OP/TIL (Belgium)

AMATEO MEMBER: Steunpunt voor Bovenlokale Cultuur – OP/TIL

Member country: Belgium
Contact person: Benedikte De Vos, staff member data collection and research at OP/TIL (and former secretariat of Amateo 😊)

Who?

Steunpunt voor Bovenlokale Cultuur grew out of Amateur Arts Forum, the supporting organisation for the amateur arts sector in Flanders, Belgium. In a big rationalization process, led by the government, the amateur arts sector lost its support and advocacy organization by the end of 2018. However, in De Federatie, the amateur arts sector found a new advocacy organization whilst the nine discipline-specific umbrella organisations professionalized a lot during the past years. Steunpunt voor Bovenlokale Cultuur has a broader and somehow different focus. There is, since 2019, a new Flemish decree that stimulates cultural projects to transcend the borders of their local community or city and to work together with partners on a broader geographical scale. It also has as a goal to connect cultural players from all different cultural subsectors (amateur and professional arts, cultural heritage…) with each other and/or with  organizations from others sectors, such as education, well-being, tourism etc. Next to this project funding, there are subsidies for small groups of municipalities and towns, who act as a connector and facilitator for culture in their region. Steunpunt voor Bovenlokale Cultuur is the new supporting organization for all these new initiatives. We inspire and connect players from the broad range cultural sector. Beyond the boundaries of municipalities, sectors and disciplines.

What?

Our organization wants to connect and inspire cultural actors and organizations to work and cooperate across the borders of their community, their discipline, their cultural habitat. Therefore, we bring people together and organize networking events where we show good examples and give stage to inspirational speakers. We give workshops to inform on the possibilities to get funding and take time for  1 on 1 advice to organizations who have a good idea,  but not yet the experience to start a (large-scale) project. We go to other domains and convince them of the opportunities that new cooperations might have. We gather knowledge about new and challenging cooperations and let this knowledge flow back to the field.

Why Amateo?

Our predecessor, Amateur Arts Forum was a founding member of Amateo. From our own regional context, we learned that amateur arts organizations are good at building bridges with other cultural sub-sectors and domains. At Amateo conferences, and from our contacts with other member organizations, we discovered a lot of good examples, where amateur arts work together with professionals arts, with the health care sector etc. These good examples help us in our current challenge and can stimulate other sectors to leave their comfort zone and work together with non-usual suspects.

Importance of international connections?

Stimulate cultural actors to collaborate across borders is in the mission of our organization! Going for the unknown, finding new, undiscovered partners, learning about common issues you have with people on the other side of the country (or Europe)…it can only help to enrich yourself and to grow in a way you would not have down without these partners. You always learn a lot from new collaborations, not only how others do things differently, but also about yourself. Within a few years, when Steunpunt voor Bovenlokale Cultuur is operating at full speed, we want to introduce the international scope in all our services and stimulate cultural actors from Flanders to work internationally.

Future hopes?

Here in Flanders, the amateur arts sector has proven to be flexible and innovative during the Corona crisis and semi-lockdown in Flanders, Belgium. And I believe it was the same in most European countries. The myriad of spontaneous initiatives showed the need we have for culture, on a personal and societal scale. It is this power to bring people together, to connect and to move people that we should foster.

This is also what I hope for the amateur arts sector and for Amateo, who is as a valuable partner in the field: that they will be visible and appreciated, both by the public and by policy makers. The imaging of the added value is now more important than ever. For all people, young and old, whatever their background or families they come from: I hope they have opportunities to take part in the arts discipline they feel attracted to, get chances to develop themselves and make friendships for a lifetime!

If you want to read more about OP/TIL, please visit their web page!

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

Cultuurconnectie (Netherlands)

AMATEO MEMBER: Cultuurconnectie
The Netherlands in Europe

Member country: Netherlands
Contact person: Jan Brands, director

Who?

Cultuurconnectie is the national sector association for cultural education, cultural participation and community colleges. The organization is based in Utrecht, Netherlands. We represent music schools, centers for the arts, community colleges and organizations occupied in amateur arts or cultural participation.

