Funding for Creative Europe

Currently, Amateo’s Arts Take Part project (2017-21) is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. Our aim is to support creative participation in all communities in Europe and work to bring different cultures together in shared understanding and mutual respect. Culture and creativity can unite the people of Europe in a unique and powerful way and we feel it is essential for the European Union to recognise this power and support the efforts of networks, organisers and individuals all over the continent.

This work requires proper funding that reflects the importance of the work that cultural organisations are undertaking, the added value that is created, and the urgent need to address divisive agendas within Europe. The European Parliament’s recent recommendations on this matter should be taken forward. With talks taking place at the European Council about the future funding of EU programmes, the Chair of Culture and Education Committee, Sabine Verheyen, made the following statement:

“The Culture and Education Committee has had a very constructive relationship with the Finnish Presidency of the Council during the trilogue negotiations on Erasmus+, Creative Europe and the European Solidarity, but the Finnish Presidency proposal for European Council discussions on the next EU long-term budget is really wide of the mark. Although, so far, we have no figures for any of the education, culture and youth programmes, we have been crunching the numbers and the picture is bleak. As things stand, based on equal across-the-board cuts for those programmes where no figure is included, we’re looking at 20% cuts for all three programmes compared to the Commission proposal, 48% for Erasmus+ compared to the Parliament proposal and 53% for Creative Europe compared to the Parliament position. This is deeply worrying.

Parliament called for the Erasmus+ budget to be tripled, because we want the new programme to do more for more people, to reach out to those with fewer opportunities and to deliver the ambitious flagship initiatives the Commission proposes – European Universities, Vocational Education and Training Centres of Excellence and DiscoverEU. We need a budget that matches these ambitions and what’s on the table now falls woefully short.

The Parliament also insisted on doubling the resources for Creative Europe. This is the sole EU programme for the cultural and creative sector and is currently hugely over-subscribed. Again, we must do more if we are to deliver even more added value to the sector and the people engaged in it.

An investment in education, culture and youth is an investment in people and is the very essence of European cooperation. I urge the Council and the European Council to go back to the drawing board and think again. The Culture and Education Committee stands ready to press forward with negotiations on Erasmus+, Creative Europe and the European Solidarity Corps, but any political agreement on the scope and actions to be financed depends on the budget. We therefore call on the Council and European Council to avoid further delays and to show the necessary ambition.”

Join Amateo, Culture Action Europe and many others across Europe by signing the CAE petition calling for the necessary support to be given to culture.

Travelling Light

Amateo’s Carbon Footprint
by Arts Take Part coordinator, Jim Tough

In Amateo, the European membership network for active participation in cultural activities, we value the opportunity to bring people together to learn, share and explore. With vital support from Creative Europe our Arts Take Part programme has helped us come together in venues across Europe. The opportunity for human contact, the face-to-face and personal experiences for our staff and members is at the heart of our work. But there is a price. The price of travel in Euros and in carbon emissions. Our carbon footprint is a European shoe size 47! So, inspired and challenged by the climate emergency and Extinction Rebellion activists, we decided to take the first steps towards smaller footprint.

We challenged our Arts Take Part team of 23 workers from across Europe to explore how to travel lighter to our meeting in Utrecht, Netherlands. So we thought it would be useful to share some of the personal experiences of taking on that challenge and what we learned as a result.

ATP team dinner in Utrecht

Mixing business and pleasure — in some cases taking a different means of travel meant there was time for other things. So Claire took the overnight ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam and cycled 70 km from Ijmuiden to Utrecht. The pleasure of the cycle part helped make the longer trip acceptable at a personal level. Anna-Karin built in a stay with a friend in Stockholm to help with her rail travel plans. Jan travelled by train from Ljubljana but took the opportunity to visit friends in Haarlem. My own travel from Scotland to Utrecht by train meant an additional night away in a London hotel. But I timed the travel to allow a visit to the theatre in London. 

It takes time — what became clear is that to avoid air travel there is usually a time cost. For all of us with busy working lives, that extra day or two to travel by train, ferry or bicycle can be a problem. But maybe this is part of the bigger problem of the pace and demands of modern work cultures. It’s as much about a change in how we see the world of work and the pace of life. I know I find travelling by train far less stressful and more productive. Joining Damien on the leg from Rotterdam to Utrecht we were able to add some value to the team meeting agenda in preparing a session. I find air travel can be soulless and impersonal. Travel by land may take a bit longer but we may arrive in a better state of mind.

Inflexible bureaucracies — one challenge for some our our members from different national systems is the requirements of their own financial rules. So the common sense of travelling from one meeting for a project in Frankfurt by direct train to Utrecht was not permitted because the two projects are supported from different budgets. So Katerina had to go back to Prague to restart her journey to Utrecht! The good news is that by raising this issue the rules may change. 

