Sunday, 30. October
Science Research Centre of Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Atrium),  11.00 – 14.00

Presentation and discussion of/with selected international foundations active in SEE region and Turkey.

The brunch discussion will engage with structure, agenda as well as consequences of (NGO) grants politics run by the EU as well as the role of independent foundations and private institutions in the cultural politics and NGO founding situation in the SEE and Turkey. By encouraging a dialog between NGO representatives and representatives of international foundations we want to critically reflect positive as well as negative aspects resulting from current grant politics.

After almost two decades of NGO grants politics in the SEE and Turkey we are still facing partly outdated models of (re)distribution, which are in many cases resulting in a dangerous stagnation of cultural and NGO scene in specific countries. If on the one hand newly established cultural politics developed new modes of collaborations, mobility and integration, we can clearly state that such politics has established also a certain mode of precarious dependency, which in many instances dictates structuring of sometimes whole cultural and NGO sectors. Departing from the Slovenian case we would like to expose some of the most endemic and symptomatic problematics deriving directly from the cultural and NGO grant politics and by this try to locate new possible modes of its restructuralization which could be applicable also to SEE and Turkey as well as vice versa.

The following international foundations and their representatives will participate at the Co-Operation Brunch: Katja Praznik (Slovenia), BIFC Regional Hub, / Caroline Hornstein Tomić (Croatia/Germany), ERSTE Foundation, / Isabelle Schwarz (France/Germany), European Cultural Foundation, / Radmila Maslovarić (Serbia), Open Society Foundations/East East: Partnership Beyond Borders Programme, / Haki Abazi (Kosovo), Rockefeller Brothers Fund, / Katja Stergar (Slovenia), TRADUKI,

Moderator: Sebastjan Leban, artist and theoretician, Slovenia

The Balkan Incentive Fund for Culture (BIFC) is run by the European Cultural Foundation and supports collaborative artistic and cultural projects delivered by organizations within or cooperating with the Western Balkan region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo), provided that the project, in terms of content and organization, is based in the Balkans.

The BIFC Regional Hub, based in Ljubljana, provides advice regarding application criteria and application forms to project applicants applying for a grant at the Balkan Incentive Fund for Culture (BIFC); the Hub also assists in helping the project applicants to find partner organizations. The grantees are given advice with regard to project development and realization as well as with the solving of unexpected problems that may arise in this process.

The BIFC Regional Hub was founded in 2010 with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia under the aegis of the Platform for South East Europe initiative, the aim of which is to promote cross-border collaboration and cultural development in South Eastern Europe. The BIFC Regional Hub is hosted and run by Asociacija Association, a network of 60 NGOs and 39 independent artists engaged in the field of art and culture.

The Balkan Incentive Fund for Culture was initially founded in 2006 by the European Cultural Foundation along with the partners Hivos and the Open Society Foundations. Today, the BIFC Grants are supported by De BankGIroLoterij and De Lotto through the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds. BIFC is also generously supported by the Open Society Foundations, in particular by the Arts and Culture Program, and by the national foundations in the region, while the BIFC Regional Hub is funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.

Katja Praznik is the project manager of the BIFC Regional Hub and vice-president of Asociacija, Association of Arts and Culture NGOs and Freelancers, based in Ljubljana. She holds an MA in Sociology of Culture and works as a theorist, writer and dramaturge in the field of arts and culture. From 2007 to 2009, she was the editor-in-chief of the performing arts journal Maska. From 2009 to 2010, she was the manager of the project “Networking and Capacity Building of NGOs in Culture”. Beside managing the BIFC Regional Hub, she manages various projects related to cultural policy issues in her work at Asociacija and is pursuing her PhD with a title Intellectual Domination: Contemporary Art Between the East and the West, at the Faculty of Arts Ljubljana. In 2010, she published the book Cronotopographies of Dance: Two Inquiries (Transition Series, EMANAT), together with Eda Čufer.


In 2003, ERSTE Foundation evolved out of the Erste Oesterreichische Spar-Casse.  In 1819 this savings banks association opened the first bank in Vienna for individuals who did not have the means to provide for their future. Today, we continue in the tradition of the founders and their commitment to the people. We develop social infrastructures that support people and help them take charge of their lives. This balance of social and individual responsibility is an exciting challenge for us, which we constantly confront also by using daring strategies.

As a private Austrian savings banks foundation, we are committed to serve the common good. ERSTE Foundation also carries a special responsibility as the major shareholder of the Erste Group. This dual responsibility is part of our history and identity. Currently, ERSTE Foundation holds 25.3% of the capital shares of Erste Group. On the one hand, we use the profit from our shares to support the development of societies in Austria and Central and South Eastern Europe, where the banking group offers its financial services. On the other hand, we invest parts of our dividends into the growth of the Erste Group. The independence and success of Erste Group safeguards the future of its major shareholder and its commitment to the common good.

