Debates and outcomes

The most innovative feature of Creative Europe is that it jointly addresses the cultural and creative sectors,5 combining all sectors with a substantial artistic and creative component, thus also bringing together the previous self-standing support programmes for culture and the audiovisual sector. The merger was justified by the Commission by reference to the common problems that these sectors face, 'namely a highly fragmented market context, the impact of the digital shift and globalisation, difficulties in accessing finance and a shortage of comparable data' (European Commission, 2011d: Recital 9).

The idea of the merger was generally endorsed by the Council and Parliament as co-legislators as well as the consultative bodies, the EESC and the CoR. A central point of discussion during the negotiations, however, was the necessity to acknowledge that the audiovisual sector differs substantially from the other cultural and creative sectors in terms of stakeholders and business models. It was felt, in particular, that the proposed framework failed to take into account the specificities of the sectors that each of the two subprogrammes, culture and media, was meant to support, mainly through the recognition of the significance of not-for-profit cultural organisations - the targets of the previous cultural programmes. Quite naturally, these concerns were shared among cultural stakeholders (ETC, 2012; Europa Nostra, 2012).

The CULT Committee argued that while the culture subprogramme should be open to commercial projects, as the Commission intended, priority should be given to non-profit-making activities. Within the Council, whereas most member states shared the CULT Committee's position, eventually included in the Regulation,6 Austrian and German delegations maintained that support should be confined to non-profit projects with a view to protecting the cultural sector from marketising forces (Council, 2012d: 4). The comment of Commissioner of Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou against the exclusion of profit-making organisations from the culture subprogramme on the grounds that it 'would discourage them not only from seeking additional sources of financing but also from trying to be successful' (Council, 2013a) illustrates the importance given to the commercial viability of the cultural sector which underpins the entire Creative Europe programme. Targeted amendments by the co-legislators managed to counterbalance the emphasis on market-oriented structures that had characterised the Commission's proposal, yet without challenging the core of the programme's commercial mindset.

This is evident in the debates around the objectives of the programme. The Commission envisaged a programme concerned with promoting cultural and linguistic diversity, and the competitiveness of the cultural and creative sectors. The co-legislators shared the view that the two proposed objectives were only in appearance given equal weight, with the programme being generally and overly concerned with culture's economic dimension. The Council was, therefore, quick to point out that a better balance between economic and cultural objectives had to be found (Council, 2012b). The explicit recognition of culture's intrinsic value in the Creative Europe Regulation serves to indicate that culture shall be supported as something worth preserving in itself (Recital 21 and Article 5). Moreover, by introducing a commitment to the enhancement of a shared cultural area, the Council added an element of continuity, otherwise missing, with the previous cultural funding programme (Recital 9). Even more critical of the Commission's emphasis on competitiveness in the cultural sector was the CULT Committee, which advocated that the programme should be about capacity building, with the objective of competitiveness underpinning action only with respect to the audiovisual sector. Although these points were rejected in tri- logue negotiations, the CULT Committee managed to include among the programme's priorities the promotion of Europe's cultural heritage, thereby affirming the integrative role of culture in developing a sense of belonging. The inclusion of heritage promotion might also have been guided by pragmatic considerations, namely to reassure stakeholders in the field, who came to believe that they would no longer be eligible for funding (KEA, 2012b: 28).

The modifications to the programme's specific objectives, introduced by the Parliament and the Council, focused on stressing the social dimension of culture and creativity, targeting particularly the cultural sector. The co-legislators felt that the Commission's emphasis on industrial considerations such as capacity-building and strengthened circulation of works mostly reflected the needs of the audiovisual industry, thereby calling for an adaptation of the cultural sector to the same model. The programme's transversal priorities were thus amended to include a focus on mobility, and alongside audience reach, audience development,7 and the accessibility of cultural and creative works. True, the previous Culture and MEDIA programmes were also aimed at attracting new audiences. The Commission's strong emphasis on expanding the audience reach of projects funded under Creative Europe was this time based on the argument that in the digital era 'cultural production ... need[s] to pay more attention to demand-side issues including by being far more interactive' and to audience behaviour and expectations

(European Commission, 2011b: 18). The Commission's approach could also be justified on account of pressures for the rationalisation of EU spending. It can, nevertheless, be regarded as a trend in opposition to a concept of art and culture that exists independently of commercial considerations (Bruell, 2013: 19). The addition, therefore, in the Regulation of the notion of access, particularly in relation to children, young people, people with disabilities and under-represented groups, is significant in that it brings the social and educational role of culture on board.

