European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC)

Lights On: our training and staff exchange programme for young cultural workers

Warsaw, Poland
 – 
A group of people visting a garden
Applications for Lights On 2024: Unlocking Sustainability are now closed. Selection results will be published in early February.

A programme for young cultural operators

Lights On is our funded training and work exchange programme for culture professionals under 35. We have been running it every year since 2008, gathering very enthusiastic feedback from participants over the years.

A 5-day launching seminar, held in a different European city each year, is your first opportunity to meet with your trainers and fellow participants. The seminar focuses on cultural management, professional development and soft skills, through a mix of training, workshops, coaching, peer-to-peer learning, and study visits to local organisations.

During the months following the seminar, you will travel to another participant’s organisation for at least 7 days, and host a participant in your organisation for the same amount of time.

Lights On offers you an international work experience, a European perspective, a personal network of colleagues and allies, and helps you acquire new competencies and skills to respond to the needs of your audiences and community. 

Lights On 2024: Unlocking sustainability

This edition of Lights On will look at the vital role cultural operators play in fostering environmental consciousness and weaving sustainability into the very essence of cultural institutions. By integrating ecological principles, not only can cultural centres contribute to a healthier planet, but also strengthen the social and cultural fabric of their neighbourhoods.

The training will take place in Warsaw, hosted by our member Ośrodek Kultury Ochoty (OKO), a cultural institution under the patronage of the municipality. OKO is dedicated to deepening social bonds and enriching the cultural capital of the local community through a diverse range of grassroots artistic, civic, and social activities. As the host of the training, OKO embodies the fusion of culture, community and sustainability. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with an institution deeply rooted in local heritage, committed to fostering artistic expression, and dedicated to the principles of a sustainable and an eco-conscious future.

How to apply

Lights On is open to cultural workers under 35 years of age. You can apply whether you work in one of our member organisations or not. However, applicants from our member organisations will have priority in the selection process.

Applications for the 2024 edition are open until January 21st, 2024. Before applying, please read the complete call for applications carefully (you have it in pdf here and in machine-readable format here). Answers to many of your questions may be in the FAQ section below. If your question is not addressed, feel free to contact Ingrid, our training officer, at ingrid.danckaerts@encc.eu.

To apply, fill in this form by January 21s, 2024 at the latest.

Browse the brochure from the last edition of the programme

  • Dagna Gmitrowicz is the co-founder of KulturNest e.V. and a specialist in innovation, inclusion and training. Her practice combines four areas: art, learning, therapy and nature. Her daily work has supported many people's personal development and creativity thanks to her competencies as a forest therapy guide (certified by ANFT, USA), and therapist (certified by the M. Erickson Institute). As a painter, she explores different perceptions of reality by studying the natural environment and the nature of humankind. Over the last twenty-five years, she has been strongly involved in developing quality in the Youth, Erasmus and European Solidarity Corps Programmes. In this area, she facilitated meetings of trainers pools, seminars on inclusion and networking. She recently developed educational material on how to work with the issue of crisis in an intercultural environment. She belongs to several trainers' pools: TOSCA, TOT It's up to Me, soliDARE.

  • Oleg Koefoed is an actionist, working in the crossing pathways of science, research, culture, places, communities, businesses and governments, to contribute to the making of a common regenerative future. He leads the Center for Vitalism and Regenerative Transformation, hosted by Promentum in the heart of Copenhagen, and serves as a project maker, teacher, guide and counsellor. Since 1999, he has served as a teacher, course and program developer and mentor/supervisor in numerous contexts linked to sustainability, culture and regenerative transformations, including the Copenhagen Business School and Copenhagen University, Ars Baltica, the EU Baltic Sea Region PA for Culture, Valletta2018 European Capital of Culture, municipalities, regions, and networks in Europe and beyond.

Detailed information about study visits will be published in March/April 2024.

  1. How long does the Lights On programme last? How long will I need to be away from work?

The programme includes five compulsory activities that will take place between April 1st and November 30th:

  • The online preparatory meeting;

  • The training, which will last 5 days including travel;

  • The staff exchange, which will last a minimum of 7 days including travel;

  • The evaluation.

