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ICT for culture: Winners of @diversity Awards announced

EU Reporter Correspondent



logo___diversity_blue3The winners of the first @diversity Awards, which recognise outstanding examples of ICT innovation to promote culture, were announced by Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou at the European Culture Forum in Brussels on 4 November. The Forum, which gathers 1 200 culture practitioners and policymakers, was opened by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. Lithuanian Minister of Culture Šarūnas Birutis and Czech economist and author Tomáš Sedláček are also participating in the event.

The @diversity Awards cover four categories: 'make culture', 'spread culture', 'access culture', and 'young culture'. The 12 winners (see details in annex) are:

ReWalk Europe



StoryGuides - Europe through Legends

HE/DE la guía a la ciudad amueblada



Deaf Magazine - Access to printable museum collections


Travelling Hospitals

Narrated Film Downloads

“Digitisation has changed the way that cultural goods are created, managed, disseminated and accessed. The @diversity Awards are a laboratory of creative ideas: our aim is to support the talented people behind them from project conception, to the development of business plans and to help turn them into a market reality,” said Commissioner Vassiliou.

The award winners will receive tailored professional coaching on developing business plans, legal issues, access to finance, marketing and networking. The aim is to attract financing and customers for the idea and to transform it into a sustainable project, product or service.


'@diversity: innovative ideas for the cultural and creative sectors in Europe' is a pilot project launched by the European Parliament and organised by the Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture. The @diversity Idea Competition was launched in May 2013 and inspired more than 660 individuals and institutions from all EU Member States to get involved. More than 250 ideas were proposed for the competition.

The @diversity initiative is run by a consortium composed of peacefulfish (Berlin-based consultancy for financing the creative industries), MFG (a German innovation agency for ICT and media) and Kennisland (a Dutch think-tank focused on social innovation).

The European Culture Forum takes place at the Brussels Palais des Beaux Arts (Bozar) on 4-6 November. The Forum focuses on three main topics: measuring the true value of culture, exploring new funding models for culture, and audience development - making cultural participation a reality.

The @diversity winners

First category: Make Culture

ReWalk Europe will use digital tools to help tourists enjoy an alternative way of visiting an EU city by experiencing walking tours created by artists.

United Kingdom | Tim Jones |

SMartART enables museums and other cultural spaces to provide information to audiences via an image rather than a code. Content is detected by using software available for camera equipped smartphones.

Italy | Paolo Mazzanti, Roberto Caldelli | LCI Images and Communication Lab, University of Florence |

SonicPaintings brings stories in paintings to life by creating interactive soundscapes, which react to the position of the spectator in front of the exhibit. SonicPaintings broadens the way traditional art is perceived by using multi-sensory technologies.

Netherlands | Zbigniew Wolny, Karin Spaink

Second category: Spread Culture

StoryGuides - Europe through Legends is an augmented reality tour guide app, based on interesting anecdotes and historical facts about a city's heritage.

Slovenia | Matjaz Kotnik, Mitja Čander, UroŠ Ahačič |

HE/DE la guía a la ciudad amueblada is a multimedia guide which challenges its users to create culture out of abandoned pieces of furniture. The app also invites people to participate in workshops and training that will help them develop their creativity.

Spain | Luta Valentina Morciano |

WIKI RAIL is the world’s first interactive audiovisual guide for rail travellers. Information about the busiest EU rail routes will be available in real time and will be presented in film, audio-photographic media or augmented reality. Monuments, localities, and historical events can be experienced while travelling by train.

Germany | Achim Michael Hasenberg |

Yugo is an app/widget which proposes to its users one cultural event per day, based on smart usage of user’s personal profile and her/his current location. The app can make these suggestions thanks to a personal profile based on a novel combination of existing data and techniques currently scattered among different Web services.

Slovenia | Zarja Vintar, Ljupco Todorovski, Vlatka Ljubanovic, Jana Jazbec, Aleksander Srdić, Sara Grabnar |

Third category: Access Culture

Deaf Magazine is a lifestyle magazine about the culture of German sign language, linking analogue and digital media and connecting the written word directly with sign language. By combining written language and sign language with visual content, culture helps to overcome communication barriers.

Germany | Alexandros Michalakopoulos Andreas Ruhe, Angela Koser | - Access to printable museum collections will increase the ability of museums to provide access to museum source materials globally by creating a web platform which will facilitate the management of 3D digital files and the distribution of 3D print replicas of museum artefacts.

Greece | Nikolaos Maniatis |


Poetrycloud is a literary 'instagram' which will redefine the concept of an anthology, using digital tools to access European children's poetry favourites across generations.

United Kingdom | Neal Hoskins |


Travelling Hospitals will take hospitalised children on a virtual voyage to discover other countries and cultures.

