This is the final edition of the Culture Action Europe newsletter for 2008 – a year where we have both achieved a great deal and also set out our stall to the challenges of the future!
2008 has seen a number of new tools and mechanisms coming into place at European level and the newsletter looks at some of these. Andrew McIlroy (cultural policy consultant) also gives us an independent commentary on the current state of play for cultural policy making in Europe, and explores the challenges for Culture Action Europe in making use of what sometimes seems to be a diversification of efforts, rather than a clear focus on what works.
Here in the Culture Action Europe office, we are increasingly looking towards opportunities for ACTION – ways to move beyond the limitations of the technical bureaucracy of the European Union, and to inject energy and creative imagination into the challenge of building a Europe where cultural and artistic endeavor is supported, recognized and accessible to all. This is the clear agenda for the next period when new policy is being developed.
With that ambitious goal, we hope that 2008 has been a fruitful year for you all, and that 2009 will present even more opportunities for connections and development. Wishing you all a safe and happy Festival season.
CULTURE ACTION EUROPE 2008 CONFERENCE
Scène Ouverte – European Cultural Action across Borders
Marseilles, 23-25 October 2008
In Marseilles, more than 250 participants from across Europe and the Mediterranean joined us to debate the place of culture in Europe’s external relations, and the role of civil society in European cultural policy-making. Once again those two days proved how European cultural challenges resonate in the daily reality of the arts, and how many new spaces of debates and actions need to be opened. We warmly thank all participants and partners for their presence and engagement, and invite you to read the conference report and to see some pictures on the conference website.
FEATURE - EU YEAR 2009 OF CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION
A personal view from Andrew McIlroy on the issues at stake for Culture Action Europe and the cultural sector at large
2009 will be the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, another thematic year – after the Year of Intercultural Dialogue - focusing on the participation of the arts in pursuing ambitious political objectives. But what are the institutions’ objectives and with what resources? And what does this highlight means for the independent non-for-profit arts sector? Read Andrew McIlroy’s (ex Secretary General of CEREC, consultant in cultural policy and policy advisor for Futurecity) perspective as well as some background info on the Year.
The European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009
A personal view from Andrew McIlroy, former Secretary General of CEREC, cultural policy consultant and policy advisor for FutureCity
The European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 comes hard on the heels of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008, and while supporting the theme (who could not?), there are a number of nagging issues about the Year that one hopes that Culture Action Europe might feel necessary to take up for its members in the future.
First (if actually the least important) is the fact that it might have been an idea to shift the institutional focus away from the arts and culture just for a little moment – to allow the astonishing and exhausting smorgasbord of initiatives and events and systems and structures that we have recently seen to take shape and to settle down.
Enough already! There are other issues that we face as a continent that might have given the sector a breathing space. The European Agenda for Culture, the structured dialogue Platforms, the UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity, the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue… Recently it has been a roller coaster of enormous, politically significant adjustments to how the culture sector is perceived, and indeed how it perceives itself within Europe. Although one is on shaky territory complaining that Europe is suddenly paying us too much attention, those of us with some experience in the sector might say that the real danger today is of a fragmentation of initiatives at a moment when exactly the opposite is required.
We need to reflect on what has just happened. We need to think about how it all impacts on arts practice and vice versa. We need to shape our language to suit the new demands. We need to stabilise our funding at a difficult economic moment. We need to have frequent contacts and follow up with an already over-burdened European Commission to put the past initiatives into the right policy boxes. We need time, in short.
Which leads to my second point. The Year of Innovation and Creativity has been quelque peu under prepared (7 months of preparation if the bush telegraph is to be believed). The problem with this is that while 7 months are enough to have a conversation, it is nothing like enough time to get a debate going! Who are the experts? What are the issues? Where are the priorities and the sticking points? Who represents whom? And to do what? This is not a mere gripe of ‘we are not ready just now’ – it leads to a real issue of content and form. The issues that the Year will cover are vast – education, arts, business, innovation, entrepreneurship, research, the digital society, social cohesion and rural development etc -. Everything, it seems, is part of the Year except world hunger and the rise of China (they may be in the annexes). Of course our sector does engage with these issues, if often in a piecemeal and fragmentary way, but what we cannot do, just yet anyway, is go very far to formalise this engagement – we are only recently coming to terms with the inevitability of connecting to the issue and the main players. What is needed includes better support, more guidance, solid resources and intelligent mechanisms for connectivity to prepare our sector to be operative in these areas. We need discussions and meetings and motivating, inspirational guidance to connect the dots up in some new ways. We need illumination, not lampshades.
