European Spaces of Culture

European Spaces of Culture

European Spaces of Culture is testing innovative collaboration models in cultural relations between European and local partner organisations in countries outside the EU. As a Preparatory Action, it was initiated by the European Parliament. The European Commission attributed the project to EUNIC. By gathering policy recommendations, the project contributes to the EU strategy on international cultural relations.

On 17 January the international selection committee selected five pilot projects to be implemented between March and October 2020. After deliberating all ten applications along the lines of all the selection criteria, the committee chose the following five proposals to be implemented as pilot projects and to be awarded EUR 50,000. A sixth pilot project will be implemented as well in Ethiopia under the umbrella of European Spaces of Culture.

The selection followed the Creative Lab phase, during which ten preselected ideas were working on their partnerships and project proposals for implementation in 2020. Among other things, they conducted research and organised internal and external meetings to gather input. Some project teams were already testing artistic performances leading up to the pilot projects.

The initial Call for Ideas, launched in April, resulted in 42 eligible applications coming from all corners of the world, involving 30 EUNIC members, 39 EU delegations and 121 local partners. The proposed ideas covered 51 countries in total, as some focused on cross-border activities.

European Spaces of Culture selection committee

The independent selection committee meets in Brussels for the preselection of ten ideas: Yemisi Mokuolu, Kateryna Botanova, Cecil Mariani, Mechtild van den Homburgh and Gaelle Sundelin.

Creative Lab

Representatives from the preselected teams gathering in Brussels to exchange on cultural relations work, innovation, communications and monitoring and evaluation. Paula Matos da Costa (Embassy of Portugal in Guinea Bissau, left) and Yemisi Mokuolu.

The Urban Cult Lab’Africa has brought six fab labs – digital fabrication laboratories – in West Africa together to co-design cultural events including artists’ residencies, live events and exhibitions.

Read more here

Triángulo Teatro (Central American European Theatre Circuit) is a programme of theatrical performances which revolve around the contemporary interpretation of European dramatic art.

Read more here

Tibeb be Adebabay (Amharic for Art in Public Space) is a participatory street festival staged in Meskel Square, the main public square in Addis Abeba.

Read more here

Nogoonbaatar Eco-Art Festival, the first of its kind in Mongolia, aims to change the critical situation of air pollution in the Ger District, notorious for heavy pollution through coal burning.

Read more here

The lead-up to the next Colomboscope festival, including professional development workshops, mentoring circles, and in-tandem residencies across four regions in Sri Lanka.

Read more here

The Grid incorporates art-thinking into the development of new technologies, jump-starting a conversation between artists, technologists, and policy makers from Europe, Silicon Valley and beyond.

Read more here

Baseline mapping

The baseline mapping outlines past and current practice of European collaboration in culture both inside and outside of the EU, realised by EUNIC members as well as by other actors or organisations (e.g. civil society). Not intended to be a comprehensive inventory of all initiatives that could be labelled as European Spaces of Culture, it rather serves as inspiration for future collaboration projects.

You will find the baseline mapping here.

Call for Ideas

The Call for Ideas was launched in April 2019 to identify innovative models of collaboration between EUNIC members, EU Delegations and local stakeholders in countries outside the EU. The Call was launched in two phases:

  • Phase 1 identified ten ideas, that were elaborated into fully developed project proposals. The ten selected teams received EUR 10,000 to develop their partnership and project proposal.
  • Phase 2 selected five pilot projects out of the ten ideas to be implemented as pilot projects. The pilot projects have received EU 50,000 for their implementation in 2020-2021.

Evaluation and policy recommendations

The projects are evaluated with help of a monitoring & evaluation toolkit, designed as pilot for the European Spaces of Culture projects. Based on the findings of the individual projects and the European Spaces of Culture as a whole, a set of policy recommendations will be elaborated for future policy making (including funding) that will include an evidence-based, suitable process for the future implementation of the European Spaces of Culture initiative.

The results of the project and the policy recommendations will be presented at the public conference in Brussels in May 2021.


For more information about the project and its process, contact:

  • Robert Kieft (Project Manager) at
  • Roxane Schavoir (Project Officer) at

The role of culture in EU external relations has been a priority for the EU since 2007. Over the past few years, there has been a shift in the EU’s approach to international cultural relations, with the emphasis being placed in going beyond the notion of presenting the diversity of European cultures and focusing instead on a cultural relations approach based on people-to-people contacts.

A turning point in this process was the Joint Communication “Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations”, jointly published in June 2016 by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security, Federica Mogherini, and the European Commission. This document sets the framework for the EU and its Member States’ activities in international cultural relations. It calls for enhanced cooperation between EUNIC, the European External Action Service (EEAS), and the European Commission (EC).

The Joint Communication was endorsed by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union in May 2017. Following the publication of this document, an Administrative Arrangement between the EC, the EEAS, and EUNIC was signed in May 2017 to strengthen collaboration between EUNIC and EU Delegations in non-EU countries.

In July 2018, EUNIC was invited by the European Commission to submit a proposal to test and define the concept of European ‘Houses’ of Culture. EUNIC Global submitted its proposal to the European Commission, in particular the Directorate-General for Education,Youth, Sports and Culture (DG EAC), in September 2018. It was received positively, and the project was launched in December 2018.