Pilot Study: The European Folk Culture (Policies) Project


Sari Asikainen, Andreas Wiesand
in collaboration with Cas Smithuijsen, Olivier Göbel and Danielle Cliche
with a special contribution of Mira Djurković and Dimitrije Vujadinović: Folk Culture in Croatia, FYR Macedonia and Serbia, 2010


Boekmanstichting and Cultuurparticipatie (culture participation fund), Amsterdam (2009/10)


Partly due to the ratification of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), "folk culture" - or "traditional arts" - gained more attention, during the last decade, including in in regionally, nationally and even internationally concerted heritage plans. However, strategies and details of programmes in different parts of Europe were not really known. Planning an international conference, the Dutch Fund for Cultural Participation wanted to know more and asked ERICarts partner Boekman Foundation for assistance. This led to a pilot report based on a collection of resources, which consisted of the following steps:

  • an analysis with short abstracts of ca. 80 classified publications and other documents, including but not limited to policy programmes of the responsible Ministries or corresponding arms' length agencies, dealing with folk culture, folk arts, traditional arts and intangible cultural heritage. The collection also included documents of international organisations, in particular UNESCO, in relation to policies concerning the intangible cultural heritage as well as a number of book publications and scholarly articles.
  • A number of Internet links with case-related material and a few other documents (community arts, voluntary arts) that were presented mainly in the form of a structured link-list.
  • An overview of governance structures and activities relating to folk culture policies in most of the European countries.
  • A special report provided by Balkankult on the situation in the three largest former republics of Yugoslavia which are now independent states (Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia), that are of particular interest because of their multi-ethnic composition.

Download Pilot Report

Here are a few results of the pilot report: In many European countries, related policy initiatives do not primarily intend to simply keep oral, musical, dance, crafts and other every day or festive folk traditions alive in long-established, but mostly remote, settings or to isolate them from developments in cultural life and society at large. On the contrary: efforts to create effective and sustainable developing strategies are fuelled by the ambition to mainstream folk culture into larger areas of economic activity, including the cultural/creative industries and international tourism or to connect them with current social change such as migration processes or environmental concerns. In other cases, the (new) interest in folk / traditional arts is often linked to identity issues in the face of cultural globalisation or, as in some of the Eastern European countries, to the process of national identity building in relation to the relatively new independence.