Which leads to the third issue. Creativity and innovation (like democracy or justice) is, in my opinion, not so much an independent constellation of practices as an output of other practices. It is like the light, not the electricity. Some of these practices can seem to have little to do with creativity at all: kindergarten training, language acquisition, arts in the school curriculum, sexual equality, gay rights (yes, you read that right and check up on your Richard Florida if you don’t believe me) are all part of the creativity package. The mantra of Technology, Talent and Tolerance is now well established in the academic and urban policy planning world, but the implications for arts funding, management and practice have hardly even started to filter through to policy makers, never mind to the on the ground practitioners. We just don’t know enough about such things (and personally I think we ought to admit it). We are not invited to the table often enough with thinkers in urban, scientific, commercial, educational or social planning to understand their concerns and the tool kits they access. Our job has been creation, and when not creation it has been trying to put our creative genius at the service of other instrumentalising policies. What we have not been asked to do, or at least not often enough, is to formulate the values and principles by which those instrumentalising policies are developed. Now it seems we are.
The structured dialogue platforms, the Years of Interculturalism and Creativity etc. all ask our sector to engage very far upstream with the ideas and assumptions that underpin creation in contemporary society, and, to be frank, also to engage with the economic and social effects of creation. But how do we connect the practicing artist to such huge issues of economic change we currently live through? How do we educate and empower the artist to engage with the tectonic changes in social and ethnic composition of our societies? How do we fit policy to practice, especially, as the Culture Action Europe conference asked in Marseilles, when we have to make that fit across regions and locality, and Europe, and the world? And how many ambassadors and interpreters exist to make the case in both directions? How much bilingualism do we have? Well, we do have some - Culture Action Europe is one such bilingual speaker.
Culture Action Europe must ask itself how central we can be to these debates: are we taken seriously enough?
Very seriously, one hopes, and yet at the same time, not quite seriously enough. The problem is always the same, although it begins to be posed in increasingly complex ways. Culture Action Europe is a solid, flexible and responsive tool of the sector, capable (as are many of its sister associations) of responding to a whole range of policy challenges. But the policy sector is actually encouraging an increasing fragmentation of initiatives, ideas and projects, all designed to deliver responses and ‘value added’ to European policy making, with ever decreasing budgets and resources and with ever more fragmented constituents. Is this the way forward?
Creativity is merely a case in point. While it is true that the subsidised arts sector has been slow to ‘take a position’ on the creative industries – seeing them as being inimical or incoherent with the core values of the arts – the subsidised arts sector remain at the very core of the creative industries infrastructure. (One working group of the dedicated structured dialogue Platform has already stressed this, saying in an early working paper (draft) that ‘the core creative field is artistic practice’; other bodies and references say the same, such as he UK’s Department of media, Culture and Sport or the 2006 KEA report on ‘The economy of Culture in Europe’). The arts, the subsidised arts, are the genome of the creative industries. They provide the pure research, the testing ground, the beta experiments and the skills development, the enthusiasm and the thinking frame within which all the creative industries (from architecture to stage or graphic design) draw inspiration. The fact that we don’t have many cohesive statements of attitude (policy platforms if you like) does not in any way minimise or reduce our impact.
And yet the current moves to place creative industries in an own separate ‘dialogue’ with the European Commission risks alienating and weakening the role of the arts sector in contributing to the creativity debate in Europe. This weakening is in two directions: on one hand it will distance the ‘pure arts’ from the very necessary debates about financing models, tax, business training and legislative programmes that are necessary, and on the other it will comfort the SME sector and the creative industry business world in the assumption that the focus of creativity has somehow shifted to them. It hasn’t. The arts are still in the middle. No one who considers seriously the creative industry landscape in Europe thinks that without a subsidised arts sector (which means tax euros to people, places and projects) the creative industries would have any elemental resources to call on. Each graphic designer is beholden to the art academy; each ad-man to the developments in visual culture, each games programmer to the evolution of story boarding and narrative, each TV script editor to the daily work in theatres across Europe. The challenge is to connect in both directions. It is easier, admittedly, for the business sector to articulate straightforward recommendations to the European institutions since they operate already within the magic circle of economics and competition. The pure artist (and perhaps even more the socially engaged artist) has a real hill to climb to turn their concerns into language that the European Commission and Council can engage with. But the challenge is to do just that.
