Lausanne Launches Intercultural Fund!


On 26 August 2009 Lausanne City Council announced the mobilisation of 60,000 Swiss Francs (42,000 Euros) for an intercultural fund. This is by no means a large sum of money for a local authority. However, it represents a significant political and ideological step in the right direction.


The limited funding available requires a clear understanding of the selection criteria for funding each project. Crucially each scheme has to impact at least one cultural group, as well as the local Swiss inhabitants. It must also trigger debate and exchange on cultural similarities and differences between the city’s inhabitants. The initiative also needs to be innovative and achieve maximal impact on the local population.


What are the central objectives behind Lausanne’s Intercultural strategy? Firstly, it seeks to promote intercultural dialogue between local and foreign inhabitants. Secondly, it strives to stimulate various forms of artistic and cultural expression through active participation by the city’s inhabitants. Thirdly it aims at disseminating knowledge of the activities of both cultural associations and people working within the city.


Who are the recipients of Lausanne’s intercultural fund? These range from intercultural migrant associations, to those actively promoting integration and preventing racism, to collective neighbourhood organizations and non- for- profit entities that work in the field of integration.


Central to the Council of Europe Intercultural Cities initiative is the idea that cities learn by exchanging best practice recommendations between each other. The author of this article concurs with this philosophy and will conclude by drawing up similarities between Lausanne’s strategy and those adopted by other cities. In line with the Intercultural strategies developed by Barcelona and Reggio, Lausanne encourages active participation by a wide variety of stakeholders to ensure ownership and support. The notion that diversity is a resource, not a threat is also shared by other cities who have an intercultural strategy. Demonstrating dedication by the City Council towards interculturalism is also ensured through a committed team and specific financial resources.


By Thomas Pavan-Woolfe