Networking

Networking Strategy

SouthMed CV Expected results in relation to the networking strategy:

  • Enhance technical skills for cultural actors
  • Foster local, regional, national and international networking

What for?

  • Bring culture from the margins to the center of the public sphere
  • Explore its potential connection with economic, social and political development

How?

  • local, national and regional exchanges and networking strategies
  • Identification of learning opportunities among selected projects and their partners

South Med CV Networking Strategy (version 2.0., as of 25th January 2016)

When the consortium of partners-to-be, under the leadership of Interarts foundation (Barcelona) drafted the successful grant application in 2013, it was deemed useful to choose the notion of >Communities of Practice> as a valid and tested model to enhance and sustain the professional capacities and development of cultural organizations and operators, the would-be future grantees of the three-year-program, in order to bring culture from the margins to the center of the public sphere in the program countries.

In addition, as one of the lessons learned from other program activities, it was deemed useful to make implicit networking possibilities explicit as part of the program. This in order to identify and benefit from synergies with other relevant initiatives, cultural and political developments in the regions, as well as from on-going change processes at local, national or regional level.

It was decided to structure and document this process under the form of a >Networking Strategy>, providing guidance and pooling the potential connections of SouthMed CV action over the duration of the action.

Components of the networking activities of all Consortium partners are

  • Prioritizing stakeholders to which information about South Med CV should be sent
  • Identifying events where a presentation of the action could be desirable and doable
  • Approaching like-minded networks in order to disseminate information about the action
  • Seeking resources through information about funds, foundations and other organizations which might be in a position to provide matching funds.

As a consequence, the networking strategy is understood as a living strategy, hence rolling and evolving plan, to be updated every six months, with contributions by all partners.

Given the quality and experience of the consortium partners, it was understood that mobilizing this multi-dimensional outreach together, by comparing notes on a regular basis, and by exploring emerging networking opportunities, would be greatly beneficial in order to reach the overall objectives of SouthMedCV. In addition, by distributing responsibilities among Consortium partners on the basis of proximity and already existing working relationships of mutual trust, the networking strategy will be and remain affordable and cost-efficient (e.g. through synergies with other regular activities of the Consortium partners, including trips, and by favouring online cooperation).

The special potential of this action lies in the option of identifying and developing local, national and regional networking opportunities with the future grantees of cycle I (1st half of 2016) and cycle II (winter 2016/ 2017), to become a reality in spring 2016, and continue evolving during the program cycle 2016/2017. It is to be expected that the dimension of networking will nourish the peer-to-peer encounters and assessments, the identification of professional learning and development opportunities and thus contribute to empowering the cultural professionals and CSOs active in the region. Ideally the empowerment of grantees’ networking skills should contribute to the sustainability of the results.

The usual five steps to create effective networking strategies will be part and parcel of the peer-to-peer exchanges in 2016:

(1) What do you want to achieve through networking? = the networking goals

(2) Assess the quality of your current network = audit

(3) Who do you need to meet, where can you meet them = find

(4) What will you do to progress to a high quality and mutually beneficial relationship = build

(5) How will you keep the relationships alive and kicking = maintain.

Hence, the >networking strategy> addresses first and foremost the HOW of the program implementation and contributes to the quality of its results. As such, it is closely connected to the building of and part of the overall activating methodology of SouthMed CV: To begin with, the Consortium partners themselves are also subjects of transformational learning; the project beneficiaries are not merely at the receiving end of funding and capacity building, but are bringing their own practice and knowledge to the action. Starting with ourselves, working inside-out was chosen as the approach for mapping and networking.

The version 1.0. of South Med CV Networking Strategy was presented by the German Commission for UNESCO on July 1st, 2015 and discussed by all partners present at the occasion of the Barcelona partners’ meeting.

Three main purposes of networking were identified among the SouthMed CV partners as a priority for 2015/2016:

  • Motivate QUALITY applications from the seven eligible program countries

(2015, August through October)

  • EMPOWER the first group of sub-grantees through peer-learning and coaching

(2016, February through June)

  • EXPAND the outreach towards a second group of sub-grantees by mapping accessible networks at the local, regional and regional level

(2016, August through October)

The partners shared existing working relations and connections with relevant initiatives and networks in the seven eligible program countries, as well as synergies with upcoming working visits.

This version 2.0. of South Med CV Networking Strategy is the result of the workshop “Towards a South Med CV Networking Strategy” on December 9, 2015 prepared by the German Commission for UNESCO with Houssem Bel Hadj (consultant, Tunisia), discussed and agreed upon by the partners present on the occasion of the Alexandria partners’ meeting

The first workshop session summarized the state of internal networking and self-learning (I):

(1) The SouthMed CV partners together form the hub of the networking activities. Project beneficiaries (“sub-grantees” in technical terms) are not merely at the receiving end of funding and capacity building, but are bringing their own practice and knowledge to the action. Hence, after some search for a term which expresses the aspired quality of the cooperation relationship with the 19 beneficiaries-to-be (first cycle, as of January 2016), the approved name was Moultaqa South Med CV for the second layer of participants in the network.

