EUNIC – interviews

JULY

Summer has arrived to the Netherlands, but our local EUNIC Cluster never stops. Neither do its members! EUNIC – Interviews is the ideal platform to introduce you our Italian colleague Paola Cordone, and the beautiful cultural events she is involved with during this warm season 🇮🇹🇳🇱🇪🇺

What kind of projects is Paola working on since she became the Director of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Amsterdam? What changed in her professional experience since the outbreak of the pandemic? How did she like her arrival to Amsterdam early this year?

1) What role do you play in your institute/embassy?

I am the Director of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Amsterdam, which is part of a network of 83 Italian Cultural Institutes in the world. The Italian Institutes depend from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy and, therefore, we are part of the Italian diplomatic mission to the Netherlands, led by the Embassy of Italy. The Institutes’ mission is to promote the Italian language and culture, both classic and contemporary. We do so by offering courses of Italian language and by organizing events which focus on various cultural sectors, from literature to art, from music to cinema, from theatre to gastronomy.

An important aspect of our mission is to establish and enhance the collaboration between Italian institutions and artists with the numerous local partners. A good example of this cooperation is the exhibition that was inaugurated on July 10 in Den Haag, ‘Le latitudini dell’arte‘, organized by institutions and galleries of our two countries. Italian contemporary artists could exhibit their works together with artists living in the Netherlands, giving rise to a fruitful artistic dialogue. The Italian Cultural Institute is located in a fascinating historical building in Amsterdam in Keizersgracht and I hope that soon, if the sanitary situation keeps improving, we will be able to welcome anyone wishing to learn Italian or visit our library or attend the events that we will propose.

2) How do you contribute to EUNIC?

I arrived in Amsterdam very recently and I haven’t had the chance to follow from the beginning the initiatives organized by EUNIC for this year; nevertheless, the Italian Institute participated to the European Literature Night 2021, which took place on June 19 and was a great success, and we will be part of many more projects. The EUNIC meetings to which I participated so far were very interesting: EUNIC Netherlands is a big cluster and the first impression I got is that all the participants seem very active, dynamic, and friendly.

3) What is the best aspect about being a EUNIC Netherlands’ member?

I arrived in Amsterdam last March and, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, so far I have not had the opportunity to know many people or visit many cultural centres. I had a chance to see the colleagues online via Zoom meetings, but I am now really looking forward to get to know them ‘live’. In my experience, it is very important to be able to meet, exchange ideas, competences, strengths, or talk about the problems we have to deal with in our job. Very often we discover that the challenges we face are surprisingly similar, and it is very useful to have the opportunity to share our concerns and to feel that we are part of a community that we can count on, wherever we are posted in the world.

Thank you, Paola Cordone, for sharing your experience joining EUNIC Netherlands.

To what European country will our series of Interviews bring you in August?


JUNE

For the much awaited beginning of summer, EUNIC – Interviews offers you an overview on the professional experience of one of our most active members: our Slovenian friend and colleague Jana Kulevska Črepinko 🇸🇮🇳🇱🇪🇺

What is Jana’s experience as Advisor for Economic and Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Slovenia in The Hague? And what projects has she been working on as part of the EUNIC Netherlands team?

1) What role do you play in your institute/embassy?

At the Embassy of Slovenia in The Hague, I am responsible for economic and cultural affairs. I also assist the diplomats in various key areas of their work, such as promoting Slovenian economic/business interests and tourism, providing a range of key consular services, and supporting the good relations between the Governments. Helping with promoting and raising awareness of several important Slovenian initiatives and projects, inter alia, World Bee Day, Slovenia-European Region of Gastronomy 2021 and Europe Readr, is part of my job as well. 

Promoting Slovenian culture is an important segment of the Embassy’s work. We showcase Slovenian culture by organising projects, events and collaborations with Slovenian artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, cultural institutions, Friends of Slovenia Association and the Slovenian community. EUNIC Netherlands is an important platform for our promotional activities. At the same time, we are proud to have a diaspora, which makes a meaningful contribution to our country, whether they are raising awareness of our culture or creating a positive image of Slovenia worldwide. 

