From 22-24 November 2021, the European network of Cultural Encounter Centres met at Château Mercier in Switzerland for discussions and training, giving a refreshed and dynamic European impetus to our work.
After the health crisis of the last two years, it felt necessary to focus on future European collaborations and projects, to reflect together on the challenges of our post-pandemic world, and to work on the tangible involvement of the CCRs in a European setting as well as on the issues we face.
The meeting also aimed to contribute to professional development of colleagues through formal and informal sessions, to encourage the free exchange of ideas and projects, and forge new partnerships. During the first session, project leaders presented their projects to attendees, including those who might wish to explore potential partnerships.
Among the projects introduced were three Erasmus+ programmes:
- ARTES, which encourages the participation of young artists through artistic residencies;
- PPS (People, Places & Stories), which is working on the creation of heritage communities as part of the action plan of the Faro Convention;
- ARIIP, which is a programme for mobility and training for members of the network.
The discussion was also opened up to invited speakers who work closely with the CCRs, and the organisation Le Dimore del Quartetto introduced its work supporting young string quartets and European cultural heritage through a circular economy, inviting CCRs to join the network.
The second day began with an overview of cultural news from the European Union, with a focus on the priorities of the von der Leyen Commission. After this, guidance on putting together a transnational cooperation project and completing a European funding application provided a practical follow-up to the discussions.
The third day involved group work on European themes and approaches: innovation, inclusion and environment. Questions around the international dimension of the CCRs, and rural attractions and innovation, were also the subject of in-depth discussions that will inform future plans.
To maintain the momentum generated by the event at Château Mercier, the ACCR will set up working groups in the weeks to come to tackle the following issues:
- a strategy for enlarging the European network
- heritage as a tool for inclusion
- rurality and innovation.
To be continued …