© Pauline Caplet
The Cultural Relations Platform is an EU-funded project that connects cultural practitioners worldwide for dialogue, exchange and co-operation. It also provides expertise to the European Union (EU) in the field of international cultural relations.
The Platform is implemented by a consortium of four organisations: the Goethe-Institut Brussels (the consortium leader); the European Cultural Foundation; the International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts and the University of Siena.
The Cultural Relations Platform:
- Develops research into the cultural and creative sectors in countries around the world
- Facilitates co-operation and networking between cultural practitioners within and outside the EU including cultural organisations, private foundations and the civil society sector
- Provides advice and expertise to EU institutions and EU delegations all over the world
- Strengthens the capacity of cultural practitioners globally to deliver international cultural relations, through local conferences, workshops and training, and its Global Cultural Relations Programme
By doing so, it builds awareness of the importance of international cultural relations, as a means of sharing knowledge, increasing understanding between different cultures and contributing to economic, human and social development as well as to peace and conflict mitigation.
Over the last 10 years, the European Union has strongly reinforced its commitment to international cultural relations (ICR). On 8 June 2016, the EU High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for Education and Culture Tibor Navracsics put forward a proposal to develop an ‘EU Strategy for international cultural relations’. In the same year, our predecessor the Cultural Diplomacy Platform was launched by the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments of the European Commission in order to support the EU institutions in the implementation of this new strategy.
In May 2018, the European Commission adopted the New European Agenda for Culture and the European Council recognised international cultural relations as one of its five priorities in its Work Plan for culture for 2019-2022.
The Council took a further step in 2019 by adopting Conclusions on an EU strategic approach to international cultural relations and establishing a framework for action. It calls on EU Member States, the Commission, and the European External Action Service to strengthen coordination and strategic guidance on the best way to promote international cultural relations.
“The EU is strongly engaged in international cultural relations, with programmes supporting the cultural sector of its partner countries. It also fosters cultural cooperation, as it strongly contributes to inter-cultural dialogue, conflict prevention, reconciliation and resilience.”
Commissioner Mariya Gabriel and High Representative & Vice-President Josep Borrell on World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development – 21 May 2020
As an independent cultural relations consultant, Sana Ouchtati is the Team Leader of the Cultural Relations Platform. She is also involved in and steering initiatives dedicated to external culture relations. She has two Master’s degrees, in EU policies and in International Relations & Business Administration. In 2001-2011, she worked at the European Institutions in Brussels, mainly on trade agreements. She has also been responsible for the cultural dimension of the EU external relations mainly with ACP-, Neighbourhood- and Emerging- Countries. She has a thorough knowledge of the cultural field, international relations as well as EU policies and instruments dedicated to external relations, culture and intercultural dialogue.
Rie Alkemade joined the team as a Project Officer for the Cultural Relations Platform in May 2020. Her previous experiences have been in working across the broader creative and cultural sectors between Asia and Europe which has led to her keen interest in working on international cross-cultural and collaborative initiatives. She has worked primarily in managing global projects as well as focusing on cultivating sustainable, long-term partnerships and networks. In her prior experiences she has freelanced for large-scale art fairs and festivals as well as more small-scale local cultural operators and organizations looking at promoting and enhancing people-to-people cultural exchange and intercultural dialogue.
Caterina Fiaschi joined the team as Project Officer for the Cultural Relations Platform in February 2022. Before that, she worked as project manager for different EU funded projects in the field of CCIs (Creative Europe, H2020, MedFilm, DG EAC) and developed her experience in the creative industries in the areas of theatre, music and cinema. Her interests lie in the crossing between culture, local development and urban policies. Caterina holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts Management and a master’s degree in Innovation and Organisation of Culture and the Arts, in which she graduated with a thesis on Creative Europe projects and partnerships.
Johanna Kouzmine-Karavaïeff is a consultant, researcher and cultural strategist with 20 years experience in the cultural and creative sectors (CCS). She specialises in culture in the context of international relations and in skill and perspective transfer from the CCS to business and industry. In 2020, she wrote a master’s thesis called “Cultural Diplomacy – an exercise for the tightrope artist – Politically motivated image building, cultural capacity building, or creating a better world?”. She was recently appointed G100 Country Chair Belgium for Arts Leadership.
Marine Berginiat joined the Cultural Relations Platform as project & communication assistant in September 2019. Through her diverse experiences in Belgium, France and the United States, Marine has developed a strong interest for and deep knowledge in global cultural relations and exchanges. She has in particular worked for the independent initiative More Europe, external cultural relations in Brussels, as well as for the French network of cultural institutes Alliance Française in Philadelphia. Marine holds a master’s degree in European and International Relations from Sciences Po Rennes, France. She also studied cultural management, culture and creative industries and cultural policy during her master degree.
Ruth Artiles Valero
Ruth Artiles Valero is a Project Assistant at the Cultural Relations Platform. Before joining the team, she worked in international diplomacy, security, and peacebuilding in London, Lyon and Brussels at the European Commission, Interpol, and the Spanish Embassy in London. Ruth holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from The University of Sheffield and a master´s degree in Conflict, Rights and Justice from the School Of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. With a strong commitment to interdisciplinary and postcolonial research, her master’s thesis, which was later published, tackled performative art’s ability to reconcile societies in contexts of post-conflict / negative peace with a focus on Lebanon.
Felipe Viveiros joined the team as Communication Officer for the Cultural Relations Platform in March 2022. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (Brazil) and a Master’s degree in International Relations and International Organization from the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). As a cinema and music researcher, Felipe teaches the course “Culture is Diplomacy” at the Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo (Brazil) and writes for Cultura do Resto do Mundo, an online magazine dedicated to the cultural and creative industry of all seven continents.
Zahra Jahanshah joined the team as an intern for the Cultural Relations Platform in March 2022. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the Isfahan University (Iran) and is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Innovation and Organization of Culture and Art at the University of Bologna (Italy). Parallel to her Bachelor’s (2016-2018) she worked as secretary for the Music Association of Isfahan University’s General Department of Cultural Affairs. After her graduation she started to work in a private sector company called Paksun-energy as Advertising Manager and Managing Director for more than three years. In 2020 she enrolled in a Master’s degree to follow up her career in the creative industry.
The Goethe-Institut is the Platform’s consortium leader. It promotes the study of the German language abroad and encourages international cultural exchange, including through European projects.
The European Cultural Foundation promotes an European sentiment through developing and supporting cultural initiatives that let us share, experience and imagine Europe.
IETM – International network for contemporary performing arts is one of the oldest and largest cultural networks, which represents the voice of over 500 performing arts organisations and institutions, including theatres and arts centres, festivals, performing companies, curators and programmers, producers, art councils and associations from about 50 countries.
Università degli Studi di Siena (University of Siena) is one of the oldest universities in Europe with a well-established tradition of high-quality teaching and research. Two departments are particularly involved in training and research activities in the field of cultural relations, cultural diplomacy, and cultural heritage.