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Newsbulletin #1

April 2012


This Newsbulletin informs about the Platform for Intercultural Europe’s current work focus and immediate agenda. It also helps spread European debate by providing insight on conferences that have taken place.

As a partner in the Structured Dialogue between the EU and civil society in the field of cultural policy, it is this domain, which features prominently in our activities. But we also look beyond at Roma inclusion and migrant integration policy. What contribution does culture make there? To what extent is culture recognised as helpful in other policy communities? Such explorations are at the heart of our conviction that the intercultural evolution of society needs cross-sectoral engagement. The variety of news from our members also shows the breadth of this challenge.

If you are interested in a succinct account of our past activities, take a look at our 2011 activity report.

Feedback welcome to or on our Facebook page.
If you “like” it, following the Platform’s activities will become automatic.

Sabine Frank, Secretary General

Platform for Intercultural Europe's 4th European Forum

"Participation and Citizenship - Can Cultural Institutions in Europe lead the way? Should they?"
5/6thJune 2012, Espace Magh and Tour Madou

Keep the date ! Registration (courtesy of the European Commission) will open in early May.

This event will explore cultural participation as an element of “active citizenship” and ask what role cultural institutions play. If cultural democracy requires a full polyphonic representation of social and ethnic diversity, are public cultural institutions the right spaces for encounter and interaction? Do public policies help cultural institutions launch significant intercultural processes, outreach and organisational re-invention? See the draft programme!

This Forum will bring together academics, cultural practitioners and NGO activists who work for interculturalism. It takes place in the context of the Platform for Intercultural Europe’s involvement in the Structured Dialogue between the EU with Civil Society. It connects accordingly with the European Commission’s declared future focus on audience development, but highlights that this must be about diversifying audiences within each EU Member State, rather than primarily about EU citizens accessing cultural works from other EU countries than their own. The Forum agenda also links with the upcoming European Year of Citizens 2013 and contributes reflections on cultural participation as essential to citizenship in Europe. The Forum will be followed by our General Assembly of Members (non-members interested in membership can attend it as guests). 

Legislative process for the 'Creative Europe' programme (2013-2020) 

Platform for Intercultural Europe lobbies for maximum impact on Intercultural Dialogue

‘Intercultural Dialogue’ will not be a “general objective” of the ‘Creative Europe’ programme (2014-2020) as it has been in the current Culture Programme (2007-2013) – at least if the opinion of the European Commission prevails in the process for the programme legislation. The European Commission seems to have taken the conclusions from our 2010 study on Intercultural Dialogue as an objective in the EU Culture Programme into account, if not our recommendations. We agree with the insight that ‘citizenship’ and ‘intercultural dialogue’ are “not the real rationale for cultural operators to work together” in Europe and that “It wasn’t clear to them what Intercultural Dialogue meant” (see interview with Commission official Ann Branch). But in order to ensure that “what we will support under culture will continue to foster Intercultural Dialogue” (Ann Branch), the programme text still needs to be changed for the better. The Platform for Intercultural Europe is a player in the game for amendments as attention turns from the negotiations in the EU Culture Council to the reading in the European Parliament’s Culture Committee, where a hearing on ‘Creative Europe’ is being held as this Newsbulletin is being published. We do so also in support of the ‘We Are More’ campaign of our strategic partner Culture Action Europe. This campaign will reach a first peak on 10th of May, when a targeted 100 000 signatures in favour of “A programme that will support innovative cultural co-operations, and experiment with new artistic, intercultural, social and economic models” will be presented to the EU Culture Council.  

Open Method of Coordination on "Accessible and inclusive culture, cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue" 

Platform for Intercultural Europe getting ready to engage with Council group in critical phase two

Eminent examples of the social outreach efforts of cultural institutions featured once more in the 4th meeting of national experts in the expert group on “Accessible and inclusive culture, cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue” under the Open Method of Coordination on 5/6th March. The shape of the ‘handbook’, which this group is tasked to produce, was a major preoccupation and advanced with the help of a ‘world café’ exercise. The work of the group in its current composition is due to draw to a close after only a couple more meetings.


Given that the ‘good practice’ examples presented during the OMC meetings have largely been those of public cultural institutions rather than those of public policy-makers, participants seemed to have been drawn in the direction of producing a handbook for ‘practitioners’. Platform for Intercultural Europe Secretary General, Sabine Frank, pointed out that this would be failing the purpose of the Open Method of Coordination. The OMC was after all about comparative policy-making and therefore the handbook should be addressed to cultural policy-makers at different levels, including to arts agencies. The handbook must tackle the conditions attached to public funding and the obligations in the public service remits of cultural institutions. Only in the second instance should the handbook address cultural institutions. For their purpose, the ‘good practice’ examples need to be presented according to their ‘conditions for success’ so as to be of practical use. See fuller article.

