An Introduction to Arts and Culture Networks in Europe

How do they work and why should I join one?

Joining a network relevant to your area of work can facilitate the development of partnerships and projects with like-minded organizations from across Europe and enable you to apply for a wider-range of EC funding programmes. Many European Community funding programmes require applicants to include two or more partners from the member states, and developing an international dimension is usually appreciated both by national funding agencies and local authorities. Today the number of cultural networks in European totals over three hundred, covering a multitude of art forms, disciplines, organisations, countries, and professions. There are networks for artists, arts festivals, carnivals, orchestras, arts centres, arts students, writers, dance, museums and even one for jugglers! There is not one central information point where you can find all of the networks listed but Lab for Culture has over two hundred in its database (under the directory section of its web site). is also a useful resource tool for all things cultural in Europe and includes its own directory of networks.

Locations, Membership and Meetings

Many of the more established networks are based in Brussels, as this is where the politicians, bureaucrats and funding resides. But others can be found based all around Europe, usually in capital cities. The major networks are membership based, meet once to twice a year and are partly funded through member’s subscriptions. The subscription cost varies greatly (from €50 to over €1,000 a year) usually dependent on what the network offers it membership, if it is publicly funded and how many members it has. Many of the networks subscription fees are based on a sliding scale related to its member’s economy. Some networks offer an associate member or friends status with a reduced subscription fee but often also with reduced benefits.

Most of the networks hold their meetings in the home city of one of their members. Hosting a meeting can provide opportunities for developing and raising an organisation’s international profile within the media, the arts community and with funding bodies. Nearly all the networks have web sites and many publish on-line newsletters for their members.

Some of the more established networks

International Network of Contemporary Performing Arts (IETM) is probably one of the best-known and largest European cultural networks. Formed in 1981 and with over four hundred members, ITEM’S purpose is “to stimulate the quality, development and contexts of contemporary performing arts in a global environment”. It has an annual meeting each year in different European locations as well as additional satellite meetings.

Res Artis is The International Association of Residential Arts Centres, based in the Netherlands. Its membership is made up of arts centers and artist’s organisations that programme residential artist exchanges. Founded in 1993, it provides a forum for residency programmes and convenes international meetings and conferences. It is the largest international network of artist residency programmes with over 200 members from more than 40 countries.

Trans Europe Halles (TEH) is a network of independent cultural centers. Founded in 1983, it currently has 52 members and 19 Friend organisations in 29 countries and provides a platform for exchange, support and co-operation between its members. The network brings together a great diversity of independent and multi-disciplinary cultural centers. 
TEH is an active network, meeting twice a year in different members centers, offering professional development and exchange programmes and initiating a wide range of projects for and with its members.

Arts Management Network is an international information, on-line network for arts managers. Founded in 1996 as the first German online magazine for arts managers its web site now has more than 25,000 visitors a month. It does not have formal meetings but offers a free newsletter, a conference calendar as well as a web and education directory.

Europa Nostra is the European Federation for Cultural Heritage, representing over 250 NGO’s in 45 countries across Europe. Founded in 1963, It’s aim is to “put heritage and its benefits in the mainstream of public consciousness and to making heritage a priority for public policies both at European and national levels”. It meets once a year, publishes a monthly newsletter and manages an annual European Heritage award funded by the European Commission.

Culture Action Europe is a European level advocacy organisation representing the interests of artists and cultural organisations. Founded in 1995 (and formerly know as EFAH) it “exists to strengthen the role of arts and culture in the sustainable development of Europe”. Membership is open to any cultural organisation, which wants to find out what’s happening to culture in Europe and get involved in European cultural affairs. Culture Action Europe brings together members from the fields of theatre, dance, music, visual arts, socio-cultural work, arts management, cultural training and information provision. The network meets once a year in different cities, publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, is subscription based and has a well-informed and useful web site.

Banlieues d’Europe brings together cultural actors from all background (artists, activists, social workers, local politicians, researchers etc.). Their main focus is to develop and promote cultural projects in deprived neighborhoods with excluded communities.

On the Move is one of the biggest information platform for cultural mobility. With members in more than 20 countries across Europe, it aims at encouraging cross-border cooperation on a worldwide level.

European Network of Cultural Administration Training Centres (ENCATC) focuses on the development of cultural management in Europe. It promotes new education and training practices, and also offers a platform for pedagogic skills exchanges.

European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC) gathers European cultural centres to develop the socio-cultural and artistic life in Europe. It gives its members a space for knowledge exchange and builds bridges between international cooperations and local communities.

European Festival Associations (EFA) is the oldest cultural network in Europe. It aims at supporting festivals by promoting international cultural cooperation and their significant role in societies.

European Network of Centres Culturels de Rencontre gathers contemporary cultural projects which are developed in historic sites and aims at promoting cooperation between these centres.

Eurocities brings together the local governments of more than 140 larger cities in Europe. It aims at representing its members in bigger international institutions and offers a platform for exchanging ideas on day-to-day challenges faced by all European citizens, mainly in ecology, economy and social inclusion.

Eurozine is a network of European cultural journals from almost all European countries.  It develops cooperation between journalists and also highlights through a net magazine the best articles from its partners journals to offer a rich source of international information.
Networks for specific branches

Circostrada Network is a European platform for the street arts and circus, dedicated to information, observation and professional exchanges. It is working to develop the structuring and recognition of these sectors in Europe.

Performing Arts Employers Association League Europe (PEARLE*) is an international network for employers in performing arts organisations. It facilitates knowledge exchanges in cultural management and technical skills and represents its members in front of decisions makers in Europe.

European League of Institution of the Arts (ELIA) represents about 350 higher arts education institutions. It is a gathering platform for students and professionals from the cultural sector (teachers, artists, administrators, etc), facilitating dialogue and cooperation between them.

European Music Council aims at protecting cultural diversity, equal rights and access to music. It advocates on local, national and European levels in front of all decisions makers and facilitates exchanges and cooperation between its members.

The International Federation of Musicians represents musicians in all international institutions and fights for the protection of professional musicians rights.  It offers a lot of information but also moral and material support for its members.

International Association of Music Information Centres (IAMIC) is an international network of organisations that document, promote and inform on the music of their country or region in a diversity of musical genres. It focuses on exchange of knowledge and expertise and tries to increase international cooperation.

Federation of European Film Directors (FERA) represents film directors in Europe and advocates for the diversity of audiovisual culture, by enhancing the recognition of its significance.

The International Federation of Actors (FIA) is a network for the protection of actors rights. It brings together organisations which make sure that performers can work safely and can earn a decent living form their profession.

Triangle Network stimulates experimentation and innovation in contemporary arts practice for the visual arts through workshops, residencies, exhibitions and other international events. It advocates dialogue and cross cultures cooperation as a mean for professional development.

Union des Théâtres de l’Europe (UTE) is a “multinational house” which brings together several theatres across Europe. It develops transnational theatre work through festivals, exhibitions, Masterclasses, conferences, etc. tackling European identity.


European Association of Conservatoires

Association of European Open Air Museums

European Association for the Education of Adults

European Theatre Convention (for publicly funded theatre sector) 

European Writers Council

Federation of European Publishers

European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation

European Bureau for Lesser Used Language

European Choral Association

European Union of Music Competitions for Youth

Réseau Art Nouveau Network

Network of European Royal Residencies

European Network for Opera and Dance Education


Credits: Article by Paul Bogen, Anaid Sayrin

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