The Fika Project

The aim of European Cultural Leadership/The Fika Project was to develop an educational program that provided…

Supporting Leadership Development of Cultural Changemakers

The aim of European Cultural Leadership/The Fika Project was to develop an educational program that provided an increase in capacity, skills and knowledge for emerging leaders in the European cultural field.

There exists pressing need in the cultural sector, especially in its relationship with wider civil society, to develop the capacity to provide relevant analysis and to create developmental and change processes in cooperation with other players.


The European cultural field has continuously been in the midst of dramatic cultural, social, and economic change over the past several years. Globalization, migration and digitization are some of the surrounding factors precipitating such change and affecting the conditions under which art and culture exist today: welfare models and old funding systems are in decline; traditional borders between the artist and the audience are being scrutinized; established cultural institutions are struggling with underfunded budgets, as well as with a declining audience base. Future leaders in European cultural organizations and projects will need the capacity to meet these challenges in order to navigate the stormy and unpredictable waters of modern Europe.

Nätverkstan in Göteborg (Sweden) initiated a study in 2009 to learn more about Swedish cultural leadership. The findings highlighted 5 areas of deficit for the Swedish cultural sector with regard to leadership:

  1. There were few opportunities for the development of cultural leadership and existing programs and training tend to focus only on management.
  2. Art and cultural organisations found it difficult to recruit people with relevant competence.
  3. Leadership, in constrast to other areas of activity within arts and culture – for example artistic competency – had a relatively low status in organizations.
  4. Leadership development programs needed to be developed based on the specifics of the cultural sector.
  5. Younger people often found it difficult and receive little support to build capacity needed for responsible positions and functions.

Upon sharing these results with wider European partnes, we came to believe this was not only a question for Sweden but that we could identify the same need for building cultural leadership capacity in a changing society around Europe. As a result, the European Cultural Leadership programme was born, a partnership between Nätverkstan, Trans Europe Halles, Olivearte Cultural Agency and ENCATC to develop a course in cultural leadership relevant to the needs and future development of the arts and culture sector in Europe.

Aims, Objectives and Activities

The aim of European Cultural Leadership was to develop an educational program that provided an increase in capacity, skills and knowledge for emerging leaders in the European cultural field, specifically to:

  1. Examine the changes in the cultural field and the new challenges within the employment sector.
  2. Modify and revise methods for leadership and organisational development and make these suitable for the specific conditions within the cultural field.
  3. Develop and update specific course modules and facilitating skills.
  4. Design an educational process combining different course modules.
  5. Pilot parts of the educational program and evaluate.
  6. Implement the results with other European partners.

The two main objectives of the programme were:

  1. To develop the strategic partnership between expertise in vocational training, cultural professionals and researchers in establishing an international leadership education programme using innovative methods based on the specific logic of art and cultural organisations, their conditions and challenges.
  2. To equip emerging leaders with the skills and competences needed in their meeting with future challenges and to increase their interest for and competence in international co-productions and intercultural sensibility.

The programme activities were carried out in the frame of three dimensions of cultural leadership – operational, contextual and relational – as a starting point to prioritise a number of strategic areas. These ranged from methods to evaluate cultural organisations with non-monetary criteria to scenario planning not just focusing on trends but things that we take for granted: leadership in relation to artistic processes etc.


Between September 1st 2014 – August 31st 2016 the course was developed through research, partner meetings (both face to face and virtual), consultation with the sector and testing of prototypes before its launch in 2017 (depending on funding).


Nätverkstan coordinated the project and has had a leading role in developing the educational program and two publications connected to the project, while the partners will contributed with their experience, knowledge and practical help.


The Fika Project published two books about cultural leadership in mid-2016: “Perspectives on Cultural Leadership” and “Narratives by Cultural Change Makers”.