Strategy Group

At the very heart of the Initiative "A Soul for Europe" there are over 40 outstanding individuals from 20 countries from both inside and outside the European Union. They are working as civil society actors in culture, politics, research and media, at universities or in the business sector.


The Strategy Group is responsible for the conceptual development and dissemination of the idea of "A Soul for Europe" through projects and initiatives. The Strategy Group was built up with the financial support of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

Steve Austen's picture
Steve Austen

Steve Austen, permanent fellow of the Felix Meritis Foundation, Amsterdam, cultural entrepreneur, consultant, publicist, and member of the group of initiators of “A Soul for Europe”. He has been active in cultural life of the Netherlands and Europe since 1966 and was co-responsible for “Amsterdam - The Cultural Capital of Europe 1987”. Together with Günter Grass he co-founded the informal working body “Gulliver”. Since 1987 he has been president and lecturer of the Amsterdam-Maastricht Summer University.

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Nicolas Bertrand

Nicolas Bertrand is Executive Manager of Image Aiguë, Lyon. He was responsible for several cultural projects in rural areas, such as the theatre festival for young audiences “My sheep is a lion” and performances of young visual artists in Alsace and Lorraine. Since 2001 he has been working for the Image Aiguë Company of Christiane Véricel which developed several artistic projects in, among other countries, France, China, Morocco, Turkey, Germany, Bulgaria and Italy.

Zachery Bishop's picture
Zachery Bishop

Zachery Bishop is the Project Manager at the European House for Culture where he is involved in its various projects including the “A Soul for Europe” initiative and EFFE – Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe. His work, research, and personal interests concentrate on developing relationships between culture, policy, and citizens. Zachery comes from the United States of America where he completed his Masters of Architecture. After researching and working on urban issues in Rome, Italy, he decided to move to Europe to pursue a career in cultural management.

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Andreas Bock

Andreas Bock, born in 1978, studied Cultural and Social Sciences at the Freie Universität Berlin, the UC Berkeley and the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder). He is currently working for the Network for Reporting on Eastern Europe (n-ost) in the editorial department of the online portal Between 2005 and 2008 he was cultural manager at the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa) and project manager at the MitOst Association in Budapest.

Lirak Çelaj's picture
Lirak Çelaj

Lirak Çelaj is an actor, director and script writer. He has co-founded and co-directed ODA Theatre, the first independent theatre in Kosovo since 2003. He wrote scripts for theatre and film and acted in more than 20 theatre performances and 10 films. 1999-2002 he was the director of the Kosovo National Theatre. 2001-2004 he was a Member of the Parliament of Kosovo. Currently he is a high political adviser of the Deputy Prime Minister and the national co-ordinator of The Regional Cooperation Council.

Giusy Chierchia's picture
Giusy Chierchia

Giusy Chierchia graduated in 2005 at the University of Milan with a master thesis on “Multicultural theatre in Amsterdam as a tool of integration”. Since 2003 she is living in Amsterdam, now working as a project manager for ReKult. She has a master degree in European Studies at the International School for Humanities and Social Sciences with a thesis about the role of civil society in filling the EU democratic deficit. She also accomplished the European Diploma in Cultural Management at the Foundation Marcel-Hicter where she developed a research about how cultural NGOs can become more sustainable. Her main fields of expertise are cross border cultural cooperations, European integration and civil society initiatives.

Kathrin Deventer's picture
Kathrin Deventer

Kathrin Deventer is Secretary General of the European Festivals Association (EFA) the network of arts festivals from 37 countries. In 2008 EFA set up the European House for Culture in Brussels. With a political science background - following a first work experience in Genoa, European Capital of Culture 2004 - she started at EFA in 2004.

Ivana Djokic-Saunderson's picture
Ivana Djokic-Saunderson

Ivana Djokic-Saunderson is a freelance translator from Polish to Serbian. She graduated in Polish Language and Literature at the Philological Faculty of Belgrade University and was assistant professor at the Faculty of Drama Arts, where she received her Master’s degree in Film Studies with a thesis about “The Idea of Europe in European Film”. She is now working on her PhD on “Book and Body in Peter Greenaway’s Films”.

