Established in 2017, Culture Next is dedicated to European Capital of Culture candidates, current or former, awarded or not.


Our mission is to contribute to having more European Capital of Culture (ECoC) programmes implemented in European cities and regions and to define a long-term European vision on local development through culture and creativity.

Building on the experiences, processes and collaborations established during the ECoC bid, we support all cities, being them awarded or not, to implement culture-led local development programmes and policies. We are committed to deliver a sustainable impact and meaningful legacy of the ECoC programme.


Whether being ECoC-labelled or not, all cities need support and inspiration in order to carry on with the implementation of their programmes. The partnerships, talents and resources mobilised through ECoC bidding make a strong base for culture-led sustainable development in these cities. We can all contribute to the success and legacy of the ECoC project.

Cities are where democracy, inclusiveness and innovation are produced, and culture is a facilitator of this entire ecosystem. More cities with cultural programmes mean more power to address European challenges and opportunities.


The European Capital of Culture (ECoC) is one of the most recognized action programmes of the European Union. The dynamics and dimension of the process makes it attractive to cities that seek cultural, social, economic and infrastructural transformation. The hundreds of cities participating in this process bring together a vast set of learnings, good practice and knowledge that it’s important to share and by doing so, to be an agent of positive action for Europe.
Bidding for the European Capital of Culture title requires commitment, investment and cooperation among various local actors, the candidature being an important unique development opportunity for all participating cities. However, more than 80% of the bidding cities are not awarded the title.

Beyond the bidding itself, all these cities develop strong cultural strategies and establish mechanisms for cultural planning and citizen participation. Moreover, these cities manage to raise significant budgets and energy for the implementation of their programme: a multiannual integrated plan contributing to local and European development. After the competition, all these efforts and emotional and financial investments are usually lost.

Culture Next attempts to gather and offer possible answers to this delicate question: How can candidate cities – be they candidates, title holders or former candidates that did not make it through the selection – make the most of this exceptional mobilising of talents, ideas, resources and energy?



Culture Next works towards achieving wider European acknowledgement and recognition of culture as sustainable development and towards extending the existing European cultural cooperation frameworks. The network also contributes to the ECoC programme legacy, by facilitating the implementation of more ECoC programmes in Europe.

The network focuses on capacity building, organising conferences and annual meetings, and on developing a platform for promoting member cities, as well as facilitating collaborations among them. Also, the network aims to become a voice in shaping European cultural policies.

Culture Next Manifesto


34 cities

19 countries


Cluj Cultural Centre acts as the Network secretariat since the founding of Culture Next in 2017. The Network Executive Team is strengthened with city representatives and other cultural and policy experts who take an active role in the implementation of the Network’s activities.

Cluj Cultural Centre is a non-governmental organization for culture and sustainable development. Legacy of the city’s bid for the European Capital of Culture 2021, the Centre implements an interdisciplinary programme to address strategic challenges of the society. The Centre has 116 members: cultural organizations and institutions, universities, associations of the business sector and of the civil society, and the local and regional administration.



Cultural manager and entrepreneur, Ștefan Teișanu is a co-founder of Cluj Cultural Centre, Fapte and Nord.

He is a member of the Romanian Economic and Social Council, as a representative of the cultural sector and the civil society, and works with the World Bank as public participation and local development specialist. He is the executive director of Cluj Cultural Centre, a culture and sustainable development NGO with 112 members: cultural organisations and institutions, universities, associations of the business environment and of the civil society, and the local and the regional administration.

He is the founding president of Fapte, an NGO which organises the Jazz in the Park festival and other cultural events with a community impact, and also the president of Nord, a community development association in Darabani, his hometown in the Moldova region. Ștefan was the president of AIESEC Cluj-Napoca and he founded the Junior Chamber International local subsidiary. His personal belief is that people can be what they want to be.



Rariţa is cultural expert with a twenty years’ experience in arts management, curating, research and policymaking. She is engaged in policy development in Cluj-Napoca (she coordinated the elaboration of the Cultural Strategy of the city), at national level, through the work of the Coalition for the Independent Cultural Sector and at European level. She is a member of the Strategy Group of the “A Soul for Europe” initiative, member of the European House for Culture, and a board member of the Balkan Express network. She contributed as speaker and trainer to a large number of professional forums, including prominent conferences such as the Berlin Conference, European Cultural Forum, IETM plenary meetings and Cultural Congress in Wroclaw.

She has also worked in field of media and democracy for various organisations including, Ethnocultural Diversity Resource Center in Cluj-Napoca and Soros Foundation for an Open Society Romania. She studied Photo-Video-Digital Image at the University of Arts and Design and Journalism at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca. Since 2017 she is a PhD student at the Doctoral School of Public Administration and Policies, within the College of Political, Administrative and Communication Sciences, Babeș-Bolyai University, in Cluj-Napoca, undertaking research on ”New Paradigms of Urban Development. Culture, Creativity and Emotional Wellbeing as Key Factors in Urban Policies”.



Meda is the financial manager of Cluj Cultural Centre. She has been working in the financial field for over 10 years with NGOs in the cultural sector. She has collaborated over time with projects such as Jazz in the Park, Art in the Street and Zilele Nordului for which she has developed and implemented financial strategies, and has contributed to the writing and implementation of grant projects. She is the coordinator of the Classic Unlimited project, which proposes a new way of seeing, hearing, singing, living classical music. She believes in the power of art and culture to bring us together and change communities.