What?

We are a member organization, offering membership and advice, advocacy and campaigning. We are also the employers association who arrange, together with the workers associations, collective employment contracts.

Why Amateo?

We joined the Amateo network because we care about open, inclusive and qualitative cultural participation for everybody.

International connections?

It is important to make international connections and collaborate across borders because we can learn from each other, get inspired by other countries, cultures and practices and because together we can gain strength in reaching our common goals.

Future hopes?

By sharing, informing, inspiring and collaborating on a European level we can increase the visibility and approval of our work and also strengthen the organizations who support them.

If you want to read more about Cultuurconnectie, please visit their web page!


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

Voluntary Arts (UK & Ireland)

AMATEO MEMBER: voluntary arts

Member countries: UK & Ireland
Contact persons: Damien McGlynn, Communications & Partnerships Director, and Andreea Lupu, Communications Administrator

Who?

Voluntary Arts is the representative organisation for the voluntary arts sector across the UK and Ireland, founded in 1991. It promotes voluntary participation in creative cultural activity in order to develop a healthy, creative and engaged civil society. We aim to provide a universal voice to more than 60,000 voluntary-led creative groups which regularly involve more than 10 million people. Voluntary Arts’ strategy focuses on fostering collaborations, strengthening social connectedness and providing spaces for creative cultural activities. 

“Voluntarily doing creative cultural activity is not just a nice thing to do, it is the key to a happy human life”

— Martyn Evans, Chief Executive, Carnegie (UK) Trust, July 2018

What?

Voluntary Arts works across a wide network of amateur arts umbrella bodies, local organisations and media partners in the public and private sector. Actively liaising with government bodies, we seek to improve existing policies and infrastructure in the arts and culture sector and to make creativity an inherent part of the daily lives of individuals and groups of all backgrounds. We offer guidance materials, resources, workshops and conversation platforms to support and develop local initiatives that are inclusive and highly engaging.

Some of Voluntary Arts’s main initiatives include:

  • Annual campaigns and events, such as the Get Creative Festival and the Epic Awards
  • Collaborations with local media, including BBC radio as part of the Up For Arts project
  • Extensive resources, including helpful briefings on a range of topics, listings of opportunities, funding and much more.

One of the most recent initiatives is #CreativeNetwork – a series of online conversations open to anyone involved in arts, culture and creativity in order to connect and collaborate in these unusual times. Facilitating these conversations has enabled people from across the UK and Ireland to talk with others, develop ideas and projects, and find sustainable ways to continue or improve their work in changing circumstances. 

Why Amateo?

Amateo is a unique network developing the capacity of many different participatory arts organisations all across Europe. Helping to shape its goals and programme as a founder member was a natural step towards upscaling our activity in the voluntary and amateur arts sector internationally. With a shared mission to support and promote people’s active engagement with creative activities, we have been building exchange-based collaborations with peer organisations across Europe for quite a few years now. 

We strongly believe that a joint effort towards creating and facilitating a stimulating environment for inclusive and accessible participation in cultural activities is a key ingredient of a lasting meaningful impact in different communities and decision-making structures at an international level. Thanks to the amazing quality of the arts and creativity to transcend borders — as well as to the genuine commitment of Amateo member organisations to developing trans-national cooperation — there is much potential to be further explored.

Importance of international connections?

The international outlook of any organisation working in the cultural sector in today’s interconnected world is key to maintaining a good sense of awareness of the practices and policies applied from a local to a global scale. There is much knowledge and practical insights to be exchanged and built upon as part of trans-national collaborations. The focus of our activity makes it ever more necessary to be in a constant flux of international and intercultural communication in order to ensure the diversity, relevance and inclusion of our endeavours. We have been able to achieve and celebrate many good results since Amateo began in 2008 and we are excited to raise the profile of our partnerships and projects across Europe. Being able to welcome guests from all over Europe to events in the UK and Ireland have been among the highlights of our work in the past decade.

Future hopes?

