Funding, cooperation and mobility in Southeast Europe

In March 2024, in cooperation with TRIGGER, a showcase platform for Slovenian independent performing arts, and IETM Caravan, Motovila held a discussion panel on existing (funding) opportunities promoting cooperation in the performing arts sector in the Southeast Europe, more specifically in the Western Balkan region. Selected national, regional and European funding schemes were presented, followed by a discussion on current regional challenges in cross-border cooperation in the performing arts sector.

Event guest speakers were Ása Richardsdóttir (IETM / Perform Europe), Marijana Jurčević (Kultura Nova Fundation), Fanchon Lefevre (Goethe-Institut Brussels / Culture Moves Europe), Florent Mehmeti (ODA Theatre), Tanja Gavrilović and Caroline Sotta (French Institute Belgrade / Teatroskop), Mateja Lazar and Tanja Kos (Motovila / CED Slovenia).

[Photo by Marijo Zupanov @Trigger & IETM Caravan Ljubljana, March 2024.]

Kultura Nova Foundation was founded as an answer to the existing situation within the system of culture with the aim of ensuring an efficient measure that would allow for the improvement and further development of the position of civil sector in culture. Its Support Programme is the umbrella name for all public calls through which non-refundable funds are granted to associations and artistic organizations in the field of contemporary arts and culture in Croatia. The Support Programme provides easy access and flexibility, allowing short-term, annual and multiannual support to organisations for professional development, moving away from a project-based funding logic. Kultura Nova Foundation publishes various publications that deal with relevant topics for its scope of work within the framework of Research and Development Department activities, e. g. i-Portunus Houses or contribution to the On the Move´s Mobility Funding Guide for the Balkans.

Teatroskop is a program designed to boost the cooperation between France and South-East Europe – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey – in the field of performing arts in its most contemporary and audacious forms. The program supports reinforcement of professional networks through encouraging the project-sharing, enabling professional encounters and stimulating cooperation between the regional actors and the French scene. Teatroskop is open to various forms of performing arts: theatre, dance, circus, puppetry and street performance. The programme was initiated in 2011 by the French institute in Paris, the French Ministry of Culture and the French Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs.

Creative Europe (2021–2027) is the EU programme to support the culture and audiovisual sectors. Creative Europe invests in actions that reinforce cultural diversity and respond to the needs and challenges of the cultural and creative sectors. The programme is open to cultural and creative organisations from EU Member States, as well as non-EU countries. More detailed information on the application process and Call of proposals is available on the Funding & tender opportunities portal (FTOP). Applicants can also be supported by the Creative Europe Desks, among them CED Slovenia that is hosted by Motovila Institute.

Perform Europe is a forward-looking funding scheme for the European performing arts sector. The scheme supports inclusive, diverse and green touring projects submitted by applicants from the 40 Creative Europe countries (note open call until 31 March 2024). Perform Europe is led by a consortium of European performing arts networks – IETM, EDN, EFA, Circostrada, Pearle*, along with research organisation IDEA Consult.

Culture Moves Europe (CME) is supporting cultural mobility in Europe and beyond. The scheme provides mobility grants for artists and cultural professionals in all 40 creative Europe countries. It covers the sectors of architecture, cultural heritage, design and fashion design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts. Funded by the EU Creative Europe programme, CME is implemented by the Goethe-Institut. The scheme consists of two action lines: individual mobility for individuals and groups of up to five persons (note open call until 31 May 2024) and residencies (note open call until 15 May 2024).

Mobility Funding Guide for the Balkan Region, produced by On the Move, is meant to be a resource for artists and other arts workers looking to finance their cross-border travel to and/or from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia. Beyond helping artists and cultural professionals to identify sources of funding or related resources, this guide also aims to be a useful reference document for policy makers and funders with a special interest in the Balkan region.

Discussion takeaways: lack of funding, co-financing and capacity building, from project to development support

The discussion concluded that the SEE region or the Western Balkans is still under-represented in European funding schemes and lacks access to relevant opportunities at home. The challenges are many, ranging from the (co-)funding of organisations and their projects, the related lack of human resources and precarious work in culture sector, to project hyper-production, leading to the ever-present problem of the cultural sector (also beyond SEE) – lack of time for reflection and development and sustainable (international) action. The shift from project logic to development support introduced by the Croatian Kultura Nova Foundation is therefore very inspiring.

In the region and beyond, artists and professionals face many cultural and political differences, although cross-border cooperation is welcome and beneficial. In this context, the presence of international networks such as IETM and platforms and regional initiatives that facilitate or promote the cooperation of actors from SEE, such as the Trigger platform or the Teatroskop programme, is important. At the same time, understanding and support from national, regional and European institutions.

The EU’s Creative Europe programme, including the Perform Europe and Culture Moves Europe schemes, has proved to be an important mechanism for fostering (including sector-specific) cooperation in the region. However, due to the lower capacity in the region, the participation of artists and organisations is still significantly lower compared to other areas that are part of the European programme. Positive changes would certainly be encouraged by the creation of a specifically designed financial scheme, which – taking into account the social and economic specificities of the region – would contribute to strengthening the capacity of the cultural sector in SEE. An example of such a scheme is e.g. the Cultural Cooperation Projects in the Western Balkans open call (EACEA 39/2019) in 2020. A total of 350 projects from the region competed for a total budget of €5 million, demonstrating that there is a great need for funding. Besides, the region responds if the measure is tailored and therefore accessible.

Zupanov Trigger Day 2 18For the 5th edition from March 14th to 17th in Maribor and Ljubljana, TRIGGER joined forces with IETM Caravan Ljubljana 2024, an experience that gives an international group of participants an opportunity to go on an intensive artistic field trip. Alongside a rich selection of performance work, panels and dialogues, the goal was to place local contemporary performing arts practices within the socio-political legacy of the former Yugoslavia.


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