Updates from the Squad!

This is an update probably relevant for @anique.yael and her upcoming events which could use parts of this work.

In spring 2016, after Edgeryders Living on the Edge 5 event, with @natalia_skoczylas and @alex_levene we started a Culture Squad - a bit like the research team in Edgeryders kicking off now, but focused on working in culture and drawing on the experience working with European Capitals of Culture - 2 winning cities (Matera 2019, Galway 2020) and 1 shortlisted (Bucharest 2019).

We developed a pitch for our own understanding of the offer to cities.

What did we learn, if anything?

  • We tried to make contact with new cities running for the title in upcoming years (in the UK or Luxembourg), and the highest potential ones were where there was a strong relationship with someone working there. The more senior or central, the better. Even with a contact and a supporter inside, like in the case of Leeuwarden 2018 (@jort_klarenbeek) things stalled.

  • Making contact over email or phone will not get us far i.e. so as to schedule meetings in person, be invited to travel and do an event, public pitching etc.

  • The timelines between a public administration and ER are not aligned. Even after our contracts ended with the winning cities and there was more work in the pipeline - Edgeryders being a partner in some of the projects in the bidbooks + more consultancy work - we found that the timeline in which cities operate is not compatible with our pace. We expect things to happen faster, but we are talking windows of 6 months minimum. With Matera, you can get an idea: the time between our contract in 2014 when they won and August/Sept 2017 when we partnered up again, is… well, very long :slight_smile:

  • Writing random funding applications doesnt work. Another front was applying for European funding with a grassroots cultural residency modeled on unMonastery and the work in Bucharest - we called it Futurespotters Lab - but we didnt win any - neither the click based competitions nor the proposals with, it needs to be said, rushed and cosmetic partnerships.

Where are we now?

Our most important development is that we have changed the approach and are aiming for across-city services.

  1. building an international network of grassroots cultural projects which can deliver projects to cities and be each other’s partners- cities would be buying in to be part of it, so to speak. The change is as follows: at the core, we would not fundraise from the cities themselves, but from transnational organisations type ECF.

  2. will be deliver a community building training of 2 days in Matera in December, within the new contractual work, and there will be more cities attending. We will present the training as a product for any city wishing to build better community processes and collaboration.

  3. [not official yet] we are preparing a webinar with community building content to be delivered to an international cultural network. the sales process was that I went to an event where I hosted a workshop around something else - they liked Edgeryders, recognised expertise and it happens that they want to learn from us.

  4. we are partnering up with community members who are already doing work in culture! I.e. with Matteo - for a European funding application around urban games in various cities - in this case, Edgeryders can be an impact partner due to our global network. More details are available if you need them.

This is it for now. Me and Alberto I guess are still pursuing this but organically. We might have been more strategic about it, but other things got prioritised… Also worth noting: the Culture Squad team work was funded with 2K initially from Edgeryders Lbg, with no real results. It is not funded anymore but we keep a live interest.

Hope this helps,
Would appreciate connections with people you meet who are doing work in culture :heart:


Thank you so much for sharing this detailed context and update @noemi. It’s a huge help for me to better understand how strategically I can align various opportunities - particularly in terms of :

As I believe you know most of my background is cultural and urban development, especially through the animation of public and disused spaces, digital media and participatory processes (with a focus on emerging and marginalised communities). So I’d definitely like to keep across how things develop, and in fact think it could be opportune for you, @alberto, @matthias and I to get together to flesh out a roadmap of sorts at some point. As you would have seen from my Feedback concpt note, I’m definitely already thinking meta-strategically about how our research unit, OpenVillage and now yes the culture squad can leverage and benefit each others’ projects and communities.

I’ll be presenting at the participatory governance in culture conference on behalf of Percolab, an international cooperative enterprise with whom I’ve collaborated and will continue to in some capacity (off to their French cell’s team retreat tomorrow for example). Their whole thing is about animating the paradigm shift towards generative futures and do organizational and community development. They’re more coming from a social entrepreneurship take - so I’m not completely aligned to be honest - but they use some super interesting techniques referencing the commons, self-management/ organising, co-design and of course collective intelligence, and I see great value in their work. My presentation will be on “generative participatory governance: from organisational culture to inclusive citizenship,” and I’ll share it once it’s done. I’ll also do my best to take notes at relevant presentations during the rest of the conference and share an update here.

Then I’m off to the Innocracy conference with @nadia to leverage some strategic opportunities for Recode. I’ll obviously definitely keep the cultural squad’s projects in mind here too.

Thanks again, very exciting to begin to orient to Edgeryders’ rich landscapes.

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@noemi Not sure if you already were aware but Rijeka is the European Capital of Culture for 2020. I’ve already met someone working with the community lead at my air bnb, and now realise that Rijeka2020 are part of the team/ funders putting on this conference.

Could be interesting for our culture squad work and also community building consulting.

I can look at fostering connections but how would you normally go about sharing info on our work in these areas? IE. Is it appropriate for me to share the pitch you linked to above as the first step?

Yay, yes I’d seen that they are involved.

I would say dont send any documents until after a good conversation and meeting - that way we can adjust the pitch rather than shooting in the dark.

Tell them we are giving a community building training in Matera next month where more cities have been invited, perhaps they too? This is a product useful for growing connections with and between local projects and the city teams, and especially to build capacity for projects and support their expansion internationally, so as to create legacy, often a problem for ECOCs - projects dont survive after. Edgeryders is positioned strategically as we are working with communities everywhere across Europe, so once these connections are made projects find new avenues of support while keeping close to the cities platforms.

Hope this makes sense?

Got it and makes total sense. But yes will need to familiarise myself more with this work so I can speak to it.

For our shared reference, this is the Rijeka2020 person that just did a welcome address: Irena Kregar Šegota (Rijeka 2020 - Development and Strategic Partnerships Director, Rijeka, Croatia). I’ve just added her on LinkedIn and messaged saying that I hope speak to her over the coming days about our work with ECoCs.

Will keep in touch :pineapple:

@noemi You can follow my notes to the presentations I’m able to make here but I’ll also do a separate post after to the platform if you’d prefer to wait

@noemi So I wasn’t able to meet directly with anyone from Rijeka2020 but I think it could be very very worthwhile for us to follow them up. There seems to be a lot of interest, momentum and potential opportunities for collaboration there. Let me know how and if you’d like my support in this.