Culture Action Europe (CAE) was established in 1994 under the name of European Forum for Arts and Heritage (EFAH) – Forum Européen pour les Arts et le Patrimoine (FEAP) under the Belgian law. Predominantly as ‘network of networks’, EFAH-FEAP aimed to maintain continuous dialogue and knowledge exchange between the cultural sector in Europe and EU policymakers.
The association changed its name to Culture Action Europe in 2008 and diversified its membership, opening it up to public and private organisations, both large and small. This change was mirrored in the mission and advocacy policies of CAE. It adopted a new strategy, advocating for access to the arts and participation in culture as a fundamental right of every citizen. It has continued lobbying for public investment in culture and the arts as the main force for the development of a sustainable and more cohesive Europe.
Today, CAE is the major European network of cultural networks, organisations, artists, activists, academics and policymakers. CAE is the first port of call for informed opinion and debate about arts and cultural policy in the EU. As the only intersectoral network, it brings together all practices in culture, from the performing arts to literature, the visual arts, design and cross-arts initiatives, to community centres and activist groups.
CAE believes in the value and values of culture and its contribution to the development of sustainable and inclusive societies.
What makes us unique is a combination of actions:
- We operate within a trans-European territory and beyond, both in rural and urban areas. This puts us in a unique position to interact with and mediate geographical, political, economic, societal, technological, legal and environmental frontiers
- We draw from the knowledge and experience of our members – networks, institutions, projects, associations and individuals who are active on a national, regional or local level, providing an active network of engagement across cultural forms
- We create understanding of different cultural needs, practices and applicable policies within a diversity of contexts
- We facilitate effective policy-level communications between the European institutions, Member States, regional and local authorities and cultural actors.
- We generate debate beyond the usual spheres and create peer-to-peer relations with other sectors by positioning the critical value of contemporary culture in relation to the production of knowledge
- We embrace the principles that protect human dignity as enshrined in international law, with special focus on the legal instruments that are specific to EU Law (primary and secondary legislation) as well as the European Convention on Human Rights
- We advocate for the intrinsic value and positive role of culture in European societies
What inspires us?
CAE has adopted the following principles as operational ethics and philosophy:
- We are a community with people at its centre and active policies of care, and a network that works at the service of culture and cultural practices.
- We identify plural, inclusive, accessible, free and sustainable practices in order to question and transform cultural policies, production models and structures
- We create common spaces for the fair sharing of knowledge based on the diversity of cultural practices, structural forms and interests of the different members
- We make resources accessible, share them equally and empower members
- We are constantly in search of diversity to reduce vulnerability and to learn from the multiple nature of cultural practices
- We think of ourselves as a community of practices with a decentralised leadership, diverse skills and different levels of expertise and participation