The next stage of creative industry development in Europe requires that the specificities of the sector, and the architecture of economics, be brought closer together. No one really knows how to do this (although organisations like Arts & Business in the UK or ADMICAL in France in their own, imperfect way have been having these conversations for twenty years), but the priority should be to centre the debate closer to arts practice, whether this takes place through representative bodies like Culture Action Europe or through the on the ground practitioners and their interest groups (PEARLE* for example). Now all such bodies are, will or should be involved in the Platform and will no doubt be implicated in the European Year 2009 one way or another. But the danger is that their implication will be seen as somehow separate from the ongoing, daily, mundane task of mainstreaming cultural awareness within the European policy family, which is the job of the representative policy associations that already exist.
Creativity (dedicated Year or not) is not a separate issue for Europe. We already know it is deeply relevant to the issues of interculturalism, European external affairs and social affairs – its relevance to jobs, competition, the European neighbourhood space, the European values systems and the engagement of the citizen will become increasingly clear over the next few years. Our European identity (whatever that means!) has always been more easily defined in terms of our cultural specificities and shared experience than our poetical, linguistic, economic or social characteristics. Now is the moment to bring it all together. This is why the Year of European Creativity and Innovation is a huge challenge to Culture Action Europe and its sister associations, and also a bit of a challenge to their members.
It is suddenly clearer than ever that Culture Action Europe’s job is not principally to give advice on funding mechanisms, nor to facilitate the negotiation of the European labyrinth for the policy neophyte – although it is good at both and enjoys doing it. It is to ask the really difficult questions of the policy maker, and then itself to have some time and space to provide a fresh reflection on the answers. It is to find out why, how and where the future of arts engagement in Europe lies, and make that knowledge available in reasonably accessible language, without falling into the pit of kiddy-speak that some people seem to want it to use. It is to speak truth to power.
The new dialogue opportunities are not making Culture Action Europe obsolete. Organisations like Culture Action Europe are becoming ever more important, if the sector is not to wake up some day and find it has been totally surpassed by events, and that the decision making is no longer even directed at them. Yes, there are a lot of initiatives and platforms and discussion groups out there – but I know where I’d be outing my energies to develop a coherent voice for my sector…
COUNCIL OF EU MINISTERS OF CULTURE
The Council promotes Culture in External Relations
On the 20 and 21 of November the Council of EU Ministers for Education, Youth and Culture met in Brussels under the French presidency of the Ministries and Secretary of State for these matters. Among other things they adopted conclusions on the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in the external relations of the Union and its Member States. However, as the Budapest Observatory noted in its November ‘memo’ – the Council on external relations still makes no reference to culture in its latest press release…
The agenda of the European Union Council on Education, Youth and Culture had a number of points related to Culture and Audiovisual issues on its agenda.
As regards cultural policies, the important decision was about cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in the Union’s and its Member States’ external affairs. The adoption of these conclusions is a consequence of the on going work on the UNESCO Convention of the protection and promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression, the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008 and the European Agenda for Culture, one of whose main objectives is the promotion of culture as a ‘vital element in the Union's international relations’. The Ministers recognise the importance of cultural cooperation and intercultural dialogue as federalising elements of great political and economic potential for the Member States of the EU, and for third countries. The Council therefore intends contributing to developing the sector in these countries, and contributing thus to their sustainable development. The Council calls on Member States and the European Commission to reinforce the place and role of culture in the relations with third parties and with international organisations, to promote the UNESCO Convention and favour intercultural dialogue. The Member States of the Union must ensure the systematic integration of culture in their external relations and, in particular, support measures to promote cultural cooperation with third countries, the support of heritage (in its widest sense), as well as multilingualism and mobility. In brief, the Council hopes to see some real cultural policy being put in place and envisages the use of the Open method of Coordination in order to achieve this.
Still in the cultural domain, the Council adopted conclusions on the creation of a ‘label for European Heritage’ – a project dear to the French presidency agenda, as well as on ‘the contribution of architecture to sustainable development’.
The ‘label for European heritage’ is intended to contribute to the communication and visibility of Member States, citizens accessibility, economic attractiveness and the promotion of European value. It will be given to all sites, natural or urban, cultural landscapes and places of memory as well as to cultural goods and immaterial heritage, which have a strong European dimension.
