NIPOS – Czech Republic

Amateo member: National Information and Consulting Centre for Culture (NIPOS)

Member Country: Czech Republic

Contact Person: Kateřina Klementová, Project Manager

Who is NIPOS?

National Information and Consulting Centre for Culture (NIPOS), re-established in 1991, is a governmental organization which has history leading back to 1925, when Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia, founded a cultural/educational institute for his new citizens. Nowadays, NIPOS is a nationwide organization working as a coordinating body for more than 20 artistic specializations in non-professional art, is the official provider of national statistics on culture and realizes cultural research, methodological and expert service for the Ministry of Culture and offers consultation and advisory service for people.

What do you do?

Apart from large-scale statistical work and service for the Ministry of Culture, our work in non-professional art activities covers project managing, consultation, methodology issues, festivals, education and publishing activity in many different artistic specializations. NIPOS takes care of the very wide variety of regional festivals throughout the Czech Republic, which are leading to 21 large national festivals being the „grand finale“ for many amateur artist’s activities of the year. But it’s not only about presentation, NIPOS seeks to cherish the different art disciplines in terms of quality and development of the art forms. And so the natural part of every festival is education, workshops, seminars and (sensitive) expert reflection of what has been seen.

In the long-term perspective, NIPOS is taking care about the methodology and development of the different art branches: publishing perdiodicals and books in different arts, being in permanent touch with the artists, educators and cultural stakeholders of the time, works towards a better environment for amateur arts in the Czech Republic. That’s why we provide research: for many years, we are developing The Czech Amateur  Theatre Database. Currently, NIPOS is the leader of two larger research projects about seniors, culture and inter-generational dialogue and an oral history project on roots of contemporary dance in the Czech Republic.  

Why did you join Amateo?

NIPOS was there when Amateo was founded in 2008. As an umbrella organization for many amateur art forms, we felt it was necessary to share our experience, visions and problems we have been facing, with other similar European organizations. We were interested in the others’ experience and wanted to learn from them too. This curiosity remains up to these days and will last (hopefully) forever!

Why are international connections important?

International connections are essential for our work, in two ways: exchange of ideas, visions and sharing the never-ending creativity across nations is such an exciting experience (and makes fun of course!). It can change anybody’s life forever. On the other hand (and more seriously put): methodology, advocacy and knowledge of the broader (European) context of non-professional art helps us to better understand the field of amateur arts in the Czech Republic: where are we now and how can we do better? How can we help our (still quite young) democracy to take care about the unique world of amateur arts?

What are your future hopes?

We hope that our work will help the amateur arts to develop and flourish across Europe, with the help of our work together in different countries.

In creativity, we all are equal. We believe that creativity is the way that we can better discover each other and do something for calming the „restless times“ we live in Europe now.


Interested in being part of the Amateo network? Find out more about the members and how to join!

Youth Theatre Arts Scotland

AMATEO MEMBER: YOUTH THEATRE ARTS SCOTLAND

Member country: United Kingdom
Contact person: Hollie Wegner-Jaszkin, Communications and Marketing Manager

Who is YTAS? Youth Theatre Arts Scotland (YTAS) is the national development organisation and umbrella body for Scotland’s youth theatre sector. We support inspiring experiences for young people by connecting and training the people who work with them.

What do you do? As a development body, we celebrate and encourage ambition, innovation and progression: improving pathways and aiming for quality in all that we do. We support a membership of around 120 youth theatre organisations and practitioners all across Scotland. Each week they engage around 25,000 young people in youth theatre activity. YTAS provides direct services to young people, youth groups and their leaders through a combination of youth theatre projects, training and professional development, and information and advocacy.

Beacon Young Company - How to Save the World…ish - Thu 16 November 2017 - Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh (Photographer: Andy Catlin www.andycatlin.com)
Beacon Young Company – How to Save the World…ish – Thu 16 November 2017 – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Why have you joined Amateo? We have joined Amateo to share knowledge, skills, and resources across seas and borders, and to support our international outlook.

What is the importance of international connections? As part of our focus on international connections, YTAS is the lead partner of a new project called the BUZZ Network. We, and other leading arts organisations from Ireland, Norway, Belgium and Germany, have been awarded funding from the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union to share and develop youth theatre practice across the continent for the first time.

Over the next three years, the BUZZ Network will deliver multinational training events for youth theatre practitioners, engaging over 100 professionals from around twenty European countries. Alongside training, the BUZZ Network will undertake the first mapping research of youth theatre across Europe, and create a new web portal to increase awareness of cross-border opportunities for over 28,500 European youth theatre participants and professionals.

