After adopting our new name and launching a new website, we are proud to send you the first edition of the new Culture Action Europe newsletter!
Following the same themes as our rebrand (i.e. accessibility and engagement), we are going to develop the Newsletter tool further, to make sure that all actors of the European cultural scene keep up to speed with the relevant European cultural debates and are given the necessary information to make a difference at policy level. Our newsletter is a natural complement to our website so don’t hesitate to surf on culturactioneurope.org regularly - consult our glossary, read our news and follow our latest advocacy actions.
Here’s to keeping the discussion going with you!
The Culture Action Europe team
23-25 October 2008 - Save the date!
Culture Action Europe/ EFAH invites you to Marseille…
We are happy to announce that our 16th General Assembly and Annual conference will take place at la Friche Belle de Mai in Marseille from the 23rd to the 25th of October. With the support of key local institutional and cultural partners, we hope to bring some central European cultural debates to the Mediterranean and broaden all of our horizons: the discussion will turn around the question of how can we deepen the European cultural conversation to involve all actors concerned, as well as our Southern neighbours? An early outline of the conference topic is available on our website. Look out for further practical information to be published soon (registrations will open in August).
European Agenda For Culture
Open-method of coordination launched:
The EU Ministers of Culture detail their work plan and refine the OMC calendar
The Education, Youth and Culture Council met in Brussels on the 21st and 22nd May. Under the chairmanship of Mr Simoniti, Slovenian Culture Minister, the Council adopted conclusions on intercultural competences and detailed its work plan 2008-2010, giving a clearer overview of the different working groups and the timeline of the Open Method of Coordination, intended to enhance the Member States intergovernmental collaboration in the cultural policy field. Now that the work plan has been published, all civil society actors are hoping that it will be implemented in a transparent way!
Following the Council work plan, the working groups of the Open Method of Coordination will focus in the next three years on:
- The mobility of artists and other professionals
- The mobility of collections
- Stronger synergies between culture and education
- EUROSTAT statistical working group on culture
- Cultural and creative industries
The work plan also gives more information on the groups’ timeframes and objectives, and on the different studies the European Commission is planning to feed into the process.
The success of this process will of course depend on the Member States’ commitments to share information proactively, compare national situations and explore ways to facilitate European cooperation. In parallel, civil society organisations will work within the framework of the ‘structured dialogue platforms’ (see next news item) to draft recommendations to be presented to the Member States at the 2009 mid-term Cultural Forum.
Click here for the Council conclusions and here for the OMC work plan.
For more information, read our Advocate page on the European Agenda for Culture.
Structured dialogue with civil society
Two new thematic civil society platforms on ‘access to culture’ and the ‘creative industries’ constituted under European Commission auspices
Following a call for expressions of interest, the European Commission selected 39 and 33 organisations respectively to participate in the constitutive meetings of these platforms. Only non-governmental cultural organisations with a trans-national or European dimension qualified. The Commission had set very clear goal posts: the governing structure of both platforms had to be decided by the end of the respective meeting as well as the main thematic areas to be addressed by each Platform.
The decision on the governing bodies was more easily achieved in the first platform (as it was already ‘self-run’ by the afternoon). Although rather mixed in terms of specific interests, there was still a sense of common commitment emerging. In the second platform the mistrust between different interests was more evident and as a result the decision on the chair only came about at the very last minute. The ‘access to culture’ platform will be chaired by Mercedes Giovinazzo from Interarts with secretarial support from the European Festivals Association. `The ‘cultural industries’ platform will be chaired by the European Forum for Architectural Policies with secretarial support from the European Music Office. Both platforms will have a steering committee made up of the working group chairs. Culture Action Europe had organized a preparatory meeting with its participating members and they formed noticeable sub-groups in both meeting. Culture Action Europe will be represented in the steering groups of both platforms, while retaining its lead role on the Rainbow Platform for Intercultural Dialogue (see below).
The ‘tours de table’, during which organisations stated what issue they consider need to be prioritized, led to working groups being set up for both platforms.
These are as follows:
Three working groups in the ‘access to culture’ platform
Five working groups in the ‘cultural industries’ platform
To consult the list of participating organisations: access to culture and cultural industries
- ‘regulatory environment’
- 'support for the development of SMEs’
- ‘use of the European dimension of the circulation of artists and cultural products’
- ‘the interface of artistic creation and the cultural industries’.
