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Physical spaces for public debate Back

Physical spaces for public debate

All across Europe, citizens of all backgrounds and cultures are organising their communities. They create spaces where culture works to strengthen social ties and helps to imagine alternative ways of living and engaging with others in understanding, trust and peace. ECF connects these spaces and thus helps to build a crucial infrastructure for a cultural movement that can reclaim European democracy.


VAHA (meaning ‘oasis’ in Turkish) is a new two-year programme for cultural spaces of public discussion and free dialogue in Turkey and Europe. VAHA has been initiated by our Tandem Turkey partners Anadolu Kültür and MitOst. It strongly builds on previous work and programme communities in the region, and answers new challenges for independent voices and autonomously working cultural spaces in Turkey and around Europe.

In Turkey and Eastern Europe, independent cultural organisations and civil society initiatives are struggling to preserve a safe space for dialogue and freedom of expression. New local actors nevertheless try to provide and maintain unconventional (cultural) spaces and action for public programming and debate. Their efforts are a crucial source of inspiration and provide a spirit of endurance for their local public and civil society peers. They can function as veritable ‘oases’ (vaha in Turkish) that supply freedom of thought, open debate, creativity and human encouragement for the surrounding ecosystem of other independent cultural initiatives and local citizens.

Vaha – Oasis strengthens and increases the role such creative spaces can play inside different social, political, economic and cultural ecosystems. Over three years, this programme builds common ground and shares knowledge between autonomous cultural centers and civil initiatives. First locally, then regionally, then across Turkish, Eurasian and EU borders.

Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities

Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities (CCSC) is a joint project with ten partners across Europe that aims to increase citizen’s participation in the creation of cultural policies in cities. CCSC works on more sustainable and inclusive cities by making culture and creativity more central to policy-making by experimenting with participatory forms of cooperation between cultural organizations and policymakers.

Culture for Solidarity

The European Cultural Foundation, Rijeka 2020 European Capital of Culture, Krytyka Polityczna and ZEMOS98 invited everybody to apply for participation in Culture Lab Europe. The event was planned to take place in April in Rijeka, Croatia, but was postponed to June 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis.

You can find the online programme, the participants, and background information here.

Culture lab Europe is part of the project Culture for Solidarity, a 2.5-year artistic investigation into the root causes of fragmentation in Europe. It is co-funded by the European Commission’s Creative Europe programme. The aim is to encourage greater solidarity, by highlighting cultural practices that bring unusual groups of people together, connecting these practices and scaling them across the continent.

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