European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC)

Incubator: our training programme for EU project writing

Novi Sad, Serbia
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Incubator offers support for European cooperation projects that foster social innovation.

Helping you go European

The incubator is designed to support social innovation within our network and beyond, from the initial idea to the funding application. It aims to train and mentor mid-to-senior-level culture professionals aiming to access European funds for culture. After completion of the programme, participants will have obtained:

  • Clear feedback and recommendations on how to implement their project successfully;

  • Tailored skills and competencies in European funding and project writing;

  • Their project incubated in 5D: all elements reviewed through the lens of high-level experts and peers;

  • An insider understanding of the EU project-evaluation process and criteria;

  • New connections with experts in European cultural cooperation and a diverse range of organisations from all over Europe;

  • Inspiring examples of the use of European funds for international cultural and artistic cooperation and how this cooperation can benefit local communities and territories.

A programme in four phases

Phase 1: Application

Applicants present an idea for a project that fits within one of the following funding frameworks: Creative Europe; Erasmus+; Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs; Interreg; Europe for Citizens. In this phase, the applicant presents a project idea with already identified partners. The applicant is also expected to outline the objectives and outputs, the impact the project aims to achieve, and to prove its European dimension.

Phase 2: Selection of project bearers/preparation

After the application deadline, our advising team assesses the projects submitted. Shortly after the selection announcement, a brief virtual session with experts helps selected candidates structure their project, identify its strengths and weaknesses, and figure out what further development is necessary. Selected candidates then have about two months to flesh out their projects before the mentoring retreat.

Phase 3: Mentoring retreat

Selected project bearers arrive with a detailed draft of their projects, including a timeline and objectives and confirmed partners. During three days, they enjoy one-to-one and group mentoring sessions by a panel of highly qualified and experienced experts. The retreat also features moments of peer-to-peer exchange, study visits and of course networking.

Phase 4: Project development

After the retreat, project bearers have one to two months to identify what type of funding they want to apply for, and five to nine months, depending on the type of project, for further project development. They stay in contact with their mentors all along this phase. A one-hour virtual meeting will help them get final feedback about their project. After this phase, participants are ready to submit their applications.

Useful links

  • Browse the brochure of the 2023 edition

  • Read about the projects selected for the 2023 edition

  • Watch the Incubator+ 2023 wrap-up video on our Peer Tube channel

  • View the Incubator+ 2023 photo gallery here

Incubator+ 2023

Incubator was back this year in a brand new format. The usual consultancy retreat was completed by a project fair designed to give participants the chance to find partners on the spot. We called this new, improved format Incubator+.

Among the candidates, a jury selected the 23 projects that were most suitable to take part in the competition for European funds. The selected project coordinators were invited to attend a 4-day project fair and intensive retreat in October 2023 in Novi Sad, Serbia, to get the chance to refine their projects with the guidance of a very experienced team of experts. The event was also an opportunity to network, exchange experiences and project ideas, and develop joint proposals with professionals representing socio-cultural organisations from all over Europe. An important element of Incubator+ was also the opportunity to establish contacts with organisations from the Vojvodina region in Serbia and learn from their experience in European cooperation.

This year’s host, ENCC member Kulturanova, provided a space for discussion, reflection, and exchange on the most burning topics in European cultural cooperation. The programme foresaw a variety of different activities, including presentations, consulting sessions with experts on EU projects, as well as many informal moments of networking, sharing, and leisure, including study visits to local socio-cultural projects Šok Zadruga and SKCNS Fabrika.

Applications for the 2023 edition are now closed. Selected project bearers are now working on the writing phase of their projects. Subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter to be informed when the next call for applications launches.

Andrej Nosov is a theatre director, cultural manager and human rights activist. In 2009, he founded Heartefact with the aim of fostering critical awareness and artistic engagement on current socio-political issues. He has managed several projects supported by Creative Europe, UNDP and other international funding schemes. He has large experience in teaching storytelling, strategic development, conflict management and community engagement.

Giles Agis is a cultural manager based in Liverpool, United Kingdom. Since 2022 he is the Executive Director of Brouhaha International. In the past, he has worked as a European development manager and a youth theatre professional. He has been a board member of the Roots & Routes International Association since 2016.

