Memo October 2012


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in October 2012

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Fields of manoeuvre

Preparations for the next seven years in the European Union are taking place on several fronts. Outstanding are the labours on the future of the Structural Funds, and about the final shape of the coming Creative Europe programme.

The expansion of the culture sector by annexing the creative industries has been topical for nearly twenty years now. The other issue has lately gained momentum: the self-centric penchants of the sector have increasingly given way to emphasising the social impact of culture, manifested by a strong focus on audience development.

EU Structural Funds

Creative Europe

 Creativity annexation  √  √
 Sector extraversion   √   √


All these have found various manifestations in the past weeks.

Expansion fever

The same source, from which we illustrated our warning about the indiscriminate use the term “cultural and creative sector” has reconfirmed now that culture represents about a fifth or fourth in the expanded remit. (Turnover shares of the various branches of cultural and creative industries in Germany in 2010.)

When citing those impressive figures about the creative sector, better avoid sounding like the mouse telling the elephant: “Wow, we are making this bridge shake!”

The next bridge

And here comes the next challenge of the same nature:

“Social economy and entrepreneurship in the European Union is estimated to represent:

  • 10% of European gross domestic product;
  • More than 11 millions of workers, 6% of total employment”

... and so on, on the occasion of the launching of a European Social Innovation Competition, open for operations in 27+10 countries. What is social innovation? How much of the socially engaged cultural activities are included? Definitions are not really definite. We shall watch how this programme treats cultural projects.

Baltic progression

It is not the first time that the Baltic countries make concerted and conscious efforts to handle paradigm shifts in cultural policies. Besides focusing on cultural investments and EU budgets, the conference Mainstreaming Culture has already dedicated a session to culture and social innovation. Here is the report of the event.

Waiting for Creative Europe

The European Parliament does not want to be left behind. The committee in charge of culture arranged for two briefing papers on the future Creative Europe programme. The first one discusses the prospects of the audiovisual domains; interprets the proposed changes, with special regard to the financial facility (preferential loan scheme) of the cross-sectoral strand, and acknowledges that the proposal greatly responds to the sector’s needs. It suggests to take on board a fifth challenge (in addition to four listed in the proposal) of changing consumption habits, and to seek innovative ways to connect and engage with the audiences of the future.

The other paper had to deal with more concerns from the aspect of culture proper, particularly with regard to the proposed merger of three existing programmes. Pros and cons, threats and prospects are thoroughly discussed, highlighting the improvements suggested by the Danish presidency.   

Waiting for the next label

The European Commission is considering common European quality labels in tourism. Engaged in the labelling business, BO searched for references to culture. Not to its full satisfaction. Nevertheless a precious link was discovered in a footnote, about labelling in cultural tourism.

The issue of regular quality assessment occupies a stronger position in the thinking about tourism label than what we are experiencing in case of the European heritage label. (Still lacking due respect for past diversity.)    

Valletta 2018 wins!

With all respect and sympathy towards friends in Malta, few announcements had lesser impact lately. Regulated open competition across all Europe could raise excitement about capitals of culture (à laEurovision); arguments against (e.g. from 7.45 on the full length version) are not fully convincing.

One among the ten

Just like in the past two years, one group represents our region among the ten recipients of EBBA, the European Border Breakers Award. Listen to their song. More people have done so than there are Estonians in the world according to Wikipedia. If you like it, vote for them.

Be among the thirty

Thirty people will have the privilege to take part in an intensive three-day learning programme on the field of cultural relations and diplomacy at this year’s Encatc-academy in Brussels, 5-7 December. The aim is to “further develop their knowledge and expertise in this field and prepare them to deal with unexpected challenges in cultural relations”. Like bumping into Sinterklaas in the street (St. Nicolas, Mikuláš, Mikołaj, forebear to Santa Claus).