European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC)

Cultural centres and non-urban areas

 – 
Rural Areas
Our network aims to reach audiences and territories that are often underrepresented, including in rural and remote areas.

Since many years, we have been working to define and highlight the role cultural centres can play in territorial development, political participation and social innovation.

A little history

'Rural' versus 'urban' - it sounds so simple, but it is so complex to define. Since 2016, the ENCC has organised two conferences (in Olesnica in 2016 and in Hildesheim in 2017) focused on culture in territories and non-urban areas. Outcomes from this include the ENCC Crowd-Sourced Manifesto for Shared, Smart, Innovative Territories and the book Vital Village, coordinated by the University of Hildesheim. 

In 2020, the ENCC joined forces with networks Culture Action Europe, IETM and Trans Europe Halles to give visibility and advocate for non-urban culture. The partners created an online campaign and a policy paper that was launched during a joint advocacy event. 

In 2021, the group organised Wide Open Spaces, an online event about non-urban culture after the pandemic. 

In 2022, we became a consortium partner of IN SITU, a new European project on cultural and creative industries in non-urban areas of the EU. This project lasts 48 months and is funded by the Horizon Europe programme of the European Commission.

What does the working group do?

Since its creation in 2016, the working group has helped organise small-scale meetings, international conferences, and advocacy events. It works as a discussion forum with its mailing list, contributes to creating international partnerships, consults on policy papers, and interacts with ENCC multiyear projects, such as Seeds of Sustainability and IN SITU

Check out these two publications co-created with the working group: 

- Crowdsourced Manifesto: Culture for Shared, Smart, Innovative Territories, 2016-2020

Beyond the Urban: Contemporary Arts and Culture as Keys to a Sustainable and Cohesive Europe, March 2020.

For more publications, go to our Non-Urban Reading Room.

Our Working Group on Territorial Development and Culture in Non-Urban Areas is a transectorial platform gathering ENCC members, partner networks, researchers, practitioners, policymakers and cultural policy experts. The group shares practices and needs makes recommendations and participates in shaping our advocacy efforts. It is coordinated by Piotr Michalowski, an ENCC Board member.

Recent and past participants' organisations include: 

  • Netzwerk Kultur Heimat (Germany)

  • IG Kultur Österreich (Austria)

  • IGBK - International Society of Fine Arts (Germany)

  • EESC (European Economic and Social Committee)

  • Wales Council for Voluntary Action (UK)

  • Kreativni Pogon (Serbia)

  • EPP, S&D (European Parliament)

  • AMATEO

  • KD Mlejn (Czech Republic)

  • Divadlo Yarmat (Slovakia)

  • Basedonart Gallery (Germany)

  • Kult X/Cinema (Germany)

  • Transitory Museum/Zeitgarten (Switzerland)

  • Donostia Kultura (Basque Country)

  • IKULT (Austria)

  • Netzwerk Bilderungsberatung Salzburg (Austria)

  • University of Hildesheim (Germany)

  • Galway 2020

  • Museumsverein Klostertal (Austria)

  • Derveron Projects (Scotland)

  • Tampere Region ECOC 2026 Candidate Office (Finland)

  • EURAC Research (Italy)

  • Zavod Muzikator (Slovenia)

  • O'Babeltut (France)

  • Broumov Monastery Educational and Cultural Centre (Czech Republic)

  • Ibero-American Foundation for Cultural and Creative Industries - FIBICC (Spain)

  • The Ukrainian Cultural Foundation (Ukraine)

  • Cēsis Cultural Centre (Latvia)

  • Teatr Na Walizkach theatre & cultural centre (Poland)

  • Cultural centre "Nikola Djurkovic" Kotor (Montenegro)

  • Centrala Space (UK)

  • Centre for Culture and Civic Initiatives in Podkowa Leśna (Poland)

  • Spazju Kreattiv (Malta)

  • Lavanderia a Vapore - centre for dance residencies (Italy)

  • Stiftung Neue Musik-Impulse Schleswig-Holstein (Germany)

  • Network of the Regional Cultural Centres of Luxembourg (Luxembourg)

  • Foundation czAR(T) Krzywogońca (Poland) 

  • Cultural centre Cerknica (Notranjska regional park) (Slovenia)

  • Culture Centre of the village of Ouled Youssef (Morocco)

  • Bitamine Faktoria (Spain)

Experts and practitioners with relevant experience, needs, challenges or questions to share with the group and with policymakers, are welcome to join.  To find out how to participate, please contact the working group coordinator, Piotr Michalowski