Riga 2011

Generously hosted by the Soros Foundation-Latvia, we are delighted to invite you to the 16th annual Grantmakers East Forum GEF 2011: Learn. Reflect. Connect on 4-6 October in Riga, Latvia.

The title of this year’s event echoes the continued GEF mission of supporting, learning, networking and collaborating amongst grantmakers and resonates a new era for GEF which is undergoing a strategic assessment. The conference will address the question of where does traditional grantmaking fit in the face of current information and communications that are readily and widely available? Is organised grantmaking in support of formal, traditional activists effective anymore when people are sufficiently self-motivated and informed, or at least connected, to organise and mobilise themselves?

Riga was selected to host this year’s GEF as a charming example of a transition process well-reflected in its cityscape. As the major industrial, commercial, cultural and financial centre of the Baltics and the airBaltic hub, it has recently called itself “The Capital of the North”. Its geography connects many different regions and brings together diverse cultures as the Daugava River has historically been an important mainland route from the Baltic region through Russia into southern Europe and the Middle East. Known as the Amber Road, it was used by the Vikings, and from the 14th century a linchpin in the Hanseatic League of trading ports and cities. Riga’s historical centre has a UNESCO World Heritage listing and in addition to a charming medieval old town, it is the world capital of Art Nouveau. Compact and easily walk-able along streetscapes that catch the eye with contrasts created by exuberant Art Nouveau, low wooden houses and elegant modernism, it is infested with cafes and restaurants for after-session activities.

Plenary sessions will focus on topics addressing grantmaking that voice the concerns and opinions of peers and investigate further the necessity and role of grantmakers in the region. This year’s programme has been adapted to incorporate more structured sessions on pressing issues offering participants a chance for more interaction and discussion. Additionally, you will have a chance through auctioned sessions to present issues of interest to you, explore them with peers, and share your successes and learning. Please help us shape the agenda by submitting, voting for and/or running a session!

GEF 2011 will also provide plenty of time for networking, one of the most appreciated features of the Forum. You will have a chance to mingle with your colleagues through site visits and social events. These will start with a pre-meeting opportunity to discover and explore Riga with local NGOs, more details will follow shortly. A welcome reception for all GEF 2011 participants on 4 October will precede the conference start and kick off the Forum in style.

We very much look forward to seeing you in Riga in October!