Some experts asked for the handbook to build a bridge to the second thematic work phase of the OMC group, namely on cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, due to start later this year. The Platform for Intercultural Europe is preparing its inputs to this second phase in a membership working group and has commissioned Mark Terkessidis, author of the book “Interkultur” to write a discussion paper on the intercultural opening of cultural institutions in Europe.

The place of cultural policy in EU Roma strategy

Insights from the conference "From Segregation to Integration: the role of Culture in Roma inclusion" 

Empowerment, self-confidence boosting, bridge-building and image changing: these properties of culture were evoked by the European Commission’s conference on Roma inclusion on 18th April in Brussels. Although the key pillars of the EU Roma inclusion strategy are health, housing, education and employment, this conference drew attention to cultural participation projects, which can on the one hand strengthen the desire of Roma to belong and their motivation to change their lives, and can on the other hand contribute to a positive mentality change in non-Roma. 

A performance by ‘Slumdog Theatre’ from the Roma settlement in Moldava nad Bodvou in eastern Slovakia provided powerful illustration. The staging of the story of a Roma boy who is driven by poverty and despair into glue sniffing and dies at 21, supported by a documentary film about life in the settlement and the work with the lay actors, made many a participant count the neon tubes on the ceiling of the conference room in order to get a grip on their tear glands. It was clear that as a touring play, ‘Slum Dog Theatre’ had the capacity to raise awareness about Roma exclusion and increase pressure from mainstream society to end it. Rightfully sobering, the subsequent panelists stressed in their presentations that Roma exclusion issues, for example multi-generational poverty, are of enormous complexity and measure of many kinds in many policy fields need to go hand in hand – and crucially always need to be designed together with the Roma people concerned.

The conference also saw an impressive turnout of directors from four different Commission Directorate-Generals. Participants learnt that the Commission’s assessment of the national strategies for Roma inclusion, which stem from the EU Framework for National Roma integration strategies of 2011, is due on 30th April. It looks likely that its broad conclusion will be in line with Commissioner Vivian Reding’s comment to the 7th Platform for Roma Inclusion on 22 April: “there is still a lot of room for improvement, in particular when it comes to securing sufficient funding for Roma inclusion and putting monitoring mechanisms in place.  … While we see a lot of nice words in the national strategies, what is missing are concrete deliverables, quantified targets and clear, ambitious deadlines for action.“

Pierre Mairesse, Director, DG Education & Culture, informed that the European Commission is making 1 million € available in 2011-12 to the training programme for Roma mediators 'ROMED' launched by the Council of Europe at the beginning of 2011, allowing for the training of 1000 mediators from Roma communities across Europe to help Roma people in their dealings with public institutions such as medical centres, schools and job agencies.

Michael Stewart presented another joint initiative of the European Commission and the Council of Europe, namely the European Academic Network on Romani Studies, for which a website is also due to be published soon.

Rudolf Niessler, Director, DG Regional Policy, announced that a new database of social deprivation measures, created in collaboration with UNDP, World Bank and Fundamental Rights Agency, would go online soon. This would allow Member States to target their interventions in favour or Roma more precisely, and it would also strengthen the European Commission in its negotiations with the Member States.

In the later part of the conference programme, attention was lifted to Roma personalities who have made it to professional acclaim in the arts and assume the role of cultural ambassadors for Roma people: Paco Suarez, Zoran Tairovic and Santino Spinelli. The historic wealth of Roma culture, in particular in high art, was emphasised in their contributions, but not without hints at “Roma exclusion from the high temples of culture”.

The variety of Roma voices at the conference enabled the necessary differentiated view on Roma culture, and also culture in general. Participants heard the imposing orator Juan de Dioz Ramirez Heredia from the Union Romani say “We Roma have an eternal culture which makes us proud. We have a culture which is stronger than non-Roma cultures.” But they were also offered the views that “culture, including Roma culture, is always being produced” by Julia Sardelic of Slovak NGO Mission*S, and that “the focus on traditional Roma folk culture can contribute to stereotyping. Cultural development and innovation in Roma communities also need to be supported, including support to Roma high culture” by Mihaela Zatreanu of the Roma National Cultural Centre in Romania. 

The conference was followed by the concert "Roma Voices for Tomorrow" with Ida Kelarova during which children from the Slovakian Roma settlement in Moldava nad Bodvou performed. This was organized by the International Yehudi Menuhin Foundation, member of the Platform for Intercultural Europe, as a valorisation event of their project supported by the EU Culture Programme.

