The objective of Felix Meritis Connecting Cultures is to support the spreading of the ideas of the former Felix Meritis Foundation, which was committed to fostering and strengthening relationships between art, education, media, science and commerce. From 1988 to 2014 the foundation operated the 18th century Amsterdam building Felix Meritis, continuing the ideals of its predecessor the Felix Meritis Society (1777). Now, Felix Meritis Connecting Cultures develops activities at the intersection of culture and active citizenship in various places of historical significance all over Europe. Its full statutory objective can be read here.

Part of the lectern of the Felix Meritis Society,
c. 1778. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Felix Meritis Connecting Cultures provides the European public with room for reflection and connection. We believe in (the need for) cultural diversity in Europe as an engine of progress and social cohesion. We foster the European dialogue and take part in national and international educational, cultural and civic networks. Through dialogue with citizens in Europe and beyond, we allow a deeper understanding of the European integration process, among citizens of Europe and worldwide. Central topics are active (European) citizenship, freedom and democracy, European Identity, the rule of law and the future of European democratic integration.

In this spirit we support the EU ambition to strengthen European Identity through Education and Culture (Social Summit Gothenburg 2017) by developing knowledge-based projects, seeking for innovative approaches in academic, citizenship education and arts & heritage practices. Partly with existing partners while looking for new and curious individuals, institutions, politicians, journalists and citizenship educators.

The increasing threats to democracy and rule of law all over Europe deepen the need for well informed active citizens defending the European values. Arts and culture, in addition to education, should harness their full potential to act as a pillar in the local ecosystem and foster active citizenship. FMCC and its sister organisations AMSU and EHfC, along with several other European cultural and scientific partners, explore in national and international research projects what conditions must be met for arts and culture to address societal challenges and act as citizenship educators, thus implementing the EC’s ambition. The findings of this research will be presented at an international congress.


A Soul for Europe

After twenty years of intensive and fruitful cooperation in A Soul for Europe, the paths of its founders are parting. EU citizens’ growing support for the EU, as revealed by the Eurobarometer, shows that Europe now does have the soul Jacques Delors was searching for. FMCC and EHfC have entered into a new alliance assigning a major role to ‘the Artist as Citizen’ and the cultural sector. Especially now that Europe is mobilising all its democratic powers to defend liberal democracy, arts and culture cannot be left out of these changing times.

On 26 November 2004, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso (2004-2014) opened the first A Soul for Europe conference in Berlin, with the famous speech in which he argued that Europe should be more than a market for goods and services: “In the hierarchy of values the cultural ones range above the economic ones”. Europe should make a strong case for culture to play an important role in the public domain and serve as a basis for foreign policy. Participants at the first conference included Richard von Weizsäcker, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Hans-Dietrich Genscher and Timothy Garton Ash.

Felix Meritis Connecting Cultures & A Soul for Europe & Forum Amsterdam

Since the first conference, Felix Meritis Connecting Cultures has been particularly responsible for the participation of young Europeans in the debate, especially from Central and Eastern Europe. FMCC and its partners organised a dialogue with the younger generation of Europeans in the biennial event A Soul for Europe in Berlin, and in the annual event Forum Amsterdam.

Forum Amsterdam / The Amsterdam Conversation

Following the A Soul for Europe conference, FMCC organised Forum Amsterdam for the first time on 29 November 2004, a new initiative that subsequently took place every autumn until 2013 at the Felix Meritis building.

During Forum Amsterdam, cultural institutions, the business community, various network organisations, artists and intellectuals exchanged views on international, cultural and economic topics and cooperation. The first edition of Forum Amsterdam was opened in 2004 with the speech “Cultural Identity in Europe” delivered by Atzo Nicolaï, Dutch State Secretary for European Affairs.

Young Europeans from Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and Romania, among others, participated in the Speakers’ Corner “Decision-makers of Tomorrow” and gave their views on the role of culture in the new Europe.

The People Network

Also on display was The People Network – initiated by FMCC in 2002 – (database consisting of biographies of Europeans forming a flexible digital memory of contemporary Europe) where people could enter their opinions on European cultural ideas and politics and the future of Europe.