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The European Union was born at the crossroads during the aftermath of a terrible war and while much has changed we still live in unpredictable times. The many challenges we’ve faced have remained or evolved and are now being fought with ideas and social media rather than with tanks and missiles, and we need to generate ideas with a new lens to best counteract today’s issues.” - André Wilkens, Director, European Cultural Foundation

Division and polarisation are threatening decades of peace and European cooperation. Inequality is eroding the fabric of our societies. Culture and identity are being misused to divide communities, and we seem to have forgotten why the European Union was created in the first place.

What Can Culture Do? Tour and Amsterdam Manifesto for Europe

To better understand the challenges and opportunities Europe faces and what culture and philanthropy can do to address them, in early 2019, we organised a multi-European What Can Culture Do tour to listen and understand feedback from well over a dozen institutions. After analyzing and studying the feedback gained in collaboration with experts, we developed the Amsterdam Manifesto for Europe. Read the manifesto in Italian and French.

Strategy 2020-2025

The tour provided the input for ECF’s strategy for 2020-2025, which lays down the foundation for our focus and work for the next five years. Our activities will focus on three areas:

Share Europe: contributes to a European public space as a cultural sphere. It provides online and physical spaces where Europeans across national borders share ideas, experiences, artistic expression or news of European relevance.

Experience Europe: creates a European sense of belonging through cultural and educational exchange of people and practices. It provides tools for European exchanges between citizens and between cultural professionals beyond borders and sectors.

Imagine Europe: supports initiatives that tell the stories of Europe, its heritage and its future, in the most compelling way using all forms of cultural expression.

Our Vision

We have a vision for Europe. A continent where all can live, work, dream and express themselves freely, in diversity and harmony. Where we share a sense of belonging based on solidarity, mutual respect between people and with collaborations across borders of all kinds.

We believe in the power of culture to achieve this Europe. Culture helps us negotiate ways of living together, build and understand our multiple identities and make Europe our home. It offers the space to question and redefine the principles we stand for and helps develop and preserve feelings of mutual comprehension and solidarity.

Feeling European does not come from pie charts and growth rates. It comes from sharing stories and experiences. Culture connects and unites us and invites us to imagine different futures.

Our Mission

Our societies face challenges that affect all of us and generations to come; climate crises, growing inequalities, polarization, digitalization and for the time to come: the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. We believe these challenges need courageous and imaginative answers from a united Europe.

We have pioneered in growing a European sentiment for over 65 years, and our mission is as urgent as when we first started. Today we are committed to promoting a European sentiment through culture, by developing and supporting initiatives that let us share, experience and imagine Europe.

We do this by providing grants, building communities, offering incubator programs and online platforms, giving awards, organizing events and challenges, publishing books and building alliances, all supported by advocacy and communications.

Every program, grant or collaboration is a block added to the foundation of our common European future. Step by step, day by day, collaboration by collaboration.

Our Values

We strongly believe in a core set of values that guide and drive us in our daily work. Our aim is to embed them in all we do and live by them in our interactions with colleagues, partners, grantees and all other stakeholders.

  • Cooperation, sharing and solidarity are crucial for a united Europe that works for all its citizens.
  • Diversity is a given and something we celebrate. We try to include it in all we do; language, operations, programs and representation.
  • Standing up for democracy and the rule of law are essential for the future we envision. They need continued work and imagination.
  • We recognize human dignity and ingenuity as individual values that deserve respect.
  • We ensure that individuals or groups of people are not treated differently or less favourably, to secure equality.
  • We stand and fight for freedom to express oneself, of conscience, of movement, of the media and to challenge those in power, in Europe and worldwide.

European Sentiment

In 1954, our founder Denis de Rougemont wrote about the ‘necessity to awake a common sentiment of the European’.  “Unless there is a fairly rapid and general awareness of the danger that all our countries are running together, but also of the immense resources that Europe would still have at its disposal on the sole condition of uniting – all the treaties and acts that can be concluded will be insufficient, will come too late, or will remain a dead letter. If, on the contrary, a sense of common destiny is awakened among Europeans, most of the obstacles that exist today will seem easier to overcome, or even vanish since they consist of prejudice, partisan blindness, unfounded mistrust and, above all, ignorance of the real situation.”

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