The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation was founded in Portugal in 1956. It is a charitable foundation that has a specific interest in cultural, educational, social and scientific areas. The organisation seeks to drive long term well-being improvements for the most vulnerable in society, and it goes about this by driving connections in society across boundaries like communities, borders and sectors. It aims to deliver social, cultural and environmental value. It is particularly focused on increasing cross border exchanges of both experiences and lessons.
Calouste Gulbenkian was an Armenian who was born near Istanbul. He worked in Britain and eventually became a British citizen before moving to and living in France. Finally, he settled in Portugal. The founder of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation was Calouste Gulbenkian. He became very wealthy through getting involved in the oil industry and he created allegiances and structures to help bring people together to exploit oil in the Ottoman empire. In later life, he moved to Paris, and he became known for his fine collection of books, coins, art, statues, manuscripts and other fine items. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation was set up when he died, as he left these items to a foundation that would be set up in Portugal, which would help all of humanity.
The mission statement of the organisation is that the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation desires to change perceptions, build relationships, reduce social exclusion and preserve the environment and innovative partnerships.
The approach that it takes to achieve this involves exploring new ideas and thinking that can drive increases in well-being, experimenting with pilot ideas and start-up organisations, exchanging information through acting as a collaborator and encouraging partnerships, explaining what happened and looking at what can be learned from it, and exiting in a way that a legacy is created and new issues can be tackled.
The organisation currently has three areas which it has defined as being strategic priorities between 2014 and 2019, as follows:
Transitions in Later Life is focused on increasing knowledge and information about the issues that people face as they age. There is a particular focus on the psychological and emotional problems faced by older people. The goal is to be able to devise better responses to the problems that older people have to deal with.
Sharing the Stage aims to create collaboration and develop the area of participatory and socially engaged performing arts, to raise the profile of this particular practice of the arts. The undertaking seeks to find and support the best practice and innovative models in this area.
Valuing the Ocean is focused on helping to increase the capacity of the environmental sector to be able to influence the marine environment. The overall goal is protecting the oceans, and this is achieved by fostering connections and providing support in these areas.