The Council’s conclusions on the contribution of architecture to sustainable development calls on Member States and the Commission to view architecture as a transversal practice in order to translate into policy all the different dimensions of its impact – cultural, technical, environmental, social and economic. To ensure this happens, the Council invites the Members States to use the OMC where possible.
As regards audiovisual policy, the high point was the adoption of the conclusions on the European digital libraries EUROPEANA since it marks the public launch of the project. Proof of the success of the initiative may be found in the fact that the system closed after a few hours, struggling under double the number of hits predicted!
Two other important decisions were taken by vote: one on the Culture programme 2007-2013 replying to the European Commission’s proposal to amend the adoption procedures for implementing Community programmes; and another, without debate, proclaiming 2009 the European Year of Creativity and Innovation. To find out more about these points, click here.
To read the press release of the Council meeting, click here.
INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE AND THE PLATFORM FOR INTERCULTURAL EUROPE
Nordic Conference on the Politics of Interculture, Stockholm, 12-13 November 2008
And informal members’ meeting of the Platform for Intercultural Europe
This conference entitled ‘How soon is now?’ and organized by the Swedish Ministry of Culture achieved a good balance between policy discussion and practice examples. Prospective members of the newly established association Platform for Intercultural Europe met the day before to discuss its 2009 work programme and the transition from informal initiative to independent organisation.
During the conference, the Swedish, the Nordic and the European levels were taken into account. Excellent tasters from the Swedish project home not HOME under the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue were on offer, as well as recommendations and examples from the work of the Nordic Forum for Interculture, which were pleasantly coherent with the approach of “The Rainbow Paper. Intercultural Dialogue: From Practice to Policy and Back”, which was also presented during the conference.
LabforCulture has a window on the event: http://www.labforculture.org/en/labforculture/person/33347
and presentation from some sessions including the recommendations from the Nordic working group are available on: http://www.labforculture.org/en/labforculture/blog/33348
EYID 2008 closing conference
“New Perspective of Intercultural Dialogue in Europe”, Paris, 17-19 November 2008
This event organised by the French EU Presidency in the Centre Pompidou in Paris was big and prestigious. In a well structured, but vast programme, intellectual heavy weights and their philosophical reflections were in large supply. Presentations of activities carried out in the course of national strategies under the EYID or at grass-roots level received proportionately less attention. Representatives from the Platform for Intercultural Europe had ten precious minutes to present “The Rainbow Paper. Intercultural Dialogue: From Practice to Policy and Back”.
At the time of the conference, the Rainbow Paper had been signed by 171 organisations and 129 individuals (now up to 196 and 146 respectively). This was technically the crowning of its efforts during the past two years.
Remains the question what lasting purpose the Year and the event served and where the carefully elaborated Rainbow recommendations will go. Both Commissioner Figel in his opening address and Director-General Quintin in her closing remarks paid express respect to the work of the Platform. Yet the 'Council Conclusions on the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in the external relations of the Union and its Member States’ (20 Nov), while a breakthrough for the recognition of culture in external relations, deflect totally from the need to address the challenges of local diversity in Europe, which result from migration and the existence of minorities (the focus of the Rainbow Paper).
Political support for practical Intercultural Dialogue will depend on continued advocacy, so the Platform for Intercultural Europe has cause to continue. The Rainbow Paper remains open for signature on http://rainbowpaper.labforculture.org.
EUROPEAN AGENDA FOR CULTURE
Structured Dialogue with civil society – latest updates
While the Platform for Intercultural Europe got its Rainbow paper endorsed by over 190 organisations, the two new Civil Society Platforms progressed their work within thematic working groups. Both platforms’ objective is to have a first set of policy recommendations ready for their second plenary (11 December for the Culture and Creative Industries platform, first quarter of 2009 for the Access to Culture platform). In the meantime, there was no communication with the OMC working groups, but a first joint meeting will take place on 15 December which will lead, hopefully, to more cooperation and transparency. For more information on the structured dialogue, go here.
Committee on Culture and Education
Sessions of the 5-6 November 2008
The Parliamentary Committee meeting had four highlights: an exchange of views within the framework of the Arab Week, and another one in the context of the Youth; the adoption of several reports on education, media and youth; the examination of four draft reports, and finally a public hearing entitled ‘ A bridge between culture and European regions’.
Every month the thematic committees of the Parliament meet in Brussels. In November these meetings took place during the Arab week in the European Parliament organised as part of the European Year for Intercultural Dialogue. The Culture and Education Committee had therefore invited different speakers from the Arab world to give their opinions, on one hand, on the recent developments in higher education in the Arab world and, on another hand, on the project 1001 Inventions, which looks at the contribution of Arab civilisation to the Western World.