(2) The high number of quality applications received validated the mapping approach chosen.

(3) The geographical results show large numbers of successful applications from Palestine (6, of which 1 project is implemented in Jordan), Tunisia (6, of which 1 project is implemented with Lebanon) and Morocco (5, of which 1 project is implemented in Algeria), while Lebanon (1, in partnership with Palestine) and Algeria (1) being on the lower end in quantitative terms.

This geographical imbalance broadly reflects political, legal, social and factual conditions in the broader region and will need to be taken into account for cycle II.

(4) In terms of networking typologies, the Consortium partners (6 in 2015, 7 if validated by the EU Commission in 2016) found the wheel model (compare Baassiri/Fazah, NGO Networking in the MENA region, 2013:4) to be appropriate for the SouthMed CV networking strategy, with the partners forming the hub, with information flowing freely between the hub and the future 19 participants of the Moutawa South Med CV.

(5) With the newly established intranet platform put in place by Interarts, there is a new technical option for sharing information, experiences and networking opportunities. Each member of the hub is requested to do a one-page radiography (compare slide 7) of resources, identified need and existing networking activities, as the starting point for the community of practice.

The second workshop session discussed the connections between networking strategies and the building of a Community of Practice.

INPUT (I): In order to develop a realistic approach, the highly useful Working Paper authored by Raneem Baassiri and Rania Fazah on “NGO Networking in the MENA Region” (Foundation for the Future/Jordan, 35 pages, 2012/2013) was used for benchmarking. The paper examines examples of Arab Regional Networks such as the Arab Working Group for Media Monitoring, the Arabic Network for Human Rights information the IJMA3 (the Arab ICT associations Union) and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network in a comparative perspective. In addition, examples from Latin America and three examples for successful global networking (Transparency International, Hivos and Civicus) are analysed in the paper.

While the SouthMed CV action intends by no means to create a new network, the findings of this study are highly relevant and useful as a reality check for the networking strategy (compare detailed slides in the presentation).

In essence, the overruling conclusion is the centrality of culture and values in the promotion of networking. Where there is an absence of these, management and regulatory structures do not guarantee effectiveness or sustainability. According to Baassiri and Fazah, networks in the Arab world are often riddled with a culture of competition and distrust, exacerbated by the absence of synergistic relationships. In principle, networks exist so that different groups work together toward a shared goal by coordinating strategies and pooling resources.

Arab NGO networks rarely pool their comparative resources through technical collaboration; only a few work on knowledge development and resources production. There is a weakness in communication due to the absence of effective use of communications technology. With the dynamics following the Arab Spring, future networking activities must take into account the new social actors which have come to the forefront, including youth networks, online activities etc.

INPUT (II): For the South Med CV knowledge partnerships 2016/2017 an understanding of the five stages for building and dispersing of Communities of Practice (Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002) is very helpful (compare six slides with detailed characteristics).

The partners did a shared appraisal of the sequence of these stages:

(1) Potential (July 2015, networking strategy version 1.0.)

(2) Coalescing (December 2015 networking strategy version 2.0)

(3) Maturing (from April 2016 onwards…)

(4) Active (2016 / 2017) and, most important,

(5) dispersing (2018).

The third workshop session discussed and agreed on the following potential strategic partners active in the region, and decided on a division of labour for approaching them to take part in the April 2016 Moultaqa South Med CV forums in Tunisia (1st half) and Lebanon (2nd half).

Potential Strategic Partners Active in the Whole Region Possibility of participating to the April 2016 Forums.

Approachable by the partners

  • AFAC – Khayal – www.arabculturefund.org
  • Anna-Lindh Foundation – DUK – www.annalindhfoundation.org
  • Roberto Cimetta Fund (Support to Mobility including for South-South Mediterranean Region) Interarts
  • Tamassi Network (Lebanon – Palestine – Jordan – Egypt – Tunisia?) – tamasicollective.org – Khayal
  • Goethe Institute – DUK (Support Direct to the Sub-Grantees + Potential Cooperation)
  • Almoultaqa (Arab Education Forum) – almoultaqa.com / Istikshaf Project – www.istikshaf.org – NCAA – King Houssein Foundation
  • A M Qattan Foundation – qattanfoundation.org (Targeting Palestine and Palestinian People in Palestine – Jordan and Lebanon) – Khayal & NCAA King Houssein Foundation
  • Arterial – Gudran – arterialnetwork.org
  • Regional: Al Mawred Al-Thakafi – Khayal (Same time Grant Applicant) – mawred.org

Questions for Stage III (1st half 2016)

  • Draw up radiography of the Internal Networking among the Consortium Members
  • Deepen analysis of networking possibilities for the (would be) 19 first members of “Moultaqa South Med CV” after signing of contracts
  • Deepen analysis of regional gaps – explore options beyond the capitals
  • Donors vs Networks? What possible role of Networks who are also Donors or Re-Granters? (Anna Lindh Foundation – AFAC – Al Mawred Al Thakafi – Others…)?

Read also: Mobility, Capacity buildingConferencesPublications.