Learnings from the CCSC Co-creation lab


Coboi lab participated in the co-creation lab organized by  European Cultural Foundation, and University of Antwerp in cooperation with l’Asilo, Boekman Foundation and Trans Europe Halles as part of the CCSC project.

The lab hosted a collective reflection space between different agents in the cultural and creative european ecosystem, from artists, cultural and innovation facilitators, policy makers to citizens. The main topic we explored together was the creation of new “homes of commons”, as spaces of encounter between the European and the local level, spaces where local territories and local actors are empowered and have a closer contact with the EU and its decision making structures.  The objective of the three days we worked together was to ideate these “homes of commons” and their participatory tools, governance, administrative structures, spaces of encounter, physical or digital. 

Together we explored three challenges:  

The commons as ecosystems for culture after Covid-19:

– Activating new commons based ecosystems to promote a more sustainable cultural and creative industry.  

– Give more more accessibility for commons and alternative cultural spaces through EU policies and grants.

Co-creating cultural policies in cities to foster cohesion and inclusion 

– Incentivize innovative, more inclusive, bottom-up participatory processes.  

– Overcoming siloed approaches in urban policy through cross-sectoral approaches, needs based approaches and stronger facilitation between actors. 

Building spaces of encounter between local and EU level

– Bringing Europe closer to the local level (cultural operators, facilitators, artists, collectives and citizens)  through the “homes of commons”. 

– “Homes of commons” as tools to decentralize EU institutions, foster collaboration and dialog between different agents in the cultural and creative ecosystem.   

Coboi lab contributed to challenge three, focused on discussing the governance structure and the agenda of the “homes of commons”, which could function as a platform or interface which enable sharing and connection, a space for collaboration and dialogue between artists, citizens, collectives, local initiatives, local administrations and the European Union. The platform could have different objectives. During the co-creation lab, the seven teams working on the third challenge identified the some of the goals for the homes of commons. These are the main ideas and learnings discussed by the groups working on this challenge: 

1) First, “homes of commons” platform could establish connections between local ecosystems with broader environments. Spaces for collaboration, self organized by cultural agents and facilitators where the social architecture enables inclusion and integration.  In group 7 an innovation zone model was used (see the image below) to visualize this space for connection, the green zone, a space with the potential to identify and recognize, underused resources, facilitating connections, storytelling and experimenting with dialogue. 

Group 7 pointed out the lack of facilitation and the existing gap and disconnection between blue and yellow zones. Blue zones function in a bureaucratic, formal and rigid way, this is the ownership zone with mandate and control, focused on incremental improvements; yellow zones are flexible and agile, focused on ideation, experimentation, risk and disruptive innovation. 

Using this model, we could say that the EU is in the blue zone and local initiatives, labs, cultural agents and artists are in the yellow zone. Homes of commons could be in the green zone, focused on the relational, facilitating dialogue and connection between the potentiality and creativity of local initiatives, artists, creatives (yellow zone) and the resources and ability for growth of established institutions (blue zones). Homes of commons platform could act as facilitator of a relational common space,  leveraging existing EU institutions, connecting them with existing networks of facilitators and cultural agents.    


Screen Shot 2020-07-27 at 12.27.37

Innovation zone model adapted by Lund Innovation Platform

2) In the Stargate team, participants envisioned a gateway or a bridge connecting citizens and artists, enabling them to work together and be drivers of social change in their territories. The platform would be the way to share and connect resources (know-how, research, practices, financial resources, talent).    

Local initiatives would become bridges between actors who don’t usually work together, the “homes of commons” would create dialogue between the different logics of action represented by political, administrative and market-driven actors reducing silos, lack of communication and cooperation.  

3) Sharing challenges, practices and projects was discussed in several teams. The platform could stimulate actors to identify shared local challenges or problems to develop solutions locally with the knowledge, resources and support of a bigger network, connecting small, local initiatives to EU institutions, funders, researchers and partners who are working on similar projects. Providing the opportunity to connect ideas, get feedback and know how from peers all over Europe, sharing best practices, methodologies and solutions.  

4) The “homes of commons” should enable spaces of listening, citizen participation, collective inquiry and prototyping in a networked way so that actors can experiment with new hybrid social practices through collaboration and active participation. 

5) The “homes of commons” would work as an interface to provide visibility for local, small cultural initiatives, artists and collectives.  The Cooperative Autonomies team proposed to elaborate a counter-cartography to identify, visualize and map resources located in the peripheries and marginalized areas to co-create a shared vision as a strategy to foster their development and to strengthen the commons

6) A shared narrative and common stories are also important to create cohesion and inclusion. The “homes of commons” could create a shared language and it could provide the environment for a better mutual understanding of common experiences, challenges, problems, methods, creations and solutions. Glocal Spaces team discussed the idea of identifying European commons through creative practices and stories.  They proposed the creation of an archive of European stories and culture that invites citizens to make journeys of discovery to create a shared multifaceted narrative of the European cultural community.  

7) This platform would need a governance model allowing its members to co-create it, and have agency and decision making power to manage its resources in a way that different local European realities are equally relevant. The “homes of commons” should enable collective self-management practices based on values of transparency, autonomy, experimentation and collaboration to support local ecosystems, suitable for both urban and non-urban territories. This model would need a new form of policy and funding, supporting experimentation, co-creation, focused on the relational process which could contribute to reducing the gaps of representation and participation of disenfranchised communities.    

The commons sense co-creation lab was a great opportunity to connect and collaborate with local decision-makers, public administration representatives and cultural and creative practitioners. Our time together reflects the need of acting in collaboration to activate an ecosystem to promote sustainable create work and social innovation locally with the support of a global network. EU institutions are perceived as being too far away and too bureaucratic from local contexts and we discussed ideas to incentivize citizen participation to enable inclusion and cohesion through dialogue and connection. How can the EU promote  new flexible collaborative organizational models to visualize, recognize and support the sustainability of local initiatives? We could start the conversation and co-create initial ideas but there are more questions and a  lot of work to be done.

You can take a look at the publication page of the project and interesting resources here. You will also find all the proposals here.

Project Partners and Funders

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