About 2018-07-06T16:11:19+00:00


Voices of Culture ‒ Structured Dialogue between the European Commission and the cultural sector provides a framework for discussions between EU civil society stakeholders and the European Commission with regard to culture. It aims to strengthen the advocacy capacity of the cultural sector in policy debates on culture at European level, while encouraging it to work in a more collaborative way.

To find out more about what the European Commission does in the field of culture, click here.


In 2007, the European Agenda for Culture, adopted by the Commission, set out three strategic objectives, namely the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, the promotion of culture as a catalyst for creativity and the promotion of culture as a vital element in the Union’s international relations. It also introduced two tools for cooperation in the field of culture at EU level: the Open Method of Coordination (OMC)

with EU Member States and a Structured Dialogue (SD) with civil society.

Under the OMC, experts from ministries of culture and national cultural institutions meet five to six times over a 1.5 year period to share good practice and produce policy manuals or toolkits, which are shared widely throughout Europe. Within this framework, EU Member States exchange information on how they design policies and funding schemes. This form of cooperation, referred to as the Open Method of Coordination, is used in many policy areas.

Through the Structured Dialogue, the Commission maintains a regular dialogue with civil society. During this process, stakeholders provide key ideas and messages that can also be shared with the relevant OMC experts. This dialogue with the culture sector provides a framework for exchanging views and information, and ensures that the voice of civil society organisations is heard.

From 2008 to 2013, the Structured Dialogue has been made up of two complementary strands: the European Culture Forums and the Civil Society Culture Platforms (Intercultural Europe; Access to Culture; Cultural and Creative Industries).

The Forums will continue to be organised by the European Commission every two years, with the last edition taking place on 7-8 December 2017 in Milan. However, as of 2015, the second strand of the Structured Dialogue has taken another form, with the launch of Voices of Culture.


The Structured Dialogue is composed of three main parts:

Until the end of the project it is foreseen that the Voices of Culture Structured Dialogue process will have covered 7 themes in total:

·         Two themes, ‘Audience Development via Digital Means’ and ‘Participatory Governance of Cultural Heritage’, were discussed during the first year in June and July 2015;

·         Two themes, “Developing The Entrepreneurial And Innovation Potential Of The Cultural And Creative Sectors” and “Promoting Intercultural Dialogue And Bringing Communities Together Through Culture In Shared Public Spaces” were discussed in February and March 2016;

·         For the fifth theme, stakeholders had the opportunity to choose which theme should be discussed: “the Role of Culture in Promoting the Integration of Refugees and Migrants”. The theme has been discussed in June 2016;

·         The sixth theme covered “Skills, Training and Knowledge Transfer: traditional and emerging heritage” in June 2017;

·         The final, seventh theme “Social Inclusion: partnering with other sectors” is taking place in 2018. The Brainstorming session was held in April 2018, and the participants are currently working on the Brainstorming report, to be discussed at the Dialogue meeting in September 2018.

The themes have been selected in accordance with the priorities of the Work Plan (WP) for Culture 2015-2018, which sets out priorities for European cooperation in cultural policy-making. Through this strategic document, the Council also established working groups composed of Member States, to work on the priorities, within the framework of an Open Method of Coordination (OMC) process (a light but structured way for EU Member States to cooperate at a European level).

The discussions held during the Structured Dialogue with stakeholders have been complementing the work and dialogue between EU decision-makers, which is taking place through the OMC on the same themes.


For the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH), the Commission has decided to launch a special call under its Voices of Culture programme, entitled “Voices of Culture and Heritage”.

The aim of this call was to open a dialogue with civil society and stakeholders active in the field of cultural heritage and allow for an exchange of information on ideas and activities planned during the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, both by the EU and by the involved stakeholders.

In contrast to the other Voices of Culture calls, this special call involved a creation of a Stakeholders Committee – a group of 35 selected organizations, which will meet on 6 occasions over the course of 2 years (2017-2018).

To learn more about the Stakeholders’ Committee, visit our special page.



The European Commission has selected, through an open call for tenders launched in 2014, a consortium composed of the Goethe Institut, ELIA (2014-2016) and Flagey, to contribute to the implementation of Voices of Culture process, through the organisation of the meetings, the drafting of the Brainstorming Reports summarising the stakeholders’ core ideas.

The Goethe-Institute (GI) is the
international cultural institute of the
Federal Republic of Germany, and
operates worldwide.

Flagey is a cultural centre where
different artistic disciplines can meet,
exchange ideas, discover one another
and work together.