The Association of Cultural Encounter Centres – ACCR – today comprises 22 members in France and 22 in Europe and further afield (Canada, Brazil, Australia).

Places of memory, places of creation – Cultural Encounter Centres first appeared in France in 1972, initially involving six iconic historical sites. The initiative received the support of government ministers Jacques Duhamel and Jacques Rigaud. The label ‘Cultural Encounter Centre’ (Centre culturel de rencontre or CCR) has thus come to mark out a project which is artistic, cultural or intellectual, working in synergy with a major heritage site. These sites put themselves at the service of creation, diffusion, research and innovation, drawing a direct link between varied audiences and territories. Created to stimulate and coordinate the activities of these Centres, the ACCR (Association des Centres culturels de rencontre) was recognised as a registered charity in 1983. In France, 1992 saw the Charter of the Cultural Encounter Centres countersigned by Jack Lang, the then Minister of Culture. In 1996 the National Commission of Cultural Encounter Centres was created, under the aegis of the Minister of Culture and Communication. Finally, in 1998 the Circulaire Trautmann (Trautmann Circular) reinforced the original positioning of Cultural Encounter Centres in public policy and the role of the ACCR. The Orientation Council was created in 2001 with the aim of bringing together within the same informal governance structure the activities of the network’s French (historically the most numerous), European and international members.

Heritage sites dedicated to research projects and multidisciplinary creativity, creating direct links between varied audiences, Cultural Encounter Centres are an important force for development and change in their communities. The network thus allows its members to tackle with full legitimacy questions of development in their regions, and to be considered by the European Union and the Council of Europe as representatives in the discussion of these issues. The network is a founder member (and since 2010 sits on the Executive Committee) of Culture Action Europe. In this role, it took part in the development of the heritage programme of the European Union (‘Raphaël’), the preparation of the Culture 2000 programme and in discussions concerning the new generation of the EU Culture Programme 2014-2020 and the promotion of the European Agenda for Culture.

The ACCR network aims to promote a contemporary view of heritage and creativity which is in harmony with modern society and contributes to the development of innovation, sustainability and inclusiveness within its territories. At a time of change in Europe, when there is tension between the search for a new model of social and economic development, globalisation and the temptation for cultural isolationism, our heritage offers us in effect the opportunity to question, through an analysis of the past, the complexity of contemporary societies and the collective choices we must now make. To see our heritage as the crucible of our society seems to us to be at the heart of the process of European integration.