NB: you'll also need to consider dedicating around 4 hours to prepare before the training and at least 2 hours to write your final report. So, all in all, plan to be away from your organisation for about 12 days. Keep in mind, though, that Lights On is a self-designable process. Participants can choose to pursue certain learning paths or research areas over a longer period of time, according to their needs and time capacity. The Lights On trainers and the ENCC staff will be available to support them.

  1. What's in it for me?

The training focuses on cultural management, soft skills, and professional self-development, honing in on synergies between ecology and inclusiveness and finding the perfect management model for your organisation.

You'll rub shoulders with a mix of profiles – cultural managers, communication officers, programmers, and youth workers. It's a chance to get a different perspective on your daily work, make professional contacts, and maybe even forge some lasting friendships.

Post-training, you'll walk away with fresh ideas, new perspectives, and new contacts for cooperation and programme ideas. Your mother organisation might also benefit from an "outside eye" during the hosting part of the staff exchange.

By joining the Lights On learning community, you'll get access to a resource base dedicated to cultural management. Plus, you can hop on the Lights On Fellow Facebook page for ongoing learning and exchange. We'll keep you in the loop about future activities organised by the ENCC, and who knows, your organisation might even become a future host for a Lights On training.

  1. Could you provide information on the financial implications of participating in the programme? Specifically, what costs should participants anticipate?

ENCC Member Organisations: No fee for participation in the Lights On programme, including the training and staff exchanges. ENCC covers all costs for training participation (training, accommodation, catering, and local transport). Travel costs for exchanges are supported, provided the stay is at least 7 days.

Non-Members: Some costs may apply. For the training, ENCC covers training, accommodation, catering, and local transport costs. International transport is the responsibility of the participant's organisation. Travel costs for exchanges are covered if the stay is at least 7 days.

Funding Allocation for Travel:

  • Sustainable Travel: Up to 300€ for eco-friendly transportation, promoting environmentally conscious choices.

  • Non-Sustainable Travel: 150€ to 200€, recognizing the challenges of complete sustainability. Flexibility is based on efforts to reduce environmental impact.

Our commitment to sustainability is reflected in these funding options. Participants are encouraged to choose eco-friendly travel, contributing to our collective effort to minimise environmental impact.

  1. How can I ensure my travel is sustainable?

Ensuring that your travel is sustainable involves making conscious choices to minimize your environmental impact. Here are some tips to help you plan and execute sustainable travel:

  • Choose sustainable transportation:

Opt for public transportation, such as trains or buses, which generally have a lower carbon footprint than individual car travel.

If driving is necessary, consider carpooling or renting a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle.

  • Offset your carbon footprint:

Calculate your carbon footprint for the trip and consider investing in carbon offset programmes. Many organisations offer projects that reduce or capture an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide to compensate for your emissions.

  • Pack light:

Travelling with lighter luggage reduces the weight of the vehicle or aircraft, contributing to fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

  1. My organisation is not an ENCC member, may I apply anyway? Are the terms of participation the same as for ENCC members?

Yes, you may apply. There are small differences in financing, as explained in the Call.

  1. Does the participant receive a written confirmation at the end of the programme, e.g. a diploma confirming the acquired skills?

Yes, after fulfilling all the conditions of participation in the programme, the participant receives an ENCC Lights On Certificate confirming participation in the programme and confirming the acquisition of particular competencies.

  1. I do not work in a cultural centre, but in another cultural organisation. May I apply anyway?

Yes. In the selection process, we'll be especially attentive to applications from cultural centres' staff, but we want to hear from all motivated candidates. The goal is to select the most diverse and balanced pool of participants possible.

  1. I don't live/work in a EU member state/I am not an EU member state citizen. Can I still apply?

You may also apply if your organisation is located in a country neighbouring the EU. In that case your organisation should be ready to finance your participation in all the Programme activities. If you're hesitating about whether to apply, drop us a line at office@encc.eu.