At ERSTE Foundation we foster a culture of independence and freedom when planning and selecting our projects. We are accessible, multilingual and international. We have a flat organisational structure, keep our working processes as simple as possible and place value on direct communication. As an active foundation, we develop our own projects within the framework of three programmes: Social Development, Culture, and Europe. Our working methods always aim to find a balance between strategically oriented concepts and their implementation by using region-based knowledge.

We believe in the concept of a common Europe. After 1989 a divided continent grew together again. ERSTE Foundation focuses its work on the cultural region of Austria and Central and South Eastern Europe. We support social participation and civil-society engagement; we aim to bring together people and disseminate knowledge of the recent history of a region where the Schengen area and the European Union have established new dividing lines, but have also given rise to new hopes and expectations.


Caroline Hornstein Tomić holds an MA in cultural anthropology and a doctoral degree in sociology from Goethe University/Frankfurt. She is Research Associate at Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences in Zagreb and teaches at Zagreb University (areas: political anthropology and sociology of power; migration; minority, gender, identity politics, and state building processes in SOE). In 2001 she gained her PhD (Konrad Adenauer Foundation fellow) with a thesis on anthropological discourses about representation, identity and knowledge production, and cultural bordercrossers (Grenzgänger), for which she researched at MIT in Cambridge/USA in 1996/97. In 2000 she joined the foreign service of Konrad Adenauer Foundation and headed the Foundation’s country office in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2001 until 2005. Caroline Hornstein Tomić is member of the advisory board of ERSTE Foundation. She has a daughter and a son.

European Cultural Foundation (ECF) is a pan-European organisation. We work with and support artistic and cultural work across more than 50 countries. We are independent and aim to be flexible and responsive, to act where others do not and to consider every action with a long-term view. We see the invaluable contribution of civil society in building our shared future and we seek to support cultural change-makers in their own communities. We are investing in Europe for today and tomorrow by bringing the voices of young people into a shared European space.

We set out to achieve our goal of strengthening the connection between Europe and its citizens in three ways; by empowering and engaging people through art and culture, by linking cultural policy and practice, and by connecting sources of knowledge for the future. Within these guiding principles, we invest our resources in several ways; through grants, awards and financial partnerships, through our own programmes and advocacy efforts, and by building knowledge through reflection, publication and a committed digital strategy.

Our grants support high-quality artistic and cultural activities and cultural cooperation across borders and boundaries. Our programmes take their names from their particular focus: European Neighbourhood, and Youth and Media. In these changing and challenging times, our advocacy work is crucial in promoting the impact of art and culture on our societies. We advocate for the pivotal role of culture within the European agenda and to help create favourable conditions for citizens working collaboratively in the field of culture. ECF also organises public events to bring target audiences together and to make our work more visible.

The digital shift has significantly changed our lives, the way we experience culture – how art is created, produced, encountered and shared. A strong digital component in all of our work helps us to connect as widely as possible, to reflect on our changing society, and to build a platform where knowledge can be brought together and shared.


Isabelle Schwarz (France / Germany) is Head of Programmes and Advocacy at the European Cultural Foundation. She joined ECF in 2002 with responsibilities for building up a cultural policy development strand for the foundation. Since June 2009, she is leading a team of ten staff combining programmes and advocacy. Previously she was Executive Director of the European Network of Cultural Administration Training Centres (ENCATC), first in Brussels, then in Copenhagen in the framework of which she launched the Nordic-Baltic Platform for Cultural Management.

Isabelle also worked as research assistant for the World Commission on Culture and Development (UN/UNESCO assembled independent group of leading economists, social scientists, artists and thinkers under the chairmanship of Javier Pérez de Cuéllar) that published “Our Creative Diversity” (1995), as well as at the Council of Europe (Cultural Policy and Action Division) and the Ministry of Culture of France (Department of Forecast Studies). She has worked as programme manager at the Marcel Hicter Foundation in Brussels and various cultural NGOs in London and Paris. Isabelle is founding and steering group member of the Platform for Intercultural Europe and member of different juries. She holds an MPhil in international cultural exchanges, and in history of international relations. She also has an MA in history of art and archaeology.


Fund for an Open Society, Serbia is a nongovernmental, non-political and non-profit organization that develops and supports systemic developmental policies, programs and activities aimed at the advancement of democratic cultures, openness, affirmation of differences and full respect of human rights for all. It also promotes the principles of the rule of law, good governance, accountability and the participation of citizens in public affairs. The ultimate goal of FOSS’ engagement is the establishment of self-sustainable democratic and pro-European development of society, fostering stability and cooperation in the region of Southeast Europe and Serbia’s European integration process. Fund for an Open Society in Serbia is a part of an international network, the Open Society Foundations, whose founder is Mr. George Soros.

The East East: Partnership Beyond Borders Program supports peer collaboration and learning among civil society actors and activists in two or more countries.  The Program promotes the movement of ideas and spirit of inquiry by convening people with shared interests to work together for sustainable impact locally and internationally. The Program supports long-term initiatives based on sharing experiences, expertise, best practices, and lessons learned as developed by local actors; convening stakeholders to promote a culture of communication and create new thinking and alternative perspectives; and, creating space for civil society to reflect on social discourses and reform processes comparatively to add value to local agendas for social change.