For more information, read our Advocate page on the European Agenda for Culture.
INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE AND THE RAINBOW PLATFORM
An important milestone and clear expectations for the future:
The Rainbow Platform meeting on 4th June 2008
The 4th of June was an important day for the Civil Society Platform for Intercultural Dialogue.
Around 70 civil society organisation representatives from all over Europe gathered to consider and develop the results of the on-line consultation on Rainbow Paper II. The day centred on working group sessions with expert facilitators and rapporteurs and resulted in a sharpening of the text of Rainbow Paper II. The rich input from the on-line consultation (25 April – 13 June) and from the meeting is now in the hands of a final editor. The final paper is due to undergo a sign-up process before delivering it at the closing event of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.
The Rainbow Platform was recognised as a key interlocutor between civil society and the European Institutions
The meeting additionally allowed for a close look at the overall results of the platform’s work to date and the options for its future. It also established the Platform as a key part of the Structured Dialogue process with the EU institutions - underlined by high European Commission representation at the event and promising news on the possibilities for EU funding of the Platform.
- The job of editing the Rainbow paper was confided to a dedicated editor
- The possibility of funding for the future of the platform was confirmed by the Commission
- Culture Action Europe confirmed as Platform host (Sabine Frank as coordinator.)
The weaknesses of the paper to date were identified as:
Alongside this, it was clear that the Platform is taken seriously by the European Institutions, and that, as the European Commission made clear in an informal intervention, the very complex nature of the Platform is what makes it interesting and valuable for European policy makers. The experimental and test ground nature of the Platform was verbally recognised by the Commission, who strongly support the on-going work.
- Its broad and unfocused nature
- The lack of strong, ‘provocative’ and practical recommendations from the sector
- The breadth of the sectoral response leading to confusion over terms and objectives
- The mismatch between recommendations concerning on the ground work (practice) and those concerning executive or institutional level activity.
On the other hand, it was agreed that:
The next step remains of course the reworking of the Rainbow Paper and the launch of a sign-up process. Further details on this will be made available on the Rainbow Platform website within the next few weeks. The next meeting of the Platform is on 12-14 November in Stockholm.
- First, there was in fact a lot of useful content already in the paper, but this required a stronger formulation.
- Second, that a strong editorial hand was now needed to lend the paper both a provocative and a realistic character.
- Third, the workshops came up with a number of very useful clarifications for the next stage of the paper. These tended towards stressing the intersectoral nature of the work, the need for more on the ground learning and an ongoing commitment to research and learning.
The three thematic Platforms (of which the Rainbow Platform is one) are an exciting step towards involving European civil society in cultural policy making. It is unsure how they will develop, and as yet unsure exactly how much impact they can hope to have. As Sabine Frank pointed out at the meeting, there is as yet no clear ‘other side’ for the Rainbow Platform, no Council Working group and no obvious road map to apply/implement the recommendations. But this is an evolving activity, and the clearer and more precise (or in the words of the ECF’s Gottfried Wagner the more ‘provocative’) the platforms are, the more likely it is that there will be a response.
We have met the challenge of setting the platform up and achieving some recognition: now the challenge is to give our thinking real shape.
Culture Infoday, 24th June, Brussels:
300 European cultural operators in search for a share of 45 mio Euro for 2008
In a first of two infodays on the EU Culture programme and its 2008 implementation year, the European Commission reminded of the EU cultural policy context, the objectives of the programme and its different support strands. Director for Culture, Vladimir Sucha, prefaced the technical explanations of the day with an appeal to everyone to match their interest in funding with an interest and investment in European cultural policy development. News about improvements to the application and selection procedures were then on offer.
For multi-annual cooperation projects and cooperation measures the good news is a much shorter on-line application form with automated estimated budgets and a prospective selection period down from 9 to 6 months. For operating grants, the practical improvements are also shorter application forms (but still in paper form for 2008), the option of flat rate financing based on the (projected) number of staff employed (as an alternative to the current budget-based financing) and grants by unilateral (Commission) decision rather than bi-lateral agreement, facilitating earlier disbursement of funds.
The Commission is also confident to succeed in convincing both the European Council and the European Parliament to give up their right to scrutinise the Commission’s selection of applicants. This would shorten the selection procedure by 6 weeks. A new category of organisations has been introduced in the programme strand for operating grants: “policy support structures for the Cultural Agenda”. This is addressed to cultural observatories, cultural affairs departments of universities and the thematic platforms under the “structured dialogue” between civil society and EU institutions. For these a total derogation of the rule of prior establishment has been agreed (reduced from 2 to 1 year for advocacy networks and from 10 to 5 years for festivals).
