2004 - 2008
In late 2004, at the initiative of Clubture Network / Alliance of Associations from Zagreb, the independent cultural organizations from the former Yugoslavia initiated a pilot project which grew into a long standing Clubture's Regional Initiative Programme. Through various gatherings, joint projects and programme exchange this initiative has connected more than a hundred organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia. In the period from 2005 to 2007 a pilot phase of the regional programme exchange and collaboration project was prepared and implemented, which helped to build an informal collaborative platform based on the same principles as the Clubture Network in Croatia.
In the first, pilot phase of the implementation of collaborative projects, nineteen organizations participated in eight different collaborative projects, within which thirty-three public events were held in all the given countries. Results were achieved in the area of networking of organizations, distribution of cultural and artistic content in different areas and for different audiences. Thus, in 2006-2007 pilot phase eight different collaborative programmes were implemented though the platform:
- Device Art, which promoted art inspired by new technologies and was jointly carried out by KONTEJNER – Bureau of Contemporary Art Practice from Zagreb, O3ONE from Belgrade and Kapelica Gallery from Ljubljana.
- The Fama Programme was based on contemporary practice in the performing arts, and it was carried out by The Centre for Drama Art – CDU from Zagreb, Maska from Ljubljana and Walking Theory (Teorija koja hoda) - TkH from Belgrade.
- The Stolen Idea, programme that promoted collaboration between Croatian and Serbian visual artists, was jointly organized by the Močvara Gallery / Association for Development of Culture – URK, Zagreb and Remont from Belgrade.
- The Electronic.Pact.2005.Tour promoted electronic music and it was carried out by [mamatronic] – Multimedia Institute [mi2] from Zagreb and partners: KUD Kataman from Ljubljana and Belgradeyard Soundsystem / Dis-patch Initiative from Belgrade.
- The Coalition of Youth Associations – KUM from Split, with partners, the International Centre for Children and Youth New Sarajevo from Sarajevo and KUD Network from Ljubljana, carried out the programme titled S – S, which primarily connected the independent cultural scenes of Split and Sarajevo.
- The Information Agency – AGI from Osijek and Digital Culture from Subotica jointly carried out the Renaissance Platform Programme – Step 2, within which they organized various activities in the sphere of ecological activism and enabled the exchange between the independent scenes of Subotica and Osijek.
- Human Rights Film Festival – Regional Platform, was jointly carried out by the Association for Development of Culture – URK and Multimedia Institute [mi2] from Zagreb and Free Zone / B92 from Belgrade
- Explicit Music Session, an experimental music programme jointly carried out by the Multimedia Institute [mi2] from Zagreb and Chinch from Belgrade.
Aside from the aforementioned partners, other organizations in numerous other cities also participated as programme hosts. Public events took place in nine different cities in the region: Zagreb, Valpovo, Dubrovnik, Split (Croatia); Belgrade, Subotica (Serbia); Sarajevo, Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and Ljubljana (Slovenia).
The implementation of pilot programme covered a wide and varied range of different activities, forms of organization and geographic definitions. Through joint work in this platform the participating organization have developed collaborative potentials or improved the existing collaborations. This transferred the values and principles of programme networking, which for the first time took hold in practice within the organizations from several countries. Through the exchange of information, knowledge and specific skills and by refreshing its own ideas through contributions from various other contexts, Clubture's Regional Initiative has encouraged many to take a proactive stance in their local communities and inspired other individuals and cultural organizations to form networks or platforms. Despite the enthusiasm of gathered organizations, programme exchange and collaboration project was not sustainable due to local and international obstacles to the provision of finance. Namely, the support to the regional cooperation was not high on the priority list of the countries in the region in the post-war period, while the international donor institutions and organizations focused mainly on other trouble spots in the world.
2008 - 2012
From 2008 the network focused on joint action towards decision-makers to advocate positive changes and development of sustainable model of cooperation on the independent cultural scene in the region and towards the EU. From 2009 until 2011 a public consultation process, called Exit Europe, was implemented. The central event was the international conference Exit Europe – New Geographies of Culture, held in Zagreb in November 2009. It was preceded by two pre-conference events organized in Sarajevo and Skopje in October the same year. In an extensive discussion, those events critically reviewed the parallel processes of defining European cultural policies and the expansion of the Union to the countries of the region from the perspective of the independent cultural scene. A visible result of those joint efforts referred to the drafting of and advocating for the Position paper of Policy Recommendations aimed at the cultural decision-makers at the EU, national and local levels. The independent cultural scene brought to their attention the need to adopt measures to encourage the cultural development of the countries in the region and improve their reintegration into the common European space. Likewise, the recommendations offered a number of specific suggestions, the implementation of which would enable the development of independent culture and encourage the realization of collaborative projects, as well as lasting partnerships between organizations in the region, and with partners in the rest of Europe. In September 2011 a multilingual publication Exit Europe – New Geographies of Europe was published; a book that positions the activity of independent cultural scene within a wider cultural and social context. It gives an overview of the development of independent cultural scenes in 5 countries, as well as a broad overview of the development of regional cultural cooperation among independent organizations.
In the same period of 2011 the Open Society Foundation and Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans in Sarajevo organized an international conference “Facing the Past. Creating the Future“. This event brought together numerous cultural workers and activists from the region interested in the development of regional cooperation, as well as the organizations active within the scope of informal platform. The gathered representatives of the organizations reached a common conclusion - it is necessary to establish a stable, long-term and sustainable framework for the cooperation of independent cultural organizations from the countries of the former Yugoslavia, organizations that develop contemporary and new artistic practices, critical public discourse and innovative organizational models. The majority of participants at the conference supported the idea, including the group that initiated the conference. After the conference, the participating organizations continued to work on the development of this initiative and they gathered into an informal Working Group to agree on the principles of action and a way to organize the future platform for regional cooperation. In the first part of 2012 the general structure of the future platform was defined, as well as the steps in the process and basic elements of the model of cooperation.