What are you future plans? YTAS and their BUZZ Network partners are currently recruiting European-based youth theatre artists to take part in training events all across the continent. To apply or to read more, go to buzznetwork.eu or ytas.org.uk/buzz-network.

Platform Young Company - Shaking the Habitual - Sat 17 November 2018 - Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh (Photographer: Andy Catlin www.andycatlin.com)
Platform Young Company – Shaking the Habitual – Sat 17 November 2018 – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Interested in being part of the Amateo network? Find out more about the members and how to join!


UFACG – Montenegro

AMATEO MEMBER: UDRUŽENJE FOLKLORNIH ANSAMBALA CRNE GORE / THE FOLKLORE ENSEMBLES ASSOCIATION OF MONTENEGRO

Member country: Montenegro
Contact person: Danijela Bokan, President of organisation

Who? Our organisation works all over Montenegro and represents a union of 28 independent folk groups at the moment. We welcome all organisations working in the field of tradition and culture. Cultural heritage in Montenegro is great and we are trying to explore the old days and retell the story in a complete new way.

What? We normally organise international festivals as well as national staging events such as a festival for children, veterans and active folklore groups, various cultural manifestations for folk dancing groups and choirs. We are also working in the education field and have organised about 15 seminars and workshops for interested groups, even international. All this is done with a scope to promote tradition, culture and heritage. 


Why Amateo? We have joined the Amateo network to de-provincialise our tradition and find partners with similar interests, find friends and be part of big Amateo family across Europe.

Importance of international connections? For us it is very important to make international connections and collaborate, getting the opportunity to represent all Montenegrin treasures and to learn about heritage, culture and art from other countries, to learn how to be more tolerant and to accept all types of differences.

Future hopes? We hope that we shall find the way to participate together in some new Amateo project, we wish that the Amateo network becomes bigger and stronger, to connect people and promote eternal values, art, culture and humanism. We send to all the best greetings from Montenegro!

10 years of UFACG

Interested in joining Amateo’s European network? Find out more!

Amateo Award 2020: Now Closed


Applications for the Amateo Award 2020 have now closed


Thank you!

By the award application deadline, we received a total of 62 applications from more European countries than ever before, which we are very happy about. We want to thank you all for sharing your great projects with us by entering the Amateo Award 2020.

There are all kinds of creative projects among the applications – it’s wonderful to see how art projects thrive and show good practises all around Europe – even in these times of challenge.

The Amateo Award 2020 is an opportunity to profile your amateur arts group or creative project to an international audience and, in turn, to make connections with participants, policy makers and funders from across Europe. Previous applicants have also found the Amateo Award gave increased recognition and support at a local level.

Hear more from previous winners Evelyn from Moving Ground in Belgium, the Amateo Award winner 2019, and Ingrid from OpRoet in The Netherlands, the Amateo Award winner 2018.

https://youtu.be/Kukoqfbe7a4

Ed Van Hoorn, F*** the System’ won the first Award in 2018, an amazing project from the Dutch city of Hoorn which united newcomers from Syria, Eritrea and Palestine. “We were very, very proud and honoured,” said Lyda Tijsen from Op Roet, the theatrical group which created the project.

The production had a profound impact on all those who took part including cast member Ayat from Syria: “Before Ed van Hoorn I was afraid, I was alone all the time, it was like living in the dark. But afterwards, my life is sunny. I met many Dutch people and made new friends.”

Evelyn, Moving Ground, Belgium – winner of the Amateo Award in 2019:

“After winning the Amateo Award we have gotten a lot of positive feedback from our community and a lot more support from the municipality. However, most of all, we gained a lot of confidence. Being a little, local project that got European recognition made us think bigger. In the near future we are starting up a festival where we want to network with different organizations that use dance as a tool for empowerment in the community.”


Amateo – the European Network for Active Participation in Cultural Activities 

Funding for Creative Europe

Currently, Amateo’s Arts Take Part project (2017-21) is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. Our aim is to support creative participation in all communities in Europe and work to bring different cultures together in shared understanding and mutual respect. Culture and creativity can unite the people of Europe in a unique and powerful way and we feel it is essential for the European Union to recognise this power and support the efforts of networks, organisers and individuals all over the continent.