For full info on the day and on the upcoming calls for proposals, please go to:
For the programme guide and application forms, please got to:
KEA study commissioned in the run-up to European Year of Creativity and Innovation
The European Commission has assigned a study on the contribution of culture to individual and collective creativity to KEA (Kern European Affairs). The study will focus on ways to promote the specific role of creators and creative industries in fostering individual creativity and social innovation. Policy recommendations based on the research are to be included in the report due in February 2009, at the beginning of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation.
The European Year of Innovation and Creativity has been conceived as a cross-cutting initiative covering not only education and culture, but also other policy domains such as enterprise, media, research, social and regional policy, and rural development.
The focus of the Year is on all forms of innovation, including social and entrepreneurial innovation, and highlighting creativity in domains ranging from mathematics to technology as to foster problem-solving skills and practical application of knowledge and ideas. It is emphasised that the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue will be followed up within the actions of this new European Year.
The objective of the Year is to provide an impetus to creativity and innovation as long-term priorities for the European Union. The proposal for the Year still needs to be endorsed by the Council and the European Parliament at the end of this year.
Culture Action Europe will use its chairmanship of the working group on the interface between artistic creation and industries (within the dialogue platform on ‘the potential of the cultural and creative industries’) to crystallise reflections on the not-for-profit arts’ synergies and contradiction with the cultural industries agenda and to prepare to highlight the many assets it can provide to tomorrow’s creative economy.
Exploring the cultural and creative industries debate
The cultural industries and the economy of culture
Commission ambitions in the field of multilingualism
The Commission organised a public hearing on multilingualism in Brussels on the 15th April. Following a public on line consultation last autumn, the meeting allowed the Commission to collect some new contributions and to present a specially commissioned report from a group of leading thinkers., The participants put forward their opinions on the economic, educational, social and cultural dimension of languages in the course of a number of workshops during the day.
Multilingualism is intrinsically part of the European construction process and is considered a building block for intercultural dialogue. The Union numbers 23 official languages, without counting the various minority tongues which exist in most member states. However, it was only in 2005 that the Commission took a public position on the issue and issued a Communication on Multilingualism. Then, in 2007, the Commission appointed a Commissioner for the policy area (Leonard Orban, Romania). Orban maintains that multilingualism should be considered transversally in all community policies. The Union should also develop a policy to promote linguistic diversity integrating the cultural, educational and social and economic dimension of languages. A key idea presented by the expert group is that every European citizen should learn a second language, via immersion, from the earliest possible age.
For more info consult the website of the Commissioner for Multilinguism
For the official site on the European Year for Intercultural Dialogue
Latest news from the Committee on Culture and Education
During their most recent meetings, European Parliamentarians on the Committee discussed subjects ranging from multilingualism, to media issues and university exchanges, but stayed away from the arts and culture. In May and June they did however touch on two very important technical subjects: the 2009 budget and the role of the Parliament in the programmes for which the EP Culture Committee has a competence.
In May the Committee on Culture discussed the ‘framework and priorities for the 2009 budget’ in the presence of Jutta Haug (Germany, socialist group), the Budget Committee rapporteur,. Parliamentarians had until mid-June to put forward pilot projects in the context of the Commission’s preparatory phase for the 2009 budget. Parliamentarians showed a clear preference for pilot projects in the field of youth, culture and citizenship.
In June the parliamentarians also discussed the Commission proposition to abandon the Parliament’s and the Council’s scrutiny of ‘implementation measures for community programmes’, for example the lists of selected projects or organisations; these procedures (carrying the rather ugly jargon term ‘comitology’) often slow down the application of European decisions, especially the notification of beneficiaries.
Currently there are two procedures: the consultative procedure (a consultative committee made up of Member States’ representatives gives opinions within 6 weeks to 2 months); and the management procedure (here the Commission is assisted by a management committee which votes on measures proposed by the Commission within 3 months).
