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ROOTS & ROUTES is an international network for the promotion of cultural and social diversity in contemporary performing arts and media. ROOTS & ROUTES members offer educational activities, mobility programmes and stage performances for young music, dance and media talents in 10+ European countries: Arts and media as tools for integration in the social and cultural life and as first step into an artistic career.


ROOTS & ROUTES was developed as a concept to involve young talents from multicultural neighbourhoods at the EU Cultural Capital activities in Rotterdam 2001. Following the success in Rotterdam, further projects were organised in major Dutch cities. The common principle: To use young artists' diverse cultural backgrounds – “ROOTS” – and their creative expressions to show them “ROUTES” that lead to the established culture scene.

The established relations lead to a first transnational project in 2005, where enthusiastic partners started organising cultural exchanges, artistic residencies and performances at major festivals, such as Sziget (Budapest), Fabbrica Europa (Florence), Summerjam (Cologne) or Hipnotik (Barcelona).

After several international projects – from talent development to a multilingual web video platform, from cultural peer education to performing art stage productions – in 2008 the network was formalized with the founding of the ROOTS & ROUTES International Association.

ROOTS & ROUTES International Association

International ROOTS & ROUTES activities:

Steps Ahead - Professionalization of Junior Coaches in Performing Arts and Media. There is a growing demand for young urban performing arts and media coaches in schools and youth work institutions in the cities of North-Western Europe. There’s also a growing number of young urban performing and media artists from the culturally diverse quarters of those big cities, many of them in precarious financial situations and not sufficiently connected to the labour market. In the previous project “The ROOTS & ROUTES Academy”, we have developed a curriculum for a Junior Coach education, providing young artists with basic educational and management skills. “Steps ahead” will transfer this concept to new countries and settings, adapting it to the situation in Greece and Italy, and will, in line with the needs of the young coaches, extend the curriculum towards closer cooperation with the labour market, including wider entrepreneurial competencies and “testing zones” for young coaches, providing work experiences in real-life settings.

U-CARE Urban Culture Against Racism in Europe - Europe has always been a continent of migration and cultural diversity, and has drawn both cultural and economical wealth from this. Recently, the ongoing crises in Europe have lead to a rise of extreme right-wing and anti-European populism in many European countries, making worse the situation for immigrants and minorities in terms of racism and discrimination. Old manifestations of intolerance receive new vigour and new forms of racism, coupled with economic, social and political marginalisation of affected groups, deepen their exclusion from active social participation. In November 2012 the new project "U-CARE – Urban Culture Against Racism in Europe" started, where 11 organisations in 8 countries join forces and pool their knowledge to combine an anti-racist/anti-discrimination peer coaching approach with urban culture and media. Young people with diverse cultural backgrounds (including the national majorities) will be educated in national seminars and an international summer academy 2013 to become U-CARE Junior Coaches. They will empower themselves to spread the message of increasing mutual understanding and combating racism and discrimination. Being part of urban youth scenes themselves, they have potentials of reaching other young people that are mostly inaccessible for adults from social majority groups. Thus, the U-CARE Peer Coaches will carry the torch of respecting cultural diversity and deconstructing negative stereotypes on to other young people. Together with them, they will do workshops, run campaigns and create public events making the U-CARE message visible, reaching 1000+ young people all over Europe. After this project, the U-CARE Junior Coaches will be ready to run further activities on their own.

EUtropia is a culture cooperation project with partners in 9 EU countries running from 2011 till 2013. The project’s aim is the collective creation of a multidisciplinary performance that journeys around Europe and collects new stimuli and thus widen the horizon of artistic expression. 250 young artists from 9 European countries collaborate by posing an open dialogue in performing, visual and audiovisual arts.

ART'n'GO - New routes to intercultural creativity gave young artists from 10 EU countries the opportunity to develop sustainable productions and present them in mainstream festivals in 2011, such as Fabbrica Europa Festival in Florence or sziget Festival in Budapest.

ROOTS & ROUTES ACADEMY projects train young talents to become Junior Coaches. ROOTS & ROUTES Junior Coaches are young dance, music and media talents who are educated to coach other students of similar or younger age. The Academy seminars contain creative, cultural, social and entrepreneurship content.

The ROOTS & ROUTES Experience 2011 was a youth exchange project for 50 young artists from 9 European countries. They jontly created an interdisciplinary stage show with music, dance, media elements, acrobatics, theatre and slam poetry. The show premiered at LVR Tag der Begegnung Festival in Xanten and at Sommerblut Festival in Cologne.

National ROOTS & ROUTES SUMMERSCOOL projects empower creative youths in approaching their professional career: Motivated urban talents are able to follow training modules in diverse urban music and dance styles, theory and practice of the creative industry and light, sound and media technique.

Local ROOTS & ROUTES STEP1 projects are short time workshops for urban music, dance and media talents where they can cooperate with likeminded youth, learn from professional artists and jointly create a multidisciplinary stage performance.

International ROOTS & ROUTES performances:
EUtropia @ Arkadas Theater 2012, Cologne, Germany
Art'n'Go @ sziget Festival 2011 - Budapest, Hungary
Funking Circus @ Under One Sky Festival 2011 - London, UK
Jam Karet @ Gamescome 2011 - Cologne, Germany
Art'n'Go @ Fabbrica Europa Festival 2011 - Florence, Italy
Art'n'Go @ Mercat de Musica Viva 2010 - Vic, Spain
R&R Experience 2010 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands
ROOTS & ROUTES @ tuning into diversity conference 2010 - Budapest, Hungary
R&R Experience 2009 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands
R&R A_Maze @ Fabbrica Europa Festival 2008 - Florence, Italy
R&R Experience 2008 - Cologne, Germany
ROOTS & ROUTES @ Cultural Sunday 2008 - Utrecht, The Netherlands
ROOTS & ROUTES @ Meet the Streets Festival 2007, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
ROOTS & ROUTES @ Summer Jam Festival 2006 – Cologne, Germany

ROOTS & ROUTES projects are financially supported by the EU programmes CULTURE, LEONARDO DA VINCI and YOUTH IN ACTION.