The Commission provided a day of useful knowledge and inspiring insights with this conference to an audience of about 20 representatives from European NGOs and about 80 participants from 13 EU Member States along with a couple of handfuls of delegates from embassies and permanent representations to the EU in Brussels. May they now all be playing their ‘multiplier function’. “The fascination for Roma culture since at least the 15th century has been living alongside the most violent rejection of the Roma themselves”, according to Ahmed Ahkim, Director, Centre de mediation des Gens du Voyages et des Roms, also a member of the Platform for Intercultural Europe. The cultural dimension of Roma inclusion must therefore always be supported by a strong political one, and any ‘optimism bias’ towards the role of culture treated with a reality check.

The Platform for Intercultural Europe’s 5th Intercultural Practice Exchange in Ljubljana, Dec 2011, featured an all-Roma panel on “Roma inclusion in public life”. Read our report.


7th European Integration Forum - 'The right to family reunification of Third Country Nationals living in the EU'
Brussels, 31 May/1 June 2012

The 7th meeting of this European platform on migrant integration for representatives of civil society will take the form of a public hearing on the right to family reunification of Third Country Nationals living in the EU. The objective is to discuss the outcome of the public consultation on family reunification held from November 2011 until March 2012.

The EU has had common rules since 2003 on the conditions under which family members of a non-EU citizen, legally resident in a Member State, are allowed to enter and reside in the EU. A review of these rules in 2008 suggested that Member States might have too much discretion for example with regard to determining the period that a third country national must wait before his family can join him/her or concerning the ‘integration measures’ with which the joining family member is obliged to comply. The Commission’s Green Paper and the public consultation open the possibility of improving the common EU rules. The danger on the other hand is that the revised rules might reflect the trend of the past decade: family migration as a share of total migration has fallen by 20%, which suggests an increasingly restrictive application of the right to family reunification.

The Platform for Intercultural Europe is a Forum member and will once more participate. We will highlight that the image of large waves of migration due to family reunification conjured up in populist discourse is contradicted by facts. We will also point out that migrants can only embrace their receiving society fully from the base of secure family life – intercultural engagement cannot happen with forcefully split families.

Do you have your own views or experiences with family reunification? Send them to and we will take them into account in our representation. Read the submission of the European Network Against Racism, a member of the Platform for Intercultural Europe, for inspiration.

Integration policy is a small area in the vast field of EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA). Border controls and the fight against crime and terrorism repeatedly push migrant integration off the JHA Council’s agenda. The more important that civil society delivers strong inputs at the Integration Forum!

For more information on the Platform for Intercultural Europe’s involvement in the European Integration Forum click here

European Cities: champions of migrant integration policy?

Insights from the 5th Integrating Cities conference "Making Integration Work in European Cities"

Cities are the poles of international migration and the theaters of diversity. No surprise therefore that city networks collaborate on the topic of integration. The strongest amongst them is Eurocities with around 140 full member cities from the EU or European Economic Area, which have at least a quarter of a million inhabitants, and a Brussels-based secretariat with 46 staff.

Eurocities launched the Integrating Cities process in 2006 in partnership with the European Commission to promote the implementation of the Common Basic Principles on Integration in cities.

The 6th Integrating Cities conference of this process took place in Amsterdam on 8-9th March. Platform for Intercultural Europe participated. Eight parallel site visits and master classes as well as eight workshops in addition to plenary sessions with model moderating and parallel audience polling made for a rich programme. Given that Eurocities is foremost a platform for the majors of European cities, the conference was marked by a degree of celebration of the efforts of cities in the field of integration.

Yet reflection on the relationship with other political players wasn’t missing:

  • Are cities more progressive in tackling the realities of immigration than their national governments? What support do cities expect from the EU?

  • What is there to the Integrating Cities process besides the conference series? 

  • How does Eurocities check on the implementation of the Integrating Cities charter?

  • “Is integration still the right paradigm?” Should cities target policies at migrants? 

  • Eurocities in comparison to other city networks

Read on for answers to these questions.


News from our European Members

To see who our members are or to become a member, please go to our membership page.


A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe (CEJI)  

Training course on Religious diversity and anti-discrimination
Lisbon, 30th September to 5 October 2012 

Issues related to the diversity of religion and belief are becoming increasingly important today. Religious diversity, provides a rich opportunity for intercultural understanding, but it has also become an undeniable aspect in many modern-day conflicts in intercultural relations.  It is important to respect the development of individual religious and belief identities and at the same time to confront prejudice and discrimination.

This programme aims to address diversity and discrimination issues related to religion and belief.
For information and registration, please contact: Stéphanie Lecesne, training coordinator -

European Network Against Racism (ENAR) 

ENAR published its 2010-11 Shadow Report on racism in Europe and a publication on far-right parties and discourse in Europe – 21 March 2012

ENAR’s Shadow Report on racism in Europe, released on International Day Against Racism, highlights many worrying trends and few improvements. At a time of economic crisis, migrants and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by unemployment and precarious working conditions. On the same day, ENAR launched a publication exploring the increasing popularity of the far right and its ideas, and revealing the contradictions between what they preach and what they really are about. 