The choice of procedure depends on the programme. Usually, the Consultative Committee gives its opinions on ‘small budget’ programmes (such as the Citizenship programme) while more important budget items are submitted to the Management Committee (like for the Life Long Learning or Culture Programmes). The Commission now proposes to simplify the procedures in order to reduce the delays and allow for a more rapid response. The Parliamentarians welcomed the proposal and added some elements presented by the Chair of the Committee Madame Batzeli (Greece, socialist group) who is rapporteur for the issue.
Conference on ‘Creative Cities’
The role of creativity in local development (both social and economic) was discussed on the 17th of April in a conference organised by Gisela Kallenbach (Germany, Greens) Representatives from Amsterdam, Bologna, Leipzig and Lille - all very different cities - identified a number of common themes such as: a rich cultural heritage resource, an actively engaged public sector, the support of the private sector and a strong regional cultural fabric.
The conference was organised in the context of a Green Paper on Future Strategies for Local Development currently being prepared by the European Commission. The Commission wishes to understand the economic and social consequences of creative cities better given that the ‘creative city’ is obviously a factor in achieving the Lisbon objectives. Everyone present underlined that the cultural dynamism of a city has repercussions on its social cohesion, employment and competitiveness.
The different cities’ experiences demonstrated commonalties. Not surprisingly (given that participants were themselves public bodies) there was a heavy emphasis on the importance of the role of the public sector, especially at the local level, in supporting creativity and artistic activity. Increasingly however, partnerships with private actors are necessary and being looked for.
During the debate it appeared that the local creative development depends on the city’s capacity – and especially the capacity of the public authorities – to connect up the different actors in the city’s cultural fabric (associations, artists, cultural institutions). This is so they can share their resources and create better conditions for developing creative action. The real success of these cities is in creating a strong cultural fabric that also links up to nearby local organisations. In other words, according to the speakers, cultural and creative dynamism in a city depends on its capacity to link and to create interactions between all the resource and the skills over a large territory.
Hope was expressed that the Commission would take these views into account while preparing its forthcoming Green Paper.
Prague culture wars
A wave of protest by Czech artists and intellectuals has recently been successful in changing the city’s cultural policy. Milan Richter, Councillor for Culture and Tourism, had the controversial idea of subsidising the city’s theatres according to the number of tickets they sell. But the system, introduced in November 2007, led to a minor rebellion in the Czech arts world. Non-commercial theatres, art galleries and others complained they would go out of business within months if starved of state grants. A petition followed signed by 30,000 people, public demonstrations and even a noisy sit in at Prague City Hall.
Czech artists really did mobilize. 1 900 signatures were gathered for a petition with the title “Prague must protect culture”, addressed to the mayor of Prague, city assembly members and the city hall director. In May an estimated 500 theatre directors, gallery owners, artists and writers demonstrated against a municipal order with the intended effect of cutting public subsidies. A second target of their anger was a £250,000 advertisement of the city on international TV channels which features top Czech models drinking champagne to a soundtrack of Mozart against a backdrop of the famous castle. The advertisement summed up the conservative council's vision of the city, said Martin Plichta, journalist. 'It is all glitz and glamour, top models, luxury cars, showbiz, celebrity, not culture.'
There was general satisfaction when Mayor Pavel Bem announced this week that they were scrapping the new system of allocating grants and returning to the old one. Now the system has been dismantled, is this victory for the theatres? Ondrej Hrab, director of Prague’s Archa Theatre, says not quite: “I think there’s still a long way to go, because this is just a promise. It’s a promise to fulfil all the demands of the petition except one: the resignation of Mr Richter and Mr Pecha.”
Neither Ondrej Pecha, chairman of the grants committee at Prague City Hall nor Milan Richter have any plans to step down, and it looks like the theatres will just have to learn to live with them. But the main bone of contention – grants doled out according to how many tickets you sell – seems to have been discarded for good
Culture Action Europe supports its members in their fight to preserve and indeed increase subsidy levels of the arts across Europe. The fight over subsidies is about more than money though; it is about the future of a city, which has changed out of all recognition in a decade with one of the biggest tourist booms in Europe, nearly seven million visitors a year (Prague has recently become popular with Asian visitors). Tourists throng the narrow streets between boutiques selling cheap souvenirs. The castle itself now boasts a huge American-style bar and grill complete with Wild West décor. The huge cuts in arts funding come against a background of efforts by the right-wing federal Czech government to push through an ambitious reform programme including reductions in tax and welfare spending. A controversial library to house the national collection of 10 million books - known as 'the blob' - is now unlikely to be built.