The Program was created for the Open Society Foundations in Central and Eastern Europe in 1991 to prioritize trans-national civil society cooperation in the context of post-socialist transition. “People should meet each other and exchange opinions and experiences,” George Soros noted at the time.  “There is much people in Central and Eastern Europe can offer each other.  People should engage in processes of transition together.” Today Program resources for trans-continental peer interaction are available to civil society and non-governmental actors and activists in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.


Radmila Maslovarić has been a program coordinator at the Fund for an Open Society Serbia since 1996. She graduated from the Department of English Language and Literature at the Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade.  Over the years, Ms. Maslovarić has been engaged in the Fund’s numerous education and civil society programs including the East East: Partnership Beyond Borders Program.


The Rockefeller Brothers Fund advances social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. Through its grantmaking, the Fund supports efforts to expand knowledge, clarify values and critical choices, nurture creative expression, and shape public policy. The Fund’s programs are intended to develop leaders, strengthen institutions, engage citizens, build community, and foster partnerships that include government, business, and civil society. Respect for cultural diversity and ecological integrity pervades the Fund’s activities. Grant programs are organized around three themes: Democratic Practice; Peacebuilding; and Sustainable Development.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) has been engaged in grantmaking in the Western Balkans since 2001.  During its first years in the Western Balkans, the Fund’s grantmaking aimed to nurture healthy democratic processes, support regional initiatives to debunk persistent myths and prejudices, and encourage development of a vibrant civil society.  The Fund’s work in the Balkans, and especially in Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo, builds on its 20-year experience in Central and Eastern Europe, supporting transition processes and helping to create conditions for their accession to the European Union.

The countries of the Western Balkans are now focused on realizing their own European integration aspirations, as accession brings with it the promise of stability and rule of law – necessary perquisites for long-term peace, prosperity, and democracy. To support that vision, the Fund will help create an enabling legal, fiscal, and political environment for EU membership, giving special attention to democratic practice and sustainable development requirements.  Engagement and leadership of youth in building a sustainable future for the region, facing the past, and establishing a truth and reconciliation process will continue to be part of the RBF’s support in the region.


Haki Abazi is a program director for Western Balkans portion of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Pivotal Place program. Prior to joining the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in 2007, Haki Abazi served as director of the Kosovo office for East West Management Institute, Inc.  Abazi developed and implemented a wide-range of programs addressing critical issues in Kosovo during the transition period. He has also played an important role in the development of civil society in the region.  Haki Abazi has over nine years of experience in designing and managing development programs in Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro Afghanistan and Indonesia. These programs were designed to support overall sustainable developments, increase the transparency and accountability of government and global institutions, and increase the level of participation of citizens in the decision-making processes. Haki Abazi has in-depth knowledge and work experience related to the Balkan’s civil society community and the geopolitics of the region. He is chairing the steering committee for Grantmakers East Forum and seats on boards of different international organizations.


TRADUKI is a European network for literature and books that includes 13 countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Switzerland.

The TRADUKI network was founded in 2008 with a basic idea to support and advance cultural exchange and cooperation between many participants from the above mentioned countries. To achieve this cooperation, a translation program for fiction, the humanities and books for children and young people was set up. TRADUKI supports translations of works from the 20th and 21st century literature from German to South-Eastern-European languages, from SOE languages to German, and within SOE languages. The program gives a special focus to literary translators who are seen as important cultural mediators and have given the name to the project – traduki is an Esperanto word for the verb to translate. Further, TRADUKI supports literary festivals, translation workshops and writers-in-residence programmes, and appears at international book fairs, thus further strengthening literary cooperation, mobility and exchange in Central and South-Eastern Europe.

The TRADUKI network was initiated by the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, Swiss arts council Pro Helvetia, KulturKontakt Austria, Goethe-Institute and S. Fischer Foundation. The Slovenian partner in the project is the Slovenian Book Agency, which joined TRADUKI in December 2009. All partners have outstanding connections with local cultural institutions in their respective countries, which are fostered and extended in many cultural events in which TRADUKI participates.


Katja Stergar has been working for the Slovenian Book Agency (JAK) since its establishment in December 2008. She is Adviser for international cooperation in the field of books of fiction and scientific publications, and is also responsible for agency’s public relations and edits JAK’s website. Her responsibilities include organization of Slovenian appearances at international book fairs, organization of international seminars for translators of Slovenian literature, cooperation in international project of literature promotion, and representation of JAK in the TRADUKI network. Katja Stergar has a MA in comparative literature. She was editor and editor-in-chief of the youth magazine Pil, and editor of lexicons Sova and Literatura. She is a freelance proof-reader and an honorary co-worker of the Centre for youth literature and librarianship at the Ljubljana City Library.