Marijn Duijvestein

Marijn holds a Masters in Business Administration (specialisation in stakeholder communication) and a post-graduate degree in Multilingual Business Communication. He is a Project Manager at Mostra Communication, where he helps to design and implement EU communications projects (editorial work, video, print media, web, social media, events, press relations) on topics such as youth unemployment, education and human rights. Earlier on, he worked as a consultant with KEA European Affairs, as an event manager for ABN-AMRO, as a researcher in development agency PUM, as Mexico correspondent at SIW International Volunteer Projects and as an assistant in diverse Dutch film productions.

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Guido Ferilli

Guido Ferilli is a researcher and publisher on the issues of culture-led local development. He has performed consultancy roles for several public administrations in Italy and abroad. He is often participating in scientific and creative residencies at prestigious cultural institutions in Italy and abroad, presenting at scientific conferences worldwide and is the managing director of several international projects.

Gabriella Gönczy's picture
Gabriella Gönczy

Gabriella Gönczy is a journalist, editor and cultural manager from Hungary. In 2003/04 she co-organised Kulturjahr der Zehn, a Berlin-based festival of all new EU member states. 2005-07 she was responsible for the international media network of signandsight and worked as the Hungarian correspondent of Perlentaucher, the largest online cultural magazine in German language and eurotopics. Since 2008 she is a member of the International Jury of TWINS 2010.

Nele Hertling's picture
Nele Hertling

Nele Hertling is co-founder of the initiative “A Soul for Europe”. 1963-1988 she was Research Associate at the Academy of Arts in Berlin (West). Furthermore, she was artistic director of “Berlin - Cultural Capital of Europe, 1988”. From 1989 to 2003 she was director of the Hebbel Theatre in Berlin and artistic director of the "Theater der Welt" festival (1999). From 2003 to 2007 she was head of the DAAD's Artists-in-Residence programme. Since 2006 she has been Vice-President of the Academy of Arts.

Levan Khetaguri's picture
Levan Khetaguri

Levan Khetaguri is the president of the Stichting Caucasus Foundation and vice-rector at the Shota Rustaveli Georgian State University of Theatre and Film. Levan studied Theatre Studies and Cultural Administration. Since 1990 he has organised and participated in various local and international cultural projects. Since 2008 he has been a member of the European Cultural Parliament.

Noémi Kiss's picture
Noémi Kiss

Noémi Kiss is a Hungarian writer, whose works have been translated to English, German, Bulgarian, Romanian and Serbian. Kiss studied Comparative literature, Sociology and Hungarian Studies at the University of Konstanz in Germany, and at the University of Miskolc in Hungary, where she has been lecturer since 2000. She received her PhD at the University of Miskolc in 2003. She regularly publishes short stories and essays in Hungarian and German. From December 2013 to May 2014 she was a writer in residence of the Literaturhaus Zurich and the Stiftung PWG (foundation for affordable housing) in Zurich.

Ruggero Lala's picture
Ruggero Lala

Ruggero Lala is international programme officer at the Felix Meritis Foundation and course coordinator at The Amsterdam Maastricht Summer University (AMSU). He has been working on various international co-operation projects of Amsterdam-based organisations. He holds a Masters degree in International Law and International Relations.

Daniela Maffeo's picture
Daniela Maffeo

Daniela Maffeo, born in Italy in 1980, graduated in Business Economy from Bologna University in 2004 and then gained an MA in Economics and Management of Cultural Heritage at the University of Tor Vergata in Rome in 2006. She is co-founder and vice president of the Rome-based NGO ReKult, which organises cultural and artistic projects in Europe.

Stephanie Maiwald's picture
Stephanie Maiwald

Stephanie Maiwald is a cultural consultant at the Swiss Embassy in Berlin. 2006 -2012 she worked for Stiftung Zukunft Berlin for various initiatives like "A Soul for Europe" and "Berlin Foundation's Week". She holds a Diploma in Cultural Studies from the European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) with a focus on Foreign Cultural Policy.

Valeria Marcolin's picture
Valeria Marcolin

Valeria Marcolin is a freelance consultant and project manager for different cultural organizations in Europe, specialising in international relations, networking and fundraising project development. Her missions include prospect activities, dialogue with political institutions and representatives, animation of working groups, project writing, advising in communication, media and building partnerships strategy as a project organiser. She was General Secretary of the European network Union of the Theatres of Europe after being its communication and PR manager.