Although the position of non-profit projects regarding the culture subprogramme led to considerable debate, there was little discussion about the subprogramme's priorities and support measures. The inclusion of mobility among the subprogramme's main axes, alongside support for the circulation of artistic works and capacity-building, did not entail any substantive modification of the Commission's proposal, except for the inclusion of support for access to artistic works and cultural heritage.8 While the co-legislators managed to include an explicit reference to the contribution of mobility and circulation of works to intercultural dialogue in the Regulation (Recital 9), no mention of intercultural dialogue as a priority was made as such. The interim evaluation of the previous culture programmes had noted that intercultural dialogue was usually a by-product of the financed projects rather than their primary aim (Ecorys, 2010), which may have played a role in this lack of mention. With respect to capacity-building, the culture subprogramme stresses professionalisation, transnational cooperation and networking.

Concerning the media subprogramme, there was no extensive debate about its priorities. This can be explained by the fact that, besides the incorporation of the international element of MEDIA Mundus, the Commission's proposal introduced no substantial changes in terms of action lines in comparison with MEDIA 2007, as these were considered relevant to the needs of the sector (Eureval, 2010). Supporting the capacity of the European audiovisual sector and promoting transnational circulation remain the main priorities, but after the changes brought by the co-legislators, media support measures now also include film literacy and audiovisual heritage.

Within the cross-sectoral strand, the discussion centred on the funding focus of the Guarantee Facility, aimed at securing loan guarantees to cultural and creative enterprises through the European Investment Fund.9 The Council expressed strong concern as regards the facility's proposed addressees, mainly market-oriented activities and the commercially viable operators. In particular, the Council perceived a bias towards larger member states with greater economic shares in the relevant sectors, therefore more likely to attract bank loans.10 Thus, delegations made a set of amendments, endorsed by the CULT Committee, to ensure a balanced geographical coverage among member states in terms of beneficiaries and extend eligibility to micro enterprises and organisations (Council, 2012d). This is important for the cultural sector, which features a significant number of operators of this kind (KEA et al., 2006: 99). Overall, while these modifications sought to prevent certain potential (structural) imbalances, they were not concerned with challenging the reorientation of cultural support policy towards investment and market-driven activities, signalled by the introduction of the Guarantee Facility. Such reorientation is evident also in the support provided for building the capacity of the banking sector to assess the specificities and risks associated with cultural and creative enterprises. Although concern was expressed in the Council that the facility would replace grants, it was eventually accepted as a means to help reduce reliance on diminishing public subsidies by opening new channels of funding (Council, 2012e).

The second component of the cross-sectoral strand aims to support transnational policy cooperation, thereby addressing the Union's strategic objective of promoting multi-level cultural governance and policy dialogue.11 The Commission's proposal arguably touched on the need for an improved and transversal flow of knowledge and know-how among cultural operators and policy-makers, through systematic data collection and analysis. However, the CULT Committee noted that the Commission's approach to documentation was generic and not explicitly attuned to the diversity of the cultural and creative sectors, including the audiovisual sector. This adds to a wider concern, reflected also in the Council's discussions in November 2012, that the Commission's emphasis on quantitative data and market indicators for informing policy and assessing the programme's performance fails to take into account qualitative dimensions, and the impact of (funded) cultural and creative projects in terms, for instance, of social inclusion and cultural diversity. The Regulation now commits the Commission to develop further sector-specific instruments and qualitative indicators - possibly allowing scope for the pursuit of less commercial and output-oriented projects.

 
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