This work requires proper funding that reflects the importance of the work that cultural organisations are undertaking, the added value that is created, and the urgent need to address divisive agendas within Europe. The European Parliament’s recent recommendations on this matter should be taken forward. With talks taking place at the European Council about the future funding of EU programmes, the Chair of Culture and Education Committee, Sabine Verheyen, made the following statement:

“The Culture and Education Committee has had a very constructive relationship with the Finnish Presidency of the Council during the trilogue negotiations on Erasmus+, Creative Europe and the European Solidarity, but the Finnish Presidency proposal for European Council discussions on the next EU long-term budget is really wide of the mark. Although, so far, we have no figures for any of the education, culture and youth programmes, we have been crunching the numbers and the picture is bleak. As things stand, based on equal across-the-board cuts for those programmes where no figure is included, we’re looking at 20% cuts for all three programmes compared to the Commission proposal, 48% for Erasmus+ compared to the Parliament proposal and 53% for Creative Europe compared to the Parliament position. This is deeply worrying.

Parliament called for the Erasmus+ budget to be tripled, because we want the new programme to do more for more people, to reach out to those with fewer opportunities and to deliver the ambitious flagship initiatives the Commission proposes – European Universities, Vocational Education and Training Centres of Excellence and DiscoverEU. We need a budget that matches these ambitions and what’s on the table now falls woefully short.

The Parliament also insisted on doubling the resources for Creative Europe. This is the sole EU programme for the cultural and creative sector and is currently hugely over-subscribed. Again, we must do more if we are to deliver even more added value to the sector and the people engaged in it.

An investment in education, culture and youth is an investment in people and is the very essence of European cooperation. I urge the Council and the European Council to go back to the drawing board and think again. The Culture and Education Committee stands ready to press forward with negotiations on Erasmus+, Creative Europe and the European Solidarity Corps, but any political agreement on the scope and actions to be financed depends on the budget. We therefore call on the Council and European Council to avoid further delays and to show the necessary ambition.”

Join Amateo, Culture Action Europe and many others across Europe by signing the CAE petition calling for the necessary support to be given to culture.

Travelling Light

Amateo’s Carbon Footprint
by Arts Take Part coordinator, Jim Tough

In Amateo, the European membership network for active participation in cultural activities, we value the opportunity to bring people together to learn, share and explore. With vital support from Creative Europe our Arts Take Part programme has helped us come together in venues across Europe. The opportunity for human contact, the face-to-face and personal experiences for our staff and members is at the heart of our work. But there is a price. The price of travel in Euros and in carbon emissions. Our carbon footprint is a European shoe size 47! So, inspired and challenged by the climate emergency and Extinction Rebellion activists, we decided to take the first steps towards smaller footprint.

We challenged our Arts Take Part team of 23 workers from across Europe to explore how to travel lighter to our meeting in Utrecht, Netherlands. So we thought it would be useful to share some of the personal experiences of taking on that challenge and what we learned as a result.

ATP team dinner in Utrecht

Mixing business and pleasure — in some cases taking a different means of travel meant there was time for other things. So Claire took the overnight ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam and cycled 70 km from Ijmuiden to Utrecht. The pleasure of the cycle part helped make the longer trip acceptable at a personal level. Anna-Karin built in a stay with a friend in Stockholm to help with her rail travel plans. Jan travelled by train from Ljubljana but took the opportunity to visit friends in Haarlem. My own travel from Scotland to Utrecht by train meant an additional night away in a London hotel. But I timed the travel to allow a visit to the theatre in London. 

It takes time — what became clear is that to avoid air travel there is usually a time cost. For all of us with busy working lives, that extra day or two to travel by train, ferry or bicycle can be a problem. But maybe this is part of the bigger problem of the pace and demands of modern work cultures. It’s as much about a change in how we see the world of work and the pace of life. I know I find travelling by train far less stressful and more productive. Joining Damien on the leg from Rotterdam to Utrecht we were able to add some value to the team meeting agenda in preparing a session. I find air travel can be soulless and impersonal. Travel by land may take a bit longer but we may arrive in a better state of mind.

Inflexible bureaucracies — one challenge for some our our members from different national systems is the requirements of their own financial rules. So the common sense of travelling from one meeting for a project in Frankfurt by direct train to Utrecht was not permitted because the two projects are supported from different budgets. So Katerina had to go back to Prague to restart her journey to Utrecht! The good news is that by raising this issue the rules may change. 

It can be more expensive — yes, indeed it can. But the worst of that can be minimised by good forward planning of the dates for our meetings and being thoughtful about where we meet to reduce other costs such as accommodation. Travel to and accommodation in Brussels where Creative Europe holds its briefing meetings can be very expensive and very often the dates are late in being planned and confirmed. So our friends that fund all of this good work could help by planning meetings well ahead so we can get the best value for trains and hotels. 

