CultureLabs policy paper

This one-day online workshop on 7th July 2021 will explore the role that cultural heritage can play in strengthening social inclusion and particularly the inclusion of migrants and refugees.  The workshop will approach the subject from practice and policy perspectives by presenting the results of the case studies and the policy recommendations produced as part of the EU-funded research and innovation Horizon2020 project ‘CultureLabs’.

In the first part of the workshop, participants will be taken on a journey to unpack the social and creative results of four pilot projects that used varied cultural participatory approaches with the aim to reinforce social cohesion and engage migrant and local communities.

The session will present the methods employed, challenges encountered, and outputs achieved by the projects, which were organised in three different European countries: ‘So Distant, Incredibly Close’ organised by Fondazione Sistema Toscana in Pisa, Italy; ‘Zoom In On Heritage’ organised by The Finnish Heritage Agency in Helsinki, Finland; ‘Bridging Culture Through Arts’ organised by the Social Cooperative COOSS Marche in Ancona, Italy; and ‘More in Common’ organised by People’s History Museum in Manchester, UK. 

At the end of the first part, participants will have the opportunity to discuss with the organisers through a question and answer (Q&A) session.

Building on a series of research activities and the hands-on experience gained by the pilot projects, the second part of the workshop will point at existing challenges and propose a set of policy recommendations for the more effective implementation of participatory approaches that involve hitherto under-represented or disadvantaged groups, and particularly migrant communities, through cultural heritage activities. 

The workshop will close with a round table discussion with the participation of EU-level and regional policymakers alongside experts in the field of cultural and integration policies.

Registration is free and open via Eventbrite

Programme (All times are CEST)

  • 10.00 – 10.10: Welcome from the organisers
  • 10.10 -10.20: Introduction to the CultureLabs project – Eirini Kaldeli, National Technical University of Athens
  • 10.20 -10.35: Participatory heritage for better communities: an overview of CultureLabs pilot projects – Abir Tobji, People’s History Museum
  • 10.35 – 10.55: So Distant, Incredibly Close (Pisa, Italy) – Marzia Cerrai and Davide Cetrulo, Fondazione Sistema Toscana
  • 10.55 – 11.15: Zoom In On Heritage (Helsinki, Finland) – Suvi Sillanpaa, The Finnish Heritage Agency
  • 11:15 – 11:30 Break
  • 11.30 – 11.50: Bridging Culture Through Arts (Ancona, Italy) – Francesca Cesaroni, the social cooperative COOSS Marche
  • 11.50 – 12.10: More in Common (Manchester, UK) – Abir Tobji, People’s History Museum
  • 12.10 – 13.15: Q&A and discussion – Moderated by Elena Silvestrini, Platoniq
  • 13.15 – 14:30: Lunch break
  • 14.30 – 15.00: Presentation of the CultureLabs policy paper – Wolfgang Bosswick, Senior Researcher, University of Bamberg
  • 15.00 – 16.00: Policy paper round-table discussion – Chaired by Eirini Kaldeli, National Technical University of Athens.

Panellists of the round-table:

Sayed Sayedy, Intercultural mediator and trainer

Monica Urian, Programme Manager at the European Commission’s Directorate General Education and Culture

Councillor Stefano Ciuoffo, Councillor for Immigration Policy at the Tuscany Region

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Deputy Leader for Manchester City Council.

Councillor David Greenhalgh, Lead for Culture for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Leader of Bolton Council

Wolfgang Bosswick, Senior Researcher, University of Bamberg.

In May, the People History Museum opened an exhibition dedicated to Jo Cox which is the culmination of the inclusive More In Common process – a project pilot of CultureLabs – that has involved the Manchester community over the last two and a half years.

The project, inspired by the life and legacy of Jo Cox, involves a group of 30 people from different backgrounds living in Manchester who have developed a co-creative and silent listening process culminating in the ‘virtual Wall of Hope‘, on which visitors to the museum and online can add their personal tribute messages.  Also on display for the first time are the placards, banners and artworks that were created in the aftermath of Jo’s murder.

Visitors to the exhibition can find out more about Jo and her life; her personal story and experiences, what led her to becoming an MP and how her campaigning was driven by a desire to see equality in education, the promotion of closer communities and addressing loneliness.  From her election as an MP, to times enjoying family fun, images and objects help to understand Jo’s story and the way she lived her life.

The exhibition is also designed to have a digital dimension, allowing everyone to learn and explore the details of the work created for Jo Cox and delve into the roots that generated this very important commemoration initiative.

In February, CultureLabs hosted a free one-day symposium entitled: “Cultural heritage and social impact: Digital technologies for social inclusion and participation.” The free event took place online and attracted over 100 attendees from across the globe. 

Organised by consortium partners Danilo Giglitto, Eleanor Lockley (Sheffield Hallam University); Eirini Kaldeli (ICCS, National Technical University of Athens), and Luigina Ciolfi (University College Cork and Sheffield Hallam University), the symposium featured twelve presentations by academics, researchers, and practitioners exploring how digital technologies can support institutions to become more connected and open to different communities in CH-related settings, and considered the challenges and opportunities brought forward by digital interactions in different settings. 

The videos for the event are now available and are divided into four topics:   

Engagement of Disadvantaged and Marginalised Communities:

  • Gillian Robinson  Conflict Textiles Live Collection
  • Vanessa Cesário MEMories and EXperiences for inclusive digital storytelling (MEMEX)
  • Tanis Grandison Unpacking Meaning of Place Through Creative Technology

The first set of presentations showcased cultural heritage work aimed at people who are at risk of social exclusion. Robinson et al. (Ulster University) show how existing collections of textiles can be used for people to tell their stories of conflicts but furthermore how examples of social inclusion have been achieved through online dissemination during Covid. Grandison (Edinburgh Napier University) describes a co-produced Digi-Mapping project with an Edinburgh arts organisation with primary school children from multiple deprived areas. Whilst Cesário (Interactive Technologies Institute – LARSyS) illustrates examples from the  MEMEX project to promote social cohesion through collaborative, heritage-ICT related tools.

Inclusion and Cultural Heritage Institutions:

  • Lara Perry Digital prospects for inclusive civic museums
  • Elisa Bonacini The #iziTRAVELSicilia participatory project
  • Jonas Van Mulder ANGLES – Engaging Multiple Perspectives for Reapproaching and Reappropriating Colonial Audio-Visual Archives Preserved at KU Leuven

The second set of works focus around digital cultural heritage for institutions. Perry (University of Brighton) provides an overview of her work called Digital Prospects for Inclusive Civic Museums UK-US collaboration, which explores digital interfaces for smaller museums. Whilst Bonacini (Universidad de Cordoba) details the #iziTRAVELSicilia project, which focuses upon participatory strategies and co-production of museum audio-guides and city audio-tours published within a large regional-scale process. Van Mulder et al. (KU Leuven) present ANGLES, which aims to create space for collaborative reflection about the future of colonial archives held at KU Leuven.

Digital Innovation in Cultural Heritage Practices:

  • Daniel J. Finnegan Game and Play: A Gateway to the Past?
  • Alan Dix Democratising Digitisation: Empowering Culture From the Community Up
  • Vendela Grundell Gachoud Metadata as a Diversity Tool: Sámi Traces in Institutional Archives Online

The third theme illustrates examples of digital innovation in relation to their impact upon cultural heritage practices.  Finnegan et al. (Cardiff University / Echo Games) provide an overview of three case studies which illustrate how games can encourage strangers, young and old, to play together and reflect on cultural heritage (e.g. past events) through roleplay and adversarial engagement. Whilst Dix et al. (Swansea University) describe new work focused on local musical society archives in Yorkshire and Belfast and also the locally-based audience communities at university venues in York and Illinois which highlights new modes of scholarship rooted in models of social capital and common ownership. Complimenting these, Gachoud (Stockholm University) talks about ‘The Politics of Metadata’ which ex­plores how metadata affects cultural heritage institutions’ image collections online; using Sami images from the Swedish National Heritage Board, the study focuses on how metadata affects diversity within a frame­work of demo­cracy and identity formation. 

Cultural and Digital Heritage Educational opportunities

  • Sally McHugh Learningful Play: Exploring the design of technology, learning and play to enhance children’s engagement with cultural heritage in schools and Museums
  • Sara Eloy Inclusive E-Learning to Understand Collective Memories and Identify New Uses of African Plantations Heritage (Recording not available) 
  • Betül Gaye Dinç Interacting with Museum Content Through Picturebooks: A Study of Children’s Engagement with Orientalist Paintings in Pera Museum, Istanbul

The final theme looks at the educational opportunities for digital cultural heritage. McHugh (National University of Ireland, Galway) presents a Technology-enhanced Cultural Heritage Education (TECHe) learning model to improve children’s engagement with their local heritage and places. Dinç et al. (Koç University) follows by showcasing their study which investigates the possibilities of an interactive picturebook prototype in fostering children’s exposure to artworks featured in a permanent exhibit presenting historic and cultural content.

The event also featured a keynote talk by Dr Jenny Kidd of Cardiff University, entitled ‘Museums, Social Media and Participation in Times of Crisis’. Kidd presents an analysis of the Twitter data shared across two hash tags – #CultureinQuarentine and #Museumathome – to better understand the parameters of engagement between the public and cultural institutions during the crisis caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic.  
Watch the recorded presentations here or read the list of abstracts.

A one-day online symposium

Registration is open!


Date: 24 February 2021

Venue: Online

Organisers: Danilo Giglitto, Eleanor Lockley (Sheffield Hallam University); Eirini Kaldeli (ICCS, National Technical University of Athens); Luigina Ciolfi (University College Cork and Sheffield Hallam University)

Registration is open and free: Link to register


Themes and Background

Cultural heritage is no longer seen solely as a safeguarding effort or an educational outlet but also as a form of civic and cultural representation and engagement that can contribute to social cohesion. The EU-funded collaborative project “CultureLabs” investigates and proposes the use of novel methodologies and digital tools for facilitating the access to Cultural Heritage through tailor-made novel experiences, creative reuse, enrichment and co-creation. As part of CultureLabs, this one-day symposium will discuss how digital ecosystems shape the dynamics between institutions (including museums and academic institutions) and communities, leading to new models of collaboration and interaction around heritage and culture.

The event will feature a keynote talk by Dr Jenny Kidd of Cardiff University, exploring museums, social media, and participation during the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. After an open submission process, we have also selected 12 short presentations from academics, researchers, and practitioners exploring how digital technologies can support institutions to become more connected and open to different communities, and consider the challenges and opportunities brought forward by digital interactions in different settings. 


Outline Symposium Programme (All times are GMT)

10:00-10:10: WelcomeDanilo Giglitto

10:10-10:25: CultureLabs: Recipes for Social InnovationEirini Kaldeli

10:25-10:30: Culture and Cultural Heritage in the Research and Innovation Policy of the European CommissionAndrea Grisorio (European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation)

10:25-10:30: Keynote Presentation: Museums, Social Media, and Participation in a Time of Crisis –  Jenny Kidd (Cardiff University)

10:50-11:00: Q&A


11:10-12:00: Short presentations: PART 1

  • Conflict Textiles Live Collection – Gillian Robinson, Roberta Bacic, Breege Doherty, Esther Alleyne
  • MEMories and EXperiences for Inclusive Digital Storytelling (MEMEX)Vanessa CesárioMercedes Giovinazzo, Corinne Szteinsznaider
  • Digi-Mapping: Unpacking Meaning of Place Through Creative TechnologyTanis Grandison, Tom Flint, Kirstie Jamieson
  • Short discussion – Chaired by Danilo Giglitto
  • Digital Prospects for Inclusive Civic MuseumsLara Perry
  • The #iziTRAVELSicilia Participatory ProjectElisa Bonacini
  • ANGLES: Engaging Multiple Perspectives for Reapproaching and Reappropriating Colonial Audio-Visual Archives Preserved at KU LeuvenJonas Van Mulder, Sofie Taes, Fred Truyen, Kim Christiaens
  • Short discussion – Chaired by Luigina Ciolfi


12:00-13:30: Lunch break


13:30-14:20: Short presentations: PART 2

  • Game and Play: A Gateway to the Past? – Daniel J. Finnegan, Daniela De Angeli, Lee Scott
  • Democratising Digitisation: Empowering Culture From the Community UpAlan Dix, Rachel Cowgill, J. Stephen Downie, Christina Bashford, Mike Twidale, Maureen Reagan, Simon McVeigh, Rupert Ridgwell
  • Metadata as a Diversity Tool: Sámi Traces in Institutional Archives OnlineVendela Grundell Gachoud, Karin Hansson
  • Short discussion – Chaired by Eleanor Lockley
  • Learningful Play: Exploring the Design of Technology, Learning and Play to Enhance Children’s Engagement with Cultural Heritage in Schools and MuseumsSally McHugh, Tony Hall, Fiona Concannon
  • Inclusive E-Learning to Understand Collective Memories and Identify New Uses of African Plantations HeritageSara Eloy, Stefania Stellacci
  • Interacting with Museum Content Through Picturebooks: A Study of Children’s Engagement with Orientalist Paintings in Pera Museum, IstanbulBetül Gaye Dinç, Özge Subaşı, Ilgım Veryeri Alaca
  • Short discussion – Chaired by Eirini Kaldeli

14:20-15:00: Roundtable discussion moderated by organisers

15:00-15:30: Closing remarks and future plans


About the Keynote Speaker: Dr Jenny Kidd is a Reader in the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University (UK). She has written extensively on digital cultural heritage and participatory media, including in her 2014 book Museums in the New Mediascape: Transmedia, Participation, Ethics. Jenny is Co-Investigator for the AHRC’s Policy and Evidence Centre, and on a project exploring the impacts of Covid-19 on the UK cultural sector being led by the Centre for Cultural Value.


For queries, please contact or 

Culture Labs at Internet Festival 2019 - Our video collection

Did you miss the CultureLabs event at Internet Festival 2019? Would you like to explore more the key-concept of social innovation, participatory approach and co-design?

There is good news! You can relive the best moments in our video collection, the contribution of the speakers is now on our Youtube channel. Subscribe here.



A good opportunity to talk with chefs!

In collaboration with Internet Festival – Shaping Future, CultureLabs organises the event entitled Labs of Cultures. Processes, strategies and good practices for the challenges of contemporary society.

It will be an occasion to listen to the voices of some social innovators, actually our Chefs (both Italian and foreign), who every day implement models, strategies and techniques, with which they respond to concrete needs of a community and promote its social development.
It will be a good opportunity to learn about international examples in which digital innovation is at the service of social innovation, and participatory approaches trigger effective paths of inclusion.

Why at Internet Festival?

Internet Festival is the most important Italian event devoted to digital innovation. Since 2012 it has addressed a large and heterogeneous audience, introducing the most recent and interesting technological results, and showing how the digital innovation impacts diverse areas of our life: from culture to health, from school to economy, from music to food…

The event of Saturday 12 of October will be the occasion to explore how digital innovation serves social innovation. After the introduction of the day and the greetings from Tuscany Region, Victoria Barnett and Wesley Taylor will bring the experience of Design Justice, an international network, born in the United States, which has been involved for many years, striving to create design practices that center those who stand to be most adversely impacted by design decisions in design processes, such as: indigenous peoples, communities of color, poor and working-class people, the sick and disabled, migrants, LGBTQ people, women and femmes.

Then, Mario Tronco will talk about the Piazza Vittorio Orchestra, a project born in 2002 and driven by artists, intellectuals and cultural operators who revived through the music the Piazza dell’Esquilino, namely the multi-ethnic district of Rome. Piazza Vittorio Orchestra is a multiethnic orchestra that has been able to enhance the cultural richness of a degraded district using music as an effective glue. Since 2002 the Orchestra has represented a successful example that mixes musical languages, being aware that mixing cultures produces beauty.

Then, it will be the turn of Nadia Pantidi. She is a lecturer at the School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork (UCC) and a member of the People and Technology Research Group. Her research spans the areas of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Design and Psychology with a particular focus evaluating and designing interventions and technologies that are sensitive to values, practices and experiences of end-users. Nadia will explain how digital technologies and services can support new forms of community engagement.
Labs of Cultures will be also the occasion to present the latest progress of the CultureLabs digital platform and launch the upcoming pilots starting in October, in Italy, UK and Finland.

The public attending the event will be allowed to interact with the guests, stimulate reflections using the Mentimeter app.

Here the detailed programme of the event

15.00 – Welcome greetings – Roberto Ferrari (Tuscany Region)
15.15 – CultureLabs. Digital technologies and cultural heritage at the service of social inclusion – Eirini Kaldeli (CultureLabs)
15.45 – Links, connections and differences between CultureLabs and other best practices and projects
15.55 – Design Justice Network – Victoria Barnett and Wesley Taylor (Design Justice)
16.35 – The Piazza Vittorio Orchestra – Mario Tronco (Piazza Vittoria Orchestra)
17.05 – Digital Futures For, With, By the People – Nadia Pantidi (UCC)
17.25 – Final discussion / Q&A – with the journalist Claudia Fusani

Further information on:

Giornata Mondiale del Rifugiato 2019 - COOSS

For the “WorldRefugeeDay”, COOSS – one of the partner of CultureLabs – organised three free events that took place on 19, 20 and 21 June in Camerano, Falconara and Jesi thanks to the support of other cooperatives working with and for migrants, Associazione ATGP and Municipality of Jesi.

During these days, workshops, photographic exhibitions, football tournaments and show events were organized to bring together local people (adults and children) and migrants. Moreover, Camerano held the Human Library where the migrant guests were able to tell their life stories to the citizens.

What is the contribution for the CultureLabs project?

  • Promoting awareness of the meeting and reception of migrants;
  • Creating bridges between communities by giving local citizens and migrants the opportunity to cooperate together in the proposed activities;
  • Direct participation of migrants in the community, as they are the tellers of their stories, which they offer to whoever wants to listen to them;
  • Co-creation example, as the original stories where proposed by migrants but elaborated and
    refined in collaboration with the artist in charge of the event.



CultureLabs at Communities & Technologies 2019 - Wien

In June 2019, Danilo Giglitto, postdoctoral researcher at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), presented a paper called “Bridging cultural heritage and communities through digital technologies at the 9th International Conference on Communities & Technologies – Transforming Communities held at the Vienna University of Technology.


The theme of this edition of the conference was “Transforming Communities”. The conference encouraged submissions around the role of technology and technology design in the “making” of communities. Around 100 people from academia and industry attended the conference.


The paper – which was co-authored by Danilo Giglitto, Luigina Ciolfi, Caroline Claisse, and Eleanor Lockley – was included in a thematic session called Heritage and Future. The talk given by Danilo focused on the role that technology can have in facilitating the participation of communities at risk of exclusion (in particular migrant and refugee communities) in cultural and heritage related activities. The draws from the research led by SHU aimed at gathering the functional requirements of the CultureLabs platform from the perspective of people involved in the cultural heritage sector as well as people working with migrant groups in a variety of participatory settings.


The highlight of the talk was the presentation of key findings of the research, which revolved around the use of digital communication tools to tackle the barriers to participation in cultural heritage engagement projects, the implementation of a centralised digital platform to improve collaboration across entities and sharing best practices, and the characteristics that any technology should have to bridge cultural distances in participatory processes.


The presentation was followed by a very brief Q&A sessions, during which Danilo had the chance to discuss with members of the audience, including the extent of the ambition behind CultureLabs as a platform, the different perceptions around cultural heritage and its safeguarding by different communities of participants, and the potentially different conceptualizations of ‘co-design’ among the partners of the projects.


The paper has been published on the ACM Digital Library as part of the conference proceedings.

CultureLabs was back in Sheffield!

On 22nd and 23th of May 2019, a new meeting of the CultureLabs consortium has taken place in Sheffield (UK), hosted by the Sheffield Hallam University, one of the partners of the project.

Besides the periodic appointment to monitor the state of the art of the project, the results achieved and the new steps to take, the meeting in Sheffield was a crucial occasion to analyse our four pilots with the help of external stakeholders that cared about actively discussing our methodologies and progress. We invited representatives of cultural institutions, NGOs, civil society organisations, to work with us adopting the Wotify methodology, under the direction of Platoniq.

It was fundamental to compare their strategies and approaches with ours and receive their hints, recommendations that help us to enhance elements of strength and identify possible risks to overcome.

So, special thanks to:

Ronan Brindley – Manchester Art Gallery

Anne Louise Kershaw – HOME – Centre for contemporary theatre, film, art, music

Rachel Drew – Migration, Refugee and the University Group at Sheffield Hallam University

Nick Roscoe – Bishops’ House

Karen Hough – CENTRIC Sheffield Hallam University

Fidel Budy  – CENTRIC Sheffield Hallam University

Ghazaleh Oshaghi – ORAMMA project

During the second day of the meeting, the consortium actively worked on the value chain analysis and how to lay the ground to measure the efficiency and the impact of future recipes. A very fruitful discussion on how to establish a value chain analysis, which matches the needs of stakeholders of the CultureLabs to concrete innovative participatory approaches to social innovations through culture!

This is a just started process, but which has already proved to be a very interesting challenge!

Video interviews with people involved at the Sheffield workshop are coming soon! For further information about Culture Labs project progresses keep following our Magazine section!