Fabbrica Europa was born in 1994 from an idea of Maurizia Settembri and Andres Morte Terés with the aim to create a home in Florence for the culture of all Europe. In more than twenty years of activity Fabbrica Europa has become a recognised space for new artistic languages and the contemporary arts. Florence is a city historically designated to house art but burdened with the weight of tradition. It is therefore perhaps one of the most difficult places to deliver a project that is not simply a festival but a concept, a hub of international, multicultural, creation and training. By transforming the Stazione Leopolda into a workshop, stage and laboratory of research and experimentation, Fabbrica Europa has given the ex-railway station back to the city, animating a location of industrial archaeology with a new cultural function.
With 29 editions of the festival, Fabbrica Europa is continuing to give space to innumerable local, national and international artistic realities, via projects of production, professional development and cultural exploration. It has built a network of exchange capable of consolidating fertile artistic ground with high impact. It makes an important contribution to the recognition of Florence as a point of encounter for different cultures and to the development of an audience for innovative artistic events outside the traditional circuits.
The bond of Fabbrica Europa with Europe is also demonstrated by the support it receives from the European Union. Over the years the European Union has funded Fabbrica Europa’s most significant projects, recognising their value and international scope.
Il disordine delle arti (1994-1995-1996) was the first Fabbrica Europa project funded by the European Community through the Kaleidoscope programme for artistic and cultural activities with a European dimension. The fundamental intention was add a new dimension to artistic reality by knitting together the experiences of artists from different backgrounds. They worked collaboratively to produce activity, staging creative conception as performance and presenting the mechanisms of living and open-ended work to the public.
In 1998 the project Art-ventures: sinergie e contaminazioni delle arti nell’era dell’informazione was also funded through the EU Kaleidoscope programme.
Il Mito d’Europa was funded by the European Union Culture 2000 programme. It centred on the relationship between tradition and the contemporary in the visual and performing arts. The first stage of the project, Theatrum Europa, took place during the 2002 Fabbrica Europa festival, with further stages undertaken in Athens and Cardiff. Meetings and a conference were organised by the Istituto Universitario Europeo in Fiesole.
From this reflection on the importance of gesture in contemporary creativity, and the input of Theatrum Europa, the idea for The Gesture in the cultural heritage of Europe was born. This project was also funded by the Culture 2000 programme. It aimed to define intercultural methods of exploring a common European identity by examining and representing primary forms of communication. It investigated different expressions of non-verbal language that reflect the multiple picture of contemporary Europe. It then developed methods of drawing together and sharing different cultures. Research into a theoretical basis for the project was followed by developmental and creative phases linked to new technology, multimedia, visual arts, dance, cinema and theatre.
Fabbrica Europa is therefore not only a laboratory but a permanent forum for the study of contemporary arts – a meeting ground for the most diverse identities and cultural traditions.
In January 2003, Associazione Fabbrica Europa (currently Centro di Creazione e Cultura APS), Fondazione Pontedera Teatro (today Fondazione per la Cultura Pontedera) and Associazione Music Pool came together (in agreement with the public funders Regione Toscana, Provincia di Firenze and Comune di Firenze) to create a new not-for-profit organisation called Fondazione Fabbrica Europa per le arti contemporanee – FFEAC.
The Fondazione exists to promote the relationship between creativity and production. It introduces new research processes and works to translate its projects into innovative sources of employment. It makes the contemporary recognisable as the natural development of identity and local tradition. It draws the public closer to the artist and contemporary art-forms as means of investigating a common contemporary identity. In this way it aims to create an impact that is not solely artistic but also profoundly social. It furthers the cooperation between civic society and institutions in building and implementing a cultural politics, and offering services in the area of artistic production and its associated labour market.
In 2006 the European Union recognised Fabbrica Europa as a cultural entity that pursues objectives of European interest through the realisation of cultural projects and events (OCE 2006). Fabbrica Europa’s methodologies and objectives have a strong impact on Florence but also exceed local regional and national boundaries to exert an influence and develop synergies at a European level.
In 2008 Fabbrica Europa has been again selected among the organisations active at European level in the field of culture, with a three-year framework partnership agreement within the 2007 – 2013 Culture Programme (EACEA n.22/2007).
In 2012 the Fabbrica Europa festival received the support of the Culture Programme 2007-2013 of the European Union Strand 1.3.6 – Support to European cultural festivals.
Always in the framework of the Culture Programme 2007-2013, the European Union has financed the project AZALAI – laboratoire nomade (2012-2014) that Fabbrica Europa has coordinated in partnership with organizations from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Serbia and Hungary.
Fabbrica Europa has also been partner of several international cooperation projects including NOSTOI. Histoires de retours et d’Exodes (2011-2015), funded under the first call for standard projects launched by the European Union within the program ENPI CBC Med – Cross-border cooperation in the Mediterranean.
In 2016 the Associazione Giardino Chiuso (San Gimignano, Siena) joined the Fondazione that in the same year was recognized by the Regione Toscana as a Body of regional relevance for performing arts.
In autumn 2017, Fondazione Fabbrica Europa won the Call launched by the City of Florence for the granting of the complex of Ex Scuderie Granducali with the project PARC Performing Arts Research Centre.
In 2021, the Fondazione was again recognized by the Region of Tuscany as an Organism of regional relevance for performing arts as part of the regional project “Great Cultural Attractors, promotion of the system of arts and cultural institutions” (2021-2025).
In December 2022 it was recognized as a Third Sector Organization and therefore took the name Fondazione Fabbrica Europa per le arti contemporanee ETS.