Cultural Playing Field

Culture Guides partners meeting, Copenhagen, Denmark by Robin Simpson
November 8, 2013, 1:45 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , ,

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Daniel and I were in Copenhagen for the first meeting of the partners in our new European project, Culture Guides. This is a a three-year project with partners from Denmark, Slovenia, Hungary and the Netherlands, supported by the Grundtvig programme, part of the European Union Lifelong Learning Programme. The project will create up to four pilot Culture Guide areas in the UK, where, with collaboration from local authorities, volunteering agencies and local arts organisations, volunteers will be trained as mentors to help socially-marginalised groups to access and participate in cultural opportunities in their area. The project is based on the concept of ‘citizen helps citizen’, using volunteers from within a particular locality to engage with new cultural participants in a reflexive manner, taking into account their interests and inclinations and offering practical and moral support to help them fulfil their creative ambitions.


Vartov, Copenhagen, Denmark

Vartov, Copenhagen, Denmark

The EU Grundtvig programme is named after NFS Grundtvig, a Danish pastor, author, poet, philosopher, historian, teacher and politician whose thinking on education was particularly influential. So it was incredibly appropriate that our first meeting took place at Vartov in Copenhagen, the building in which Grundtvig worked as a pastor from 1839 until his death in 1872.

Statue of NFS Grundtvig in the courtyard at Vartov, Copenhagen, Denmark

Statue of NFS Grundtvig in the courtyard at Vartov, Copenhagen, Denmark


As well as planning the details of our project and agreeing ways of working, we had two really interesting presentations to stimulate our thinking about Culture Guides. Karen Lisa Salamon, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Copenhagen University, provided a provocation about authenticity and cultural engagement. She looked at the distinction between high culture and popular culture and the distinction between amateur and professional cultural production. We were also joined by Nicholas Kragekjaer Jespersen, who runs the Copenhagen Culture Guides programme which introduces children and their families to cultural activities. It was very useful to see the details of this scheme which, although slightly different in focus from the work of our project, is already realising in practice several aspects of our planned activity.

We ended our stay in Copenhagen with a visit to the best restaurant in the world. At the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards in London in September 2013, the New Nordic restaurant Höst won the “Best European Restaurant” and “Best Restaurant” awards. Amazing meal, amazing place, see:

You can follow the progress of our Culture Guides project at:

Robin Simpson.


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