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Update on European Cultural Policy

12 April 2011

This paper is meant to update the ELIA members and board on current issues and developments in European policy relevant to higher arts education in Europe. Crucial points include the place of culture in the EU growth strategy 'Europe 2020', and the new Culture Programme 2013-2020.


11 Points on European cultural policy


Truus Ophuysen
updated April 2011
truus.ophuysen [at] elia-artschools.org

These eleven points attempt to summarise what is currently going on in Brussels in culture, education, research, enterprise, employment and Structural Funds.
Text in brown = official text of the European Commission; points listed in order of relevance

1. 2020, a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe


It is a particularly busy time in European policy terms, not only because of the many initiatives in the frame of the new 2020 strategy but also because the new programming period 2013-2020 is being prepared, in which all European programmes will be revised. Consequently, the logic of the previous period does not necessarily apply anymore from 2013. The EU's growth strategy ‘Europe 2020’ for a ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive economy’ is already operational. Three mutually reinforcing priorities should help the EU and the Member States deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. The so-called ‘Flagship Initiatives’ with short term operational objectives should help to realise this. One of the overall flagship initiatives called ‘Innovation Union’ has over 30 actions, of which some are of particular importance to ELIA and the art schools and request further action from ELIA. See http://ec.europa.eu/research/innovation-union/index_en.cfm

In addition, all new draft programmes, also the programmes in culture and in education, will undergo an independent impact assessment on economic, social and environmental impact before final decision about the programmes will be taken. This is supposed to become a tough exercise.

2. European Skills Council for the Cultural and Creative Industries


On the initiative of DG Employment in the frame of the Social Dialogue, European skills councils (ESC) are being developed in a number of sectors. In January 2011, I participated in a preparation meeting with the European Commission, DG EAC Culture for setting up an ESC for the Cultural and Creative Industries. Present were about 20 representatives, from European employers and employees’ organisations from performing arts, music, writers, booksellers, audiovisual industry, game developers and European Broadcasting Union. AEC, ENCATC (cultural management courses) and I represented education and had strong presentations about the role of education.  We referred to the work done in the frame of Bologna (competencies/learning outcomes/ qualifications frameworks) and talked in terms of a triangle: employers, employees and education. The Commission confirmed that education is an important player but there is no formal obligation to include education. Arguments in favour of ESC mentioned by DG Employment and DG EAC, Culture include:

  • Increasing  employment potential for the sector
  • Bringing education and employment closer together/Further skills needs
  • 2020 strategy – smarter, greener and more inclusive Europe
  • Peer learning, platform for exchange
  • Easier access to information, in particular to SME’s
  • Better definition of the sector

The European Broadcasting Union and PEARLE (Performing Arts Employers) earlier expressed their reluctance to participate in the initiative but are now considering taking up the initiative. 
The initiative exists of two levels,1) Setting up a network of national skills councils/observatories and (2) Decisions, leadership and steering by European social partners.  For this latter initiative, there will be a call for proposals. It is not clear yet when exactly, possibly April 2011 and a second one in July.

3. Consultation for the new Culture Programme 2013 -2020


ELIA reacted to the written consultation in December 2010, making a plea for a strong Culture Programme and for a strong focus on experimentation, laboratories, creative partnerships etc. I took part in a large-scale ‘stakeholders’ public consultation meeting on 16 February. Vladimir Sucha, (back in office after almost one year of leave) started his introduction saying: ’we can’t escape the political environment’, meaning that no matter the outcome of the consultation, the cultural programme will have a strong focus on the 2020 strategy and creative industries, whether we want it or not. According to a summary of the answers to the written consultation, highest support was for:

  • Circulation of artists and works/mobility
  • International networking to exchange experience
  • Space for experimentation, innovation, co-creation
  • ‘Risk-taking’ and cultural entrepreneurship
  • Development of professional skills
  • Strategic support for culture at the European level

Culture Acton Europe is campaigning for a strong cultural programme (see www.wearemore.eu) overall, it feels like arts and culture in Europe is losing out in this development. From a more selfish perspective the new programme will offer opportunities for the art schools and for ELIA for projects such as NEU NOW, creative partnerships, incubator units etc. because of the key function of ELIA in skills developments.

4. Design now part of Innovation Union

Promoting openness and capitalising on Europe's creative potential

It is great that Design has now become quite directly part of the 2020 strategy Innovation Union. This became already clear during the seminar ‘Design and Learning’ held in November 2010, where Josyane Franc and I represented ELIA. CUMULUS, in the person of its president Christian Guellerin seems to be the first contact point for the European Commission in this case.
From another perspective, it may be quite alarming that it is only Design that made it so far.  No doubt, it will boost the importance of design education, but it may call for actions to boost other disciplines as well.

