Post Bellum – Czech Republic

AMATEO MEMBER: Post Bellum – Memory of Nation’s Theatre

Member country: Czech Republic
Contact person: Tamara Pomoriski, M.A., theatre maker, artistic director

Who?

Post Bellum is a non-governmental, non-profit organization which documents the memories of witnesses of the important historical phenomena of the 20th century and which tries to pass these testimonies on to the broader public since 2001. We are led by the conviction that witnesses of historic events need to have an opportunity to tell their stories in detail and in their entirety. These memories bear precious testimony not only about modern history, but about the character of the Czech people as well. If they are not preserved for the present-day and future generations, the society will hardly be able to cope with its history of totalitarianism. Our aim is to form a collection of interviews as extensive as possible – a collection of authentic personal stories and testimonies.

What?

Apart from recording witnesses’ memories, Post Bellum tries to pass on their stories to the broader public. We prepare exhibitions, publish books and organize social events. We continuously search for new ways of getting people interested in the topic, of stirring up a society-wide debate on democratic values. Memory of Nation’s Theatre is an educational and creative project for youngsters. The participants learn about the stories and historical events of the 20th century and get to know the different perspectives, circumstances and attitudes of people who have experienced the dramatic moments of World War II and Communism. On the basis of a specific story, participants will understand the historical context of the 20th century and become familiar with the essence of totalitarian regimes. The project offers to young people the opportunity to respond to recent historical events.

Why Amateo?

Post Bellum wants to be part of a network of partner organizations within and without Europe, and is actively working to create and develop such a network. We bring together documentarians, historians, journalists, teachers and artists in order to preserve peoples’ memories, develop critical thinking and support the values at the core of our society.

Importance of international cooperation?

We want to bring together people who care about the past and who support its preservation – not only through theatre and not only among young people. Our goal is to expand this approach within Europe and beyond. Our international collection, www.memoryofnations.eu, is one of the broadest open databases of witness testimonies and contains hundreds of recordings of foreign witnesses from tens of countries.

Future hopes?

Thanks to Amateo, we have established cooperation with several international partners (from the Netherlands, Germany, Estonia and Belgium) at the Memory of the Nation’s Theatre and created amazing projects such as Hidden Tracks, Meeting Unknown and We are the Memory. We look forward to new international friendships and new projects!

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

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

Vlamo – Belgium

AMATEO MEMBER: VLAMO (The Flemish Association of Music Bands and Musicians)

Member country: Belgium
Contact person: Jan Matthys, CEO

Who?

VLAMO wants amateur instrumental music to flourish in Flanders, Belgium. We work for 1200 amateur orchestras (or 65000 musicians) around Flanders. Most of the orchestras are wind bands and fanfare orchestras (typical for the low countries), but we also have members which are brass bands, symphony orchestras, string orchestras, pipe bands, show bands, drum bands, accordion orchestras, majorettes and twirlers, etc.

What?

We have a broad range of services. We support our members with advice, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. We organise events, festivals, projects and competitions. We have a music library with 40000 music scores, recordings, books and magazines. But maybe most important, we want to be a platform and connect people in real life and through digital platforms. We try to improve the image of our amateur music scene. Through advocacy we try to improve the framework for amateur orchestras and musicians.

Why Amateo?

We joined Amateo to exchange knowledge and to make international connections. In the first years going to the annual Amateo conference was also a team building activity for the Flemish amateur arts organisations, which was really fun!

Importance of international cooperation?

We all live in a European context and sharing knowledge can be interesting for all members. Benchmarking can be useful for advocacy and policy workers. Flanders is a small region in the heart of Europe. For us it is unthinkable not to cooperate internationally. The borders of our neighboring countries are always very close. For our members it is always an enriching experience to go abroad, meet other European orchestras and cultures. It confronts us with the beautiful diversity within the European Union, and at the same time it strengthens the unity of the union.

Future hopes?

I hope Amateo becomes a strong network and the go-to organisation for people who have questions about amateur arts in Europe. It would be very nice if we could put the amateur arts higher on the European agenda. The amateur arts can be used as a tool to build a more connected Europe. It can help to build an open, diverse and inclusive society.

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


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

Kulturanova – Serbia

AMATEO MEMBER: Asocijacija Kulturanova / Association Kulturanova

Member country: Serbia
Contact person: Milan Vračar, CEO

Who?

Association Kulturanova is an NGO founded in May 2001 in Novi Sad, Serbia. The organization was founded as an “umbrella” association of various non-formal independent art groups, individuals and young artists from Novi Sad.

Kulturanova initiates intercultural and intersectoral dialogue in society, fostering youth creativity through art education, production of cultural content and promotion of public policies in the field of culture and youth. Our main values are: interculturalism, intersectoral, peace-building, equality and participation.

What kind of work do you normally do?