2) How do you contribute to EUNIC?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, with the Slovenian Representations abroad, strongly believes in EUNIC’s mission and actively promotes European cultural relations. The Embassy of Slovenia in The Hague is actively participating in many activities of the EUNIC Netherlands with the aim to present and promote Slovenian culture in the Netherlands, and to foster the European collaboration in culture. The European Literature Night and International Women’s Day celebration are good examples of this successful cooperation. 

The Embassy of Slovenia, together with EUNIC Netherlands and local partners, co-ordinates the local implementation of the fantastic European project: “Europe Readr – the Future of Living”.  

Europe Readr is a project initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia on the occasion of the upcoming Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU (July-December 2021). Europe Readr is a freely accessible digital platform, providing a free edited selection of European literature on the overarching topic “Future of Living”. It will include works from all EU Member States in their original language (24 official languages), and translated to English. Under the slogan “Open a book for a better future”, the platform www.europereadr.eu will be launched on 1st July 2021.  We teamed up with TU Delft Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, and its students will produce a Europe Readr urban open space for reading and dialogue. ‘Future of Living’ Pavilion will embark on its maiden voyage in September. It will be installed in the central library of Amsterdam Public Library (OBA), and later on continue its journey to other libraries around the Netherlands.

3) What is the best aspect about being a EUNIC Netherlands’ member?

Being part of EUNIC Netherlands network is a great opportunity for different cultural representatives to work together on diverse local cultural projects, and co-create a space for cultural dialogue and collaborations, thus strengthening much-needed European co-operation in culture. 

Thank you Jana Kulevska Črepinko for your very insightful contribution!

Can you guess who will be our seventh guest next month?


MAY

This month we go all the way to Germany: in May EUNIC – Interviews is glad to introduce you the Director of the Goethe-Institute Netherlands 🇩🇪🇳🇱🇪🇺

Keep reading to know more about Mikko Fritze and his experience as Director of the German Institute for Culture, and member of the Dutch Cluster of EUNIC.

1) What role do you play in your institute/embassy?

I am the Director of the Goethe-Institut Netherlands. The Goethe-Institut is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany with a global reach. We promote knowledge of the German language abroad, foster international cultural cooperation, and convey a comprehensive image of Germany with 159 locations in 98 countries. Here in the Netherlands we have two locations: one in Amsterdam and one in Rotterdam.

2) How do you contribute to EUNIC?

Together we are sometimes stronger! Together, we find common European themes and synergies within our diverse cultural projects. We particpate in several projects in the cluster`s programme as, for example, the European Literature Night, or the event ‘Women & Music’. Furthermore, we enjoy the monthly exchange a lot. EUNIC is a vivid community where we can share ideas and envision projects together. We have a lot of fun!

3) What is the best aspect about being a EUNIC Netherlands’ member?

Through EUNIC it is very easy to identify meaningful possibilities for cooperation between very different European cultural Institutes or cultural departments of the Embassies. The regular meetings allow a fast decision making, and that enhances a meaningful exchange of ideas.

Thank you Mikko Fritze for sharing your experience within EUNIC Netherlands with us!


APRIL

In April EUNIC – Interviews plays at home, bringing you to DutchCulture 🇳🇱🇪🇺

Do you want to know more about one of EUNIC Netherlands’ Board members, and Programme Manager for Europe for Citizens at Dutch Culture? Don’t miss our interview to Sophie Logothetis!

1) What role do you play in your institute/embassy?

For the last couple of years I have been the contactpoint of the Europe for Citizens programme in the Netherlands, hosted by DutchCulture. This is a EU finding programme, specifically aimed at civil society and municipalities in order to bridge the gap between the European citizen and the EU. I was responsible for the guidance of the Dutch beneficiaries. The Europe for Citizens programme was hosted by DutchCulture, the network and knowledge organization for international cultural cooperation where we maintain and enlarge our network and knowledge in order to help the Dutch cultural sector amplifying their voice in the international arena. This is where EUNIC comes in. Participation in the Dutch EUNIC cluster has been instrumental to this aim.

2) How do you contribute to EUNIC?

Being a member of the board of the Dutch EUNIC cluster provides many advantages. I get to know all the members very well and have a good overview of all the projects the EUNIC NL cluster is involved in. I also have the financial overview and have access to the EUNIC’s archive, which gives me a very insightful image of a small piece of European cultural history. I also have contributed actively to the annual European Literature Night, working closely together with the Forum on European Culture, the UvA and OBA.

