For the past years, citizens and communities all over the European Union have been affected by growing social disparities and severe economic backlash. These are difficult years for Europe but also a time full of new possibilities. Unorthodox creative projects have started to emerge all over the EU. They show the imaginative power we need for finding new answers and fresh approaches to the current challenges in our societies. These exceptional cultural initiatives often provide substantial meaning to people’s lives. We believe they can also help to initiate broader social and economic innovation processes.

In all EU member states pioneering ideas, new social alliances and alternative economic and collaborative working models have been put forward by cultural pioneers. Creative initiatives - especially those from the financially and socially most affected EU regions - have started to experiment with new social designs and alternative economic strategies for addressing burning issues in their local working fields. These new initiatives could benefit from a further cross-pollination and mutual engagement with colleagues from all over the EU. Tandem Europe will support 30 pioneering cultural managers from all 28 EU member states to step up to the next strategic level. Our programme will assist their organisations to build new tactical collaboration channels together with creative minds from abroad.

Tandem Europe represents the most recent edition among our TANDEM programme family. It is tailor-made for cultural managers who work on creative solutions that make social innovation possible throughout the EU. The programme stimulates strategic thinking in organisational renewal processes, helps to create and sustain culturally innovative effects across sectors, disciplines and borders and explores creative and collaborative solutions for contemporary challenges in our societies.

How does it work?

For one year, 30 cultural organisations and creative initiatives from all 28 EU member states will form 15 cross-border collaborative Tandems. In October 2015, 50 cultural managers and/or creative project coordinators will be invited to a Partner Forum where they can form a European partnership with another Tandem candidate organisation of their choice. After the Partner Forum, a jury will select the 15 most promising Tandem proposals for participation in the main programme phase.

Throughout the following year, selected participants realise a 2-week working placement at their new Tandem partner organisation. During their vocational visit, Tandem participants become directly involved with their partners’ organisational working environment and get hands-on insights into local socio-economic and cultural realities. Spending two mutual placement weeks together on site will provide participants with the necessary shared working time for co-designing, testing and realising their pilot collaboration initiatives. Each Tandem will receive modest start-up funding for bringing their cultural innovation idea to life. Outcomes are showcased locally and in the framework of a public presentation organised by Tandem at the end of the programme.

Project managers and representatives of all 30 participating organisations will attend Tandem group meetings at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the process. These meetings allow for a mutual exchange of Tandem collaboration experiences with all other programme participants. All meetings will feature peer-to-peer group learning sessions among participants but also workshops with cultural and social innovation experts. The programme team and additional professionals will accompany and mentor all 15 Tandem pilot collaborations from inception to completion.

Frequent group meetings will also add to a growing network of colleagues across all EU locations involved. After the programme ends, participating organisations will therefore be able to build on viable European relations and new knowledge exchange contacts for scaling-up their Tandem pilot ideas towards a broader impact. At the same time, participants join the growing Tandem network connecting them to cultural change makers in the European neighbourhood.

Who is it for?


We are looking for cultural managers representing organisations that:

  • work on pioneering cultural ideas that tackle socio-economic challenges
  • explore unconventional ways of working that show potential for real social impact (on a local and European level)
  • are highly motivated to extend their cultural work to new working areas which contribute to social and alternative economic innovation processes all over the European Union
  • develop creative solutions for a sustainable socio-economic development of their communities, cities or regions which are based on local citizens’ needs
  • design new cultural formats for engaging citizens in re-shaping social and economic realities of the local environment they live in
  • are interested in finding new structural solutions, strategic development opportunities and alternative financing models for their cultural organisations
  • are ambitious to engage in strategic and lasting cooperation across national borders
  • represent an independent cultural NGO, a non-hierarchical and open-minded public institution or a not-for-profit social and/or creative enterprise
  • can rely on working structures that show sufficient financial and organisational capacity, are flexible and adaptive, socially responsible and respected in their working field
  • are early-to-mid career staff members with some decision-making responsibilities and/or senior professionals who are strategically involved with the core mission
  • are socially committed, empathic, highly motivated, dynamic, open-minded personalities
  • are eager to experiment, ready for structural change, seize new opportunities, have entrepreneurial spirit and the courage to take risks and fail forward
  • have sufficient skills, experience and resources to engage in an intense international learning and reflection process that requires a minimum time investment of 10 working weeks throughout a one-year long process
  • are based in one of the 28 EU member states and are fluent in English

What do we offer?

  • participation in a partner forum with 50 cultural organisations from all over the EU12 working days abroad during a vocational placement at a new partner organisation
  • group meetings including peer-to-peer learning sessions with experienced trainers and workshops with social and cultural innovation specialists
  • reimbursement of travel costs and living expenses during project events and placements
  • EUR 8,000.- start up funding for testing a shared pilot collaboration idea
  • expert-facilitated mentoring of pilot collaboration initiatives from inception to completion
  • a public showcase event to present the outcomes of all pilot collaboration initiatives
  • small-scale follow-up support to scale-up pilot ideas towards broader impact
  • access to a growing alumni network of cultural initiatives in more than 100 cities across Europe and its neighbourhood

Main programme events include:

  • a 5-day partnership forum in Milan, Italy (18-22 October 2015)
  • a 5-day kick-off meeting including training workshops (for Tandem participants + senior management staff) (February 2016)
  • a vocational placement of 12 days at individual Tandem partner locations across the EU (self-organised by individual Tandems between February 2016 and February 2017)
  • a 4-day interim meeting including peer-to-peer learning sessions and training workshops (for Tandem participants)  (June 2016)
  • a 4-day final learning and evaluation meeting (for Tandem participants + senior management staff) & public presentation (February 2017)

How do we select participants?

Selection of Tandem candidates to the Partner Forum is based on the quality of their individual application. The programme team and partner representatives will pre-select up to 50 cultural managers from all over the EU whose organisations and initiatives represent a balanced mix of working fields, professional backgrounds, strategic interests, original ideas and the socio-economic challenges they address. We will invite those applicants who best fulfil the criteria listed above.

Call for applications to participate in the Tandem Europe Partner Forum is closed now. Successful candidates to be invited to Milan will be informed by the end of July.

At the Partner Forum in October, the Tandem team will guide all 50 participants through an interactive mix of informal matchmaking and presentation sessions. All candidates will have sufficient time to identify and get to know their potential Tandem Europe partner before they actually form pairs and start drafting a concrete proposal for their collaboration plans and pilot initiatives. Shortly after the Partner Forum up to 25 new Tandem pairs will submit their written proposals to the programme team in Berlin for assessment. The second selection process will be carried out by an external programme jury which will choose the 30 cultural managers behind the 15 most promising Tandem proposals for participation in the main programme phase.

Application is closed now. Thank you to all the applicants! We have received 168 applications from 25 countries.
Applicants will be informed about the selection by the end of July 2015.

If you have questions check the FAQ-section or contact Anna-Dorothea Werner (thea.werner(a)mitost.org; +49 30 31 51 74 88).

Tandem Europe is an initiative which was developed by European Cultural Foundation (Amsterdam) and MitOst e.V. (Berlin) together with Fondazione Cariplo (Milan). It is financially supported by Robert Bosch Stiftung (Stuttgart) and Stavros Niarchos Foundation (Athens).


MitOst e.V.
Anna- Dorothea Werner
+49 (0)30 31 51 74 88