It makes a difference — this was a first attempt but it was encouraging. By inviting the team to try out different approaches we reduced our carbon footprint by 33%. It added about 73% in journey time (but much of that time was used well) and about 20% in cost. It reminds me of an old quote – “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”. In the current crisis we might suggest that if you think reducing your carbon footprint is expensive try a global environmental catastrophe.

ATP team meeting in Utrecht

FSU – Finland

Amateo Member: Finlands Svenska Ungdomförbund (FSU) / Finnish-Swedish Youth Federation

Member country: Finland
Contact person: Sebastian Gripenberg, Executive Director

Sebastian Gripenberg, Executive Director, FSU

Who?

FSU is a youth organization. We represent swedish-speaking youth in Finland and focus on cultural youth work. We have approximately 50000 members and 300 local associations within our organization.

What?

We focus primarily on cultural activities, including events. A large part of our activities are concerned with non-formal education, events, support to our organizations and advocacy.

Why join Amateo?

To increase our understanding of the voluntary cultural field in Europe, to learn about the great things being done in other countries and to make new friends.

Importance of international connections?

No one individual or organization has all the answers. We are all concerned with similar problems and challenges and need to learn from each other. True integration in Europe requires real popular engagement, and organizations like Amateo have an important role to play here.

Future hopes?

I hope that Amateo can develop its capacities and increase its reach and strive to bring the member organizations closer together.

Amateo Stakeholder Survey

As part of the four-year Arts Take Part project, Amateo is working with an external evaluator to help measure our success in various areas and our impact on the wider European sector. At the end of 2018, we worked with Ruth Stevenson to conduct our first stakeholder survey. The external evaluation of the Arts Take Part project looks outwards – assessing the extent to which the project has had an effect on those that it aims to reach. As part of this external evaluation, the survey was planned to ask all of those engaging with the project about their experience of participation.

In total, 99 different stakeholders took part in the survey in 2018. The respondents spanned 17 countries, most often Belgium, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Slovenia and Denmark. Almost half of the respondents (45) represented a member of the growing Amateo network. Respondents were asked several questions about the way in which they had engaged with Amateo in the previous year and how they felt this benefitted them — as well as questions about what they’d like to see in the future.

Almost half (48%) of stakeholders attended Amateo events, with 12% considering attending and 27% hearing about the events. Almost one in five (18%) stakeholders entered the Amateo awards, with 2% considering entering and 54% hearing about the awards. The response to Amateo’s range of activities and outputs was positive:
▪ 77% agreed that the themes are relevant to their work
▪ 62% agreed that the content is high in quality
▪ 55% agreed that the information comes in a format which is easy to share

Responses were also positive when asked about Amateo’s delivery on key objectives. 74% said that Amateo was performing well in relation to supporting international cooperation, 70% said that Amateo was performing well in relation to maintaining a strong network, 64% said that Amateo was performing well in relation to providing opportunities to share learning, and 64% said that Amateo was performing well in relation to providing advocacy for amateur arts.

Overall, 86% of respondents agreed that there is a need for a network like Amateo and 81% agreeing that it is a valuable network. With the survey following the first year of the Arts Take Part project, stakeholders already recognised a positive influence by Amateo on both national and European policy and also public participation.

Individuals recognised the personal impact that involvement with Amateo and its activites has had on their work and their international connections.
▪ 66% agreed that I made new contacts through it
▪ 66% agreed that I feel better equipped to work internationally because of it
▪ 62% agreed that I made a positive change to my working practices as a result of it
▪ 46% agreed that I shared information about it with others

As we are now past the halfway point of the Arts Take Part project and delivering the third year of activities, a new stakeholder survey will be launched to measure the external impact of the work over the past year. If you’ve been part of our work, please do share your thoughts. The survey will be launched next week via our newsletter and social media channels.

Highlights: CONNECT+, Edinburgh

Speakers at Don't Look Back seminar in Edinburgh (l-r: Ingrid Smit, Sylvia Dow, Anne Gallacher, Janine Husch)

People from across Europe came together last week in Edinburgh to share thoughts and ideas on creativity in an ageing population. The programme of events was organised by Amateo in partnership with Voluntary Arts and Luminate, with support from Creative Scotland as well as Creative Europe. The week included creative workshops for older people from across Europe and a seminar for those working on developing creative projects with the annual Epic Awards ceremony organised by Voluntary Arts bringing an inspiring few days to a close.


