A Tandem meeting in Leeuwarden. Photo by Constanze Flamme
A Tandem meeting in Leeuwarden. Photo by Constanze Flamme

TANDEM FRYSLÂN – iepen mienskip

We are happy to announce and inform you about Tandem Fryslân – a cultural collaboration programme that aims at strengthening regional communities in Fryslân and elsewhere in Europe. In 2018, Leeuwarden-Fryslân will be the European Capital of Culture. With LF2018, ideas from the communities of the Frisian region will travel all over Europe and new European ideas will come to Fryslân.


Be they cultural, social, economic or ecological, the challenges that Frisian communities face today are similar to questions that many regions try to tackle throughout Europe at the moment: the relationship between the city and the countryside, the future of natural heritage, the balance between community and diversity, and many more regional issues. The programme of LF2018 is focused on cultural interventions that can fuel new approaches to these challenges, including exchanging ideas and experiences with Europe. Future European Capital of Culture events such as Rijeka 2020 and initiatives from other regions of Europe work in a comparable context. This approach and search for answers to those regional questions is what Tandem Fryslân builds on.


Tandem is a cultural collaboration programme that strengthens communities and civil society in Europe. Tandem believes that the burning cultural and social questions of our times can be addressed much more creatively and effectively through inspiring learning experiences as provided when working with new organisations and across new realities and localities. Our vision is to see strong networks of creative communities and cultural change makers emerge from this programme and to support the community impact they make in their regions.

Starting from the shared vision and objectives of LF2018 and Tandem, this special edition of Tandem Fryslân – iepen mienskip* – will bring together cultural-social initiators from Fryslân and other regions of Europe. Throughout one year (November 2017 – October 2018) they will engage in a peer-to-peer learning process that shall kick-start long-term collaboration ‘in tandem’ with each other.

Together they design and test new ideas by realising a pilot project for their own local communities. Tandem offers the space to develop real and meaningful visions by prototyping project ideas and building on new cross-border working relations. It establishes peer-to-peer contacts that are based on mutual societal concerns or cultural and artistic interests. They join a growing community of cultural-social innovators who are deeply engaged in shaping a common European future, both transnationally and bottom-up.


Enter Mienskip. A Frisian word for a process that has been around for generations, it is synonymous locally with an instinctive action-driven, bottom-up organised form of solidarity. Core values – among them mutual respect, equality and responsibility – flourish whenever Mienskip is embraced. Arguably, the process can be found almost everywhere, yet in Fryslân it has been given a name, and its presence is felt by people as a part of their culture.

There is a dark side to Mienskip. Frisians are prone to being wary of external input, clinging to a static definition of their culture and landscape. This is why, in the 21st century, LF2018 wants to transform Mienskip into Iepen – an Open Mienskip. It retains the action-oriented, bottom-up spirit, but incorporates the open-minded, outward- looking attitude that is needed if our society is to evolve and connect with Europe.


Up to 24 applicants (12 working from Fryslân and 12 from other regions of Europe) will be invited to join the Tandem Fryslân Partner Forum in November 2017. This first gathering will offer networking opportunities on pan-European scale and – most importantly – will help participants to find their potential Tandem partner. Together, all new candidate pairs then can apply for the full programme with a specific collaboration plan and idea. 7 tandems will be selected to become part of the Tandem family – benefitting from a broad international network, a placement opportunity in their Tandem-partner city, and financial and mentoring support to prototype their idea and establish a mutually beneficial partnership.

Representative of all 24 participating organisations will attend three Tandem group meetings at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the process. These peer-to-peer learning meetings allow for a mutual exchange of Tandem collaboration experiences with all other programme participants.


You do not necessarily have to work for a classic arts organisation. You could also be working with arts at a community centre, for example. Or maybe you’re with a sub-urban gardening collective, or part of a theatre-group who dances with elderly people, or from an educational department giving kids graffiti classes after school.
Nonetheless, you should be strongly interested in designing new formats of cultural-social work that engages Frisian communities and citizens of the other participating regions in Europe in re-shaping their current and future realities – on socio-economic, ecological or cultural levels. You should be motivated to explore unconventional ways of working together with a partner from abroad who you don’t know yet. You should be committed to identify and pursue new ideas for cultural work that addresses burning societal issues, both in your regional community and across Europe.


Civil society organisations, public institutions, non-profit initiatives and social enterprises that are engaged with cultural questions and innovation in their societies and are based in  Europe and its neighbouring regions.


Tandem Fryslân is open for applications from 1 September 2017.

Deadline for submitting applications to participate in the Tandem Fryslân Partner Forum is 30 September 2017.

The Partner Forum will take place from 20 till 24 November 2017 in Fryslân. Selection of Tandem candidates to the Partner Forum is based on the quality of their individual application. The programme team and partner representatives will pre-select up to 12 project initiators from Fryslân as well as 12 from Europe whose organisations and initiatives represent a balanced mix of working fields, professional backgrounds, strategic interests, original ideas and the socio-economic challenges they address.

Tandem Fryslân is co-developed by LF2018, European Cultural Foundation and MitOst, supported by Fonds voor Cultuurparticipatie and Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020, implemented together with Keunstwurk.


Jen team