Grass-Roots 

NICE is a special kind of story beginning at grass-root level: it is made up of mostly public-funded local and regional institutions which have a shared European vision for their local interests to promote the innovative impact of culture and creativity on non-cultural sectors like urban development, migration or health. At the Forum d’Avignon Ruhr in 2013, twelve partners from ten nations teamed up for the first time and started an initiative and funding on their own account. At that point the tools and actions were not even defined but emerging from the member interests. NICE is an open learning organisation developing new tools and actions initiated by its members – for the common aim of promoting innovation of culture and the creative industries.

The Smart Network

This collaborative and open source idea of membership leads to a dynamic type of institution with partners in very diverse stages of interest and actions, changing from year to year. In the field of cultural and creative innovations NICE is a unique smart network in Europe up to now. It attracts stakeholders from cultural and creative sectors (for example organisers of festivals, business incubators, co-working spaces etc.), from national agencies, from platforms representing the interests of creative industries, from cities’ administrations, from chambers of commerce, and from universities or cultural institutions such as theatres and museums.

In 2013, the network started an award that gets more attention with every year – most prominently in the policy field with a presentation by the winners of the NICE Award 2015 at the European Culture Forum in 2016. Its flash of attention within the cultural and creative sectors is based upon its ambition to showcase the cultural and creative projects contribution for solving the world’s major problems. This topic did not only boost the number of applications from 108 in 2014 to 213 in 2015 but also increased the quality of the applicant projects, as Charles Landry, head of the international jury, points out. The shortlist projects of NICE and its award are for many cultural and creative makers a good argumentation in the dull debates about cuts to budgets and relevance of culture and creativity in many regions and cities. The NICE Award is not so much about the promise of 20.000 Euros cash but about the hopes of cultural and creative players to become a respected innovator in society creating a better future.

Potentials not fully recognised

This is exactly what the European Union calls for when it states that the potential of "cultural and creative sectors in the European Union is still not fully recognised" and indeed this can be regarded as "largely untapped resources." There is no better way to say what NICE is about and why you should join NICE too. NICE is an open learning organisation developing new tools and actions initiated by its members – for the common aim of promoting innovation of culture and the creative industries.