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The CReW project
The Cultural Relations at Work (CReW) project is ﬁnanced by the Erasmus+ Programme, Jean
Monnet Activities (EAC-A03-2016). The project is coordinated by the University of Siena in
partnership with EUNIC Global.
The CReW project consists of three events and a ﬁnal conference. The ﬁrst event took place in
Morocco (Rabat - February 2018), while the other two are set to take place in the United Kingdom
(London – Fall 2018), and Germany (Stuttgart – Spring 2019). The ﬁnal conference will be in Italy
(Siena – Summer 2019) in the framework of the Siena Cultural Relations Forum and will gather
selected attendees and speakers from the previous events.
Each event focuses on one of the three work streams of the joint communication, “Towards a EU
strategy for international cultural relations” (JOIN (2016) 29 ﬁnal): (1) supporting culture as an engine
for sustainable social and economic development (Morocco), (2) reinforcing cooperation on cultural
heritage (UK), and (3) promoting culture and inter-cultural dialogue for peaceful inter-community
relations (Germany). Participants are selected among local and non-local practitioners, policy-makers
The project has four main goals:
• foster dialogue between the academic world and policy-makers;
• cross-fertilize the academic work with recent practices and inform these with the results of the
• improve the quality of professional training for practitioners and policymakers on international
cultural relations; and
• facilitate better access to content and methodologies that might be relevant for a wider audience
of academics, policy-makers and practitioners in cultural relations and cultural diplomacy.
The events encourage a combination of practice and theory and are focused on the analysis of speciﬁc
case studies. This methodological approach has two goals in mind: (1) make the practical knowledge
and theories often used in cultural relations more explicit and create a common language for
practitioners and policymakers and (2) collect and organize relevant information from the case studies
in ways that are applicable and grounded in theoretical social frameworks. The CReW project aims to
bridge the gap between what researchers do in academia and what cultural diplomats, policy-makers,
and practitioners do in their day-to-day work.
The Rabat event: Supporting culture as an engine for sustainable
social and economic development in the EU Neighborhood South
The ﬁrst event of the CReW Project took place in Rabat (Morocco) on February 21-22, 2018.
Participants – local and non-local cultural diplomats, cultural operators and academics – dealt with the
ﬁrst work stream of the joint communication, “Supporting culture as an engine for sustainable social and
economic development”, with special attention to its implementation in the EU Neighborhood South.
The conference was kindly hosted by the Instituto Cervantes.
The ﬁrst part of the event was devoted to a two-fold analysis of the main actors involved in EU-
MENA cultural relations. Riccardo Trobbiani (EL-CSID) oﬀered a qualitative mapping of EU
initiatives promoting regional cooperation, while Hicham Khalidi (Art curator) and Dirk De Wit
(Head of International Relations, Flanders Arts Institute) addressed the crucial role of local and non-
local practitioners and artists.
Case Studies Workshop
The second part of the event provided an in-depth analysis of four selected case studies and their
impact on promoting culture as an engine for sustainable social and economic development in the
region. Speakers were asked to go through their cases by addressing three main issues: how the
project/programme promoted culture as an engine to social and economic development in EU
Neighborhood South; what the programme/project did to promote culture and how its impact was
measured; and what the lessons learned were.
- “Tfanen – Tunisie Créative” Programme (Matteo Malvani, Tfanen Project manager). Tfanen is a project
ﬁnanced by the EU in the framework of the “supporting programme for culture in Tunisia” in
partnership with EUNIC cluster and implemented by The British Council. The objectives of the
programme are: to promote cultural diversity in Tunisia; to strengthen access to culture at local,
regional, and national level; to support freedom of expression and creativity in the framework of the
process of democratization, in line with the spirit of the Tunisian Constitution of 2014.
- The “Med-Culture” Programme in the South of the Mediterranean (Fanny Bouquerel, capacity
development expert). Med-Culture is a 5-year (2014-2018) regional programme funded by the
European Union to accompany partner countries in south of the Mediterranean to develop and
improve cultural policies and practices. The countries involved are Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan,
Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine, and Libya.
- Young Mediterranean Voices (Regina Salanova, Head of Communications – Anna Lindh Foundation).
Young Mediterranean Voices (YMV) is the second phase of Young Arab Voices (YAV). YAV was
implemented in 8 countries, with the British Council as main partner. While YAV was mainly focused
on capacity building on debate skills, YMV goes beyond that by helping participants to contribute to
their societies. YMV seeks to continue to build capacity on debate and dialogue skills, but the
programme includes a new component: besides the acquisition of skills for leadership and advocacy, it
promotes youth inclusion in decision making and oﬀers exchange opportunities by expanding the
programme to include European countries.