Opening Reception

Amateo and our partners were honoured to be guests at the beautiful Institut Français d’Ecosse on Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile. Guests were welcomed by the Deputy French Consul, Marie Vassallo; Amateo President, Susan Fazakerley; Bailie Lezley Marion Cameron of Edinburgh City Council; Luminate Director, Anne Gallacher and Amateo’s Arts Take Part coordinator, Jim Tough. As well as being treated to some fine Scottish produce throughout the evening, the guests were then treated to a performance by Edinburgh-based choir Forget Me Notes.


CONNECT+

Participants were invited from many European countries to come together, exchange ideas and build new relationships. One strand of the programme brought together those working in the field and amateur and participatory arts with an interest in engaging older people in creative activities. There were exercises to get to know each other and even some speed-dating sessions! There were also presentations from funding bodies, including Creative Europe, to inform people of the opportunities available to support international collaboration. Staff from organisations across Europe discussed potential new projects and collaborations which we hope to see realised in the very near future.

In the Creative Workshops programme, a group of 12 older people from Belgium, Netherlands, Slovenia, Germany, Czech Republic and Scotland came together with artists Janice Parker and Luke Pell and film maker Tao-Anas Le Thanh to explore the Don’t Look Back theme through movement and words. The process resulted in a remarkable filmed exploration on the theme. This was a powerful process of sharing, learning, reflection, and cooperation amongst this group from across Europe that will live long in the hearts and minds of those involved.


Seminar: Don’t Look Back

Taking inspiration from Bob Dylan and challenging the preconception that almost all creative work with older people needs to be about reminiscence, this one-day seminar at the University of Edinburgh’s InSpace sought to recognise that we all have a creative future. Each of the speakers gave a short presentation which led to a provocation to be discussed and debated by the participants. The event was chaired by playwright Sylvia Dow.

Throughout the day, we heard from Ingrid Smit (LKCA, Netherlands) about the Lang Leve Kunst project (Long Live Art), Janine Husch (Kubia, Germany) about the work the organisation delivers and the challenges they face in reaching a diverse range of participants, and Anne Gallacher (Luminate, Scotland) about partnership working to improve creative opportunities for older people in Scotland.


Epic Awards ceremony

The annual Epic Awards celebrate the achievements of voluntary-led creative groups and projects across the UK and Ireland. This year’s awards ceremony was held in Edinburgh to close our week of events in Scotland’s capital city. Awards were presented to winners for Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales as well as the Peer Award (voted for by the nominated groups), the People’s Choice Award (voted for by thousands of members of the public) and the Celebrating Diversity Award which this year went to Kirrie Connections, a community dementia support hub in the rural Scottish town of Kirriemuir.

The evening was hosted by BBC Scotland’s Janice Forsyth and included an opening speech by Ben Macpherson MSP, Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development in the Scottish Government. The ceremony was opened with a performance from Scotland award runners-up, 24 Carat Gold, a dance group of women aged 60 – 87 years old, while the closing performance by Scotland award winners, Musicians in Exile, had the audience up dancing in Edinburgh’s Central Hall.

It was a really enjoyable and very moving finale to a week of connection, collaboration and inspiration in Edinburgh. We’re now looking forward to upcoming Amateo events during 2020. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to receive invitations.


Campaign for culture in Commissioner Gabriel’s title

The new President-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced the nominations of 27 new commissioners, due to be formally appointed once approved by the European Parliament on 1 November. While the gender balance of the new commission has been welcomed, the removal of culture from a commissioner’s job title is seen as a backward step.

Mariya Gabriel from Bulgaria, who previously served as Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, has been nominated for the new role of Commissioner for Innovation and Youth. Recognition of culture has been removed from headline titles of the commission, having previously been included in the role of Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (Tibor Navracsics, 2014-2019).

“At a time when the need to recognise how our shared culture can bind us together as European citizens is so important, it is extremely disappointing to see culture neglected in this way. The challenges of the coming years can only be addressed by coming together and understanding each other’s experiences and world views so that we can work collectively for the common good. Millions of Europeans use culture and creativity to enjoy themselves and build lasting relationships locally and internationally.

The crucial work of the Creative Europe programme and the countless networks, organisations and volunteers around Europe help bring culture to the fore so that we can celebrate our distinct cultural backgrounds and our shared human desire for self expression. We believe that cultural exchange and broader cultural understanding is essential in building a peaceful, collaborative Europe for the future and this should be recognised in the commissioner’s title.”

Amateo President, Susan Fazakerley

Culture Action Europe has launched a petition to call on Ursula von der Leyen to bring culture back into Commissioner Gabriel’s title. Amateo is proudly supporting this call for all those who value culture to sign the petition.