In 2011, the Commission will set up a European Design Leadership Board which will be invited to make proposals within a year to enhance the role of design in innovation policy, for example through EU and/or national programmes, and a "European Design Excellence" label. As part of the follow up to the Green Paper on cultural and creative industries, the Commission will establish a European Creative Industries Alliance to develop new forms of support for these industries and promote the wider use of creativity by other sectors.
The Commission will facilitate effective collaborative research and knowledge transfer within the research Framework Programmes. Mechanisms are also needed to further strengthen knowledge transfer offices in public research organisations, in particular through trans-national collaboration.


5. Innovation Union Flagship initiative Educational policy and Knowledge Alliances


A rather precise strategy of four elements to be achieved in 2011 (not directly related to the European Skills Council).  Relevant are the three following points ranking, knowledge alliances and E-skills (see also point 9) :

The Commission will, based on current preparatory work, support an independent multi-dimensional international ranking system to benchmark university performance. This will allow the best performing European universities to be identified. In 2011 further steps will be proposed in a Communication on the reform and modernisation of higher education
The Commission will support business-academia collaborations through the creation of "Knowledge Alliances" between education and business to develop new curricula addressing innovation skills gaps. Keywords are also inter-disciplinarity, entrepreneurship and stronger business partnerships.
The Commission will propose an integrated framework for the development and promotion of e-skills for innovation and competitiveness, based on partnerships with stakeholders. This will - among others - include pan-European guidelines for new curricula, quality labels for industry-based training and awareness-raising activities.


Remarkable is that the European Commission apparently already made a decision on Ranking and is speeding up the work, so we should as well. Knowledge Alliances seem to offer yet another opportunity to develop partnerships from an educational perspective, both for arts education institutes and for ELIA such as labs, incubator units, etc.

6. Innovation Union Flagship Structural Funds / Study on Culture in the Structural Funds


Relevant Structural funds include regional development funds (ERDF), also including Interreg, and the European Social Fund (ESF). These funds are operationalised and managed at the national and/or regional level.  Some programmes like Urban and Equal were community initiatives but do not exist anymore. The Polish Presidency July-December 2011 makes a plea for a new Urban Programme, of which cultural and creative industries and also higher arts education could profit tremendously.

Member States should considerably improve their use of existing Structural Funds for research & innovation projects, helping people to acquire the necessary skills, improving the performance of national systems and implementing smart specialisation strategies and trans-national projects. This should also apply to the pre-accession funding for EU candidate countries. It will establish a "smart specialisation platform", including support for the emergence of world-class clusters.
Member States should initiate the preparation of post 2013 Structural Fund programmes with an increased focus on innovation and smart specialisation. Future regulations governing the operation of the European Regional Development Fund should further commit substantial financial resources to support innovation initiatives within the regions of the European Union.


A very recent Study on the Contribution of Culture to Local and Regional Development - Evidence from the Structural Funds, concludes that the current investment in culture-based development is not in line with the importance of the creative sector in Europe. Culture based interventions are capable of making  significant contributions but there is a danger, concludes the report  that this fails , unless more attention is given at a national and at a European level. This report delivers strong arguments also for higher arts education to be become much more involved in the Structural Funds. Until now this was merely limited to cultural tourism and infrastructures. See http://ec.europa.eu/culture/key-documents/doc/studies/final_report_SF_en.pdf

7. Innovation Union ‘Delivering the European Research Area’


Public consultation on the new Research Programmes

This is already largely covered by the objectives and work programme of the SHARE Academic Network. It emphases transnational mobility/collaboration and better employment conditions for researchers.
In 2012, the Commission will propose a European Research Area framework and supporting measures to remove obstacles to mobility and cross-border co-operation, aiming for them to be in force by end 2014. They will seek to ensure through a common approach:

  • quality of doctoral training, attractive employment conditions and gender balance in research careers;
  • mobility of researchers across countries and sectors, including through open recruitment in public research institutions and comparable research career structures and by facilitating the creation of European supplementary pension funds;
  • cross-border operation of research performing organisations, funding agencies and foundations, including by ensuring simplicity and mutual coherence of funding rules and procedures, building on the work of stakeholders, funding agencies and their representative organisations;
  • dissemination, transfer and use of research results, including through open access to publications and data from publicly funded research;   

The European Commission presented a Green Paper, which proposes major changes to EU research, and innovation to be introduced in the next EU budget after 2013, to make participation easier, increase scientific and economic impact and provide better value for money. The Commission is seeking the views of all interested individuals and organisations on these proposed changes and on the specific questions set out in the Green Paper. The deadline for contributions is Friday 20 May 2011. See http://ec.europa.eu/research/index.cfm?lg=en    

8. Innovation Union Social Innovation + Council conclusions Culture and Poverty


Because social inclusion and cohesion is part of the 2020 strategy at the highest level, social innovation and combating poverty is expected to become more important in the new programmes in education and culture.  It also includes a renewed focus on the social economy, and collective business models.
The Commission will launch a European Social Innovation pilot providing expertise and a networked 'virtual hub' for social entrepreneurs and the public and third sectors.
It will promote social innovation through the European Social Fund (ESF) building on the significant investments in social innovation, which the ESF has made.
Social innovation should become a mainstream focus in the next generation of European Social Fund programmes. Member States are encouraged to already step up efforts to promote social innovation through the ESF.


