The Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities (CCSC) project acknowledged that – particularly at this moment of ‘crisis of political representation’ – EU institutions are perceived as being too distant from local communities. There is little sense of direct benefit and impact to local communities across Europe. With this in mind, the project aims to bring cultural and creative spaces to the heart of new democratic forms – bridging the local and supranational level, drawing on principles of individual and social cohesion.
Cultural and creative spaces are places that are intrinsically devoted to participation: arts and culture define visibility and shape our physical, social and political living spaces. However, "culture should not be conceived as an instrument of direct/indirect political consensus” and legitimation, and “artists and creatives are not ‘instruments’ to revitalize democracy as such, but workers in the fields of culture and the arts” (De Goyzueta A., Micciarelli G., & Valentini M.P., 2020). Therefore, institutional engagement in culture should aim both to recognise cultural workers’ self-determination and self-organisation at the same time as ensuring the social sustainability of cultural work.
Cultural and creative spaces are closely connected to the idea of commons as resources that are self-governed by a heterogeneous community of reference, through an open and horizontal governance structure. It is no coincidence that commons are often a way for artists to collectivise means of production and make culture more accessible, while advocating for new cultural policies and forms of political participation.
De Goyzueta A., Micciarelli G., & Valentini M.P, 2020 ‘Bringing to the surface the commoners’ work: vindications about income’ in ‘The Commons as Ecosystem for Culture’ ed. De Tullio, M. F. , Report commissioned by Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities.
The question of Homes of Commons represents the culmination of the two-year CCSC project. It lies at the centre of the toolkit and the policy recommendations. We recognised that cultural commons produce immeasurable civil, social and political value. All across Europe, they are engines for trans-territorial and cross-level participation. We prototyped “Homes of Commons” as hybrid spaces of encounter starting from the assumption that there is no one-size-fits-all solution or definition, since commons are by their nature an open and variegated concept, mainly dependent on people and workers’ autonomy.
Homes of Commons thus does not have one specific definition but can be understood largely as:a network of hybrid spaces in European cities where citizens and institutions co-create policyspaces of exchange for local practices and a space to inform European policyspaces that function as a stargate or a platform that directly connects Europe and interlocally related citizens demanding societal change.
Communities need tools to grow their networks for mutual recognition and advocacy. ‘Tools’ are not instruments that can be automatically transplanted, but rather seeds that can flourish in different ways, according to different contexts. Indeed, transforming organisations’ knowledge into ‘tools’ is not a way to fetishise the tool itself, but rather an effort to find strategies to share experiences and mutualise practices.
Therefore, to further develop the content of the Homes of Commons, in the last few months of the project, the CCSC consortium focused on a participatory process to create a policy toolkit and a prototyping process of the Homes of Commons, defined from communities’ perspectives.
The TOOLKIT FOR THE HOME OF COMMONS is a policy toolbox for active cultural communities in Europe to become “Homes of Commons” that are able to:
Gleaners’ Process – towards the toolkit for the Home of Commons
The seeds for the participatory process that aimed to define the content of the policy toolkit were sown during the Co-creation Labs held by the CCSC consortium in June 2020 and October 2020. Based on the results of these events, 11 themes emerged as central for the development of the Home of Commons and the toolkit was developed around these.
With the support of Zemos98, a Spanish organisation, the CCSC consortium designed a participatory process to develop the content of the toolkit. After an open call for participants of the previous Co-Creation Labs, ten participants were selected to develop different themes for the toolkit.
Through the metaphor of the Gleaners* (someone who gathers seeds or grain), the participants worked for a month along with our research team, researching and defining the contents of the toolkit.
This is the list of the themes that the toolkit is based on. Each of the themes is better defined by a series of tags that will help communities and organisations to find the tools that will eventually help them to become a Home of Commons. The toolkit has at least eight tools under each of the themes developed, amounting to almost 80 tools in total.
1. Commons, culture and feminism
2. Commons, culture and diversity
3. Commons, culture and knowledge
4. Commons, culture and public space
5. Commons, culture and ecology
6. Commons, culture and governance
7. Commons, culture and digital infrastructures
8. Commons, culture and politics
9. Commons, culture and legal tools
10. Commons, culture and languages
11. Utopias as tools
The scale concerns the scope and the level of proximity that each tool can reach. In the microphysics of commons, this element is very nuanced: from organisational level to district, municipal, metropolitan, regional or international level. However, some tools are designed to work at all levels.
Type of institution
The type of institution refers to the various types of actors that can use the tool, which imply different motivations and internal mechanisms. The toolkit also recognises the variety existing both in the public sector - between the traditional administration and innovative cultural institutions - and within the civil society - cooperatives, non profit organisations and grassroots movements.