There are many challenges in the world at the moment, whether you are an individual, an organisation, a country or an international network! We hope that Amateo’s members can work together to ensure that the right of every individual to freely participate in cultural life is protected across Europe and beyond, and that the many benefits of creative participation — for individuals and communities of all sizes — are widely recognised. It is easy to make political declarations of unity but to truly understand each other and move forward together we must understand each other’s culture and heritage. Participating in cultural activities together, sharing what we do and what we care about, is essential in creating a world where we can collaborate and face challenges together.

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

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!

AX – Sweden

AMATEO MEMBER: AX

Member Country: Sweden
Contact person: Anna Rydborg, President and Anna-Karin Waldemarson, Vice-President.

Who is Ax?

Ax, represents voluntary art’s organizations in Sweden. We are 21 organizations for participatory culture and art. Among the members you will find music organizations, choir organizations, theatre organizations, dance organization, video and film organizations, storytelling organizations, art and craft organizations, and experimental art organizations.

What kind of work does Ax normally do?

Ax is an organization for national political influences aimed for creating more visibility, better conditions, and a deeper understanding among politicians and civil servants in the fields of art and culture. Ax initiates discussions with state authorities on issues related to voluntary art and culture, f.i. to gain worthy Ministry grants for the sector of voluntary arts, to collect statistics on active participation in cultural activities, to recognize the value of culturally active citizens and organizations for a more sustainable and healthier society, to strengthen the democratic people’s movement through active and creative participation in local cultural activities. Ax supports the member organizations to gain influence on cultural politics on the regional and local levels. Ax rewards the “Voluntary Art’s Municipality of the Year”.

Why has Ax joined the Amateo network?

Active participation in cultural activities is a huge movement – taking account of the number of individuals, clubs, and organizations in the European countries. This will give Ax the opportunity to take part in a broad cultural community, to exchange knowledge, experiences, and ideas on supporting and developing our field.

Why is it important to make international connections and collaborate across borders?

Every European country has different organizational and political structures for culture and participatory arts, the insights of the Amateo member organizations’ ways of working will give Ax tools to develop. The European voluntary arts organizations have a lot of common challenges, the Amateo network gives us a chance to learn from each other and to support each other. 

What hopes does Ax have for the future of the Amateo network and cultural participation in Europe?

To create more cultural projects together that will give us the opportunity to cooperate with individuals, clubs, and organizations in other countries.


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!

SSCW – Estonia

AMATEO MEMBER: Sillamäe Lastekaitse Ühing / Sillamäe Society for Child Welfare (SSCW)

Member country: Estonia

Contact person: Mr. Vassili Golikov, programme director of Sillamäe Society for Child Welfare

Who is SSCW? Sillamäe Society for Child Welfare (SSCW) is a public interest non-governmental organisation that was created December, 8th in 1989. During these years, SSCW has been working actively towards creating a child and youth friendly environment in our society. Each year we have broadened the reach of our activities to initiate broad-based and society-wide noticeable initiatives. Today SSCW has conducted and supported more than 220 projects, not only in the county but also lately on an international level by using culture and education as one of the good methods to reach organisation goals. 

What do you do? SSCW activity is consistently expanding. Activities have been directed at the entire nation and more specifically different areas of Estonian country. SSCW has been actively working with partners on culture (promoting cultural cooperation), education (intercultural education cooperation) and youth (youth participation, engagement and advocacy and volunteer work) from the following countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Latvia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Russia, Slovenia, Belgium, etc. SSCW is celebrating its own 30th anniversary in 2019. A small regional organisation has grown over three decades into a respected organisation, capable of conducting creative projects and initiatives on the local, national and international level and is a part of (among other things) Estonian Civil Society Concept joint committee, European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), Anna Lindh Foundation Estonian network, Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation, Amateo and has a consultative status with ECOSOC at the UN.

Although the organisation has received bigger international opportunities, SSCW has always valued local development at Ida-Virumaa and actively involving organisations who don’t speak Estonian as a main language. SSCW translates information related to civil society and organises events to increase awareness and skills, among them Ida-Virumaa Civil Society Forum and Ida-Virumaa Youth Forum. A special programme is also developed for youth and culture fields – by promoting cooperation between youth and adults via culture, by staging performances, running a creative training and conferences (conference.sscw.ee), musicals (muusikal.sscw.ee), singing in a choir (pcao.sscw.ee), running a cultural festivals etc.