I believe in the power of culture and creativity to positively transform territories and people. I have na academic background in Marketing, Sociology and Public Administration. I have worked fundamentally with and for local authorities. I was also a Member of the National Parliament in Portugal. I like to bring people together and create new projects. I was at the origin of the ECRN European Creative Rooftop Network and I was the coordinator of the biding process of Faro (city in the south of Portugal) for the European Capital of Culture 2027. I am currently the head of the Cultural Department of the Municipality Faro and I also chair the Poeta Aleixo Association. I believe in the power of European cooperation. I also believe that everything in life evolves: I didn’t like peas and now I do.



András Farkas is a social innovator based in Cluj, Romania. He became passionate about community issues while at school, where he developed an interest in activism through systemic projects, strategies and action plans for reaching wide impact and scaling. In 2009 he co-founded PONT Group based in Romania, a CSO in the field of social innovation through participation, entrepreneurship and culture with a special focus on youth and digital transformation. He now acts as the Strategic Director of the organisation and has a special interest in the role of youth in shaping the future of our cities. He recently founded a company called ‘allyourtime’ which aims to develop tools and methods for individual time management, note taking and consciousness. He has worked with multiple teams in European Capital of Culture and European Youth Capital bids and programmes.



Lorena is an online communications specialist. Her work is centered around social media management and content creation, with a focus on adapting the Centre’s core messages for all the related online platforms and creating communication strategies accordingly. In 2016, she graduated from the Faculty of Theatre and Television at Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, specializing in Theatre Studies. She has been working in the cultural sector ever since. She worked within the European project “Playing Identities, Performing Heritage”, organized by the University of Siena, as a mobilizer on behalf of Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca. She was an artistic secretary at the “Puck” Puppet Theatre in Cluj-Napoca, and she gained knowledge in the field of communication within the team Fapte, working as a Communications Assistant for projects like the Jazz in the Park festival, Art in the Street, and Classic Unlimited.


The Culture Next Board is comprised of six city representatives.

The Board meets periodically (weekly if needed, at least once per month, and ad-hoc when necessary), develops and updates rules and regulations in the network functioning, and take them to the members plenary for revision and approval. The Board makes strategic decisions for the Network and represents Culture Next in external contexts.

The board members are part of the Culture Next Policy Task-Force and are responsible for drafting position papers on behalf of the network.



Born in Athens. Economist, specialized in the design, implementation and evaluation of European projects, with a focus on culture, capacity building, networking and social innovation. Currently, she is Director of Cultural Training in 2023 Eleusis – European Capital of Culture, after joining the team in the second phase of the bidding process for the ECoC title in 2016. She is project manager of a wide range of 2023 Eleusis projects, designed to build capacities in cultural and local communities as well as she is taking care of the international relations. She has studied Cultural and Artistic Events’ Management in Florence and graduated in Finance & Banking Administration in Athens.



Graduated in Economics at Porto University and post-graduated in Cultural Tourism at the University of Barcelona. Expert in practice delivering policy and industry leadership across the creative, cultural and knowledge economies. Founder and managing partner at Opium – cultural and creative planning company based in Porto, Portugal. He was chairman of ADDICT – Agency for the Development of the Creative Industries and executive director of Guimarães 2012 European Capital of Culture. UNCTAD expert on Cultural Economy development programmes in Africa. Founder of Porto Post Doc – Documentary Film Festival and of the Portuguese Philharmonic Orchestra.



Henri has a diverse background in the creative industries and culture. He has studied visual communications and cultural production. In his previous career, he focused on the film industry and his music videos have been screened at numerous international film festivals. He also ran his own production company. Henri has been many years the chairman of the Oulu Live Music Association and organised hundreds of music events. Prior to this project, he has worked in the city of Oulu as a developer of cultural festivals in the region. In his free time, he plays in a couple of bands, which have released studio albums for esteemed indie labels.



Immie Jonkman, business director for LF2028 / Arcadia. Worked on the artistic team for the cultural capital Leeuwarden – Friesland 2018. Has a large track record in cultural organisations, mainly focusing on the business side with a more than healthy interest in the artistic, with a specialism in community art, or ‘mienskip’, as we call it in Friesland. Active involvement of the mienskip (audience participation) is common ground in the projects she ran as a cultural entrepreneur. But also interested in organising high quality events and exhibitions. Started her career in organising a metal festival that hosted the biggest names in the metal scene. Making a change by using culture and art (even small changes on the longer term) is always a motivator.



Born and raised in Leeds, Pam trained at Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) when it opened in 1985 and subsequently had a career as a contemporary dancer and choreographer until she retired in 1998. She then worked in the field of cultural education for five years across the UK including as an outreach development manager for cultural and sporting organisations and in higher education. Pam joined Arts Council England in 2003 working in their Northwest and Yorkshire offices and in 2013 she became a Senior Relationship Manager in their London office where she managed specialist arts staff and coordinated strategic relationships across London’s 35 local government bodies. She started work at Leeds City Council in 2019 and is now the Head of Culture Programmes. Over her career, Pam was the recipient of Young Achiever in the Arts and Woman of Achievement awards for her contributions to arts development in Yorkshire. She is passionate about culture and creativity and wants to see all communities (near and far) benefiting from and engaging with the rich, exciting and beautifully diverse culture the city has to offer.



Tereza Slezák Barčáková is the international relations manager of Trenčín 2026. She was also part of the bidding team and was preparing the bid of the city of Trenčín for the ECoC in terms of European dimension and partnerships. She comes from an independent cultural scene, founded festival Priestor and has many years of experience in festival production from festivals such as Grape, Pohoda or Gympelrock. Her experiences are connected mainly with collaboration in the fashion industry (Slovak Fashion Council), architecture and art in public space (Hlava 5, Ján H.Blicha), dance (En Vorentoe, Nový priestor) and advertising industry.



Fluierasului street, no. 3, Cluj-Napoca

The project is co-funded by the European Union through the Creative Europe Programme.