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Susana Marques

Susana Marques is co-founder and director of Setepés Arts, Science and Education in Porto. Since 1998 she has been the company’s director, being responsible for a number of cultural projects, both for organisations and cities. Susana holds a degree in Cultural Heritage Management and is specialised in cultural management and cultural enterprises. In 2007 she was responsible for the coordination of the publication “Cultural Management of Cities and Regions”, edited by Setepés.

Miguel Ángel Martín Ramos's picture
Miguel Ángel Martín Ramos

Miguel Ángel Martín Ramos is counsellor in European, cultural and social affairs for the European Academy of Yuste Foundation and its Delegate in Brussels before the EU. He is also responsible for cultural, education, youth, equal opportunities and social policies in the Office of Extremadura
in Brussels since 2000. Since 2006 he is a member of the Administration Board of the International Jean Monnet Association. Since 2009 he chairs the Working Group on Language Diversity and Social Inclusion at the European Platform of the Civil Society to Promote Multilingualism. Since July 2011 he is the spokesperson of the European Access to Culture Platform.

Frédéric Meseeuw's picture
Frédéric Meseeuw

“Frédéric is Advisor for the Centre for Fine Arts of Brussels (BOZAR) where he works on European projects, both in the artistic and political fields. Previously he worked as a consultant at KEA European Affairs and dealt with cultural policies in Europe including creative industries development or minority languages protection. He has collaborated with a wide range of European networks and project promoting culture at European level. Frédéric holds a master in European politics as well as in translation.”

Simon Mundy's picture
Simon Mundy

Simon Mundy is a writer and cultural policy adviser based in Wales, London and Brussels. He has written more than 20 books (including poetry and novels). He has chaired or been a board member of many arts organisations and was a co-founder of Culture Action Europe. He acts as an adviser to UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the European Festivals Association. He is a Permanent Fellow of Felix Meritis, Amsterdam.

Mahir Namur's picture
Mahir Namur

Mahir Namur is founding member and president of the European Cultural Association, an independent NGO based in Istanbul and manager of several international cultural cooperation projects. He teaches "Development of Cultural Projects" at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University and Yeditepe University. He is the founder of, which is a European social network for cultural actors on internet.

Vânia Rodrigues's picture
Vânia Rodrigues

With a background in European Studies and Master’s degree in Cultural Management, Vânia Rodrigues has worked extensively in Portugal as a cultural manager. Earlier on, she has developed consultancy work for theatres and museums at Setepés. Active internationally, she is contact person for ENCATC, has facilitated the workshop ‘Cities and Regions – their cultural European responsibility’ and wrote the e-publication “The Guimarães Conversations”, by A Soul for Europe and Guimarães 2012 European Capital of Culture. She is now responsible for the management, strategic planning and international activities for the Theatre Company mala voadora.

Kaspars Rūklis's picture
Kaspars Rūklis

Kaspars Rūklis is an International Communication Trainer and Consultant. He has worked for Estonia-Latvia cross-border programme in Tartu, Estonia, for library development project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as the U.S. Embassy in Riga. He likes to share his knowledge and experience as an Advocacy and Communication Trainer for public organizations in Europe and Africa. Kaspars holds a master’s degree in Communication Science from the University of Latvia.

Bernhard Schneider's picture
Bernhard Schneider

Bernhard Schneider is co-founder and former thematic co-ordinator of “A Soul for Europe”. The architect, planner, author and translator worked as consultant to the Senate of Berlin and co-operator with Berlin Partners, the Capital City's Marketing Company. From 1981 to 1989 he was executive planning officer with the Senators of Urban Development and of Cultural Affairs, Berlin and from 1991 to 1995 member of the steering committee of Stadtforum Berlin.

Benedict Schofield's picture
Benedict Schofield

Ben Schofield is Leverhulme Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in German and Comparative Literature at King’s College, London. He studied at the Universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, Passau and Utrecht, and has taught German and Dutch literature and history at Cambridge University and the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London. He became involved with “A Soul for Europe” at the Berlin Conference 2006.

Ghenadie Sontu's picture
Ghenadie Sontu

Ghenadie Sontu is the President of the Association ARS DOR. He graduated the Academy of Fine Arts and Invisible College of Moldova. In 2003 Ghenadie was President of the Youth Parliament of Moldova. He curated and managed several cultural and social projects, exhibitions, conferences and charity campaigns. In 2006 with the support of IFPC UNESCO, Ghenadie Sontu launched the International Art Project Eurointegration through Art.

