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Brussels Tips #8

Creative Europe: proposals and questions

After having presented results and trends of the European Culture Programme 2007-2013, let’s have a look on what the EU is proposing as a new policy and financial framework for Culture for the next 7 years: Creative Europe 2014-2020.

Compared with the previous Programme, the most evident and structural novelty will be that Culture and Media will be merged into the same framework, but still as separate strands. As a matter of fact, culture and creativity can less and less be defined indipendently from the technological and audiovisual components. This substantial match will hopefully facilitate a knowledge transfer and a competences exchange between cultural and audivisual operators.

Which are the new Creative Europe magic formulas?

Audience development is the first one. Europe aims to reach the big missing middle, that famous non-public which could bring with him also new social and economic opportunities.  In a few words EU is launching a great call for projects asking to cultural operators “Can you reach new audiences, or further develope the existent ones, through innovative tools? Which publics are we missing?”

By the way, the EU Commission is organising a great conference specifically dedicated to the audience development that will take place here in Brussels in October 2012. Programme and registration procedure are still mysterious, but what is sure is that it will be a great show case of EU best practices and a launch window for new audience-oriented projects.

Creative Europe will sustain the reciprocal exchange of ideas and practices, expressely granting a special attention to social media as learning and sharing tools to fight back isolation.

The ability to impact the job market is the second new relevant European added value for culture, in total accordance with the more general Europe 2020 objectives. No more Culture as something to be just consumed, but culture as something to be created through artistic and technical skills that have an increasing market value.

Transversal to the Culture and the Media strands there will be a third strand represented by a financial guarantee facility. Why? The reason behind it is that EU wants to adjust the distorted perseption that banks have of the cultural sector: in the financial sector culture is still branded as a high risk investment area.  So…how to face it? The EU intends to build up a “consortium” of “cultural sensitive” banks, that will be firstly trained on how to evaluate the economic value of cultural projects and secondly will be provided of a portfolio of loans for SMEs and organisations.

Mathematically speaking, the € 1.8 billion Creative Europe budget will be approximately distributed this way: 30% Culture, 55% Media, 15% Cross sectorial (Financial Facility + data support + piloting).

The Creative Europe elaboration is however still in progress. The European Council and Parliament are expected to examine and eventually adopt the Commission proposal.

Meanwhile, the European cultural networks and lobbies, as ENCATC, IETM, EUROCITIES, Culture Action Europe…are working just in these weeks to produce joint position papers to be submitted to the Parliament. Their main concerns are:

1. Creative Europe doesn’t provide operation funding for networks anymore. Many networks and NGOs won’t have sufficient fund to survive unless they compete on the projects funding arena…

2. There is too much emphasis on the economic value of culture, and too less on the artistic and social one. Non commercial aspects as research and education seem to be disregarded.

3. Some networks doubt about the benefits that the Culture/Media mix can offer…will Culture be crushed by Media?

4. A lot of clarification requests are raised on the Financial Facility: will it address only SMEs or also NGOs? Is it right that it will be fed by EU DG Culture money, instead of bank internal resources? Will it be possible to combine it with structural funds?

By summer 2012, both the Parliament a nd the Council should have expressed
their first positions. Maybe by the end of 2012, all these different points of view will converge in a plenary meeting that will finally vote on the definitive Creative Europe Programme.

Let’s follow the debate…

A BAM! cultural spy from Brussels