Memo November 2011

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A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in November 2011

New paths, new horizons for the observer.

Creative Europe coming

One more path towards 2020 has opened as the draft of the Creative Europe programme has been announced, outlined and explained. Since its predecessors: the Culture and the Media programmes reach beyond the 27 members of the European Union, these documents deserve the attention of cultural operators in every corner of the continent. Being proposals, they will be discussed in the coming months (here, too).

The most intriguing novelty is the third pillar outside of Culture and Media: a new cross-sectoral financial facility. The many questions about this strand begin with who: who will be eligible to grants from this source? The composition of the brave new cluster of [si: si: ai] – the creative and cultural industries needs to be articulated at even greater precision.

Creative sector mapped

Here is an initiative that set to mapping the sector in a few European regions. The number of employees appears to be a fairly objective indicator. BO has picked two cases and put them in a shape that can be compared to an earlier collection, Germany in 2009.

Looking at the two graphs (or three, with Germany) attentively, a number of questions will pop up. Are the cultural industries going to pull about 16% from the financial facility strand of Creative Europe to mimic the Swedish share, or twice as many à la Asturias? And who will settle the confusion around the job categories (NACE) applied? Do tens of thousand of Asturians indeed live of literature and no-one from softwares? Or perhaps printing and book binding (NACE 2222/2223) are not quite “literature”, not even quite creative sector? Neither is 2224 pre-press necessarily “advertisement” – to round up my unfair critique of a pioneer project.  

Mapped differently

A different approach to mapping the creative sector was presented in the latest update of the Romanian chapter in the Compendium. Following WIPO-methodology, copyright based economic branches were surveyed, arriving at a good and a bad piece of news. Good that by 2008 these industries have achieved a stronger position than e.g. real estate transactions, measured by contribution to the GDP (7.2%). Bad that copyright based (creative) industries are particularly vulnerable to crisis: their share in the Romanian GDP fell to 6.0% in 2009.

Evidence based policy making seems to be appreciated in Romania, judged by the full-bred cultural observatory that the ministry keeps up also in times of fiscal misery.

Mapping relationships

Here is something else to watch attentively. This schematic map of the social network of the cultural community of Europe shows the cross-border bonds evolved in the frames of the first five years of the Culture programme. More detailed visual representation of cultural co-operation between countries is to be found in our colourful paper. 

Computing proportions

The scrutiny of Culture grant figures allows for estimating how much this source adds to public financing of culture in various countries. Using data from the Compendium update BO assumes in 2009 the Culture programme enhanced cross border activities of Romanian cultural organisations by adding about 0.09% to national public resources.

The respective Bulgarian figure is 0.51%. Strange, because according to EACEA data Romanians won less in 2009 than their southern neighbours; Bulgarian Compendium page, on the other hand reports about much smaller national budgets than in Romania.

Such things happen if one ventures into cultural statistics. 

Still among us

Co-authors of the BO analysis can be seen at 33rd and 38th second of the video with the late Dragan Klaic.

No serious talk about cultural policies in Europe takes place without missing and quoting Dragan. This was the case both in Bled and in Vienna – two think-tank events that will certainly fuel thoughts in various directions (future BO memos being one). 

Private support analysed

In November a large study was published on private support to culture in Europe. The analysis was commissioned by the European Parliament and executed by Croatian and Slovenian researchers. Differently from an earlier period when loosely defined “sponsorship” dominated similar inquiries (and illusions of the sector), Vesna and Co. now identify 16 kinds of private – individual and corporate – contributions to cultural finances.

The 236 pages of this composite report contain recommendations about boosting private giving, detailed comparison with the issue in the United States, as well as five national case studies: Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and the UK.

An important conclusion is however, that in crisis private giving to culture usually drops quicker than public finances: therefore picturing private support as a decisive substitute for public budget cuts is wrong.

Venture philanthropy

The study shed light on an emerging species: the venture philanthropists. This, too, spreads from the USA via Great Britain, but the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) already has three members from our region as well. Their target is not projects or causes: similarly to venture capitalists, they support / coach / steer selected non-profit organisations over a certain period. Only about 7% of these latter, however, are cultural operations.