Marija Popović has worked as a project manager, trainer, external evaluator and consultant since 2000. She is currently a producer and international cooperation manager at the Institution Student Cultural Centre in Novi Sad, and an EU projects coordinator at the EXIT Foundation. She has managed EU projects in the field of human rights, social inclusion, youth and culture, and has extensive experience with Erasmus+. member of the Team Europe of the DEU in Serbia.

Nicolas Combes is the deputy director general of the world heritage site Saline Royale d'Arc-et-Senans, in France. In the past, he has been interim director of the Saline Royale, general administrator of the Gaîté Lyrique in Paris, and co-coordinator of Jordi Savall's triennial residency and of the ORPHEUS XXI project. He is specialised in EU projects and funding.

Goran Tomka is a researcher and lecturer in the field of audience studies, new media, cultural diversity and cultural policy and management. He is an associate professor at the TIMS Faculty from Novi Sad, and UNESCO Chair in cultural policy and management. Also active as a consultant, trainer, critic and advocate, he coordinated a long-term cultural plan for the application of Novi Sad for the title of 2021 European Capital of Culture.

Ivo Peeters is one of the founders of the European Network of Cultural Centres and has served as the organisation's chairman since 2015. He was previously the director of the De Zeyp cultural centre in Brussels. With 30+ years of experience working at the local and international level, he has been involved in conceiving and facilitating many European cooperation projects, with a special focus on arts and disabilities.

Daniel Azzopardi is the artistic director of Spazju Kreattiv, Malta’s National Centre for Creativity. He has been senior programme manager at Fondazzjoni Kreattività and director of the ŻiguŻajg International Arts Festival for Children and Young People. Since 2010, he is active as a cultural and creative entrepreneur, lending his expertise to policy-making, strategy planning and project coordination. He is also a visiting lecturer at the Malta College of Arts Science and Technology and the University of Malta.

Lucy Perineau is the communications and publications manager of the ENCC. She pilots the network's project on digital ethics and the ENCC switch to free, libre and open source software. She is the co-author of On Digital Ethics for Cultural Organisations and reports for the ENCC on the working conditions and mental health of culture professionals. She is also a PhD candidate carrying out practice-based research on comics.

Vittorio Bianco is the co-coordinator of Hub Multiculturale Cecchi Point – Casa del Quartiere Aurora in Turin, and the responsible for European projects at Rete delle Case del Quartiere. He started his career in environmental organisations with a focus on urban ecology and sustainable development. He then moved to other aspects of sustainability in the urban context such as social inclusion, culture and health. He is also the co-founder of Bici-t, a start-up offering sustainable mobility services.

Ksenija Đurović is a Belgrade-based cultural worker focusing on organisation and production models in the independent art scene. She is the producer of Bitef, the Belgrade International Theatre Festival, one of the oldest in the region, and the coordinator of Gender Equality for Cultural Diversity, a two-year project working towards developing a Network for gender equality in arts and culture. In 2018, she co-founded BRINA with curator Mirjana Dragosavljević, in hopes to develop their own feminist, inclusive, critical work in visual/performing arts.

  • Name Daniela Ribeiro; Project Celestial Bodies Encounters 2025/2026; Country Portugal; Organisation Má-Criação Associação Cultural

  • Name Uxio Novo Rey; Project; Country Spain; Organisation Fundación Uxío Novoneyra

  • Name Marijana Jukić; Project Museum of Ilok (Muzej grada Iloka); Country Croatia

  • Name Erica Romero Pender; Project SociAll – Empowering LGBT Social Entrepreneurship in the Cultural and Creative Sectors; Country Spain; Organisation Rocknrolla Producciones y Eventos Culturales

  • Name Heather O'Donnell; Project Full Circle – Support Systems for at-risk Artists and Communities; Country Germany; Organisation TGR The Green Room

  • Name Candy Glas; Project Culture Hub - Place Holder; Country Germany; Organisation Name upcoming

  • Name Mariia Kotvitska; Project RENAISSANCE - Intersectoral festival of art, nature and mental health; Country Spain; Organisation Spain/ Ukraine project (created by Ukrainian Foundation KOLO Fund)

  • Name Michael Klütgens; Project Europe Speaks - the first European queer feministic Slam festival; Country Belgium; Organisation Zungenrächer n.e.V.