On the subject of higher education, Haifa Jamal Al Lail, sociologist and dean of the Effat University in Saudi Arabia, insisted on the need to build bridges between countries in order to stop warlike tensions. These bridges come from the exchange between individuals and particularly between younger generations, students and professors. They are the people who have the ability to make things move ahead in Arab countries.
Mohammad Wassel, Secretary General of the Council for Higher Education in Syria, whose role is to coordinate all the national universities, pointed out that 15% of their students were foreign (coming mainly from Iraq and Palestine), and that in order to avoid any discrimination and prejudice, all university education in Syria is secular.
The second exchange of views within the Arab Week framework looked at a study undertaken by two academics in Manchester on Islamic heritage and education. The study criticised the lack of teaching in Europe of the Science of History covering the 1000 year period, between the height of the Greco-Roman civilisation and the Renaissance, a period during which numerous Islamic scholars influenced the foundations of the modern world.
One of the authors, Salim Al-Hassani, professor and president of the Foundation for Sciences, Technologies et Civilisation, also reminded the audience that one of the first universities in the world was founded in the 9th century at Fez in Morocco – by a woman. As a result, an educational programme has been launched to try and fill this information gap. Aimed at informing people about the contribution of the Arab word to contemporary western culture, it facilitates publication, a mobile exhibition and a website.
The meeting of the Parliamentary Committee continued with an exchange of views to prepare the report on an active dialogue with European citizens, which will be represented at the next session by Mr. Gyula Hegyi (PES, Hungary), He laid out the six proposals he hoped to include in the report:
- A Free European University
- Euronews broadcast in all 23 official languages
- On-line participation sites set up for the citizens of the EU
- An information policy to communicate with Non Governmental Organisations
- European history lesson for all European students
- A European history manual
The last exchange of opinions was devoted to Youth in the framework of the European Youth Week. During this week, a number of different working groups on European issues that affect youth were set up. The conclusions of the working groups were presented to the MEPs stressing three main questions: the development of youth volunteering, a simplification of European jargon, and the removal of barriers to youth mobility in Europe and in third countries. The parliamentarians supported certain proposals which came out of the meetings, and the European Commission also announced that it would take into account the result in its future work to develop a youth cooperation programme, a well as in its future recommendations on volunteering. The representative of the European Youth Forum, Jaakko Weuro, rounded off the discussion by stressing the need to see youth issues in a transversal way across all Union policies.
The Committee then adopted two reports and an opinion. The fist report, prepared by Ludmilja Novak (EPP, Slovenia) looked at life long education and training, creativity and innovation in the application of the work programme on ‘education and training 2010’. The report sets out the areas to be improved: life long quality of education, mobility, training and languages
The second report on media skills in a digital world, written by Christa Prets (PES, Austria), underlined the importance of democratising the use of the internet and limiting the digital gaps between Member States, and between rural and urban areas, as well as educating all citizens in the use of such media (students, parents, seniors and the handicapped).
The meeting finished up with a public hearing entitled “a bridge between cultures and European regions”. Five speakers were invited to give an example of cultural cooperation at the regional level (the presentations can be downloaded here).
Anton Balazek, mayor of Lendava in the Noth East of Slovenia, presented their transborders cooperation with three other towns in Croatia, Hungary an Austria. This cooperation was set up in two phases - communal meetings between the local political authorities and then between civil society organisations. The aim was to maintain cultural traditions and also to promote tourism in the region. The success was due, it seems, to the existence of a certain common cultural heritage and similar tourism products (wines, thermal baths etc) as well as the existence in the area of solid town infrastructure to deliver the projec (for example the role of local medias in relaying the information).
The second speaker, Gabriel Amer Amer, working for the Balearic Islands representation in Brussels, drew the MEPs’ attention to programmes of integration for immigrants, and insisted on the necessity to set up a permanent structure for dialogue between political, economic and social actors in all cooperating regions.
The third speaker gave a more general framework for reflection on the issue. Katherine Sarikakis, Director of the Centre for International Communications Research at the University of Leeds, reminded us that culture is an identity tool which allows regions to get closer to each other and to understand how their neighbours function. All of which has a role in the social development of a region. Cultural cooperation is a vector of social cohesion, civic engagement and citizenship, and all this needs political and financial support.