3) What is the best aspect about being a EUNIC Netherlands’ member?

The best aspect is the people. It is a rich experience to be able to work with people with so many different backgrounds. Having a bicultural background myself, I feel very much at home in these surroundings. Apart from myself, I believe it’s a perfect fit for DutchCulture to have access to the network of EUNIC, in order to fulfill its goal, i.e. enlarging the cultural arena. Many projects and even friendships have developed being a member of this wonderful network.

Thank you Sophie Logothetis for your insights about being part of the big family of EUNIC Netherlands.

While waiting for our fifth guest of this EUNIC – Interview series, have a look at some of the projects Sohpie has bees involved with during her years at DutchCulture, such as the program Europe for Citizens, and her experience of job shadowing at the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen in Stuttgart.


MARCH

This month EUNIC – Interviews brings you to the Instituto Cervantes in Utrecht 🇪🇸🇳🇱🇪🇺

Keep reading to know more about Pilar Tena and her role as Director of the Spanish National Institute for Culture in the Netherands.

1) What role do you play in your institute/embassy?

I am the director of Instituto Cervantes in the Netherlands. We are part of an important network of institutes that expands over 45 countries and 85 cities. In this country, we have only one centre, based in a beautiful old building in Utrecht. Nevertheless, as the only Institute in the country, we cover the whole national territory. We are part of the Embassy and work in coordination with the Ambassador and our colleagues from the different Government departments, but due to the fact that we have our own building and the peculiar nature of our activity, we enjoy a certain autonomy. We basically teach Spanish and the other co-official languages of Spain, we administer the certification exams, and we organize a wide range of cultural activities throughout the country. At the moment we have two strategic priorities: the promotion of the teaching of Spanish and the expansion of our presence in the country with stable and focal activity points in different cities. We also want to continue to engage in a close collaboration with the most prestigious institutions in the country – museums, universities, publishers, festivals, etc.  

2) How do you contribute to EUNIC?

At the Instituto Cervantes, we are firm believers in EUNIC’s mission. Our Director for International Relations at our headquarters in Madrid, Rafael Soriano, works incessantly with Brussels to strengthen the role of EUNIC worldwide and in particular to make the Spanish contribution relevant and active. As local directors, we are instructed and encouraged to participate in our clusters’ activities, and not only that but also to be proactive and to promote initiatives at a national level. Our last Secretary-general was Chairman of EUNIC not long ago, and we now have a Spanish Vice president.  Since my arrival almost four years ago I have been active in the cluster, attending almost every meeting and trying to contribute to the cluster’s programme. We recently promoted an application for funds that was unfortunately not successful, and we are now coordinating, as we did last year, a fantastic project for International Women’s Day, where EUNIC NL and several of its members are active participants. This year, the theme “Women and music” has given us a fabulous opportunity to bring together our colleagues and work in a series of concerts taking place between January and May, a roundtable and several musical performances that we broadcasted on March 8, 2021, and a beautiful exhibition on international women composers coming from Vienna. A full programme!

3) What is the best aspect about being a EUNIC Netherlands’ member?

Working from Utrecht, it has been a fabulous opportunity for me to meet with my colleagues on a monthly basis: we have built a remarkable friendship and camaraderie. But of course, the best aspect is to have the feeling that we are working collectively to build a stronger Europe that is an example to the rest of the world because of the understanding, respect, and collaboration among its members, proving that we can, at the same time, enhance cultural and linguistic diversity in Europe, and increase awareness of a common European identity.

Thank you Pilar Tena for sharing your experience within EUNIC Netherlands!

While waiting for the second interview of this Spring, on the website of the Instituto Cervantes you can find some of the amazing projects Pilar has been working on, as “Vrouwen en Muziek”, an event organised to celebrate International Women’s Day.


FEBRUARY

EUNIC – Interviews is back, this month reporting from the Austrian Embassy Den Haag 🇦🇹🇳🇱🇪🇺

Scroll down to read more about Daria Bouwman’s experience working as a Cultural Representative for the Embassy and as EUNIC Netherlands’ Director.

1) What role do you play in your institute/embassy?