9. Digital Agenda for Europe


The Digital Agenda action points seem to be of general interest. Of interest that is more specific is the draft Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Policy Support Programme ("ICT PSP") work programme for the year 2011.  38 million euro will be available for funding projects under the following four objectives: Aggregating content in Europeana, Digitising content for Europeana, Raising awareness of Europeana and promoting its use, and eLearning.
See http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/econtentplus/currentcall/events/index_en.htm

The recent report in the cultural field New Renaissance from from a ‘Comité des Sages’ calls to bringing Europe's cultural heritage online. The report urges the member states to step up their efforts to put online collections held in libraries, archives and museums and stresses the benefits of making Europe's culture and knowledge more easily accessible. The report links with the Digital Agenda for Europe and helps cultural institutions make the transition towards the digital age. It also points to the potential economic benefits of digitisation, including through public-private partnerships, for the development of innovative services in sectors like tourism, research and education. It would be interesting to know to what extent our member schools possess collections, archives that could be digitalized and/or could create content within Europeana, which is the cultural portal in Europe, making paintings, music, films and books from Europe's galleries, libraries, archives and museums online. See http://www.europeana.eu/portal/

10. Transnational mobility of artists


Within the European Agenda for Culture, transnational mobility of artists is a particular priority and the European Commission initiated eight pilot projects over the last few years to develop and test different actions, in particular in the field of information provision. ELIA is involved as a partner in the project PRACTICS, which pilots contacts points in EU countries. See  http://www.practics.org/
Points identified in both ELIA and AEC meetings include:

  • How to best prepare graduates of art schools for cross-border mobility in their future professional lives?
  • How can professionals best transfer the knowledge and know-how they have gained on mobility to art students?
  • Do art schools need training  to be ‘Info-providers’, also to advise mobile teachers properly
  • Some art schools/conservatories have internship or placement programmes
  • Practics Infopoints should be open for requests from students; they could also help organise specific career days.

11. Follow-up European Commission Green Paper on Unlocking the Potential of the CCIs


Recently two documents, one from the Commission and one from the European Parliament were published in which higher arts education is specifically mentioned. It is for the first time ever that higher arts education receives specific attention in European policy. ELIA earlier commented on the Green Paper (English version / French version) and is now preparing a position paper in order to bring forward the views of higher arts education in Europe. 

1. Analysis responses to the consultation launched by the Green Paper in April 2010

The issue of ‘better matching of the skills needs of CCIs’ (wording from the Commission, not from ELIA) is of direct importance for higher arts education.  Under this heading, education institutes, also including the art & design schools ‘were invited to better cover the new needs of the CCIs and to respond to the digital shift, also including cross-disciplinary curricula such as the need to combine both mathematical and drawing skills in order to work in the 3D media sector’. Many respondents emphasized the need to improve initial professional training, professional integration and continuing professional development. Most respondents also welcomed the idea of incubators, residencies and creative partnerships between education institutes and business. Based on this analysis the Commission will draft a Council Work Plan for Culture 2011- 2014, promoting creative partnerships between culture and sectors such as education and training, business, research and the public sector, on artists' residencies as well as mobility, financial engineering for SMEs in the cultural and creative sector. The Commission will further establish a ‘European Creative Industries Alliance’ and explore the possibilities for establishing culture sector skills councils at EU level analysing developments on the sectoral labour market. Read more on http://ec.europa.eu/culture/our-policy-development/doc/analysis_green_paper.pdf

2. New European Parliament Report highlights high-level artistic education

On behalf of the Committee on Culture and Education (2010/2156(INI)) of the European Parliament, rapporteur Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid recently drafted a report following-up on the European Commission’s Green Paper. The EP asks for a real European strategy to unlock the potential of cultural and creative industries, taking into account the dual nature of these industries: their economic nature on the one hand, through the contribution in terms of employment, growth and creation of wealth, but mostly their cultural nature, through activities contributing to the blossoming and citizens' social and cultural integration. Summarising in the words of the rapporteur: ‘unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries necessitates the development of high-quality artistic and cultural education, territorialisation, local partnerships, creation and creativity, sharing of expertise, financing, public-private partnerships and exchange of good practice’  Recommendations to the member-states and European Commission include amongst others:

  • To promote artistic and cultural education among all age groups, from primary to higher or vocational education, also in the context of lifelong learning;
  • To set up professional training programmes focusing on the cultural and creative sector and partnerships between schools, students, professionals from the cultural and creative sector, enterprises of all sizes, craftspeople and financial institutions;
  • To create optimum conditions for employing university-educated and professional young people from this sector and to train them in specific economic, taxation, financial and technological aspects of the cultural and creative world and in communication and marketing.

The report is available in English, French and German. Read more on http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/cult/pr/852/852269/852269en.pdf


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