  • Name Gleb Likhobabin; Project Collab EdChallenge — A real-life game to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals; Country Georgia/Serbia; Organisation Collab

  • Name Tom Van de Velde; Project Our venue as the living room of the village; Country Belgium; Organisation Dijk92

  • Name Ioana Diaconu; Project F-SIDES Distribution; Country Romania; Organisation Room 2046 Association

  • Name Sabina Sabic; Project Balkan Art Science Heritage / Activism Hubs in Nature; Country Bosnia and Herzegovina; Organisation Art Lab

  • Name Zsófia Jozifek; Project Positive Approach; Country Hungary; Organisation Jobb Veled a Világ Alapítvány

  • Name Jelena Krstanovic; Project Youth power in culture; Country Serbia; Organisation Institution Student Cultural Center in Novi Sad (SKCNS)

  • Name Henna Kojo; Project Mind The GAP; Country Finland; Organisation Association of Finnish Children's Cultural Centers

  • Name Külli Hansen; Project Green design; Country Estonia; Organisation Tartu Centre for Creative Industries

  • Name Helga Thies; Project ArtCrawl; Country Romania; Organisation ArtCrawl

  • Name Zaneta Vavrova; Project MLýN (Mill residency and creative centre); Country Czech Republic; Organisation Educational and Cultural Centre Broumov

  • Name Marta Szadowiak; Project Sustainability Officers' network in the field of culture; Country Poland; Organisation Goyki 3 Art Inkubator

  • Name Antoni Roviras Padrós; Project SÓC. Empowering youth towards Europe and Culture activeness: The urban and fusion dance Festival (from now on, SÓC); Country Spain; Organisation Auditori Teatre Espai Ter

  • Name Daniel Poulet; Project Cafés of Europe; Country Hungary; Organisation Pro Progressione

  • Name Tanja Gavrilovic; Project Structuring regional circus scene; Country Serbia; Organisation Teatroskop - South-Eastern European Network for Performing Arts

  • Name Beata Kwiatkowska; Project Nature Based Solutions in European artistic practises - continuation of idea; Country Poland; Organisation Ośrodek Kultury Ochoty OKO

  1. What will I learn during the event?

You will have an opportunity to create a network for your cooperation projects, The programme will be very much focused on international cooperation and will bring very diverse actors representing many cultural and artistic organisations. This is a very unique opportunity to connect with like-minded people who, like you, want to go European and are searching for inspiration, experience and networking.

Secondly, you will receive very specific training from our experienced trainers on how to tailor your project and raise your chances to be selected for European funding.

  1. Is Incubator+  only for ENCC members?

No, it is open to all. ENCC members (including members of members) have priority in the selection process, but non-members are very welcome to apply.

  1. Which are the countries eligble to apply for Incubator?

Eligibility varies according to the funding programme you choose to apply for, please check below:

  1. How long will I need to be away from work to attend the retreat?

Four full days.

  1. What types of project are NOT right for Incubator+?

  • Projects that do not tackle social and cultural issues;

  • Projects counting only two partners and not open to others;

  • Projects at the very initial stage of drafting;

  • Projects that do not meet European funding criteria;

  • Projects that have already applied and have not been awarded European funding.

  1. How many project partners will I need?

Projects should bring together at least three partners from three different EU member states, which means you should ideally have identified at least two partners when applying. We are however flexible about it, and if you struggle to find international partners upfront we still encourage you to apply.

  1. Which are the targeted European funding schemes? 

Incubator provides expertise on project-writing within the following funding schemes: Creative Europe, Erasmus+, Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, Interreg, CERV (Citizenship, Equality, Rights and Values, formerly Europe for Citizens).

  1. Can I apply if my organisation has no previous experience with European funding?

Yes, but you'll need to explain how the international dimension will contribute to your project, as well as how your project will contribute to more cohesive and inclusive societies, promote common European values, foster participation and social integration, enhance intercultural understanding and a sense of belonging to a community, and/or prevent violent radicalisation.

  1. Do you accept applications from the UK?

Unfortunately, the answer is no, considering that UK applicants will not be able to apply for calls in the framework of the 2021-2027 programme.

  1. What languages are used in the Incubator programme?

English is the working language.

  1. Will trainers read and edit my application?

Please note that trainers will not directly write or edit your application: they will advise and train you in order for you to be able to work in autonomy.

  1. Will trainers check my project's budget?

Trainers can give advice on budget, but will neither revise it nor write for you.