The role that arts and culture can play in the recovery

#CriticalThinking

Picture of Mariya Gabriel
Mariya Gabriel

European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth and 2018 European Young Leader (EYL40)

Photo of This article is a part of our EYL40 Working Group on Arts and Culture series.
This article is a part of our EYL40 Working Group on Arts and Culture series.

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Show more information on This article is a part of our EYL40 Working Group on Arts and Culture series.

The European Young Leaders (EYL40) Working Group on Arts and Culture was established to share and brainstorm ideas for collaborating on pan-European projects related to arts and culture. It draws on the wide range of artists, musicians, writers and cultural practitioners in our EYL40 network.

Brexit, the rise of populism and the pandemic have threatened a sense of ‘European-ness’ among the citizens of Europe. The Working Group places a particular importance on how arts and culture – a core European industry contributing to 4.4% of European GDP – can be used as tools to help build that spirit while relaunching economies. The EU’s motto is: united in diversity. Our job will be to promote that diversity while responding to common challenges.

This series of articles complements the Working Group’s three meetings this year. The Working Group will produce a policy briefing to be launched in November 2021 and to be brought to the attention of high-level policymakers at the European and national level. Recommendations will also be handled over to EYLs, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel and French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Clément Beaune, ahead of France taking over the EU rotating presidency in 2021.

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Across borders, spanning decades, arts and culture have always been an essential part of our European way of life. In dire times, arts and culture are there to offer comfort, to inspire dreams, to share feelings. The emotions that books, music, films, plays, photographs, paintings and sculpture offer us, both individually and as a society, are invaluable.

So too are the cultural and creative sectors. They are among Europe’s strongest assets. They have a role to play in Europe’s recovery, and the European Commission is committed to supporting them through different channels.

First is the safe resumption of activities. The pandemic greatly affected the cultural activities we enjoy sharing with others so much. Revenues dropped between 75% to 80% for museums in tourist areas, while cinemas and music venues saw a 70% and 64% revenue drop, respectively. In June 2021, the European Commission decided to commemorate the reopening of cultural venues and sites by launching EU guidelines to foster coordinated and proportionate measures across all EU countries.

Cultural and creative sectors will also benefit from significant investments from the Recovery and Resilience Facility

Second, before the sanitary crisis, we had decided to substantially increase our financial support to EU cultural and creative sectors, with almost €2.5bn from Creative Europe and close to €2bn from Horizon Europe dedicated to cultural and creative projects for the period between 2021 and 2027.

In addition, cultural and creative sectors will also benefit from significant investments from the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the EU’s unprecedented financial plan of €672.5bn. Money, in the form of grants or loans, will support reforms and investments designed and undertaken by member states individually.

The Commission is proud to report that, on average, at EU level, cultural and creative sectors will receive slightly more than 2% of this instrument. I welcome the large allocations to the cultural and tourism sector planned by member states in their national resilience and recovery plans.

To artists and culture professionals: you represent the soul of Europe

Third, listening to the cultural and creative actors, we have heard their calls for easier access to information on the EU funding opportunities. Later this year, we will publish an online guide on EU funding for culture, bringing together in one place all the different EU funds available. This will be a unique one-stop-shop to help cultural professionals navigate the complexity of EU programmes, and have better chances at finding subsidies.

Lastly, looking back at past 18 months, we will launch an expert group on Understanding Digital Audience to explore new ways to promote cultural content by learning from practices stemming from the pandemic experience.

To artists and culture professionals: you represent the soul of Europe. You are the bridge to renewed and sustained activities in all corners of Europe, but you are also a promise of vivid exchanges and valuable insights on our society for which I will always be by your side.

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