The next speaker gave an example of institutional cooperation: the cultural routes and landscapes. These itineraries were created by the Council of Europe in 1987 and today number 24. This label is given to projects of international cooperation around major European themes, which cover activities in several countries, mobilise youth, link to European heritage and allow the creation of a European network. Their impact demonstrate how cultural tourism has been a key factor in developing the regions concerned. In conclusion, the speaker called for an exchange of good practice between countries and regions on the issue, and the creation of an observatory of regional policies in this area.
Finally the representatives of the Commission, Anna Athanasopoulo for DG EAC and Aldo Torre for DG REGIO, spoke about the Commission’s activities supporting cultural cooperation at the regional level, underling the importance of regions and their creative capacity as a factor for economical and social development. Mrs Athanasopoulo announced that the European Commission would invest in this area in 2009 with the publication of a study. She also referred to the European Capitals of Culture and their contribution to re-energising the economy with the example of Lille 2004. The DG REGIO speaker underlined the budgetary package for this policy – 6 million euros. Culture is now recognised as a real tool for local development in so far as it supports social and territorial cohesion. He took as an example the different community projects in culture such as HerO (Heritage as Opportunity) under the Urbact II programme.
Opening New Avenues for the Dissemination of the Performing Arts in Europe
Paris, 24-25 November 2008
The Office National de Diffusion Artistique (ONDA) organised, under the auspices of the EU French Presidency, an ambitious conference on the theme of mobility in the performing arts sector. During two days, and on the basis of existing key publications such as the Mobile.Home Impedements to Mobility Study, panels and presentations addressed the issue from different points of view: from the artists’ perspective to the legal and social frameworks, or the complementarity of national and European actions.
The issue of artistic mobility and dissemination, in Europe and beyond, has been a central question for the cultural sector for decades. Impediments to mobility are the nodal concern of all artists and artistic professionals who want to study, train, create and present their work abroad. In our contemporary society where multiple identities reflect more and more on creative processes and life choices, and in a European space where mobility has become an increasing reality, mobility remains a key concern. Debates, however, also seem to broaden: from traditional visa, work permits or social security requests – which are still firmly on the agenda, far from being resolved - to demands of a more qualitative nature. A number of speakers, especially artists and professionals, asked for mobility projects which would last a bit longer than ‘needed’ and allow for more encounters and experiences - the ‘one more day’ idea of Jochen Sandig, Director of the Sasha Waltz & Guests company in Berlin. Others, especially from Eastern Europe, asked for opportunities to re-engage in their local and national contexts, but also to travel in their immediate neighbourhood, rather than always travelling towards the West.
The issue of the role of local and regional authorities, as well as national governments, in the promotion of mobility, in addition to the importance of setting up a common European strategy for artistic mobility, was also addressed. In a very interesting presentation, Ann Olaerts, Director of the Vlaams Theatre Institute in Brussels, pleaded for strong domestic cultural policies, which would not only strengthen the local artistic scene, but also form the indispensable basis for an effective international cultural policy. Such local, regional, national and European actions should also be developed taking account of key overarching policy frameworks, like sustainability (the combination of mobility needs and environmental concerns) or cultural diversity.
Other panels dealt, for example, with the European and International dimensions of artistic training programmes – and their lack of funding in general – or with the (very controversial in this case) legitimacy of contemporary cultural diplomacy objectives.
The European Union has integrated the mobility of artists and cultural professionals in its European Agenda for Culture. The European Commission has launched pilot projects and has commissioned studies on the topic. Member States are working together in an ‘Open Method of Coordination’ working group aiming at, amongst other objectives, ‘…improving the regulatory conditions and related administrative processes for mobility’ and ‘reinforcing regional, national and Community-level support mechanisms for mobility’. The political commitments are there, some instruments are in place, the sector has formulated many recommendations. As Mary Ann DeVlieg said, we have now to ‘monitor carefully how those recommendations will be implemented’.
‘Reforming the Budget, Changing Europe’
Brussels, 12 November 2008
The second step of the EU budget review process took shape in a public conference held in Brussels mid-November. Organised by the Budget Directorate General of the European Commission (EC), this event was intended to take stock of the online public consultation launched by the Commission last year, to broaden the debate with different stakeholders, and to prepare the EC’s Communication to be published in 2009.
In May 2006, following some very difficult negotiations on the EU financial perspectives 2007 – 2013, the Parliament, the Council and the Commission agreed to undertake a root and branch review of the Community budget in 2008/2009.
