held a short speech in which he highlighted the importance of culture for Europe. “Culture contributes to an open and innovative society”, he said. And everyone can contribute to this. Quoting the theatre theorist Stanislawski the Minister said: “There are no small parts, only small actors.”  

Faith in European culture

Kretakor’s creative director Arpad Schilling was unable to attend the Award ceremony in view of his involvement in a national demonstration led by teachers in protest against the Hungarian government’s educational policy held on the same day and at the same time. His wife Lilla Sárosdi read a letter expressing his gratitude: “This Award has given back my faith that European culture still exists and that it is based on solidarity. The ECF Princess Margriet Award recognizes the very meaning of the Krétakör Foundation and through this Award ECF brings joy to many people - to everyone who has collaborated with us and to those who we have worked for. I would have been so proud to be standing before you all today to accept it.”

About the laureates

Krétakör is an internationally acclaimed theatre group led by the renowned theatre maker Árpád Schilling. The group uses dramaturgy as a means to bring different perspectives into debate and conversation. Since 2008 Krétakör has made a determined shift from theatre as a stage-based experience to theatre as a social forum. The jury selected Krétakör for their work as a collective that enters into direct dialogue with different communities and settings in regional Hungary. Their work in secondary schools enables them to interact with and evoke the voices of young people especially. Krétakör's artistic work exemplifies a dynamic quest for new methods and theatrical forms capable of engaging with the changing landscape and social urgencies in today’s Hungary and Europe.

Medialab-Prado is a digital platform and physical workspace where people with different skills and knowledge come together to access and build a digital commons in Madrid, across Spain and the global media sphere. Through workshops, participatory events and modes of collaborative action, Medialab-Prado has been among the front-runners for many projects that have gone on to nourish democratic processes in digital culture in Spain. Supported by the municipality of Madrid, Medialab-Prado demonstrates that it is possible to develop new cultural initiatives as permeable, civic-public partnerships that are capable of rethinking public institutions from within.  

The Award

The ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture – a tribute to HRH Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, who served as ECF’s President from 1983 to 2007 – is given to European cultural change-makers whose work shows the power of cultural engagement in making social and political change possible. First presented in 2008, the annual Awards have been won by trailblazing activists, choreographers, theatre and film-makers and visual artists – ranging from the renowned late cultural theorist Stuart Hall to Romanian artists Dan and Lia Perjovschi. The laureates between them receive prize money of € 50,000.


Note to editors

For more information:

European Cultural Foundation (ECF)
By collaborating with creative intellectuals and artists from all over the world, ECF has been a staunch supporter of culture in Europe for the past 60 years, believing that culture engages people and can inspire them to solicit new approaches to established concepts of democracy. ECF considers the power of culture to be an essential component in the creation of a more open and inclusive Europe. In her capacity as ECF President, HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands is an active proponent of ECF’s mission.

For photos and more material from the Award ceremony and all the side events:


The members of the 2016 Jury are:

  • Andreas Broeckmann (Curator, Leuphana Arts Program, Lüneburg/Berlin)
  • Bojana Cvejić (Performance theorist and maker, Brussels/Belgrade)
  • Chris Dercon (Director, Tate Modern, London)
  • Juan Freire (Founding Partner, Teamlabs and mmodulUS, Madrid)
  • Saskia van Stein (Director of Bureau Europa, platform for architecture & design, Maastricht)


A full list of Princess Margriet Award for Culture laureates

  • 2016 Krétakör | Medialab-Prado
  • 2015 Athens Biennale | Visual Culture Research Center
  • 2014 Teodor Celakoski | Teatro Valle Occupato  
  • 2013 Yoel Gamzou | Lia & Dan Perjovschi
  • 2012 Charles Esche | John Akomfrah
  • 2011 Kutluğ Ataman | Šejla Kamerić
  • 2010 Borka Pavićević | Stefan Kaegi
  • 2008 Stuart Hall | Jerôme Bel & Pichet Klunchun

Contact for information and images:
Karen Jochems | Senior Communications Officer ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture | European Cultural Foundation | Jan van Goyenkade 5, 1075 HN Amsterdam |+31 20 573 3868 |06 1966 1744