Memory Box travels to Europe

It’s been a week and Sally has just about recovered from Flo-culture’s recent trip to Oberhausen, Germany


Flo-culture was recently chosen to take part in TANDEM Community & Participation exchange programme. The pilot project is a new addition to an already established portfolio of exchange programmes funded via the Dutch ‘Fonds voor Cultuurparticipatie’ (Fund for Cultural Participation – FCP, Utrecht) and the established TANDEM consortium: European Cultural Foundation and MitOst. It is kindly supported by the King Baudouin Foundation.

The programme was devised to assist cultural organisations working in the field of community and participation to build long-term working relationships within the EU, and for one year the programme selects and supports, 4 cultural managers/project coordinators from the Netherlands and 6 of their peers from Germany, Belgium or the UK to form 4 transnational collaboration tandems.

As Creative Director for Flo, TANDEM represented a perfect opportunity to take our existing programmes of work to a much wider European audience, to test and advance our knowledge, approach and understanding of that work.


Last week’s meeting in Oberhausen was actually our second gathering as a cohort. The first, which took place in Rotterdam in October, was devised to support the individually selected members of the group to find and initiate the beginnings of a project proposal with a cultural organisation based within the Netherland. The group was a really great mix of cultural professionals, from a range of backgrounds and practices and it was a tough call to settle upon working with just one organisation.

Never one to conform, Flo’s TANDEM became what we’re lovingly calling a ‘TRANDEM’, a three way cultural exchange between Flo-culture UK, Kunstbedrijf Arnhem, Netherlands and lkj) and Sachsen-Anhalt, Magdeburg, Germany. I’m pleased to be able to say that our initial proposal saw us through to the second round meeting in Oberhausen.


I’d never been to Oberhausen before, but co-incidentally the heavily industrial town is twinned with the North East town Middlesbrough, with the two towns being alike in many ways, making it feel much more like home than it should have.

The long weekend centred round the recently opened arts venue ‘Kitev’. Split across a number of levels, Kitev is a laboratory for unusual interventions, housed within a disused water tower at Oberhausen train station. The tower is a nucleus and venue for activities of high artistic quality as well as a contact point for project related residencies in the region and is really very beautiful and well considered. Here, we spent four nights working, socialising and camping.

The kick off meeting was designed to support the 4 selected Tandems (or Trandem in our case), who had made it through to the second round to spend a focused amount of time together, working through and firming up our project proposals.

There were a broad range of activities set out for us, but essentially we spent what felt like a very luxurious amount of time together analysing our practices as Cultural Managers, our initial project proposals, and ironing out any potential problems with the support and guidance of the wider group and the different funding bodies present. The kick off meeting was a genuine period of CPD, with time being set aside for one-to-one sessions that were recorded, to be revisited and reflected upon at the end of the year long programme.

TANDEM and Kitev were the perfect hosts. Co-ordinating visits from artist, musicians and other cultural professionals.  If you are ever in Oberhausen I can highly recommend a visit to Kitev or local contemporary art gallery, Gasometer whose current exhibition is an astonishing installation by artist, Christo.

Next steps

It’s very early days for our collaboration, which is tied to our existing Memory Box programme and our first cultural exchange is scheduled to take place in Magdeburg, Germany next February. It’s really a very exciting project, but I don’t want to share too much of it now. You’ll have to watch this space to find out more.

More Soon,



If you’re interested in forging partnerships and taking part in a cultural exchange programme, the following forum is open for applications until the 15th January 2014:

Apply until 15 January 2014 to join the TANDEM / SHAML Partnership Forum, February 23 – 27, 2014

Tandem / Shaml offers eight cultural organisations based in Germany and other European countries (incl. Turkey) a unique opportunity to establish long-term cooperation links with partner organisations from the Arab countries across the Mediterranean. Tandem / Shaml is an exchange and knowledge development programme which allows cultural professionals from many different disciplines to acquire skills required for engaging in long-term cooperation across borders. The Tandem process provides hands-on possibilities for getting real insights to a newly emerging Arab cultural scene but also for gaining practical experiences in collaborating with a rapidly changing field across Europe.

Tandem / Shaml – Cultural Managers Exchange Europe – Arab Region – is an initiative which was developed by the European Cultural Foundation (Amsterdam) and MitOst (Berlin) in collaboration with Al Mawred Al Thaqafy (Cairo) and Anadolu Kültür (Istanbul). The programme is financially supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Stuttgart), Stichting DOEN (Amsterdam) and Mimeta (Norway).

You can apply to become part of the Tandem cultural network and build long-term cooperation with a partner organization from the Arab region during a one-year collaborative project! Apply now to meet 12 cultural managers from the Arab region at the Partnership Forum from February 23 to 27, 2014.

The deadline for applications is January 15, 2014 midnight CET.
After the Partnership Forum there is a second application round where you can apply together with your new partner to be selected for the Tandem / Shaml programme.

For further information on the project, conditions of participation and application forms please go to: