Our vision

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.

Our mission

The European Cultural Foundation 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. 

Our work

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. 

Our logo

For more than 60 years, the European Cultural Foundation has been catalysing change and connecting people through culture. From the local level to the European corridors of power, from the grassroots to the policymakers, we have been connecting cultural changemakers across Europe and beyond.

Our logo symbolises the point where roads cross and paths meet. It represents the birth of an idea, the starting point of a collaboration, the start of a new movement – the initialising spark that gives life to something new and exciting.


Our story

For a visual overview,  download the timeline  'ECF at a glance'.

For a visual overview, download the timeline 'ECF at a glance'.

For an overview of ECF's early years,  download A Brief History of ECF    by Anne-Marie Autissier.

For an overview of ECF's early years, download A Brief History of ECF by Anne-Marie Autissier.

The European Cultural Foundation 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 the foundation 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. 

Find out more about our thematic focuses over the years and browse the dedicated content in our online library.

Read this conversation with former Director Katherine Watson about the key role that culture can play over the next 60 years. 


Our memberships & accreditations

The European Cultural Foundation 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.

The European Cultural Foundation also holds the seal of approval from the Central Bureau of Fundraising (CBF) in the Netherlands (‘Keurmerk voor Goede Doelen’). 

The European Cultural Foundation 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.

The European Cultural Foundation is a member of the following organisations, networks and associations: