Tuesday 07 May 2019

Connect for Creativity is an 18-month project led by the British Council, in partnership with four organizations – ATÖLYE and Abdullah Gül University in Turkey, Bios in Greece and Nova Iskra in Serbia. The project aims to form a network of creative hubs across Europe to foster creative exploration and collaboration that contributes to building a more cohesive, open and connected civil society.

The project is co-funded by the European Union and the Republic of Turkey.

Connect for Creativity project is part of the EU-Turkey Intercultural Dialogue Programme, led by the Yunus Emre Institute and co-financed by the European Union and Republic of Turkey. The Programme aims to strengthen cultural exchanges and dialogue between EU and Turkey by bringing different institutions with different cultural backgrounds together. Connect for Creativity project aims to form a network of creative hubs across Europe to foster creative exploration and collaboration that contributes to building a more cohesive, open and connected civil society. 

The programme will include a series of activities; a research into the growing importance of creative hubs and their role in promoting intercultural dialogue, three networking conferences in Belgrade, Kayseri and Athens, a study visit to the UK, simultaneous six weeks long art and technology residencies in Istanbul, Athens and Belgrade followed by an exhibition in the UK.

“It’s important to develop a sense of community and belonging”

During the launch event, which revealed all details about the project, Nilgün Yalçın Felchner, Deputy Country Director, British Council Turkey shared the ideas behind the project. “Our world is facing a multitude of social, political and economic issues that change our lives, communication and cultural experiences, challenge globalization, and threaten social integrity. It is now more important than ever to learn how to live in peace and cooperation and develop a sense of community and belonging in a multicultural world. In the last decade, creative industries in the UK saw a rapid growth that surpassed many other sectors. Today, creative industries provide over £100 billion for the economy, and this contribution continues to grow by around seven percent on average annually. Creative platforms are the driving force behind this growth. New creative platforms appear each day, and it is becoming increasingly important to support these with a global perspective. This was our motivation for developing the Connect for Creativity project, through which we aim to strengthen intercultural dialogue by bringing together creative platforms and communities,” she said.

The project helps establish links between Turkey, the United Kingdom, Greece, and Serbia and offers a variety of opportunities for global networks, said Relja Bobic, Founding Partner of Nova Iskra. “For us, this project is a natural development of relationships we have been developing with partners such as Bios, ATÖLYE and the British Council over the past years, as well as a chance to further enhance the intercultural dialogue between our countries, and to connect the cultural and creative actors active in our respective communities. At least in the Balkans, we are too often looking up only to creative and artistic achievements coming from the north and the west, while there are extremely rich cultural contexts unfolding in our proximity, in the directions of south and east. I would say that is the most exciting aspect of this project for us, presenting those rich cultural landscapes of Greece and Turkey to Serbian audiences and creative professionals.” he said.

Representing ATÖLYE, an organization that has collaborated with various creative networks, especially in Europe since its founding and is a current member of the European Creative Hubs Network board of directors, Emre Erbirer, Event and Project Manager commented on the significant opportunities for collaboration offered by Connect for Creativity to creative communities and individuals;  “The project aims to enable individuals and communities engaged in creative industries in Turkey to participate in European platforms and networks, learn from one another, and build new avenues of cooperation by creating together,” he said. “Our key priority in this goal is to create new paths and journeys of meeting that will spark creative collaboration.”

Travel costs and expenses for the production of works will be covered in the 18-month project 

Connect for Creativity enables students, academics, artists, professionals from creative and cultural industries and policy-makers to benefit from international business development and collaboration opportunities in Europe, engage in the transfer of experience and knowledge, and participate in creative research on the principles of empathy, inclusion, and empowerment. 

The project offers travel grants for participants attending business visits, business development conferences and in-residence programmes on arts and technology, and also provides funding for these individuals to help them make their works.

About the EU – Turkey Intercultural Dialogue Programme:

The EU-Turkey Intercultural Dialogue Programme is led by the Yunus Emre Institute and co-financed by the European Union and Republic of Turkey for strengthening the civil society. The programme aims to improve the cultural dialogue between the EU and Turkey by bringing different institutions with different cultural backgrounds together. For this purpose, actors from both Turkey and the Europe working in the field of arts and culture will be supported by grants. For the first period of the project which will be implemented between 2019 – 2021, 3 million Euro were allocated and 70 per cent of the budget was transferred to four important projects which are going to be supported within the programme.

About the Yunus Emre Institute:

Yunus Emre Foundation is a public foundation, which was founded to promote Turkey, Turkish language, its history and culture and art, make such related information and documents available for use in the world, provide services abroad to people who want to have education in the fields of Turkish language, culture and art, to improve the friendship between Turkey and other countries and increase the cultural exchange. As an institution affiliated to the Foundation, Yunus Emre Institute is carrying out studies for Turkish teaching in the cultural centres established abroad to accomplish the purposes of this law as well as conducting culture and art activities to promote our country and giving support to scientific researches. Starting to operate in 2009, Yunus Emre Institute has more than 58 cultural centres abroad. Apart from the Turkish education given in the cultural centres, Turkology departments and Turkish teaching are supported with the co-operations made with different educational institutions in different countries. Several activities are organized to promote our culture and art through cultural centres, and our country is represented through national or international events.

About the British Council:

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 65 million people directly and 731 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government. 


ATÖLYE is a transdisciplinary innovation platform, powered by its two parts: creative hub and strategic design studio. The studio is surrounded by three components of a creative hub: community, event venue and prototyping lab. A community of 150 individuals and organizations is rigorously curated with clear criteria pertaining to diversity and interaction level and is housed under the same roof. This community serves as a backbone for executing projects, catalysing co-learning through feedback sessions, and enabling serendipitous new collaborations.

About Bios:

Bios is Athens centre for today’s art and cross media. Bios is a flexible multi-functional space including 2 live music venues, 4 bars, theatre/performance spaces, rehearsal spaces, graphic design office, cinema and installation space.

About Nova Iskra:

Nova Iskra is a pioneering creative hub in the Balkans, created with the idea to incite tangible connections between creative industries, technology and the people, with the goal to support critical thinking, nurture ideas, design organizations and develop businesses that are future-proof, while remaining sensible to the ever-changing present.

About Abdullah Gul University:

AGU, as a research university seeking solutions to global challenges through partnerships and learner-centred approaches, aims to develop citizens who can contribute to societies and shape the future by converting knowledge into personal and social values. AGU, as a Turkish Public Universities, complies with complies with the article 10 of the Turkish Constitution, which states that all Turkish laws and regulations need to be applied equally without discrimination. Everyone is equal before the law without distinction as to language, race, colour, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion and sect, or any such grounds. AGU as a Higher Education Institution aiming at excelling in Education, Research and producing Societal Impact designs and implements activities and programs that are accessible to all, regardless of ethnicity, religion, disability or gender.

Notes to Editor

Mirel Akdemir, Communications Manager, British Council

Tel: +90 212 355 56 77

Email: mirel.akdemir@britishcouncil.org.tr 

Ali Özgür Arslan, Communications Director, ATÖLYE

Tel: +90 533 349 50 53

Email: ozgur.arslan@atolye.io