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The pandemic does not stop the ECOCs Volunteers Network

ECOCs Volunteers Network ECOCs Volunteers Network

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” said Albert Einstein. This is what happened among the volunteer coordinators of the past, present and future European Capitals of Culture (ECoCs). During the first lockdown, the need arose to reconnect, share experiences, emotions and even difficulties to reflect on how cultural volunteering could face this difficult period and continue to be an important resource for the well-being of communities.

In 2020, therefore, an informal network of volunteer coordinators launched the "European Capital of Culture Volunteer Coordinators Network" (EVCN) exploring the activities and solidarity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, the ECoCs volunteer coordinators who have joined this network are: Legacy Volunteer Program from Sibiu 2007, Wroclaw 2016, Aarhus 2017, Pafos 2017, Matera 2019, Plovdiv 2019, Galway 2020, Rijeka 2020, Esch 2022, Kaunas 2022, Novi Sad 2022, Veszprém-Balaton 2023, Timisoara 2023, Eleusis2023 and Tartu 2024, with the aim of including in the future other Capitals as well.

One of the purpose of this network is to demonstrate how volunteers can help to make culture accessible to more people, by shortening the cultural gap between people, communities, especially disadvantaged people.

During the pandemic, the digital device was a very helpful tool that made it possible to create a professional platform for ECoCs volunteer coordinators in order to exchange information, sharing experience and knowledge, organizing and supporting common projects and supporting existing and future ECoCs volunteer programmes. Since 30 April 2020, 30 online meetings have been realized.

Some of the online initiatives, born within this network, have allowed volunteers from different European Capitals of Culture to discuss and tell about their city, their experience, their emotions experienced during the events and what it meant for them to be an ECoC volunteer (Link Youtube EVCN channel). 

This moment of sharing allowed volunteers from different capitals and cultures to talk to each other, discovering that at a distance of many kilometers there are people who share the same values.

May 21, 2021 will be the "World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development" and for this occasion EVCN will organize an online quiz where all ECoCs volunteers can participate to learn together more about other capitals, their history, their traditions, or some of their anecdotes, in a funny way.

On 5 December 2020, the International volunteer day, EVCN organised Round 1 where 9 ECoCs cities provided questions related with their city, and volunteers from 16 country joined.

Even this time, the event will be streamed, so anyone can take a look and try to guess the right answers through EVCN FB page.

One of the EVCN aim is then to promote pan-European solidarity demonstrating how volunteering in culture empower volunteers and contribute to individual and community development.

Despite the limitations and in the midst of a certain initial bewilderment, the ECoCs volunteer network has never stopped, but it has tried to move despite the limits and physical distances. EVCN has tried to absorb energies and input from each others in order to continue with their action in support volunteers, because all the volunteers contribute in an essential way to the well-being and social cohesion of the communities.

If you would like to contact the European Capital of Culture Volunteer Coordinators Network”(EVCN), please use this email address: Questo indirizzo email è protetto dagli spambots. È necessario abilitare JavaScript per vederlo.

Carla Di Grazia

Former Volunteer Project Manager