European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC)

Beyond the urban: contemporary arts and culture as keys to a sustainable and cohesive Europe

A woman and man next to trees
Despite their vital importance, arts and cultural practices lack recognition at the EU policy level.

This paper is the result of a collaboration between the ENCC, Culture Action Europe, IETM, and Trans Europe Halles. Building on many years of fieldwork on the topic, and different perspectives from the four networks involved, our paper aims to highlight the significance of culture and the arts in non-urban and peripheral areas, identify challenges for the many existing and potential projects in those areas, and offer policy solutions to support them.

At this point, when populist and anti-European sentiments are rising across the EU [...], it is high time to support the sectors which inspire innovative and sustainable ways of organising communities and practicing democracy. [...] Given the degrading condition of natural resources and ecosystems, we feel the urgency to acknowledge at all policy levels that we are operating in the new reality of Climate Emergency that is demanding change across all sectors. Contemporary arts and culture have a unique potential to trigger a creative process of rethinking economic paradigms and testing new models, reconnect people to nature, and foster new imagination for the system’s change [...]

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Photo from Future Fruit project, developed for Deveron Projects by Jonathan Baxter and Sarah Gittins. Photo credit: Holly Keasey.