3rd WG2 Research Workshop on “Unlocking the transformative potential of culture and the arts through SE”

Nov 04 - Nov 05, 2019

University of Malta


1. Scope of the Workshop

Drawing from the critical and transformative potential of culture and the arts this workshop focuses on the role of SE and TSO in the sustainability of local communities and society at large: “art cannot change the world, but it can contribute to change consciousness and impulses of man and women that can change the world” (Marcuse).

There has been a revival and strengthening of linkages between artistic expressions and social and local socioeconomic grassroots initiatives and global issues of environmental sustainability, human rights and participatory democracy, with strong expression in the context of the recent crisis and the solidarity economy. On the other hand culture and the cultural and creative industries become described and promoted as a tool for global competitiveness of places and cities and economic regeneration and growth. While much attention has been paid to the latter, there is a gap of knowledge and understanding of the dynamics and reach of what is taking place in the field of solidarity and civic socio-economic collaborations in culture and the arts.

SE initiatives in culture and the arts are diverse and include an economic dimension related to sustaining artistic and cultural expressions through market and non-market relations, on one hand, and embedding cultural and artistic dimensions in socio-economic relations, on the other. Social dimensions emphasise aesthetic, cultural, civic values circulating and giving consistency to the linkages between people and people and the planet , helping to create community(es) from the construction of utopias and narratives in spaces of diversity, citizenship and trust (Sassen). It involves artists and culture workers, and often collaborations; across sectors (public, conventional enterprises, cooperatives, associations), resources (market, public grants and philanthropy) and activity fields.

This workshop is specifically addressed to scholars that have been exploring the diverse relations and synergies between socio-economic and political movements and culture and the arts. Many of these initiatives are being promoted by individuals, arts and culture movements and organizations, social enterprises, social and solidarity economy organisations, projects and movements. Papers may address one of the following five thematic lines (detailed in the call):

  1.  Transformative social innovation through culture and the arts.
  2.  Social and economic inclusion to and through culture and the arts.
  3. Survival strategies from artists and creators face to labor market changes.
  4. Cultural policy in a period of transformation for culture and the arts.
  5. Culture as a transition field.

2. Description of the workshop

This workshop is conceived as a high-profile academic event aimed at exchanging initial thoughts in an incipient field of research covered by the EMPOWER-SE COST Action thematic line: social enterprise and culture. Enough time will devoted to present and comment on the contributions and case studies presented.

One of the goals of the workshop is to contribute to EMPOWER-SE Working Group 2 with regards to arts, culture and SE but also to create connections that can lead to future joint research proposals. To this end leading investigators will be invited to present the research findings of research projects they are coordinating. Among others, we will discuss the following projects’ outcomes: Third Sector Impact, CREATOUR (creative tourism in small cities and rural areas), ARTERIA (theater and citizenship in Portuguese cities), UMPS (Popular University of Social movements), the Cultural Base platform, the CulturePolis project.

Moreover, key stakeholders will be invited to present their views and contribute to the discussion. The main umbrella organization Culture Action Europe will be invited as well, together with Interarts.

An academic publication with selected papers of this EMPOWER-SE COST Action Research Workshop will be published after the event. In addition, the Proceedings of the Workshop as well as a Stakeholder Brief summarising the discussion with stakeholders will be published (click here to see previous Briefs and Proceedings).

CALL FOR CASE STUDIES: A collection of case studies will be published in the website as a tool for dissemination and teaching on the wealth of initiatives connecting culture and the arts and social enterprises (scientific guidelines in the call).

3. Workshop committees

Scientific committee:

Organizing committee:

4. Disciplinary approach and abstract submissions 

We invite proposals for paper presentations focusing on findings of theoretical analyses, empirical quantitative and qualitative field research, and comparative analyses covering various EU countries. We welcome the submission of papers drawing on all fields of social science (sociology, economics, political science, law, geography, social anthropology, social work, pedagogy). Interdisciplinary perspectives are particularly welcome.

Interested authors should submit a 250-300 word long abstract of their contribution that includes: author(s)’ full information (including country, gender and whether ECI); contribution title; main research objective/question; methodological approach; (expected) results and contribution. All submissions will be made via email to the address empowerse-culture@emes.net by 1st July 2019. A full paper template will be shared with selected authors when they are notified so they can submit their contribution by 1st October 2019.

Targeted participants: Researchers and practitioners currently involved in the topics described above are welcome to apply. Around 25-30 papers will be selected for a maximum of 6-8 per thematic line.

Financial support: Mobility (travel and accommodation) for selected presenting authors will be covered fully by the EMPOWER-SE COST Action. No other financial support will be available from the organizers.

Key dates

9 April 2019: Call published
29 July 2019: (EXTENDED) Deadline for the submission of abstracts
30 August 2019: Notification of acceptance to authors
1 October 2019: Full paper submission deadline
16 October 2019: Programme published
4 November 2019: Workshop begins

For any questions about this workshop, please write to empowerse-culture@emes.net

Case studies:

  1. Multilateral-Zgz Acompaña by Susana Pallarés Espinosa [Download case study fiche]
  2. Cinema Nosso by Mércia Britto [Download case study fiche]
  3. Garnethill Urban Oasis by Daniela Quacinella
  4. Circo para todos by Sara Calvo and Andrés Morales
  5. Projet’Arte [fiche] and Tum Tum Tum [fiche] by Salomé Uribe and Vera Diogo
  6. Zemos98 by Felipe Gil [Download case study fiche and see video here]
  7. Movimento DansasAparte @ CERCIMA by Sílvia Ferreira [Download case study fiche]



People involved

Malin Gawell


Maria Ampelidou


Linda Andersen