In September 2007 the Commission launched the first stage of this exercise: a public consultation, opened till end of June 2008, offering the opportunity to European citizens to give an opinion on the Union’s budgetary priorities, but also on the modalities of the budget’s application.
Following the Irish ‘No’ on the Lisbon Reform Treaty and the consequent uncertainties about the future of the European project, it was pretty clear already that the Budget Review exercise had to limit its ambitions, as the Union was expected to face heavy institutional difficulties in the short term. Now with the global financial crisis, and its consequences on European economies, the perspectives are even bleaker. Even more considering the challenges the European Union has yet to face not only to improve efficiency and political pertinence, but also citizen’s understanding of its budget composition, rules and management. How can the European Union, with its very limited budget - just over 1 percent of the European GDP - guarantee the delivery of ambitious and very much needed policy objectives? Even more when 40% of this budget is devoted to the Common Agricultural Policy? How can a budget subject to over 40 corrections (the most famous being the UK rebate) and managed for 80% directly by Member states insure transparency and identify fairly responsibilities?
Those questions are not easy to address, and many stakeholders await impatiently the European Commission’s Communication (to be published next year) which will launch the institutional preparations of the next financial negotiations cycle (2014-2020). Will the Commission make strong and ambitious proposals that will then survive the Member States rough negotiations that will for sure follow? Will civil society manage to make its voice heard in order to defend European values and political objectives such as environmental and social sustainability or solidarity?
At the November conference, the Commissioner for Financial Programming and Budget Dalia Grybauskaïtė presented the Commission’s analysis of the public consultation results. This analysis and identified priorities are supposed to form the basis of the future EC’s Communication.
This complex process of the EU Budget review has to be followed closely by the cultural sector, as it will be the context of the negotiations of the next generation of programmes and therefore of the negotiations of an eventual increased EU budget for culture. Culture Action already started to prepare for this key phase of the long term European decision-making process and remains at your disposal for further information.
To read the speeches and presentations of the ‘Reforming the Budget, Changing Europe’ conference, visit the EU Budget Review website.
What is the European Commission planning for 2009?
The European Commission has published its work programme for 2009. The document outlines the main priorities and strategic initiatives including the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, a European framework for recovery from the current crisis and a concomitant package of regulatory and supervision measures for financial markets. Climate change is obviously high on the agenda too and among other interesting initiatives the European Commission will publish a communication on the first five years of an enlarged EU and a statement on what the EU has achieved to build a European Union of the 21st century.
The European Commission has issued a roadmap for each initiative containing the context and defining the problem, stating the objectives of the EU initiatives, discussing policy options and preparing further impact assessment work.
Find the work program here. Find a document on strategic initiatives here.
How to get involved in Europe
A guide for individuals, communities and those working with communities
“Get in there!’ is the title of a guide designed to facilitate engagement in European decision-making developed by the Community Development Foundation. The guide is the result of the ‘My Voice in Europe project’, which aimed to stimulate interest and deepen the debate on Europe at a local level. The guide highlights useful resources to support those working in the voluntary and community sector, and who are interested in influencing European policies. Download the .pdf
European Transparency Initiative’s voluntary register
Time to provoke the private sector into transparency
The European Commission launched the European Transparency Initiative in November 2005 in an attempt to ensure the European Union will be “open to public scrutiny.” A voluntary register for interest representatives was launched last summer as a part of this initiative. Some civil society and consumer groups said they would sign up, but using their own, stricter guidelines.
The Civil Society Contact Group (CSCG) has worked with the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) to prepare some comprehensive guidelines for potential registrants. This register is aimed at clarifying corporate/commercial lobbying practices and is not well adapted for the needs of NGOs and public interest advocacy groups. The CSCG guidelines urge public interest groups to be proactively transparent about all aspects of their lobbying work in order to provoke more transparency from the private sector.
This issue was covered in a Financial Times article on the 31st October. Read it.
The article written by Alter-EU explaining the guidelines is here.
IG Kultur Österreich
Claiming the right for good governance within the EU administration!
IG Kultur Österreich, the umbrella organization for independent and autonomous cultural work in Austria is currently supporting one of its members in a court case against the European Commission. The reason for the court case is the costs that have arisen due to the delayed payment of previously approved subsidies. Read more...
