The Value of Upscaling Local Practice and Knowledge

Learning and sharing processes: a report from the meeting of the hubs of the Networked Programme

The first six partner organisations (hubs) of ECF’s new initiative called the Networked Programme came together in Amsterdam from Croatia, France, Moldova, Poland, Spain and Sweden in May 2014. The partners of the Networked Programme are working on establishing and advocating for a new set of democratic best practices in Europe for cultural organisations to engage with communities and culture. Together with the hubs, ECF wants to illuminate these alternative democratic models on a European level.

Different working sessions from the Networked Programme May meeting at De Pont in Amsterdam

Different working sessions from the Networked Programme May meeting at De Pont in Amsterdam

The new process launched by this consortium of community driven organisations working with culture will aim to focus on shared local expertise, visions and practices. They will be able to learn from each other in order to kick start a joint advocacy strategy that will be developed throughout the year.

So far, the hubs have been working on their shared values and will soon present their vision on how these topics relate to wider public discourses around democracy, communities and culture in Europe. The six hubs are pivotal in ECF’s 2013-2016 programme of Connecting Culture, Communities and Democracy. In addition to the hub networked strategy, the programme includes an open call for Ideas, an Idea Camp and an Advocacy Camp in autumn 2014.


The need to redefine “Public Space”

A very strong common thread within the work of the six hub organisations is their focus on the Commons, Public Space, Culture and Economy.

ECF is highlighting this theme, and building towards the Idea Camp that will take place on 23-25 October 2014 in Marseilles. We are engaging with our audiences by issuing an open call, inviting submissions for innovative ideas around the theme of public space.

Additionally, we are gathering thoughts across social media platforms about what #PublicSpaceis. We will also share profiles of the hubs highlighting the work they do locally on the various themes we are focusing on. 

Why does ECF work in this way?

For ECF it has been a great opportunity to catalyse an expanding network in which the first six hubs for 2014 play a significant role as change-makers. We are looking forward to the collective work of the hubs being disseminated into the knowledge base of their local and virtual communities.

In addition, the two-day meeting from 20-22 May was also part of a new way of working for ECF. The hub network is aligning its methodology and objectives with an ECF network of programme officers who work both individually with the hubs as well as on a network level. This approach builds in part on the experiences of the Doc Next Network – ECF’s Youth and Media programme (2010-2014). During the two-day meeting of the hubs that took place, these lessons were also shared, highlighting the methodologies and practices of working in a networked way and scaling up local practices to a European agenda.

This new way of working aims to facilitate the process of mapping local best practices in advocacy, community driven actions and topical discourses around Commons and Public Space.

With the Networked Programme, ECF recognises that its role in contemporary philanthropy should go beyond project-based initiatives. By focusing on methods and shaping common values, together with a broad array of cross-sectoral stakeholders, the Networked Programme has the potential to increase the effectiveness of traditional projects by participating organisations, as well as creating a sustainable and more enduring platform for advocating a stronger role for culture in Europe.

The six hubs are: