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Unlearning Talks

Tune into a series of virtual conversations that aims to open the discussion on how to develop resilience in changing environments and sustain sociocultural work in the wider region of South Eastern Europe. The Unlearning Talks was part of the concluding events of the program START – Create Cultural Change and built on its vast knowledge and networks. For five consecutive years, the capacity building and fellowship program supported 150 creative minds to kick-start cultural initiatives that generate a positive social impact, engaging more than 25.000 citizens in their local communities all around Greece.

Throughout these years, START Fellows were facing multiple challenges in their sociocultural quest, stemming from the economic, the refugee, and environmental crisis. Combined, these challenges made practices that harness resilience key to their efforts. The covid-19 crisis has emphasized the diachronic value of resilient models of practice, including the challenge of un-learning established practices and re-learning new ones. In practice this means adapting to challenges as they arise, at the same time shifting perspectives to capture emerging opportunities as well.

Υου can watch the whole series of events on demand in our YouTube channel here 




Thursday, September 10, 17.30 EEST

And now, what?! The current relevance of Futures Literacy & Systems’ Resilience

The first talk that will launch the series of the Unlearning talks seeks to deepen our collective understanding of the fundamental issues of adaptability and resiliency. Two different approaches on how to navigate uncharted waters and adjust to continuous changes will be presented by three prominent speakers, who will share light on how to build a resilient system and incorporate Futures Literacy principals in the sociocultural sector. Right afterwards, a fishbowl conversation with the 2019/20 START Fellows will follow to discuss their personal experiences in setting the building blocks of their resilient endeavors that will “bounce forward” to a better more equitable future.  

  • Riel Miller, Head, UNESCO Chair on Futures Research
  • Lina Liakou, Managing Director for Europe and the Middle East, Global Resilient Cities Network
  • Epaminondas Christofilopoulos, Head in Greece, UNESCO Chair on Futures Research, FORTH/PRAXΙ

Moderator: Maria-Louiza Laopodi, Project Manager START & Unlearning Talks Co-Curator



September 15, 16 & 17, 2020, 18.00 EEST

The covid-19 crisis, a new global threat during which the shortcomings of recent decades have quickly become apparent, poses major challenges for all humankind. Not yet visible are many new concepts people all over the world are implementing right now to help us cope with this situation. However, the current situation creates a lot of confusion in a broad spectrum of sociocultural work. But confusion can also be the mother of innovation that leads to new solutions and new policies. A whole host of new practices are currently emerging in many places in our region – most of them simply out of creative necessity. Many will disappear again, but some have the potential to change the system.


September 15: Overcoming uncertainty in the cultural sector during the covid-19 crisis and beyond.

During the past six months uncertainty on the scale of disruption in the cultural sector has been tremendous. Pre-existing vulnerabilities, like the precarious livelihoods of artists and cultural workers or the tight budgets of many public cultural organizations that fuel the creative industry with less commissions every year, are now magnified. As the crisis develops around the world, everyone working in this field is pivoting from the immediate impact of the crisis towards examining the long-term structural changes that should be seen in the cultural sector. In this talk we will hear from a diverse group of changemakers their efforts and point of view on how to ensure culture has a central role in public policies and contributes to a sustainable future.

Featured Speakers

İpek Çınar, Cultural Producer, Turkey

Olga Daskali, President of the Messolonghi Community Council, Greece

Corinne Eichner, StadtKultur Hamburg, Germany

Filip Jovanovski, Faculty of Things that can’t be Learned, North Macedonia



September 16: Culture, Education, and Engagement in the era of social distancing.

Confinement measures around the world and in the region of South Eastern Europe in particular have shown the importance of culture in order to connect, learn and entertain. Schools have modified their curriculum, whilst cultural institutions such as galleries, museums and theatres have rapidly developed new digital cultural products and educational materials and made them available online. These initiatives helped local communities to build resilience and supported the cultural sector with a new portfolio of activities. During this talk our speakers will reflect on the conditions of this transition from physical to digital, the unlearnt lessons they took, and will share their input of whether this crisis could lead to a transformative change.

Featured Speakers

Maria Asteriou, The People Behind, Greece

Milena Berbenkova, Intercultura Consult, Bulgaria

Valentina Socratous, Emerge, Greece

Jennifer Tharr, Neustart, Germany



September 17: Putting people first: The new stresses of sociocultural practice in a post pandemic world.

In almost every country of South Eastern Europe cultural life has taken a hit in one way or another, in terms of both social and economic impact. The covid-19 pandemic has exposed some structural vulnerabilities within and between countries. Within countries, the pandemic has further revealed inequalities facing vulnerable groups, in particular women, refugees and people with disabilities. The line-up of speakers in this talk will reveal their experiences adapting to the new conditions and offer valuable insights on how to surpass obstacles and always keep putting people first.

Featured Speakers

Stela Anastasaki, Mind’s Eye, Greece

Katerina Antoniou, University of Central Lancashire, Cyprus

Maria Botsoglou, Artist, Greece

Iskra Geshoska, Kontrapunkt, North Macedonia

Myrto Papadogeorgou, Drastic Awareness Campaigns, Greece




September 22, 23 & 24, 2020, 18.00 EEST

The impact of the covid-19 is being felt by all businesses around the world. Social innovators and community leaders are navigating a broad range of interrelated issues that span from keeping their community safe to reorienting operations and navigating complicated government support programs. This cycle of the Unlearning Talks will try to take stock of the aftermath of a pandemic and how the sudden external shocks stresses social entrepreneurship. It will also look at ways in which more resilient entrepreneurial solutions to problems can be crafted and the opportunity for progress and equity seized for the societies at large.


September 22: Achieving Social Impact I: Working on more equitable cities.

As the lockdown unfolded, culture was perceived as a source of well-being, solidarity and resilience as witnessed, for example, by the spontaneous concerts performed from balconies in different cities all around the world. Yet, harnessing culture and creativity in the cities of our region as a vehicle to become more inclusive, more just, and in general happier places to live, is something that still has not been achieved. In this talk, obstacles, pitfalls and new inventive ways to reshape our cities with sociocultural work that put people at the center will be explored.

Featured Speakers

Nora Dorogan, Teatru-Spălătorie, Moldavia

Malve Lippmann, Bi-Bak, Germany

Predrag Milić, Škograd, Serbia

Violeta Tsitsiliani, The Language Project, Greece



September 23: Achieving Social Impact II: An outlook in the periphery of South Eastern Europe.

Action at the regional level is a vital lever for achieving social impact in the countries of South Eastern Europe. Communities in the periphery of our region address specific challenges with different constrains and different levels of scalability in their impact. At the same time, change in the outskirts of Europe, and not only, can be achieved with less resources and a lot of imagination. A number of regional initiatives will be presented during this talk that created an unorthodox solution mix for their challenges.

Featured Speakers

Greg Haji Joannides, Nisyrio, Greece

Matti Kunstek, Nellie Nashorn, Germany

Diana Malaj, ATA Group, Albania

Rania Mavriki, Cutlopia, Greece

Yanina Taneva, Ideas Factory, Bulgaria



September 24: Transformation of the media landscape in the region. Is it doable?

According to a survey by the World Economic Forum about media consumption during the covid-19 lockdown, 80% of people said that they are more likely to be willing to pay for subscription to access online cultural platforms and media outlets than before the pandemic. Could this shift in media consumption be the beginning of changing the media landscape in the region? Three representatives of independent media, operating within the region will discuss whether they can come out of the covid-19 pandemic stronger than before.

Featured Speakers

Ștefan Ghenciulescu, E-Zeppelin, Romania

Elvira Jukić - Mujkić,, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Fanis Kollias, Solomon, Greece




September 29 & 30 and October 1, 2020, 18.00 EEST

Beyond the dramatic impacts of confinement on the levels of human interaction, networks of collaboration are the key to overcoming turbulence and change in the 21st century. START’s increasing focus on partnership building has long been guided by the belief that no single business, or NGO acting alone can address the increasingly complex challenges in our societies. Collaboration is a critical capability for changemakers that seek to be sustainable with their cultural interventions. This cycle is shining a spotlight on the parameters of a good collaboration and the different attributes of local, regional and international networks in South Eastern Europe. 


September 29: Introducing the future of a sustainable network.

As the wave of the covid-19 crisis has landed on our communities, workplaces, and economies, we are discovering that our collaborative initiatives are becoming even more important as a way to maintain momentum on important sustainability issues. However, building lasting partnerships in the region has always been a challenge. How can stronger partnerships be fostered? What are the main pillars for their sustainability? Join this discussion with a diverse group of changemakers.

Featured Speakers

Hermes Arriaga Sierra, Zagreb Impact Hub, Croatia

Marko Heinke, Zukunftswerkstatt Paul – Gustavus Haus, Germany

Sanda Rakočević, YouSee Network & Upbeat Hub, Montenegro

Nikos Vandoros, Culture for Change, Greece

Raluca Voinea, Tranzit, Romania



September 30: Restoring and accelerating international collaboration in South Eastern Europe.

Culture can be the vehicle for new conversations to ensure the collaborative development of the region. However, the challenges vary considerably from place to place, thus building resilient networks of collaboration that are operating beyond borders, is more complex than it seems. This discussion maps the characteristics that define a fruitful international collaboration and together with our five panelists we will present practical strategies that improve a network’s ability to catalyze growth in South Eastern Europe.

Featured Speakers

Kleri Bakoura, Institute of Entrepreneurship Development, Greece

Jonida Gashi, DebatikCenter of Contemporary Art, Albania

Michalis Karakatsanis, Cyprus Music Information Centre, Cyprus

Darius Polok, International Alumni Center, Germany

Valentin Schmehl, Other Music Academy, Germany



October 1: Mapping new pathways for inclusive partnership building.

While collaboration cannot always prevent crises from arising, changemakers with strong networks between peers, their stakeholders, and other sectors such as local government, are better able to act fast, innovate, and recover at scale. Especially community-led networks have the ability to grasp the collective intelligence and propose resilient solutions. But most importantly, these partnerships build new kinds of collaborative strategies in which communities play a central role.

Featured Speakers

Periklis Chatzinakos, Commons in residency, Greece

Jenny Goldberg, Raw//cc, Germany

Frantzeska Papagiannopoulou, Tinos Guide & Seek, Greece

Stefan Savić, Odron Art Collective, Bosnia & Herzegovina



Please, note that the program is subject to change, and will be updated continuously including the list of speakers. The opinions expressed by the participants are solely their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the START – Create Cultural Change program and/or its partners.

Unlearning Talks

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