Communication forms an essential part of ECF’s work. It creates awareness, recognition and trust, and serves our strategy, mission and programmatic goals.
Corporate and visual communication
We offer an accessible voice in the discourse on culture in building a better Europe. We speak a language that is understood by a wider audience across all our communication tools and platforms, avoiding jargon and buzzwords. To improve accessibility and reach out to new audiences we use (digital) possibilities for multilingual texts wherever possible. The communications department offers narratives for change by using storytelling techniques in written text, interviews, video, animation and podcasts. Our purpose: to advance our programmatic goals, highlight our work and increase awareness of the foundation overall.
In 2021 – the second year of the lockdowns and working from home – we developed various ways to upgrade our online work. One of these was, of course, more focus on storytelling via our various social media platforms, using them less as announcement tools but more as a means to attract readers to in-depth essays, stories and interviews on our website.
Second, we invested time and budget in professionalising our online events; mostly organised via Zoom. As for many other organisations, Zoom proved to be a blessing in disguise: we were able to attract more international audiences to our events.
Thirdly, our Community Conversations evolved from so-called webcare sessions – really just online meetings for grantees and friends to share fears, anxieties and plans in a safe space which we started when the Covid pandemic took us all by surprise. After a series of those get togethers we decided on some thematic angles that helped us to focus conversations between participants. From then onwards we also invited some ‘keynote’ speakers to kick-off conversations. For example, in February, In Europe Schools presented their transnational exchange project in which secondary school students filmed their recent history, , researching and comparing difficult histories, climate change and migration. In March we focused on the need for a new way of European storytelling, in cooperation with ACES (Amsterdam Centre for European Studies). Professor Luizsa Bialasiewicz and awarded Spanish photographer Carlos Spottorno hosted the second conversation on European history in the making. But we also hosted sessions with grantees only, as in June, when we were joined by Busy Being Black and Blackcoffee pdc for a conversation on Black queer stories.
Another element in our digital presence was the digital celebration of Europe Day on 9 May when we launched The Europe Challenge and our annual magazine Common Ground.
Europe Day echoes our co-founder Robert Schuman’s appeal of 9 May 1950: “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.” ECF organised the celebrations online highlighting and celebrating all the various pan-European efforts and achievements to make our continent a more inclusive, more democratic, more culturally aware, better place to live, as a contemporary translation of Schuman’s appeal.
Through a dedicated website, we featured live-streamed discussions on the day itself and content from European changemakers, presentations from artists, thinkers and doers, amongst our grantees and friends. In the run up to the day, we attracted almost 1,200 viewers for the livestream on 9 May (this includes the website, Facebook and YouTube) and a total of 3,654 webpage views from 1,300 webpage users. Through the hashtag #EuropeDay21 we reached over 20,000 people on Facebook, 26,000 on Twitter and just over 5,000 on Instagram.
Highlights of the day included the launch of our new programme The Europe Challenge, involving libraries and their communities across Europe, a session on the future of mobility in the cultural sector, and the screening of various documentaries from the IDFA / ECF pathway Life in Europe.
Website and social media
We developed our website to showcase our programmes, share, curate content about our Culture of Solidarity grantees and partners, and contribute to the discourse on the role of culture in Europe. In 2021, our website attracted over 90,000 users in 130,000 sessions.
Our Instagram account attracted 1,000 new followers and grew to 10,000 followers; on Facebook we had well over 2,000 new page likes, growing to 46,376 likes in total and we acquired more than 45,000 likes over the year. Our Twitter account grew by more than 600 followers, growing to 10,700 followers. In total, we had more than 70,000 social media followers.
As well as the Europe Day campaign, the launch of The Europe Pavilion and the communication campaigns for the Cultural Deal for Europe, The Europe Challenge and the new editions of the Culture of Solidarity Fund stood out in 2021.
The campaigns resulted in numerous [online] publications in platforms such as: Parliament Magazine, Philea website, Eurozine, Dutch daily Trouw, to name but a few.
An open letter showing support for the Cultural Deal for Europe campaign was endorsed by more than 1,000 Europeans. A dedicated call to Dutch policymakers to secure a pivotal role for culture in the post-pandemic recovery – published in the run-up to the Dutch annual policy conversation on culture – was endorsed by more than 25 high-profile cultural figures.
In 2021, we were co-responsible for a series of publications.
The Creative Cities and Cultural Spaces project resulted in the publication of the book Commons. Between Dreams and Reality, which is available as a free download.
ECF commissioned Gijs de Vries to write the report To make the silos dance on why culture matters to Europe and why it should figure more prominently in EU policy. The report is available as a free download.
Within ECF’s MediActivism programme the publication Feel show change collected activist approaches to claiming a right to your city. The report is available as a free download.
Common Ground features as a free downloadable annual magazine and touches on a wide range of topics. It contains essays on the future of our continent post-Covid, ECF programmes, four photo essays by acclaimed photographers, reports from Belarus, illustrations and interviews with Europeans who dare to make a difference. Common Ground was produced in the midst of the Covid pandemic, but focused on how to build out of it. It asked what did we learn and what can we do better? In all articles, the value of culture and the interconnectedness of culture with politics, the need and the will to change came to the fore. The magazine is available as a free download.
Our podcast, the ECF Stories Club – a publicly accessible series in which our staff discuss books, films or other cultural products with relevance for our work – met three times over the past year. In February, we discussed The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste; Burning the Book by Richard Ovenden was discussed in March; and in May, we featured Europe28: Writing by Women on the Future of Europe.
The European Pavilion podcast – which started in 2020 – came to an end in 2021, featuring five more episodes.
In 2021 we uploaded a series of portraits of The European Pavilion partners on our YouTube channel, which also feature on the dedicated website theeuropeanpavilion.eu.
Our Culture of Solidarity fund won the Causales ‘Cultural investor of the Year’ award. We firstly see the award as a public endorsement of all the work done by grantees of the fund. More than hundred grantees, all over Europe, are working on their projects therewith showcasing that collaborating across borders is our future.
In order to get our stories out beyond the circle of ECF followers and to help develop a regular and sustained presence in the European media, we have established media partnerships with a number of media outlets including the photographic project The Europeans, Zeit Online for their project Europe Talks, Eurozine, the Calvert Journal for their special issue on Poland and their film festival and the Dutch Podcastfestival for their European track.