France | Mariana Santillan, Andrea Fischer, Miguel Conde, Natacha Vicente, Pascale Malinowski

Fourth category: Young Culture (authors <25)

Narrated Film Downloads will make it easier for visually impaired people to enjoy films and increase returns on investment for film distributors. It also aspires to become a mainstream product - a narrated film or audio film, rather than an audio description for the visually impaired'.

United Kingdom| Dean Rhodes-Brandon|


10 cities competing for the 2020 #EuropeanCapitalOfSmartTourism title

EU Reporter Correspondent



Ten European cities have been shortlisted for the 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism competition (presented in alphabetical order): Bratislava (Slovakia), Breda (The Netherlands), Bremerhaven (Germany), Gothenburg (Sweden), Karlsruhe (Germany), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Málaga (Spain), Nice (France), Ravenna (Italy) and Torino (Italy). The finalist cities were selected from a total of 35 applications from across 17 EU Member States.

The European Capital of Smart Tourism was proposed as a preparatory action by the European Parliament and is implemented by the European Commission. It aims to promote smart tourism in the EU, foster innovative, sustainable and inclusive tourism development, as well as spread and facilitate the exchange of best practices. This EU initiative recognises outstanding achievements by European cities as tourism destinations in four categories: Accessibility, Sustainability, Digitalisation as well as Cultural Heritage and Creativity.

Last year, Helsinki and Lyon won the inaugural competition and the two cities jointly hold the titles of European Capitals of Smart Tourism in 2019.

This is the second edition of the competition to award two cities as the European Capitals of Smart Tourism in 2020. The two winning cities will benefit from communication and branding support for a year. This will include; a promotional video, a purpose-built sculpture for their city centres, as well as bespoke promotional actions.

Moreover, four awards will also be handed out in recognition of achievements in the individual categories of the competition (Accessibility, Sustainability, Digitalisation and Cultural Heritage and Creativity).

All winning cities will be announced and awarded at an Awards Ceremony, which is taking place as part of the European Tourism Forum in Helsinki on 9-10 October 2019.


In the first stage of the competition, an independent panel of experts evaluated the applications. All finalist cities demonstrated excellence across the four competition categories combined.

In the second stage, representatives of the 10 finalist cities will travel to Helsinki to present their candidatures and the programme of activities planned for 2020 in front of the European Jury. The European Jury will meet on 8 October 2019 and select two cities to become European Capitals of Smart Tourism in 2020.

The selection of the most innovative projects, ideas and initiatives, submitted by cities to the last year’s competition can be found in the Compendium of Best Practices, the go-to guide to smart tourism in the EU. For all the latest news on the European Capital of Smart Tourism, sign up to the newsletter, or follow on Facebook or Twitter.

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#Koezio for indoor adventure

EU Reporter Correspondent



They say good news travels far and news about one of the newer and more exciting visitor attractions in Brussels has stretched a long way – as far as Canada and Thailand.

The indoor adventure park Koezio, located at the thriving Docks Bruxel shopping and leisure complex, sees about 150,000 visitors pass through its doors each year.

Some participants, acting on recommendations by hotels, Trip Advisor and Visit Brussels (and keen to get the experience for themselves) have even come from as far away as Canada and Thailand.

The centre has proved a big hit since it became the first Koezio to open outside its heartland in France.

Headquartered in Lille, in northern France, the Brussels centre was the fourth to open (there are also two in Paris) and it now attracts participants –known as “agents” – from all over Belgium.

First, an explanation for first-time visitors. Koezio (it is pronounced as Ko-wa-ze-o) is a place quite unlike any other you have probably visited. It offers “training as a special agent” in a converted 3,200 square metre space.

For two hours, your endurance, intelligence, courage and team spirit are challenged to complete the “journey” through what are called four districts: a mysterious labyrinth, a machine room with giant modules, an escape room and finally a dizzying trail at 12 metres heigh.

It’s the type of test that James Bond author Ian Fleming himself might have appreciated.

No need to be fearful though: what matters here is ‘being together’ and increasing cohesion – the invented word Koezio is derived from cohesion - within a group. Koezio is accessible for both young and old and from 2 players upwards.For safety reasons you must be 1 metre 40cm in height and anyone under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

Worth pointing out that you do not have to be super fit or an athlete.

The fun starts on arrival with the “secret agent” subterfuge. This is when you are given your very own “secret code” allowing access to the park. On arrival, you enter your “secret code” details on a touch-screen monitor before changing into freshly laundered overalls which is when you are let loose on the course for the next couple of hours.

Seven teams of up to 5 players are allowed entry every 15 minutes, with the idea being that the park does not get overcrowded.