The public/private category refers to the level of secrecy, or intimacy, of a tool. Therefore, a tool is private when used in closed groups and public when used in open processes; moreover, there can be intermediate areas, such as open communities, or networks of similar organisations holding shared values or purposes.
The offline/online category refers to the physical or digital environment where the tool can be used. However, in an increasing way, offline tools can be transferred online, or hybrid online-offline tools are created.
Level of development
The level of development concerns the stage in which the tool is studied and displayed in the toolkit. Sometimes the organisation/community from which the tool is taken is still working and discussing it; in other instances, it is complete and fully part of the heritage of the organisation.
Timeframe of application
The timeframe of application refers to the time needed for a tool to deploy its useful effects and benefits. However, some tools do not have a specific timespan, but are permanent and/or recursive.
The open source category refers to the extent to which a tool can be seen and reused, with or without modifications, by other organisations without having to face legal barriers. This category highlights how much the process of creation and application of the tool is coherent with the commoning purpose.
Type of tool
The type of tool refers to a difference between tools for awareness and for transformation. Even if this distinction might be blurred in some cases, tools for awareness are conceived to gain a broader understanding of an internal or external factor, while tools for transformation are meant to change an internal or external situation.
In order to improve access to the toolkit, we designed an auto-assessment tool. This instrument is intended to be used by communities or organisations so that they can assess themselves on their development according to the 11 themes of the toolkit. The auto-assessment tool is designed not only as a preliminary work to the action, but already as a form of action towards prototyping the Home of Commons.
Based on a film by Agnes Varda, the concept of the Gleaner was proposed for the participatory research process towards the creation of the toolkit for Homes of Commons. The figure of the Gleaner was defined as a curious person with a background on commons and on the 11 identified themes, and someone who would search for tools that would foster the creation of Homes of Commons.There were 9 participants from the past co-creation labs selected after the open call. They constituted a research group that worked together for one month.
She is an academic based in the UK and has experience as a researcher and evaluator in different projects. Her research interests include the study of the cultural commons and cultural value, with a particular focus on participatory practices and shared governance in cultural policy and management. She is also interested in interdisciplinary approaches to the safeguard of the commons that bring together environmental and cultural perspectives. Her teaching activities focus on arts and activism, cultural policy and grassroots approaches to creative work. She published articles on Italian cultural policy and the commons, her publications can be found here.
is a researcher at West University of Timișoara (Romania), Department of Philosophy and Communication Sciences, with a PhD in cultural mediation and philosophy. Her research interests are: Cultural heritage, European capitals of culture programme, Eco-philosophy and Promotion of tourist destinations. She teaches cultural mediation, marketing and conflict resolution, from a practical perspective. Her experience includes also location scouting for documentaries and touristic promotion films (Wild Carpathia-Seasons of Change, Flavours of Romania- Banat Region, Les chemins de l'école- Luminita en Roumanie). As a former Pioneer into Practice for EIT Climate-KIC programme and part of Green UVT community (West University of Timișoara), she focuses on integrating sustainability issues into her work, not only in her research.
Artist, activist and researcher based in Naples and Madrid with a professional career as choreographer, as well as cultural advisor Gabriella has a multidisciplinary background in political studies, cultural management, human rights and international cooperation. Her focus is in art in its political dimension at the intersection with activism. Active in the movement for the commons and the Italian Movement of Self-Governed Cultural Spaces. As resident member of L’Asilo, Naples, Italy she took part in the elaboration of the Declaration of Urban Civic and Collective Use. Gabriella is co-funding member of the Institute of Radical Imagination and is member of several cultural and activist networks (a.o. RICDP, TEH). She published essays on the relationship between dance and philosophy, as well as on the intersection of ethics, aesthetics and politics. https://www.linkedin.com/in/gabriellariccio/
Iva graduated from the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade where she earned her PhD in urban planning. The areas of her research include urban commons, urban transformation and self-organisation, which she pursues through intersecting academic and activist perspective. She is a co-founder of the collective Ministry of Space formed in 2011, with the aim to pursue spatial justice.
Educator, researcher and activist, specialising in collective and creative learning processes. She is an Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity. Kitti worked in education and community work in marginalised contexts and implemented research on education, housing, gender and migration, in Hungary, Italy, Portugal and Spain. She works on place-based educational projects and collaborative research in various countries with children and young people. (See: periferias dibujadas) She is co-founder of the TuTela Learning Network, a collective that creates spaces of sharing and learning for marginalised activist experiences.
Mette Slot Johnsen
Mette Slot Johnsen is a Danish cultural creative producer, researcher and writer, based in Lisbon/London. She’s inspired by inventive literature, music and cross disciplinary art projects, which utilise their cultural platform for social change. Mette Slot Johnsen has been a DIY promoter; venue programmer; and worked for music charities, booking agencies, promoters and festivals. She has BA. Hons in Media & Cultural Studies from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh and wrote her dissertation in Popular Musicology on Danish government funding of non-classical music.