ROOTS & ROUTES International Association

New culture cooperation project “EUtropia”

250 young artists from 9 European countries collaborate by proposing open dialogue in performing, visual and audiovisual arts. They create a new, shared expressive language based on cultural heritage and modern influences, while bridging traditional and contemporary aesthetics. EUtropia began with a series of creative workshops where the participants had to approach one common theme with different aesthetic and expressive languages. As result a multidisciplinary performance journeys around Europe till 2013 and thus collects new stimuli and widens horizons of expression.  -

News from our national members

Border Crossings - UK

Sunshine on a Rainy Day – A one-day Festival of Southern African culture - 12th May 2012

Border Crossings, in association with Chickenshed, is presenting this one-day festival at Chickenshed’s North London theatre on May 12th.  The day includes: storytelling for children; a screening of the award-winning film Kini and Adams; a panel discussion around Theatre for a Change, involving Southern African writers and directors; a new play about Zimbabwe called The Rain that Washes; and a jazz performance by leading South African trumpeter Claude Deppa and his quartet.

Interkulturelt Centre - Denmark

(New Platform Member - December 2011

WIN - Workout for Intercultural Navigators - theatre as social interference

WIN is a programme for the training of theatre practitioners and cultural animators who recognise the capacity of their craft to “interfere” in the different cultural textures of a community in order to revitalise relationships within it. WIN comprises cyclic courses, workshops, practical interventions and experiences over a three-year period starting in January 2012. WIN is co-produced by Interkulturelt Centre and Odin Teatret in Holstebro, Denmark. Contrary to traditional theatre practice to which performance is central, this programme teaches theatre as a technique, which establishes relationships with oneself, with the past and present, with space and with the community, with the Other.

Trans Europe Halles (TEH) - Sweden

Trans Europe Halles member REX is mapping the processes and projects of intercultural dialogue in Europe – Debate in Belgrade, Serbia

Within the frame of Crossroads East-West and as part of the project Think about others - think about yourself, supported by Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, Public Administration and Local Self Government, TEH Member Centre REX invited artists, theoreticians, curators, activists and cultural institutions from Belgrade, Skopje and Zagreb to discuss the institutional treatment of the artwork Gypsies and Dogs by Zoran Todorović on 28th of April.

According to some art activists and Roma organisations, the work was produced through obvious violation of children's rights. It was nevertheless displayed at the state institution in the frame of a city sponsored exhibition “October Salon”. The centre has opened a call for practitioners to take part in the mapping of the processes and projects of intercultural dialogue in Europe. Both activities are part of the project Engine Room Europe, supported by the EC. For more, contact the TEH Coordination Office.

TEH: - Cultural Centre REX: - More about the debate: - Engine Room Europe: - Contact persons: TEH - Plamena Slavcheva - REX Project Coordinator Nebojsa Milikic

Organization for Poverty Alleviations & Development (OPAD) – Sweden

(New platform Member - January 2012)

Intercultural Expo, Sweden, Stockholm - 23 June 2012
Venue:  Kulturhuset Subtopia (Alby Botkyrka Kommun) - Rotemannavägen 24, Norsborg

The intercultural Expo aims to bring together different cultures by displaying their heritage through dancing, food, exhibition, etc. in a unique and organized manner. To encourage interaction, exchanges of ideas and narrow the gap of cultural differences. It further aims to show the impact of interculturality in society and its positive effects on discrimination, racism, segregation and tolerance.

This project will promote UNESCO and ECCAR recommendations by bridging the segregation gap in our municipality.

Expected results:

  • Promote inclusion of minority cultural groups
  • Build intercultural network group in Botkyrka municipality
  • Introduce cultural dialogue that promote unity and peace not division
  • Re-activate passive cultural groups

Expected attendance: Politicians, Policy Makers, Municipality Authorities, CBOs, NGOs, Activists and general members of the public. Estimated at: 200 to 300 people. Guest speakers: Jens Sjöstrom (Vice Mayor  Botkyrka Municipality), Mikael Morberg (Mångkulturellt centrum) - Helena Rojas Lundgren (Development Officer Botkyrka kommun) - Contact person: Frank Kanu - -

Riksteatern – Sweden

Will host the Women Playwrights International Conference 2012 - August 15-20th 2012

WPIC in Stockholm advocate for women voices and the role and position of women in our global world. Through the conference, women playwrights and theatre professionals meet across national borders, share experiences and support each other, and find intercultural inspiration.

The conference will present over 100 plays through readings. Other activities are workshops, performances and panel discussions as well as keynote speeches. 



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