The idea is to clock up as many points as you can. So called “elite agents” can score up to 600,000 points but the average per visit is about 330,000.

Unlike other escape games in Brussels and elsewhere, the idea here is all about working as a team, not against each other. The emphasis for the “secret agents” is on team work and co-operation. At the end, each participant/team is give a detailed print out of their score and performance.

For a small supplement, you can also take a special camera into the park to film the whole adventure (the images can later be downloaded on to a USB stick). Koezio is great for a family visit but is also ideal location for team building exercises.

Kjell Materman, its communication manager, says the Brussels site has become particular popular for companies whose members can meet up in a private room for a “discover my team” chat before the adventure starts. The centre, built on what used to be a fabrics factory dating to the mid-1800s, also has meeting rooms, a dining room and a lounge for an aperitif or meal or drink after your “mission”.

Kjell, who used to work at The Parlamentarium in Brussels said: “We are also seeing more and more tourists who may have been sent on the recommendation of others.”

There are special discounts if you book online and reductions for schools and youth clubs. Try also to have a go on the virtual reality game at the entrance.

The Brussels centre is not as large as in Lille (which has two “missions”) but, because of clever designing, has a similar layout.

The first Koezio opened in Lille in 2006 and so successful has the concept proved that a fifth one will open in Lyon this summer with plans for others in London, the Netherlands and Spain.

This go ahead company has invested a lot in spreading the word about Koezio and, as the visitor figures, this policy is paying off.Beware that weekends are particularly popular so best to book then.

Transport links are great as the site is situated on two tramlines which whisk you into central Brussels in just 10 minutes. There is a huge car park nearby and, from the summer,there are also river tours on the nearby Brussels Canal.

Another great reason to pay a visit right now is that the Royal Greenhouses at Laeken are currently open to the public until 10 May.

Whatever time of year you come here, though, you are sure of great fun.

Eat your heart out James Bond!

Docks Bruxel
T. (0)2 319 5454


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#CannesFilmFestival - Ken Loach up for Palme d'Or prize

EU Reporter Correspondent



Ken Loach

British filmmaker Ken Loach's new movie will premiere at Cannes next month, in what the film festival's director Thierry Fremaux has described as a "highly political" year, writes the BBC.

Loach, 82, who won the Palme d'Or prize in 2016 with I, Daniel Blake, returns this year with Sorry We Missed You.

Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was notably absent from the line-up.

But the Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio film could still be added later.

"We can hope that some films may join us that we are all waiting on before 14 May," said Fremaux.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt filming with director Quentin TarantinoLeonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt filming with director Quentin Tarantino

Reports last month suggested that Tarantino's latest effort could potentially premiere exactly 25 years to the day since the same director's Pulp Fiction played on the Croisette,

Loach's new film is an indictment of the gig economy and looks at issues such as zero hours contracts.

Sci-fi drama, Little Joe - which is directed by Austrian Jessica Hausner and, like Loach's film, is backed by BBC and BFI funding - also makes the cut.

Another veteran director; the reclusive Terrence Malick, will premiere his World War II story, A Hidden Life, about a German conscientious objector guillotined by the Nazis in 1943.

No Netflix

For a second year running, there are no Netflix films showing at the festival due to an ongoing dispute about the streaming service's effect on cinema.

Some French distributors want Netflix to be forced to release its films in cinemas and not just online.

Diego MaradonnaA film about Diego Maradonna is directed by Asif Kapadia

Elsewhere, a new film about Argentine football icon Diego Maradonna will premiere, out of competition, at the French Riviera event, which runs from 14-25 May.

The movie, from the director of the Ayrton Senna and Amy Winehouse documentary films, contains more than 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from the controversial star's archive.

As previously announced, the Elton John biopic Rocketman will also debut on 16 May, two weeks before its release in the US.

The film, directed by Dexter Fletcher - who stepped into the Bohemian Rhapsody breach after director Bryan Singer was fired from the Freddie Mercury biopic - will star Taron Egerton.

Egerton told the BBC last month that Sir Elton gave his blessing to portray him at his worst as well as his best.

Taron Egerton as Elton JohnImage copyrightPARAMOUNT
Image captionTaron Egerton as Elton John

The French festival - billed as 'The Olympics of cinema' will open with a screening of Jim Jarmusch's zombie comedy The Dead Don't Die, which contains a star-studded cast including Bill Murray, Iggy Pop and Selena Gomez, as well as Tilda Swinton and Tom Waits.

Director Agnes Varda, who died last month, was honoured on the official poster for the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, with an image of her making her first film La Pointe Courte in 1954.

The full line-up for this year's festival is available on the official Cannes website.

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