Nikoloz Tbileli was born in 1997 Canada, Montreal based in Georgia. Nikoloz is San Diego State university alumni has Bachelor degree of Natural science. Nikoloz Tbileli is Entrepreneur, AI researcher, Engineer, Art activist, researcher and designer. Winner of many international awards such as imagine cup by Microsoft Belarus, Microsoft Ai Guardian Poland, DigiEdu hack Tbilisi, Finalist EuroAsian startup awards etc. Working in cultural sector in Georgia with NGO Art cross foundation as CCO, Art gallery line CTO, Mixxer art festival Co-founder, Alt- Mind Founder AI company, award winning Ender Digi-education platform Co- founder.
Transition Designer, is a Mechanical Engineer specialized in Product Development from the University of the Basque Country and the University of Southern Denmark (SDU). He has channeled his professional activity towards designing (product, service, systems, UXX...) and innovating to dance with the complex social, economic and environmental challenges we face as a civilization. He is also a regular guest teacher at several design schools in Barcelona such as IED, BAU, Elisava or ESdesign.
Understanding how to be a good ancestor in: HOLON
Community activist and artist designing public space to invite practices of future culture….embodied language, public dreaming, sense making and collective wisdom. Developing (from the local neighbourhood level) ways for all neuro-diversities and indigeneities into a new personal sense of the public space and what may be called, the spiritual commons. Michael’s ‘Public Futures Cafe’ is a mobile prototype to re-discover and develop shared public space or how it is that we gather…a re-imagining of how we shall live, learn, make good collective decisions, stay creative, healthy and resilient in unpredictable times. He is mostly based in Berlin. (Participated in the Gleaning process but did not submit tools for the toolkit by the publication of the website on the 4th of February 2021).
Z. Blace / Z.
was born 1976 in Čapljina/Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, (in+)consistently working (in-)between fields of contemporary culture and arts, digital technology and media, community sports and activism — by cross-pollinating queer perspectives and commoning practices... Z. co-founded Multimedia Institute/MaMa in Zagreb, researched generative media, software art, streaming aesthetics, operating systems, net tools/technologies, but also QueerSport as tensions between normativity and queer expressions and instigated critical and creative sport/ccSPORT as trans-local connective. (Participated in the Gleaning process but did not submit tools for the toolkit by the publication of the website on the 4th of February 2021).
European Cultural Foundation
The European Cultural Foundation is an independent foundation based in Amsterdam. Since 1954 we promote a European solidarity through developing and supporting cultural initiatives that let us share, experience and imagine Europe. We do this by providing grants, building communities, offering incubator programs and online platforms, giving awards, organizing events and challenges, publishing books and building alliances, all supported by advocacy and communications.
ZEMOS98 - Cultural cooperative- Collaborator of the European Cultural Foundation for the CCSC project
ZEMOS98 is a Spain based non-profit organization that develops mediation processes that activate relationships between activists, artists, academics, foundations and public institutions. Its goal is to value political and cultural processes for social change. This organization works towards a culture of participation that fosters a critical citizenry with mainstream narratives. Their activities have been dedicated to cultural production and social research for more than twenty years.
Maria Francesca De Tullio - Post-doc researcher University of Antwerp
PhD in Constitutional law, works as a post-doc researcher in the Commons Culture Quest
Office of the University of Antwerp. Her main research areas are: political representation and participatory democracy, with particular regard to the cultural field; counter-terrorism and legal states of emergency; Internet law the collective dimension of privacy in the era of big data. Moreover, she is acquiring specific competences by acting as juridical expert in the dialogue on commons between grassroots movements and administrations in different cities of Italy.
Angela María Osorio Méndez- Collaborator of the European Cultural Foundation for the CCSC project
Urban researcher and practitioner with a degree in Architecture and a PhD in Urban Studies. Her fields of research are: urban renewal, culture, welfare and urban migration. Within the CCSC project she has co-designed and facilitated the two policy co-creation labs held during 2020. She has also coordinated and co-designed the creation of the toolkit for Homes of Commons through a participatory research process. She is interested in the development of methodologies that enable political participation of voices left out of the main public debate sphere.
Martina Dandolo- Collaborator of the European Cultural Foundation for the CCSC project
Designer since 2003 and graduated in Eco-Social Design at the Faculty of Design and Arts of the University of Bolzano. She has been involved in visual and inclusive communication and in cultural projects with relational and participatory approaches. Through her work, she develops tools that thanks to communication, relational and co-design strategies she applies to investigate the processes of social and cultural transformation. She is particularly interested in community and mutual economies, forms of activism, feminist theory and self-determination processes.
Cultural Creative Spaces and Cities was a policy project co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.