SSCW is presently also in charge of Ida-Virumaa Civil Society Network that involves culture organisations, social and educational organisations and experts. Our development cooperation consists of activities that we do in the frameworks of our projects, especially relating to international cooperation. We have done several projects in cooperation with our partners from Africa, Middle East, Asia and Southern American countries. With countries of North-Africa (Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia) we cooperate on developing their civil society and we support (when we can) cultural and youth organisations and community development. We are also an active partner in the networks of Peace Child International and Water & Youth, where we contribute to environmental issues and have participated in expert meetings in Scotland (UK), Korea, Canada, Argentina, Turkey, Brazil and Spain. In addition, one of our organisation’s programmes is propagating healthy and environmentally conscious lifestyle and raising awareness of Intercultural Dialogue and World Education.  

Why did you join Amateo? Our organisation has joined with the Amateo network because we are interested to cooperate with culture and creative organisations, including cultural research organisations. We want to get a new impulse in cultural cooperation with European cultural cooperation, get new skills and knowledge from European colleagues. We also were happy to host a meeting of the CONNECT programme in March 2019.   

Why are international connections important? It’s important to communicate and collaborate with international partners, as is increasing capacity of involved parties. We are happy to be part of the network, as it connects a unique European network of creative practitioners, cultural policy-makers, civil society organisations, research organsiations and other interested bodies, united to create together real and lasting change in cultural field’s most pressing problems. Collaboration with international partners is a great opportunity to get new skills, knowledge, influence on national and EU policies, also advocate our common goals and run joint workshops, training, study visits, and cultural projects including new methods and visions.

What are your future hopes? We hope that the Amateo network will became a strong influential advocacy and culture cooperation organisation, that will be recognised by the EU member states and European Commission as an important player in culture and creative fields.

We hope that the Amateo network will increase its capacity by empowering its own members and running a strong practical joint cooperation between its members, by providing necessary support and tools for this better cultural participation in Europe.

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

FSU – Finland

Amateo Member: Finlands Svenska UngdomfĂśrbund (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.

SUSAV – Serbia

amateo member: SAVEZ UMETNIČKOG STVARALAŠTVA AMATERA VOJVODINE SUSAV / AMATEUR ART ASSOCIATION OF VOJVODINA

Member country: Serbia
Contact person: Savo Mučibabić, Secretary

Who? SUSAV is an umbrella organization for amateur culture in Vojvodina, a province of Serbia. During the last four years it is working as a non-governmental member organization which reunite over 250.000 adults, children and youths engaged in different cultural activities. The majority of the programs are carried out through a pyramid scheme – from almost every local community in the province of Vojvodina, through municipal and regional competitions to final province and republic festivals. This systematic selection provides qualitative development.

What? SUSAV supervises the implementation of cultural competitions on lower – municipal and regional levels and organize province festivals for various cultural activities ranging from choirs, orchestras (both folk/traditional and classical music), folklore, theater and recitations to visual art. At all these levels, work also includes cultural education: expert jury teams conduct interviews with the ensemble leaders in order to educate and improve the quality of their work. Apart of this, our alliance organise special courses and seminars for advanced professional training for all ensembles leaders who want to raise their level of professional work and to achieve results on scenes around the world.

Why join Amateo? We are convinced that membership in the European network Amateo can help us to improve the national status and care for all amateur creativity in our country. Another, no less important reason is to get new contacts and find an inspiration for new cultural cooperation.

Importance of international connections? International cooperation is important for acquiring new experiences, knowledge and acquaintance with examples of good practice. Also, we want to give our members more opportunities for international knowledge and skills sharing.

Future hopes? Our hope for the Amateo network is that the EU will continue to support its work. It will also be a positive indication to all national governments how to behave towards amateur arts. It is our wish that Amateo becomes the founder of the Amateo Olympiad project, which will bring together the best national representatives from various fields of amateur art.

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