Les Rencontres is an open forum for debate and action, grouping together elected members from all levels of local government throughout Europe in order to actively take part in the setting up of European cultural policies. Since 1994 the network has facilitated exchange on cultural and educational policies at a local, national and European level. Elected representatives need to meet and analyse the political responsibilities at stake, examine the reality of cultural policy in Europe and contribute to its establishment. Collaboration is constantly sought with experts, advisors, cultural networks, associations of elected representatives and artists in order to reposition and develop proposals.
This action is vital in order for:
local cultural policy and the role of the elected member in charge of culture / arts to be recognised within the Council at a local level;
a constructive dialogue to be developed and maintained with national governing bodies such as Ministries of Culture so that cultural policymaking can be fully recognised and receive appropriate funds and support;
actions to be initiated that evolve from elected members’ awareness that culture is a secure building block for Europe’s future.
We have over the years established a network grouping together over 160 local and regional authorities from 25 to 30 countries in Europe.
Our aim is to:
favour links throughout the European continent from Porto to Rovaniemi, from the region of Västerbotten in Sweden to the region of Constanta in Rumania, and encourage contacts and cooperation with local authorities outside of Europe, for example in the Mediterranean region or in the Americas
encourage recognition of the role local and regional authorities play in developing the creative and cultural industries
favour cultural policies in the following areas: artistic education and the relationship between education and culture, urbanism, heritage, defending artists and their rights…
encourage local governing bodies to cooperate within the current decentralization process, developing access to culture and citizens’ participation
Our actions include:
an annual General Assembly and Conference in the European capital of culture on a theme in keeping with the cultural capital’s programme
national meetings every semester in the countries holding the Presidency of the EU
thematic meetings on current cultural policies such as books and reading, photography, visual arts, contemporary dance, operas, cinema, etc.
a regional or bi-lateral meeting once a year
Approximately 500 to 600 professionals take part in the 7 to 8 meetings we organise every year.
Over the next five years, meetings will be organised in all countries of the continent (particularly in candidate contries and in new members)
These conferences offer members of the network the opportunity to set up joint projects and help to define the political and cultural aims of elected members. Reports on these conferences are regularly published on our website.
Aims and perspectives
We hope that more and more elected members will join the network, take part in our meetings and contribute to the publications we wish to make, taking a stance on the major issues at stake.
We also wish to further the dialogue we have with the European Council, Commission and Parliament. We remain particularly attentive to the needs and recommendations of local government in Central and Eastern Europe.
Within this programme we aim to:
– Create an online database of best practices in the sector of cultural cooperation and intergrated territorial development
– Underline the European added value of cultural policies for all levels of local government (cities, counties, provinces, regions...)
– Implement the directives for intercultural dialogue at a local and regional level
– Favor partnerships between les rencontres and Ministries in charge of culture throughout the continent
– Encourage a constructive dialogue between policymakers and cultural workers from Europe, the Americas and the Mediterranean
– Launch a European cultural agency for local and regional authorities– Favour the setting up of national cultural networks of elected members in local government if this is not already the case
– Favour debates between past, present, future and candidate cities for
European Capitals of Culture and cultural capital projects and
How to join ?
We encourage all levels of local, provincial or regional government in Europe, that are interested in cultural policy to join the network. Membership fees are kept as low as possible and vary according to the size of the city or region.
Members receive the e-bulletin on internet, all publications and programmes of activities as well as preferential prices for the conferences organised. Members can if they wish become Committee members and actively contribute to the running of the network. Cultural organisations who are interested in working with elected members can become associate members.
Les rencontres is a non-profit making organisation, the secretariat of which is based in France.
It will become a European association once this status is adopted. It is funded by the European Commission, the French-speaking Community of Belgium the Ministries of Culture in France, Spain, Greece, Lithuania, Serbia, Hungary and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France and Austria as well as the Arts Council of Ireland.
We work in collaboration with the Committee of the Regions, the CEMR, The Assembly of European Regions, the Cities and Local Governments United Organisation, Eurocities and A soul for Europe, the national associations of elected officials in each country, the European Parliament, the Cultural contact points in Europe, the network of French and foreign institutes abroad, the Council of Europe, UNESCO, Regional Arts Councils, European networks, Coalitions for cultural diversity, Interarts, other observatories and many other cultural institutions and organisations in Europe.