Cultural cooperation within Europe, exchange, dialogue and debate across national borders - that is the objective of LabforCulture.org. At first glance, the web site seems especially handy as a database for researchers and artists, with a large, well organised collection of annotated links to cultural organisations, funds, online sources, newsletters and publications. But editorial attention is also devoted to less familiar regions, such as Belarus and Moldavia. And for current debate and research on - among other things - the professional, economic and social status of European artists.
Collaborative ventures are displayed in both words and images via Case studies. A number of projects are thematically presented using different, coloured lines, with titles such as Young Lines, Tech Roads, and A Sense of Place. Some may question whether or not these case studies are really enlightening, but they do illustrate the different, non-hierarchical lines along which collaboration can arise quite nicely.
After clicking the Community button, it becomes clear that the name Lab was not too ambitious a choice, because LabforCulture is also a lab where collaboration can take form. You can search for partners for a cultural project online, launch a discussion about the role of the artist, expand your network across borders, or hear what people in the Ukraine think about your work. There are blogs from Siberia and Macedonia, and what's to keep you from starting one yourself about cultural life in Friesland? You can also add links and descriptions to the database.
Even the technique used for the site is appropriate for collaboration and exchange. The source code for the software used is open source; that is, others can view and reuse it.
LabforCulture is an initiative of the European Cultural Foundation. Two years of study and development went into the site before it was launched; it has been up and running since spring of 2006.
Marieke van der Velden