  1. Festivals and events
  2. Production of theater and contemporary dance performances, film and music
  3. Lectures and conferences
  4. Workshops, seminars, trainings

Why Amateo?

Kulturanova shares Amateo’s values; we believe that active participation in the arts is an important part of establishing free, open and democratic society. Through our activities, we empower people to express themselves in an artistic way, showing that art practices aren’t exclusively reserved for professional artists. We believe that Amateo helps us broaden our experience and knowledge related to the topic of active participation in the arts.

Importance of international cooperation?

Kulturanova represents the opinion that international networking is one of the key elements for a successful CCI (Culture & Creative Industry) organization. It helps us to meet with new points of view and new approaches to the certain social or other issues, which often results with innovative ideas for new projects. Networking is the best way to promote trans-national skills and to strengthen sector’s capacity.

Future hopes?

We would certainly like to network and collaborate with Amateo and its members on some of our future projects. In Amateo, we see the opportunity to educate our employees through common projects or training, but also to share our experience and knowledge with other members, and thus to strengthen our cross-border contact.

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

ZKDS – Slovenia

AMATEO MEMBER: Zveza kulturnih društev Slovenije / Association of Cultural Societies of Slovenia

Member country: Slovenia
Contact person: Dr. Sara Špelec, Secretary

Who?

The association ZKDS is a non-governmental organization based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, uniting municipal and regional societies of cultural associations and sectoral associations. As part of civil society, it represents the interests of amateur culture on a national level and is, as such, the original and direct voice of the people who work in cultural associations and formulate the proposals and requirements for further operation and development of amateur culture.

The association is the successor to the nation-wide cultural organization in Slovenia which – with its activities in the 19th and 20th centuries – significantly contributed to the formation of national identity and the creation of an independent state in 1991.

What?

The main task of the association is to advocate for the field, i.e. to be involved in all phases of development and adoption of strategic acts, national programs and other development documents of the country, as well as to set uniform standards for working conditions and funding, all in the field of amateur culture. ZKDS are a direct representative of amateur culture in Slovenia, and act as a negotiator with the authorities and holders of certain rights (copyright, business, tourism, education), which are the basis for the implementation of our programs, and present a bridge that connects us with professional associations.

The association ZKDS supports:

  • a multitude of amateur cultural creations,
  • diversity of areas of amateur cultural creation (maintaining tradition and enabling modern forms of activity),
  • quality of amateur creativity,
  • professional culture – reciprocity of cooperation
  • works hand-in-hand with other associations, maintaining at the same time an autonomous position.

In performing all these tasks, close cooperation with the state Public Fund for Cultural Activities – JSKD (also a member of Amateo), which is the main operational implementer of the adopted cultural policy and programs in this field, is essential to ZKDS.

Why Amateo?

ZKDS joined the Amateo network because of the opportunity to learn about experiences and good practices of both neighbouring and distant cultures and to subsequently try to apply them in our environment, but also because of the opportunity to meet new people – our colleagues with whom we share the love of art and culture, and many times a similar worldview as well. Conversely, we want to bring our own good practices closer to foreign cultures, which may then imitate an approach or a way of working of ours – those belonging to a tiny country, but with a well-established tradition of amateur culture, which is practically anchored in the ‘national gene’.

Importance of international connections?

We are aware of the fact that cultural participation of people, the opportunity to develop their talents, enabled by the universality of art and culture, is one of the most important elements of preserving humanity, which is indispensable for the improvement of both individual lives and nations in general. Europe has already done a plethora of good deeds in this regard but also in the fields of environment.  It can also help other environments and at the same time take its own creativity to a new level by incorporating elements of other cultures into its own. If we do this together, we will be more successful.

Future hopes?

We believe that Amateo will strengthen its role and gradually attract to its activities other organizations, not only from Europe but from all over the world. That would be a success and a huge benefit for all of us. Now more than ever, culture must be a link between different nations and peoples who believe in the sense and the beauty of human existence.

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

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

Art-fact (Netherlands)

AMATEO MEMBER: ART-FACT NETHERLANDS

Member country: Netherlands
Contact person: Judith Ensel, director

Who?

Art-fact is a platform, fund and intermediary for arts in leisure time. We work for the city government of Tilburg, the Netherlands. We represent and support amateur and community arts in our municipality.

What?

We support and facilitate amateur and community arts with funds. We connect artists and organizations and make artists and their work visible through our platform, on and offline.

Why Amateo?

Because we have the same goal: facilitating Active Participation in Cultural Activities and to see what happens on a more international level in this area of the arts.

Why international connections?

By doing so we can exchange knowledge and ideas. We can inspire others and be inspired by them and we can show that arts have not been limited by international boundaries.

Future hopes?

That despite of Corona and other complicating matters, we can keep doing what we love and have to do: make art and culture available for everyone, because art can be the answer to come to a better understanding between people and helps us to find out what is really important in this world.

If you want to read much more about Art-Fact, please visit their web page!

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

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!