- “Cultures pour vivre ensemble” (Javier Galvan, Director Instituto Cervantes Rabat). This is a project
implemented by EUNIC cluster in Morocco. It started with three strategic objectives: (1) to create
a Euro-Moroccan platform for cultural production, (2) to strengthen cooperation between the
EUNIC cluster and the EU Delegation in Morocco, and (3) to foster knowledge and exchange
among stakeholders. The project is now in its second phase of implementation and focuses on post-
colonial identities, support to vulnerable groups, and leadership
programs while also providing a platform for cultural and artistic
co-creation and co-education. This project is possible through the
cooperation of EU national cultural institutes (Instituto
Cervantes, Instituto Camões, Institut Français, Goethe Institut,
Società Dante Alighieri and Instituto Italiano di Cultura) with
Moroccan associations (Les Étoiles de Sidi Moumen; L’Atelier de
l’Observatoire; L’Usine; Fondation des Arts Vivants; Fondation
We are witnessing a change in the EU’s approach to the role of
culture in international cultural relations (ICR) – from a unilateral
approach to more of a bilateral one with multilateral cultural
cooperation. The big challenge is how to transform this
theoretical shift into practice. Collecting data and involving local
stakeholders is essential, as some areas, such as MENA, have
multiple programs and actors.
There is now momentum for culture to play a stronger role in EU-
MENA relations. While this sector is still young in the
Neighborhood South, the context is quickly changing, due to
pressure from civil society, which is a key actor. We seized the
opportunity to bring all stakeholders – local and non-local
academics, practitioners and cultural operators – to work on it.
During the two days of the event, we analyzed the current
framework for cultural cooperation and we focused on a number
of related best practices. We identiﬁed strengths and weaknesses
and drafted recommendations accordingly.
Recommendations for strengthening the cultural
cooperation framework in the EU Neighborhood South
-Consult a wide range of stakeholders (civil society organizations,
local public institutions, local cultural operators) to promote
collaborations based on priority needs. A participatory approach
involving regular consultations of local stakeholders is paramount.
This can be done through general networking and communicating,
translating publications into local languages to better engage with
In Morocco, culture is seen by
many actors, including public
administrators, as both an
important resource and, to an
extent, a potential threat to
political stability. It is
essential to understand how
to communicate about
cultural action and how to
work together at the local
level. This means engaging
the public sector and
emphasizing the economic
impact of culture and how it
relates to international
relations and the needs of
local cultural actors. Available
funds are often awarded to
ﬂagship initiatives, which is
counter-productive for local,
smaller, initiatives that do not
receive ﬁnancial help.
In Jordan, the positive results
of the Med-Culture
Programme show that there
are local actors interested in
implementing a strong policy
on culture. The ministry was
interested in learning from
the EU’s policy and organized
a summit that was attended
by diﬀerent ministries and
local cultural actors for joint
discussions. This meeting
generated trust between
stakeholders who do not
normally work together. This
cooperation was mutually
beneﬁcial for both the
Ministry of culture and civil
the local community, being open and receptive to change, and seeking out co-funding
- Engage civil society organizations (CSOs) to encourage resilience through culture – their
receptivity for change makes any investment in culture relevant.
- Engage local public institutions to address local needs and implement structural change. Working
with local ministries and governments in order to understand the dynamics of civil society is
essential. For example, the wide and inclusive consultation process put in place by Med-Culture in
Jordan should be applied to other programmes included in the wider conversation of EU
international cultural relations.
- Involve local cultural operators in decision-making to foster convergence between donors’
requirements and operators’ missions and creative skills. It is important to consider the cultural
values of dialogue, reciprocity and co-creation. how can culture nourish these agendas of
diplomacy and economy?
Recommendations for implementing an EU regional strategy for culture
- The ﬁrst steps of implementation showed that there is some discrepancies between the new
institutional narrative of cultural relations and the traditional public diplomacy approach. We
need theoretical reﬂection, quickly followed by concrete actions, to avoid undermining trust and
- Development of a sustainable EU regional strategy on culture in the region is timely but all these
actions are fragmented. There is a need to establish communication channels and avoid
duplication and competition among actors with the same goals. Multiple strategies “at variable
geometry” are needed.
- It is crucial to understand who is going to implement the EU strategy for international cultural
relations. EUNIC has the experience and is a privileged actor who could successfully act as a
mediator between diﬀerent stakeholders and foster cultural cooperation from region to region.
However, in some MENA countries, there are local cultural players that are much stronger than
foreign cultural institutes or their own ministries. There is a need to keep them in the loop.
- Concerning EUNIC, as the experience from “Culture pour vivre ensemble” seems to prove, it is
important to strengthen the MENA clusters and their coordination. This should be addressed
when deﬁning of a common strategy. EUNIC clusters should become the true liaisons between
local stakeholders and policymakers. To do this, structural guidance by EU member states is
needed, and coordination with local interlocutors may be fostered by providing incentives.
- Establish a Community of Practice to strengthen exchanges and networking in the region.