European Cultural Foundation focuses on cultural integration

February 2005 -

In 2005 the grants programme of the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) will focus on various aspects of cultural integration. One of the key aspects is 'intercultural competence and collaboration across borders'. The ECF is looking for strategies that bring about mutual understanding and intercultural dialogue. The foundation is particularly interested in projects that go beyond existing frameworks for cooperation, in Europe and around its new borders.

An example of a project that encouraged intercultural dialogue is 'Border Art” from the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts. The project consisted of an exhibition of contemporary art produced by both Greek and Turkish Cypriot artists and by artists from Europe and other countries in the world. The exhibition was sited along the Green Line, which has divided Turkish and Greek Cypriots for the past 30 years, in abandoned structures, across fences and walls, and in public spaces near border crossings.

The objectives of Border Art were to offer artistic dialogue and public participation along Nicosia's Green Line, to build a more solid and forward-looking form of cooperation and to cross the political border that isolates the two ethnic groups. Healthy and creative dialogue is needed both within each community and between the Turkish and Greek communities. The dialogue will increase mutual understanding and bring these societies closer together. As a result, the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities will then be able to reflect together on the themes of belonging, identity and tolerance.

Raya Ribbius works for the European Cultural Foundation