It can be more expensive — yes, indeed it can. But the worst of that can be minimised by good forward planning of the dates for our meetings and being thoughtful about where we meet to reduce other costs such as accommodation. Travel to and accommodation in Brussels where Creative Europe holds its briefing meetings can be very expensive and very often the dates are late in being planned and confirmed. So our friends that fund all of this good work could help by planning meetings well ahead so we can get the best value for trains and hotels. 

It makes a difference — this was a first attempt but it was encouraging. By inviting the team to try out different approaches we reduced our carbon footprint by 33%. It added about 73% in journey time (but much of that time was used well) and about 20% in cost. It reminds me of an old quote – “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”. In the current crisis we might suggest that if you think reducing your carbon footprint is expensive try a global environmental catastrophe.

ATP team meeting in Utrecht

Campaign for culture in Commissioner Gabriel’s title

The new President-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced the nominations of 27 new commissioners, due to be formally appointed once approved by the European Parliament on 1 November. While the gender balance of the new commission has been welcomed, the removal of culture from a commissioner’s job title is seen as a backward step.

Mariya Gabriel from Bulgaria, who previously served as Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, has been nominated for the new role of Commissioner for Innovation and Youth. Recognition of culture has been removed from headline titles of the commission, having previously been included in the role of Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (Tibor Navracsics, 2014-2019).

“At a time when the need to recognise how our shared culture can bind us together as European citizens is so important, it is extremely disappointing to see culture neglected in this way. The challenges of the coming years can only be addressed by coming together and understanding each other’s experiences and world views so that we can work collectively for the common good. Millions of Europeans use culture and creativity to enjoy themselves and build lasting relationships locally and internationally.

The crucial work of the Creative Europe programme and the countless networks, organisations and volunteers around Europe help bring culture to the fore so that we can celebrate our distinct cultural backgrounds and our shared human desire for self expression. We believe that cultural exchange and broader cultural understanding is essential in building a peaceful, collaborative Europe for the future and this should be recognised in the commissioner’s title.”

Amateo President, Susan Fazakerley

Culture Action Europe has launched a petition to call on Ursula von der Leyen to bring culture back into Commissioner Gabriel’s title. Amateo is proudly supporting this call for all those who value culture to sign the petition.

Manifesto: European Parliament Elections 2019

Active participation for Creative Europe

Amateo’s Manifesto for European Parliament 2019 – 2024

Manifesto → download PDF here

This manifesto, addressed to European policy makers as we approach the European elections in 2019, is written to profile the amateur and voluntary arts sector. The sector is not only fundamental to culture and civil society. It helps build a more inclusive Europe, supports innovation and builds cohesive societies. Therefore, our sector contributes immensely to the new European Agenda for Culture.

Amateo is a young and diverse European network with more than 40 member organisations from 18 different countries. We are the voice of  the millions of amateur artists who passionately engage in the arts in their free time. They sing in a choir, make drawings or paintings, dance, play music or perform theatre. They learn new skills and express their own artistic passion. But taking part in arts also creates a sense of belonging. Actively engaging in the arts promotes cultural cohesion, social inclusion and active citizenship.

“Culture has always been at the heart of the European project. It is what brings people together. The cultural and creative sectors also have a crucial role in driving economic and social development, and they enable us to build strong international relations. We have big ambitions for culture, and a strong Creative Europe will enable us to make them a reality. I call on all Member States and the European Parliament to back this approach.”

Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport

The amateur arts sector and the new European Agenda for Culture: a match made in heaven

Social Dimension

→ Amateur arts create social cohesion

Amateur arts practice contributes directly to social cohesion and inclusion and work against tendencies of  fragmentation and polarisation. Amateur arts work as a binding force between individuals, cultures and communities. There are fewer barriers to actively take part in the arts than there are to being part of an audience, where there are considerable barriers, like cost, travel, inaccessibility and lack of understanding, etc. Cultural participation is associated with a more active lifestyle; those who are excluded from participating in cultural activities also have lower level of social cohesion (Morrone, De Mauro: 2008).

→ Amateur arts contribute to cultural participation

The amateur arts are egalitarian and democratic and available to everybody, regardless of ability, age, gender, sexuality, race, ethnic origin, belief system, economic status or social background, etc. By focusing on cultural capability as the guiding principle in the new European Agenda for Culture, and thus promoting opportunities for all to take part and to create, we believe that our work is more important than ever. Numerous projects that are developed within the amateur arts sector all over Europe reach out to specific target groups and tackle the inequality in access to culture.

  • In Croatia, the project ‘Back pack full of culture’ enabled young children in rural areas access to culture.
  • In Belgium, the project ‘Sing Me In’ fostered the inclusion of migrants into the choir world and the local community.

Amateur arts contribute to intercultural dialogue

Discover the voluntary arts throughout Europe and you experience the European identity in all its diversity. People who practise or perform the arts seek out similar-minded people to create, interact, exchange and collaborate. The numerous international exchanges, emerging friendships and intercultural learning experiences within and beyond Europe between amateur artists, open the door to new cultures, help to understand cultural diversity and build bridges across European communities.

