Simon de Leeuw
Researcher & Programme Maker
s.deleeuw [at] dutchculture.nl

The Forum on European Culture 2020: We, the People

Change is in our hands
Forum on European Culture 2022: We, the People
Forum on European Culture

The Forum on European Culture 2020: We, the People

The third edition of the Forum on European Culture takes place 17 - 20 September in Amsterdam and via online channels

Forum on European Culture

The Forum on European Culture is a biennial event taking place in Amsterdam, initiated by debate centre De Balie and DutchCulture back in 2016. Founded upon the belief that Europe's future lies in the hands of the arts and imagination. If Europe is one thing undoubtedly, it is a cultural construction. The Forum energetically contributes to the cultural construction of Europe as a shared space, by investigating common challenges and experiences of its people. Read more about the mission, vision and past edition here.

We, the People

In September 2020, artists, activists, dreamers and thinkers will again take centre stage in Amsterdam during the third instance of the Forum on European Culture. The Forum will energetically contribute to the cultural construction of Europe, by investigating the shared challenges and experiences of its demos. Within the theme We, the People the Forum will explore civic engagement, among other things, by inviting protest movements from all over the continent and by looking for the core tenets of democracy with Company New Heroes. Additionally, the Forum opens up space to discuss the cultural significance of popular cultural practices such as football and cuisine. Spanning a wide range of topics and incorporating many different perspectives on Europe and its people.

Have you missed the Forum or parts of it? You can watch all the highlights via its YouTube channel.

Programme Forum of European Culture 2020

This year you can attend the festival in Amsterdam but also watch the programmes online from anywhere in the world. Subscribe to the YouTube channel to follow the online programmes and search the website of Forum of European Culture for more information and tickets.


Throughout the festival (17 September - 20 September)

- Exhibition Figures of Freedom by artist Fernando Sánchez Castillo.

- Exhibition Johny Pitts - Afropean: Travels in Black Europe at FOAM. Timeslots are available through November, 1st.

- Exhibition The Europeans by photographer Rob Hornstra and writer-filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen.


Thursday 17 September

- Opening: We, the People with director Ivo van Hove.

- This is What We Know about Your Future with Italian writer Francesca Melandri and British journalist for the Financial Times Gideon Rachman.

- Civic Council - Talks across Europe with leading international artists and thinkers discuss and local citizens in Amsterdam, Warsaw and Palermo on what kind of European cultural identity or demos we need as a necessary foundation for a pan-European democracy.

Photo from the exhibition 'Afropean' by Johny Pitts
Johny Pitts

Friday 18 September

- Junior programme Change is in our hands by Company New Heroes.

- Expert meeting Fair International Cultural Cooperation - Language.

- Power to the People! about protest movements, activism and giving a voice to Europe's people with Wong Yik Mo (Demosisto), Benjamin Roll (Million Moments for Democracy), Priscillia Ludosky (Yellow Vests), Mattia Santori (Sardines), Naomie Pieter (Black Queer & Trans Resistance NL) and Clare Farrell (Extinction Rebellion).

- A conversation with: Orlando Figes on cultural forces that can bring Europeans together.

- The State of European Literature with essayist, historian and novelist Philipp Blom.

- Talk Afropean with author and photographer Johny Pitts on his journey searching for the black experience in Europe. With Lisette Ma Neza and Francio Guadeloupe.

- Who gets Europe?, a debate between ardent Brexiteer Douglas Murray versus left-wing activist Flavia Kleiner.

- European Literature Night, a programme of EUNIC-Netherlands to bring together both celebrated authors and promising literary talents from all over Europe.

Action by Extinction Rebellion, part of the programme Power to the People!
Simon Evans

Saturday 19 September

- What's cooking in Europe? where we explore Dutch and European identity by looking at what’s on our plate every day with one of the most famous chefs of the Netherlands, Joris Bijdendijk (RIJKS) together with Abdelkader Benali and Elena Erzak. Is there such a thing as Dutch cuisine at all?

- Screening of the film Fuocoammare (English: Fire at Sea, 2016); an Italian documentary film directed by Gianfranco Rosi about Lampedusa and the great human tragedy islanders are witnesses of.

- European première of The Suppliants, a modern interpretation of the play by Aeschlos's tragedy directed by Celil Toksöz and musically supported by a choir of Kurdish-Dutch women.

- Performative event Beeldbepalers: Charl Landvreugd – The Utopia of the Normal Space where an Imagined Normal Space will be investigated with contemporary thinkers and the audience.

- Football: the People's Game about football’s uncomfortable relationship with nationalism and racism before recognizing its potential to bring people closer together with former England international Eniola Aluko, street pro legend Rocky Hehakaija and experts David Goldblatt and Simon Kuper.

1041 small “Dream Mauerspringers” for Figures of Freedom

Sunday 20 September

- Performance of The Suppliants, a modern interpretation of the play by Aeschlos's tragedy directed by Celil Toksöz and musically supported by a choir of Kurdish-Dutch women.

- Panel discussion An Outsider's Perspective with Bangladeshi author, feminist activist, and Islam critic Taslima Nasrin and Singaporean academic Kishore Mahbuban to explore Europe’s common identity and its current and future standing on the global stage from their perspective.

- Today’s European Cinema: A Female Perspective with Ena Sendijarevic (film director Take me somewhere nice), Basje Boer (film critic De Groene Amsterdammer) and Eva Line de Boer (theatre director).

- A conversation with Noreena Hertz, the sharp-witted British economist, on the strange conondrum of being hyper-connected and lonelier than ever.

- The premier of a short film about an exciting social experiment about our near future, developed by Hungarian theater- and film director Árpád Schilling: The Vaccine - Who should get it first?


Stay posted on the latest developments by checking the website of the Forum on European Culture and by following our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

If you have specific questions about the Forum in general, feel free to reach out to Simon de Leeuw, programme editor on behalf of DutchCulture.


The Forum on European Culture is an initiative by founding partners DutchCulture and De Balie. It is generously supported by Gieskes Strijbis, the European Commission, the European Cultural Foundation and Prince Bernard Culture Fund.

The Civic Council on European Democracy is co-funded by the Europe for Citizens-programme.