Note that not everyone was in favour of the artists’ petition; the commercial entertainment sector sees the subsidised sector as having a stranglehold on subsidies. The decision of the deputy mayor in charge of cultural affairs to introduce a flat rate of subsidies for all entertainment has slashed the funding of the non-profit sector in favour of the healthy, but resolutely middlebrow, market. This year's subsidy will be about 18 per cent of last year's.
These problems reflect the lack of understanding by politicians of the broader cultural eco-system that is so well developed in some other European countries. In general the not-for-profit sector feeds into and supports the commercial entertainment world by producing skilled artists, technicians and testing new art forms and ideas. In turn the commercial sector provides jobs and attracts tourists. In Culture Action Europe’s perspective the two need each other, so healthy subsidises funding is in fact in the interests of the rest of the commercial sector. This is one of the reasons that CAE is so happy to be involved in the new Platform on the Creative Industries alongside the commercial sector representatives.
For more information on the petition to stop the subsidy cuts please visit: http://www.ruo.cz/navrhy-praze/eng/
The role of civil society in the implementation of the Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions
On 23 June, the first meeting between civil society organisations and the parties to the Convention on the Protection and Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. This informal meeting, preceding one by the intergovernmental committee, looked into the possible role of civil society organisations in the promotion and implementation of the Convention, their participation in the activities of the different Convention bodies as well as their contribution to the future international fund for cultural diversity.
For more information on the meeting
Proposed register of lobbying organisations contains flaws
ALTER-EU recently sent a letter to Commission President Barroso asking him “to fix the flaws” of the proposed register for interest representatives. The EU Civil Society Contact Group also sent a letter to the European Commission expressing their concerns: one of them being that, in the current version of the register, different financial information is requested from different types of actors (corporate or NGO). To support the ALTER-EU call click here and for further reading: www.corporateeurope.org and euractiv.org.
AEC launches new website StudyMusicInEurope.org
The European Association of Conservatoires (AEC) has launched a new website entitled StudyMusicInEurope. The website is meant for students from outside Europe interested in studying in European higher music education institutions and contains texts in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and French. It has been developed in the framework of the ERASMUS MUNDUS project Mundus Musicalis.
Ars Electronica Festival – ‘A new cultural economy: The Limits of Intellectual Property’, 4 to 9 September 2008, Linz
In 2008, the Ars Electronica Festival is scrutinising the value of intellectual property and thereby facing one of the core issues of our modern knowledge-based society: that of freedom of information vs. copyright protection, big profit-making opportunities vs. the vision of an open knowledge-based society that seeks to build its new economy on the basis of creativity and innovation. And beyond that, Arts Electronica wants to hammer out practical, workable rules to govern this new reality.
For more information
IAMIC Annual Conference in Cardiff, 11-12 September, Wales
The annual conference of the International Association of Music Information Centres (IAMIC) will take place in Cardiff, Wales, next September. Non-members are invited to attend the two open days on 11 and 12 September, when a wide range of topics will be covered including music promotion, Internet and IT, music policy changes, and developments in jazz and contemporary music.
For more information
Artists in Dialogue - Res Artis 11th General Meeting, October 9-11, Amsterdam
Join Res Artis in Amsterdam to explore the diversity of international residency programmes, meeting colleagues from throughout the world and a wide range of Dutch initiators.
For more information and registration
ELIA Biennial Conference, 29 October – 1 November 2008, Gothenburg
The 10th ELIA Conference is an opportunity to reflect on the previous conferences and to identify a few important issues: the continuing concerns around the future of our arts schools, the things that give us confidence in our work and our successes, and the areas in which we still need to bring about changes and ensure the continued vitality, relevance and significance of arts education in our increasingly complex societies.
For more information: http://www.eliabiennial.org/
IETM Autumn Plenary Meeting, 6-9 November 2008, Zurich
The meeting in Zurich will make a contribution to the «European Year of Intercultural Dialogue» by focusing on the theme of “misunderstanding”. Ten theatres invite you to an up-to-date review of the Swiss contemporary theatre and dance scene. Put together by a team of Swiss curators, the «Sélection» provides a broad spectrum of current theatre, dance and performance productions from the German-speaking as well as French-speaking parts of Switzerland.
For more information
Culture Action Europe is supported by the European Commission's Culture Programme and the European Cultural Foundation:
This publication reflects the views of Culture Action Europe and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.