EU Funding for Culture: The New Programme Explained in 5 Steps

From 'Culture 2007-2013' to 'Creative Europe': new sectors, new focus, new mechanisms

With the last calls for Culture 2007-2013 closed, cultural and creative industry organisations are eagerly awaiting the launch the new framework programme for culture: 'Creative Europe'. This article gives an overview of this new programme, describes its funding priorities, and gives some pointers for organisations that already want to prepare for the next call.
1) Why a New EU Funding Programme for Culture?

'Creative Europe' will succeed the current Funding Programme. 'Culture 2007-2013' will run out at the end of 2013.

All EU Programmes are agreed for a limited number of years, covering the same time span as the European multi-annual budgetary framework. This also gives the EU the opportunity to review and revise funding instruments on a regular basis. In November 2011, the European Commission first proposed this new programme under the title 'Creative Europe'. The programme will be valid from 2014 to 2020.

2) What are the main differences to the current programme?

  • It combines 3 current programmes: Culture, MEDIA and MEDIA Mundus
  • It creates a new instrument: bank loans for the cultural sector and the creative industries
  • It sets new objectives, based on the overall EU 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth
  • There may be an overall raise in funding, however the EU budgetary agreement reached in June 2013 makes this increasingly unlikely.

I) Combining Culture, MEDIA and MEDIA Mundus

As the culture and media sectors are moving closer to each other due to the digital shift, the Commission aims to manage different funding streams under one single framework programme. The aim is to abolish artificial barriers, support synergies between the sectors, and benefit from best practices established in the individual funding mechanisms of the previous programmes.

'Creative Europe' will consist of three strands: one for Culture, one for MEDIA and a trans-sectoral third strand. Trans-sectoral activities include the new financial guarantee for bank loans (financial facility), support for data collection and sharing, and funding for pilot projects. Support of trans-national policy cooperation, innovative approaches to audience building and new business models also falls into this section.

II) A New Instrument: Loans Through the Financial Facility

Originally, more than 200 million of the overall funding was to be invested in a new financial guarantee facility. Now it looks like this amount will be significantly smaller, due to the cuts to the overall budget.
The financial guarantee will be managed by the European Investment Fund (EIF). The EIF will work with a network of European banks that are willing to create a portfolio of loans specifically tailored to the needs of the cultural and creative sectors. The funding will help banks to increase their knowledge of the cultural sector and creative industries and create tailored loans. According to the Commission, this new instrument will enable cultural operators to access up to 1 billion in bank loans. Evidently, this sum will be shrinking proportionally to the reduced funding for the financial guarantee.

III) New Objectives Supporting the Europe 2020 Strategy

While it was always clear that the culture programme reflects the mission of the European Union though transnational exchange and distribution of cultural works 'Creative Europe' will introduce a more explicit link to the Europe 2020 strategy: a key emphasis of the new programme will be to optimise the sectors potential for economic growth, job creation and social inclusion.

IV) Increased Funding?

In the original version, the European Commission, proposed a budget of 1.8 million for the 2014-2020 period (900 million for cinema and the audiovisual sector and 500 million for culture, plus 3rd-pillar activities). This would constitute an increase of 34% compared to the current programme. However the budget agreements reached in June 2013 point towards a budget of maximal 1.5 million. It seems that funding levels will remain more or less what they are today and that the new instrument the financial guarantee for bank loans will be cut by significantly.

3) Who Can Benefit from 'Creative Europe'?

Project Types:
In the cultural arm of the programme, 'Creative Europe' will continue to fund cooperation projects, European networks / platforms, and literary translations. It will no longer fund festivals or cultural ambassadors. To date, no information about the project durations or funding ceilings are available.

Funding Types:
All grants will be project grants operational grants will be abolished. In addition, cultural and creative SMEs can apply for loans under the new financial facility. To date, no information about the percentage of required match-funding is available, however Commission sources say that they will very similar to those established under 'Culture 2007-2013'.

The international dimension of the programme will be strengthened. This means that 'Creative Europe' will not only be open to organisations based in EU Member States and in the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), but also to those in EU accession and candidate countries, in potential candidate and neighbourhood countries. As before, other countries may be involved in specific calls from time to time.
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4) Will the Application Process Change?

According to the European Commission, application and participation procedures will be simplified. In particular, the following actions are planned:

  • no more operating grants project grants only
  • greater use of flat rates
  • an electronic portal for applicants

More information will be published once the new project guides and implementation rules are available.

5) What Are the New Selection Criteria?

While these are not available to date, we believe from the analysis of the new objectives, and from talks with relevant stakeholders that the following criteria may be important to keep in mind:

  • European dimension/ capacity building / training in order to operate (bettermore effciently) transnationally
  • transnational circulation of cultural and creative works
  • potential to reach new audiences in Europe and beyond
  • quality of partnership/ consortium
  • cultural/ creative excellence
  • sustainability/ long-term impact; ability to strengthen the financial capacity of the sector and of SMEs in particular

New priority: capacity building
Already a focus in the current MEDIA programmes, capacity building will also become increasingly important for the cultural branch of 'Creative Europe'. Organisations interested in applying should consider how their project will contribute to learning, knowledge transfer and cross-fertilisation.

New priority: supporting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth
As with the current programme, 'Creative Europe' aims to foster the European cultural and linguistic diversity in Europe. However, it now also contains a very strong and explicit link to the Europe 2020 Strategy. A priority will be to strengthen the competitiveness of the cultural and creative sectors with a view to promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Organisations interested in applying should consider how their activities foster creativity and innovation, reach new audiences and explore new business models.

New horizontal theme: digitisation
Exploring new forms of distribution, production and collaboration using digital tools and channels will be one of the horizontal themes that should be present in all projects. Organisations interested in applying should provide details on how digital tools and channels will be used to reach more people, ensure a wider distribution, and achieve more sustainable results. This new theme is also closely linked to capactiy building ensuring that artists and cultural operators have the skills and knowledge to use digital tools and channels.

New focus: audience engagement
Focus is put on audience building and on the sectors capacity to interact with European citizens more directly, for example through new interactive tools and channels. In particular, building audiences across national borders will be seen as a key benefit. Organisations interested in applying will need to develop strong outreach and engagement strategy a simple communication plan with website, flyer and press conference will most likely not be enough.

Where can I find out more?
The DaVinci Institute publishes regular EU Culture briefings, as well as the annual 'Guide for European Culture Funding Successful Proposals and Successful Projects'. In addition, it offers workshops and tailored consulting on European culture funding. Visit the DaVinci Institute Page or contact Benita Lipps directly to receive the EU-Culture briefing, to join a workshop, or to ask for help in preparing a proposal.

Interesting Links
EU Funding for Culture: From Idea to Application: http://davinci-institute.eu/news/eu-culture-funds-howto/
Creative Europe Homepage: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/creative-europe/index_en.htm
FAQs about the new programme: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-11-819_en.htm?locale=en
Newsletter: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/key-documents/newsletter_en.htm

About the Author
Benita Lipps is the Executive Director if the DaVinci Institute in Brussels, board member of the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE) and member of the Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft. You can contact her via info@davinci-institute.eu. Further Information on: https://about.me/benitalipps

Benita Lipps, Executive Director DaVinci Institute - Collaborating for a Smarter World www.davinci-institute.eu
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