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The need for international cooperation in the cultural and creative industries

The need for international cooperation in the cultural and creative industries

Networking is a key principle of cooperation at the international level. Sharing experience, cooperation on projects, exchanging team members, volunteering, residences and the possibility of collective bargaining over industry conditions are just some of the advantages which international networks can offer all participants.

The importance of networks in the field of cultural and creative industries is directly stated in the program materials and tools which the EU use in order to stimulate international cooperation. Within the framework of the Creative Europe program, direct support of networks is offered in the form of operational grants for a four-year period through the Networks program. Creative Europe, however, supports the idea of international, trans-European cooperation through cooperative programs or platforms, where the basic condition for the success of the project is a defined international partnership. Conditions of this type are common in most of the grant programs and support schemes which the EU provides in the area of education, entrepreneurship, mobility or research and development.

Therefore belonging to a network and access to partners who have shown their worth in partnerships is a very strong precondition for the successful operation and utilization of the opportunities which are offered by the EU grant system. Within the field of cultural and creative industries, a number of different networks exist which connect organizations, cultural centres and facilities and individual artists and producers with creative potential. Not all of these networks are of equal worth and relevance, but we offer the following list as positive examples of international networks in the field of cultural and creative industries.


Trans Europe Halles (TEH)

Trans Europe Halles is a network of independent cultural centres which was established in 1983 by activists and artists who had recognised the importance of transforming the use of old industrial infrastructure such as factories and warehouses into facilities for artistic, cultural and community activities. The network currently includes 90 independent cultural centres.

The mission of TEH is to strengthen the sustainable development of non-governmental and independent cultural centres and to support the emergence of new initiatives through collaboration, support and promotion.

TEH supports and facilitates international cooperation and provides opportunities for training and mutual knowledge transfer. It promotes the techniques and the importance of the values which art and culture can offer society.

The key objectives of TEH are

  1. to build a strong supporting structures for exchange and collaboration for member institutions
  2. to advocate and promote the importance and value of cultural centres initiated by citizens and artists as open spaces for creation
  3. to establish TEH a leading organization for providing professional development and international exchange in the cultural sector
  4. to establish TEH as a vital reference for non-governmental cultural centres in the international cultural centre


In order to achieve these objectives, TEH organizes two biannual international meetings, coordinates international projects, provides consultation to both public and private institutions and actively engages in cultural policy making.

TEH also implements many research projects which focus on the operation of cultural centres through the mapping the entire ecosystem connected with it. In recent years, the most exciting research project has been the establishment of a business innovation model and the individual mapping of cultural centres in the European Union.


European Creative Business Network (ECBN)

European Creative Business Network is a network of intermediary organizations, agencies and state city and regional non-profit organizations whose objective is to support the cultural and creative industries.

ECBN emerged in 2011 as a legacy of the RUHR2010 project and its transition into international cooperation. It is the first network of its kind in Europe to focus on connecting support organizations which multiply the effect of its content in their respective countries. The project connects 41 member organizations across 19 countries.

The objective of the network is to promote a single European market for creative industries, to support its members through the provision of access to information, meetings, trade missions, knowledge transfer and lobbying at the European level for the benefit of the creative sector.

Through its activities, ECBN contributes to improving know-how in the field of policies to support the cultural and creative sectors. It is participates in international projects, where it acts as a disseminator of results and activities, and is also involved in advocacy at both national and European level.



IETM is a specialized network of theatres and performing arts organizations. The network is a positive example of a long-running network with a large membership base and a narrow profile. It covers more than five hundred organizations from fifty countries which cooperate in the fields of contemporary theatre and dance, modern circus, interdisciplinary live performance and new media. The membership base is primarily made up of festivals, theatres, producers, research companies, universities and other institutions.

IETM emerged in 1981 from an informal meeting of professionals in the field of the performing arts at the Polverigi Festival in Italy. It developed at a time when most international cooperation was carried out exclusively through governmental organizations or intergovernmental institutions and their mutual cooperation.

The activities of the network focus on supporting members, implementing research projects, releasing publications, and facilitating communication.

IETM is committed to promoting the values of art and culture in an ever-changing world, to supporting professionals in the performing arts through access to international contacts, knowledge and the dynamics of exchange which are made possible through their events.


N.I.C.E. – Network for Innovation and Creativity in Europe

N.I.C.E., the Network for Innovation and Creativity in Europe, brings together stakeholders from a wide range of players in the cultural and creative sector including festivals, incubators, co-working spaces, national agencies, creative platforms, cities, regions, chambers of commerce, universities, and cultural institutions such as theatres and museums.

The aim of the network is to connect a wide portfolio of partners and to enable discussion and to fulfil the potential of culture and creativity for innovation, city development and economic growth.

The instrument by which the network hopes to achieve this goal and which is unique in comparison to other networks is the N.I.C.E. Award. The multi-category Award has been granted annually since 2014. The attractiveness and success of the network is also underlined by the number of projects which are involved in the competition. In 2014, there were 108 projects from 22 countries, and the Kasárne/Kulturpark project in Košice was also included in the shortlist of ten projects. In 2015 more than 200 projects were included and this growing trend was confirmed in 2016 where Košice was represented in the judging committee.

The high profile of N.I.C.E. can also be seen in the prominent figures associated with the network, above all Charles Landry, one of the leading advocates of the Creative City concept.

We have listed several examples of networks which operate at an international level and which can thereby allow their participants to benefit from knowledge transfer, engagement in international projects, the opportunity to gain experience, and exchanges of employees, artists and projects. The value of international cooperation differs for each organization and individual, but it is clear that this form of cooperation provides a much faster method of gaining experience and professional growth, and also offers participants the ability to learn from the mistakes of others and mutual assistance in overcoming problems. The ability to act collectively at the European or international level and thus be able to influence or directly determine the policies which will influence the direction of the sector in the future is a clear and fundamental benefit which networks and networking can offer.