The Allianz Foundation Hubs Network gets to work: an interview with Lorenzo Marsili

Lorenzo Marsili, team member of Fondazione Studio Rizoma - our Hub in Palermo - speaks about the creation of the network, the biggest challenges and what's special about it.

July 26, 2023

Lorenzo is speaking into a microphone and gesticulates. In the backgound two persons are listening and one is smiling.

Lorenzo Marsili at the opening of Between Land and Sea, 2021 © Studio Rizoma


The Allianz Foundation Hubs

Allianz Foundation Hubs are regional platforms from civil society, climate action and arts & culture. They form a European network working on solutions for the pressing societal questions of our times. To meet these challenges, new ways of exchange and cooperation are needed. And a shared vision.

“We need to hold hands with risktakers and change-makers while deploying the powers of the imagination to open up visions of our future society. ”
Lorenzo Marsili

Empowering Transnational Civil Society

An interview with Lorenzo Marsili

Allianz Foundation: Why is the Allianz Foundation Hubs Network needed – can you give three reasons?

Lorenzo Marsili: As climate disasters and recent wars have made clear, we are living through a time of European and planetary risks that need an empowered transnational civil society to tackle them. The Hubs Network is an enabling actor in the emergence of such a civil society.

Navigating our challenging times requires working at both a cultural and a social level. We need to hold hands with risktakers and change-makers while deploying the powers of the imagination to open up visions of our future society. Merging artistic, environmental, and social priorities, the Hubs Network unites the transnational with the transdisciplinary.

Finally, we need to take people with us and empower them where they are – at their place of struggle or imagination – without building a “jet-set” activist or artistic class that is detached from local grounding. That is why an important part of the network will be to open up opportunities and resources for their local ecosystem,

Allianz Foundation: There are many networks – what’s special about the Allianz Foundation Hubs?

Lorenzo Marsili: The Hubs Network has a unique methodology that blends global and local dimensions. As a pan-European network – with a flexible concept of where the borders of Europe lie – it actively promotes the emergence of a shared, transnational space of cultural and social activism. At the same time, as a network of Hubs, the program stimulates participating organizations to share resources, opportunities, and skills with their immediate ecosystem, empowering a large number of start-ups, informal groups, and smaller organizations that would normally find it difficult to access pan-European cooperation initiatives and support.

Allianz Foundation: Let’s get concrete: How do the Hubs work together?

Lorenzo Marsili: Rather than setting up an entirely separate cooperation space, Hubs share and open up their work program to each other, defining areas of joint action within their existing priorities. In this sense, membership in the network is conceived as a transformative experience for participating organizations, inserting Istanbul into Palermo or Prizren into Istanbul. 

Yet, the Hubs network does not only promote bilateral or multilateral cooperation between its members. Rather, the network itself becomes an open accelerator, empowering its ecosystem to create transnational social and cultural initiatives. One example is the nomadic residency scheme, in which each year a group of artists and activists from all the Hubs regions are offered a year-long research and production residency in all the Hubs cities.

Allianz Foundation: What are the biggest challenges for the network?

Lorenzo Marsili: Resisting the default approach of transnational cooperation – where two or more organizations partner up to jointly develop a project – and instead acting as a genuine gateway for other organizations and individuals to connect and work transnationally. This will require more schemes, such as the nomadic residency, to be defined and the necessary resources to be raised to foster transnational cooperation projects between organizations and individuals within the regions represented in the network.

Allianz Foundation: Journey to the future: Where do you see the Hubs network in 10 years?

Lorenzo Marsili: I see it as an innovative example of European cultural policy. A permanent space that fosters and finances cooperation and transnational connection between a significant number of organizations and individuals from across Europe and that is democratically governed by a group of Hubs representing a growing number of regions.

About Lorenzo Marsili

Lorenzo Marsili is a philosopher-activist, the cofounder of transnational NGO European Alternatives and cultural foundation Fondazione Studio Rizoma. He previously worked in cultural journalism in London and Beijing, where he founded the journal Naked Punch Review. His latest books are Planetary Politics (Polity Press 2020), Citizens of Nowhere (Zed Books 2018 and Suhrkamp Verlag 2019) and La tua patria è il mondo intero (Laterza, 2019).