Research on the social and economical situation of literary translators
CEATL has just published its first research on the social and economical situation of literary translators in Europe. The main conclusion is that literary translators can not subsist in the conditions the market is imposing on them. A very serious problem in a continent that calls itself multicultural and multilinguistic. Download the report from CEATL’s new website: www.ceatl.eu.
Trans Europe Halles
EC grant for mobility project ‘CHANGING ROOM’
TEH has been awarded a Culture programme grant for the mobility project CHANGING ROOM: a two-year project that aims to test, study & evaluate a cultural workers exchange programme within the Trans Europe Halles network, with the objective of it expanding into a EU wide initiative. The Sibelius Academy in Finland will be Trans Europe Halles’ research partner in the project.
Centro Nacional de Cultura
Guide on Intercultural Lisbon
This important tool, only available in Portuguese, helps discovering a city progressively marked by cultural and ethnical diversity, which is but good news to the city of Lisbon for, historically speaking, this fact has only happened in its moments of glory. CNC also hopes this guide can be a contribution for mutual understanding and socialization of citizens of different origins living in Lisbon, two basic aspects of interculturalism. More info here
Early Music and Pop & Jazz Platforms meet early 2009
The European Association of Conservatoires (AEC) continues with its commitment to support European cooperation in the field of music by bringing experts in the field of early music and pop & jazz together at two different meetings: the AEC Early Music Platform will meet in Trossingen on 23 –24 January and the AEC Pop & Jazz Platform in Amsterdam on 13 - 14 February 2009. More information can be found at www.aecinfo.org
IMC, ECM and Europa Cantat
Seminar, Pomáz, (Hungary), 27 February – 1 March 2009
The seminar ‘Reach out, Open Up, Take In - Developing your skills in advocacy, networking and international cooperation’ addresses national music organisations in North, Central and South Eastern Europe, from Albania to Slovakia, to Ukraine or to Estonia. The seminar will provide an insight on how to be recognised as a cultural advocacy body in your country and how to put the UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity into practice. More info here
Opera Europa and Reseo
European Opera Forum - 17-19 April 2009, Barcelona
During 3 days, opera professionals, artists and fans will debate on Creativity and Innovation in opera, with speakers including Gerard Mortier, Calixto Bieito, George Benjamin and many others. Three weeks later, on 9 May, opera houses across Europe will organise special events to celebrate the European Opera Days. For more information, visit www.operadays.eu
Second “European Atelier for Young Festival Managers, Varna (Bulgaria), 26th April to 3rd May 2009
Emerging artistic festival managers will meet for one week at this intensive training and exchange with pioneers including Bernard Faivre d’Arcier, Rose Fenton (LIFT, UK), Hugo De Greef (Brussels), Nele Hertling (Berlin) and many others in topic-based working groups and face-to-face meetings. Applications can be submitted until 31 January 2009. Visit the Atelier website or email
for more information.
On tour with Lars Ulrik Mortensen
The European Union Baroque Orchestra is on tour with Lars Ulrik Mortensen, its musical director. Two exciting concert programmes will take the ensemble, which acts as an official ambassador for the European Union, to Luxembourg, Sweden, Romania and England. For more information visit www.eubo.eu
Autumn Plenary Meeting
IETM held its Plenary Meeting in Zurich from 6 to 9 November. Over 500 representatives from the performing arts sector coming from 52 countries met on this occasion. Through panel discussions and working groups, participants discussed “Misundertanding”, seen as a potential fertile ground for creativity. It was also an occasion for all IETM members to discover the Swiss artistic scene and network with their colleagues. The next IETM meeting will take place in Bratislava in April 2009 and will focus on Culture and Education
“Change, Change, Change…” Annual Conference Report
This year the International Association of Music Information Centres’ Annual Conference was hosted in Cardiff by the Welsh Music Information Centre. The report gives an overview of the programme, speakers and guests and contains two insert CDs of the IAMIC choral concert and sessions’ presentations. Sessions were given by international experts in the cultural sector, music and new technologies. To get a copy, please contact IAMIC secretariat: www.iamic.net
Creative tourism: an innovative and sustainable travel tendency
This could be a conclusion for the International Conference on Creative Tourism in Santa Fe (New Mexico) that gathered distinguished tourism and urban experts as well as delegates of UNESCO Creative Cities network. Presented within the Santa Fe Conference, Barcelona Creative Tourism, a pioneer program, raised great interest among tourism professionals, artists and creative developers. Have a look at http://www.barcelonacreativa.info or find out more about the initiators, FUSIC.
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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.