  1. Is the programme open to UK citizens?

The Programme provides financial support to organisations based in Europe and eligible within the scheme of Creative Europe Funding. 

Organisations that are based in Europe but not eligible within the scheme of Creative Europe funding are welcome to join. However, they need to take responsibility for all costs related to participation in all activities.

  1. Does Lights On accept more than one candidate per organisation?

We accept all applications, but will only select one person per organisation, to give different organisations the opportunity to benefit from the programme and to create as diverse a group as possible.

  1. Is Lights On open to people with disabilities?

Certainly! Lights On welcomes participants of all abilities, and this year, our host, Ośrodek Kultury Ochoty, is fully equipped to accommodate individuals with disabilities. We are committed to inclusivity, and the ENCC has a track record of organising events with accessibility in mind.
If you are a candidate with specific needs, we encourage you to inform the ENCC well in advance about any conditions that must be fulfilled to ensure your participation. This allows us to assess how best to support your needs and make the necessary arrangements. N.B. Please be aware that, unfortunately, the ENCC cannot provide on-the-spot support for special needs during the exchange. It is crucial for any required support to be agreed upon and organised collaboratively between the sending and hosting organisations.

  1. Is Lights On open to parents with children participating in the training?

Yes. ENCC events tend to be family-friendly. When possible, the ENCC tries to provide support in organising daycare for children. However, we are dependent on different limitations. When the ENCC cannot provide care for children, parents must take responsibility for organising it during the training. Please bear in mind that the Lights On training involves a small group of people and is a very intensive process, so it is not possible to invite children to the training. Children are welcome to join all meals and free time slots. N.B. In order to prepare for the meeting, the ENCC must be informed well in advance if a participant plans to bring their child along.

  1. How many hours does the training take per day? Will I have time to work remotely for my home organisation?

The training has a very full programme, so we advise you to organise your tasks in a way that you have free space to focus only on the training. We start every day at 9:00 and finish at 17:00-18:00, followed by a dinner with the whole group and sometimes an additional cultural programme. The training is an intensive learning process as well as an opportunity to connect with others, so we ask participants to be present at all the meals as well.

  1. I plan to come with my partner. It is a unique opportunity to spend some time together. Can you organise a double room for us?

The training we have designed is an intensive and collaborative learning experience that emphasises group dynamics and collective participation. To ensure that all participants can fully engage with the material and benefit from the group process, we encourage attendees to be present throughout the duration of the training. This immersive approach allows for a deeper understanding of the subject matter and fosters valuable connections with fellow participants. While we understand the desire to share this experience with a partner, we recommend that participants focus on the training itself during the programme days. We suggest partners consider joining for a weekend, providing an opportunity to explore the surroundings and enjoy sightseeing activities.

Regarding accommodation, please note that our arrangements are specifically designed for the registered participants of the training. Unfortunately, we cannot assure accommodations for partners within the programme. Participants wishing to make separate arrangements for their partners are advised to contact the hotel directly to discuss their specific needs and preferences.

  1. Will I have time for sightseeing?

Sightseeing is not part of the training, so please plan it before or after the training. We will however organise study visits to interesting local organisations.

  1. Why is Lights On limited to people under 35 years old? I am past this age but have changed career path recently and am still a junior professional. I perfectly fit all other profile criteria. May I apply?

Lights On is the only ENCC capacity programme dedicated to younger professionals, hence the age limitation. For professionals over 35, we offer other programmes like Incubator.

  1. Is Lights On a replacement for BECC? What does it imply?

Lights On is the new name for the BECC programme. The old name was reflecting well the initial objectives of the programme like building cooperations between European cultural centres and exchange of good practices between them. Since 2015 the programme has evolved into a training programme dedicated to specific competences for cultural operators in Europe by adding 2 more pillars: professionalisation of staff working in cultural organisations by introducing the trainings connected to the specific theme and related  skills and competencies and second pillar: individual career path within the cultural sector with a training on individual professional development. Also since 2015 the BECC opened up to other cultural organisations than cultural centres. Finally with a new CUBE Project ENCC office decided to rebrand the programme.