Two years on, the New European Bauhaus (NEB) initiative launched by the European Commission to bring together sustainability, inclusion and aesthetic under the umbrella of the Green Deal has been set in motion. The EU’s executive arm has recently taken stock of the activities so far, in a recent NEB Progress Report: thanks to over 100 million euros in EU funding already allocated between 2021 and 2022 from diverse envelopes of the Union’s multiannual budget, small and large-scale NEB projects are now underway all across the bloc. The Commission will also scale up the available financial resources with a further 106 million euros in dedicated Horizon Europe funds alone for years 2023-2024. All Member States have also included references to the New European Bauhaus in their cohesion policy programmes for 2021-2027, paving the way for NEB projects to receive cohesion funding.
In the context of the European Year of Skills, the 2023 edition of the NEB Prizes will have a thematic focus on education, and it will expand the geographical coverage to the Western Balkans, in addition to the EU Member States.
The NEB was also featured in the high-level EU-Ukraine summit held in Kyiv on 2-3 February. In an effort to support the Ukrainian government in rebuilding its cities in a sustainable and inclusive way. The New European Bauhaus initiative will launch a capacity-building programme for Ukrainian municipalities to prepare for the reconstruction.
Despite starting as a top-down project from the very top floor of the Berlaymont Palace in Brussels, with over 600 official partner organisations listed either as NEB partners (such as Culture Action Europe and several of its members, both networks and national organisations) or NEB friends (a category reserved for the for-profit sector), the New European Bauhaus initiative has managed to bring together a vast community. The NEB Dashboard provides a comprehensive database, in the form of an interactive map, which offers access to information on the dedicated calls, their beneficiaries and other active members of the community.
In a joint conference with the European Parliament’s own rapporteurs for the NEB Christian Ehler (EPP, Germany) and Marcos Ros Sempere (S&D, Spain), on 17 January the EU’s Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Education, Culture and Youth Mariya Gabriel also unveiled the New European Bauhaus Compass, a guiding framework for decision and project makers wishing to apply the main NEB principles, including participation and transdisciplinarity, to their activities.
Sticking to the ‘beauty’ language that raised many eyebrows among cultural practitioners, the NEB Compass acknowledges that “art and culture in all their diversity play a major role in making our lives beautiful and meaningful.” It sets out three cumulative ambitions for what is to be considered “a beautiful project” (verbatim): “to (re)activate the qualities of a given context while contributing to our physical and mental well-being; to connect different places and people and foster a sense of belonging through meaningful collective experiences; and to integrate new enduring cultural and social values through creation. A beautiful project emerges when its authors invest collective sensitivity, intelligence, and competences into creating a positive and enriching experience for people, beyond functionality. A project that is genuinely attentive to its context and users encourages mutual care and can be a powerful driver for change.”
You can read more about the NEB in Culture Action Europe’s position paper, produced following a dedicated consultation of CAE’s members. We believed back then, and still think today, that the NEB perspective about beauty needs to be widened to adopt the overarching concept of aesthetics as a multilayered approach. Culture represents an intrinsic value in the way we approach reality, and at the same time it articulates who we are and where we want to go individually and as communities.