→ Amateur arts contribute to the quality of life and have positive effects on health and wellbeing

The Associations Monitor, research report by LKCA in the Netherlands, concluded that ‘the many performances, shows and expositions contribute to the quality of life of small villages, neighbourhoods and cities.’ For older people arts practice helps to remain active and healthy longer, boosts self esteem, ensures social interaction, provides personal support networks and stimulates creativity. With an ageing population in Europe active cultural participation offers huge potentials for elder citizens in sharing experience and in addressing cross-generational issues.

  • ‘The voice of my memory’ from Belgium started many choirs for people with dementia

Economic Dimension

→ Amateur arts contribute substantially to the economy

38 % of the European population is engaged in the arts in their free time. They invest in their artistic hobby by buying musical instruments, costumes, books and other materials. They pay for training and education. Amateur art groups often travel abroad to take part in festivals, events and workshops. All together, they make a substantial contribution towards national economies.

→ Amateur arts is a source of  innovation and creative thinking

Amateur arts lay close to the field of cultural education; by practising amateur arts, people learn new skills and continue to develop these skills throughout life. Research shows that learning is a key motivation for people to engage in arts practice. Through active participation, people gain and develop skills that are useful to different areas of life.

 Amateur arts provide jobs for professional artists by employing instructors and teachers

The levels of education of amateurs arts have risen over the years. The training and education of dancers, writers, performers, painters, musicians, etc., involves professional artists which raises the standard of the work and the quality of the experience as well as creating employment opportunities for this artists themselves.

→ Supporting active participation in arts is supporting the audience for professional arts

Research has shown that active engagement in the arts as a child results in both receptive and active participation in cultural activities in later life.


From stakeholders in European policy we ask to:

1. Recognise and promote the value of active cultural participation

The intrinsic value of culture and participation is reflected in the new European agenda. To support and sustain the amateur arts sector, European policy and politicians could:

  • secure easy access to funding for it’s participants in all EU programs (Horizon 2020, regional funds…)
  • give us more exposure by your attendance at the annual Amateo award ceremony and handing the prize over to the winner
  • stress the importance of national support, since many Amateo member organisations experience a decline in support for culture and participatory arts on a national level

2. Support Amateo in gathering comparable data on amateur arts practice throughout Europe

Several member countries have already conducted research on amateur arts. However, due to differences in research scale, design and concepts, the results are difficult to compare. The special Eurobarometer, which investigated the number of EU population engaged in arts in their free time, dates from 2013. Up-to-date data and a resumption of the special Eurobarometer would be essential to create a pan-European picture on the practise of amateur arts and the need for support on a national and supranational level.

3. Create opportunities for professional artists (e.g. coaches, teachers, directors, etc.) that work with amateur artists within the new mobility funding scheme under Creative Europe

The new Creative Europe programme will contain a funding scheme for the mobility of professional artists. There is a vast number of paid staff and artists that work in and for associations to provide art-based activities for non-professional artists. Promoting the new funding for this kind of artistic work would create an added value for both professional artists and amateur artist groups who are challenged by working in different cultural contexts.

4. Create opportunities for small-scale projects and transversal projects to get support

New practices and methods, innovation and experimental work often grow bottom-up. Amateur art associations often work transversal with, e.g., the health sector; innovation and technology sector; education; civil society. By merging the expertise and experience from different domains, the output and impact of the project can be even bigger. While micro-organisations make up 95% of the cultural and creative sector, they barely get funded by EU. Creating possibilities for fair funding for the smaller NGOs would value the work of these important pioneers

Amateo Manifesto: EU Parliament elections 2019
Cover Letter for Amateo manifesto


Amateo

 As the European network for amateur arts we are committed to stimulate the debate and dialogue on the value and role of amateur arts and culture in society. Reflections on this memorandum and opportunities to engage in conversation on its content will be welcomed and appreciated.  

President, Susan Fazakerley, president@amateo.org  |  www.amateo.org
Secretariat, Benedikte De Vos, info@amateo.org   |  www.facebook.com/amateo.org

Amateo is a  membership organisation that works as an advocate and provides support and opportunities for exchange and collaboration amongst its members, who are national and regional organisations working in the field of amateur, voluntary and participatory arts and culture. We currently have 41 national and regional umbrellas and associations from 17 EU member states and three programme countries.

Supporting Culture is Supporting Europe!

EUROPEAN CITIZENS AND CULTURAL ACTORS SAY: “SUPPORTING CULTURE IS SUPPORTING EUROPE!”

Culture is the foundation of European unity, underpinning our sense of belonging to a common project. It constitutes an enormous economic asset, enhances community cohesion, intercultural understanding and solidarity. Culture promotes democratic participation; in times of growing polarisation and challenges to freedom of expression, safeguarding artistic freedom and diversity is crucial. Therefore, culture needs a proper financial commitment to ensure the sustainability of the European project.

Continue reading “Supporting Culture is Supporting Europe!”