I work at the Austrian Embassy in The Hague, as a local staff member and I am responsible for culture, education and science. Usually that means that I am organizing cultural events like concerts, lectures, debates and exhibitions, among others, to introduce Austrian culture in the Netherlands. I help Austrian artists finding partners in the Netherlands and similarly I help Dutch organizations finding Austrian artists. It’s always a pleasure when you find the perfect match for Austrian and Dutch artists and to witness what the Austrian art scene has to offer to the Netherlands.

2) How do you contribute to EUNIC?

I have been a member of EUNIC Netherlands since 2006, when we started as a small team of enthusiastic deputies from some EU-countries, years before we officially founded EUNIC-NL. Since then it has been my pleasure to contribute to several projects. I am fascinated by the cultural diversity of Europe and I am always eager to show that to the Dutch audience.I have been president of EUNIC for more than a year now and I have been responsible, among other things, for coordinating our projects in cooperation with local partners.At the moment – in collaboration with the European Commission Representation in the Netherlands and OBA Amsterdam – I’m organizing a series of lecture about the different aspects of “Multilingualism” including multilingual education and film and subtitles.

3) What is the best aspect about being a EUNIC Netherlands’ member?

Together we are strong. Since the beginning of my membership I have felt the advantage of being part of a bigger and stronger network. All the members have different contacts, specialties and knowledge to share. We do learn from each other. Sometimes it is difficult to get sufficient funding for cultural projects, but together we can organize larger projects by joining forces. Furthermore, I love the insights I get into the cultural world of other European countries. I learn a lot of new things. And the exchange of experiences with European colleagues enriches my professional and private life. And especially in corona-times: Together we are still going strong.

Thank you Daria Bouwman for the interview!

Check out also our Interview from March! In the meanwhile, make sure to check out the next lecture on Multilingualism, “Expand your knowledge of language and culture through films and subtitling”, organized by Daria by visiting the following page.


JANUARY

Launching for the first time this week, EUNIC – Interviews will, over the next months, be reporting member organizations representatives’ own stories. First up is, Hélène Doub, cultural attaché and deputy director from the Institut français des Pays-Bas 🇫🇷🇳🇱🇪🇺

1) What role do you play in your institute/embassy?

Since 2018, I have been a Cultural Attaché at the French embassy in the Hague and Deputy director of the Institut français des Pays-Bas. I am based in Amsterdam but my activity covers The Netherlands. My role is to foster cultural cooperation between France and The Netherlands at a bilateral but also at a multilateral level. In concrete terms, together with my team, we organize cultural events in cooperation with Dutch or European partners; we stimulate a network of cultural actors who work with French artists or thinkers; we build bridges between the French cultural scene and its Dutch partners and we support, in financial, technical and communication terms, the efforts made by our partners to promote the French and francophone scene. But this also goes the other way round. We are doing a lot to encourage the emergence of a European sense of belonging through education, culture and multilingualism.

2) How do you contribute to EUNIC?

As a representative of one of EUNIC’s Members, the Institut français des Pays-Bas, but also as a European citizen, I take our main tasks as a EUNIC cluster seriously: improving and promoting cultural diversity and understanding between European societies and contributing to the definition of a European cultural policy which will endorse an independent voice for the cultural sector. Therefore, I participate actively in EUNIC Netherlands cluster’s meetings and events, and I contribute as a project coordinator with other members to the European Literature Night, which is one of EUNIC’s highlights during the cultural season. This brings me to make concrete steps every day alongside my European colleagues to set up a program and create a real dialog between diverse sensibilities.

3) What is the best aspect about being a EUNIC Netherlands’ member?

I had the chance to take part to several EUNIC clusters as a member or as a partner. Each time it was a very fruitful experience. Within EUNIC, members can enjoy a very collegial atmosphere. We learn how to take advantage from our diversity and become more conscious of our common grounds.What I really value within EUNIC is the opportunity to share experiences or good practices and to learn from each other. We all have very different backgrounds, sometimes also different priorities, but the quality of the dialog leads to fertile compromises.As Robert Schuman, one of the Fathers of Europe, said : « Europe will not be built all at once, nor in one go: it will be built through concrete achievements ». EUNIC illustrates well this prophetic thought.

Thank you Hélène Doub for your interview!