Jiří Sulženko's picture
Jiří Sulženko

Jiří Sulženko graduated at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (APAP) at the Theatre Management Department. Since 2007, Jiří is the PR and marketing manager of the cultural centre Zahrada in Prague. As a PhD-student of Arts Management at APAP and later as a teacher he has been giving seminars on Creative Industries, Cultural Policy and Arts Marketing. Recently, Jiří has been commissioned by the Czech Ministry of Culture as an author of the national input to the Compendium of Cultural Policies organised by ERICarts.

Fruzsina Szép's picture
Fruzsina Szép

Fruzsina Szep is Festival Director of Berlin Festival since fall 2014 and Board member of Yourope and the European Festival Association. From 2009 until 2014 she was Program and artist director of Sziget Festival. Additionally, Fruzsina is former director of the Hungarian Cultural Institute in Brussels and music currator in several Hungarian Cultural Seasons. She is also lecturer at several universities.

Farid Tabarki's picture
Farid Tabarki

Farid Tabarki is a researcher, writer, presenter and entrepreneur. He has worked several years for Coolpolitics, a Dutch civic social organisation that encourages younger generations to shape and develop their role as citizens - and founded the organisation Coolpolitics Research. He is currently launching his latest project: A unique online and offline experiment with the objective to document the driving forces, motives, and values of ordinary Europeans born between 1977 and 1987.

Dejan Ubović's picture
Dejan Ubović

Dejan Ubović studied anthropology and project management in Belgrade. He works as a journalist and cultural manager and is director of the NGO Cultural Front Belgrade as well as initiator and organiser of the Forum Belgrade - A Soul for Europe. Furthermore, he is founder of the Balkan-based Cross Radio Network, a weekly radio programmes in 14 cities and founder of the Festival Refract with parallel programme in seven Serbian cities. He initiated the first Regional Music Information Centre Cross MIC.

Ata Ünal's picture
Ata Ünal

Ata Unal is a theater dramaturg, director and theoretician based in Istanbul. Holds a doctoral degree in dramaturgy and a masters degree on artificial intelligence / neural networks and image processing. He worked as an initiator, project designer, consultant, and project manager in various international cultural and artistic projects. He teaches “Dramaturgy”, “Staging”, “Theater Aesthetics” and alike in a number of public and private universities both as a full time Ass. Professor and a lecturer. He also is an active, independent theater maker as a dramaturg and director, with works staged internationally and nationally. He is the founder of “ITU Players” and “Theory Workshop” an off-academy research group on artistic and theoretical issues.

Pilar Velasco's picture
Pilar Velasco

Pilar Velasco was born in Madrid, where she later studied journalism. She has been working for Cadena SER, the Spanish national leader radio station, since 2006. Velasco is a News editor and a frequent speaker on topics related to journalism, politics and new media. She has unfold and cover some of the most relevants spanish political, economic and social issues. Because of her work, she has received the Award for Personal Compromise from Urban Debates Club. Recently member of The New Narratives for Europe, an European Cultural Commission project. She also collaborates for various digital media and TV channels.

Yuriy Vulkovsky's picture
Yuriy Vulkovsky

Yuriy Vulkovsky is cultural researcher and cultural manager. Since 1994 he has been involved in a number of research and action projects in the field of cultural policy and social impact of the arts. Since 2004 he has been teaching cultural policy in Bulgaria and in 2005 he created the first Bulgarian web site for cultural policy. Since March 2008 he is executive director of the Sofia-based independent NGO Altera.

Tim Wilson's picture
Tim Wilson

Tim trained in London and Havana in Literature, Theatrical Direction & Music. He founded Heritage Arts Company in 2007, and leads all the company’s major artistic and entrepreneurial projects from inception to delivery. Tim has worked as a producer, curator and arts entrepreneur in a great variety of institutions, always focusing on activities by young, emerging artists realising innovative formats, such as Punchdrunk, Silent Opera or VAULT festival. He is Associate Producer of touring and West End theatre with PW Productions and attended the EFA Festival Directors Atelier in 2014.

Rariţa Zbranca's picture
Rariţa Zbranca

Rariţa Zbranca is arts manager, curator and cultural activist. She is director and co-founder of the AltArt Foundation in Cluj (Romania), as well as member of expert bodies such as Team Europe Romania. She has worked in the fields of culture, media, democracy and minority rights for non-governmental organisations.