Thursday

5th Aug 2021

Artist groups fear impact of economic crisis

  • Artist groups worry about the effects of the economic crisis (Photo: Jessica McCann)

Public sector support for culture is being threatened by Europe’s current economic woes, says a pro-art advocacy network.

"We cannot but face the fact that we are in the midst of generalised crisis of extreme fragility," said Mercedes Biovinazzo, chair of Culture Action Europe (CAE), which represents thousands of pro-art groups across the continent, on Friday (9 November).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Speaking at the opening of the two-day annual CAE conference in Brussels on the "sustainability of culture" in Europe, Biovinazzo said it is necessary to place art at the heart of the political debate.

"It is in times of crisis that we need to engage politically and with a high degree of responsibility," she noted.

The European Commission, for its part, has pledged to support art and culture in Europe to tune of €1.8 billion between 2014-2020.

EU president Jose Manuel Barroso, in a pre-recorded video message delivered at the conference, said globalisation, the fragmentation of markets, and squeezed finances has placed additional pressure on culture.

"We want to encourage all levels of policy governance, local, regional, national and European level to develop integrated policies in the cultural and creative sectors," said Barroso.

The commission says its aim is to support artists, cultural professionals and cultural organisations across the EU.

"We want to ensure their work reaches as many people as possible," noted Barroso.

He also said the sectors are "an engine for growth, smart, inclusive, [and] sustainable growth." Culture represents up to 4.5 percent of the EU's total GDP and employs between 7 and 8.5 million people, says the commission.

Some of the conference participants took a different approach to the commission's economic angle on culture.

"Culture has a proven economic dimension, it generates income and employment as Mr Barroso pointed out. But it is not an instrument for economic growth," said Chris Torch of Intercult, a Swedish-based group that collaborates and networks with other culture-led projects throughout Europe.

"Culture raises questions, it disturbs us and requires a response ... it animates debates and challenges prejudice and all this is linked to peace-making, human development and individual freedom," he added.

Meanwhile, the commission noted a certain backlash when it comes to its support of culture.

Xavier Troussard of the commission's education and culture division, spoke of how some EU-based culture organisations refrain from making public the money they receive from EU funds.

He also noted that Europe's culture sector, represented by the CAE and the several dozen groups gathered at the conference, have not fully connected with the public.

"I'm not sure you are perceived in society as agents of change or agents of innovation because you have not demonstrated your own capacity to innovate in your own sector," said Troussard.

Troussard said the commission was ready to help the sector in making their value and importance more visible at the EU-level but warned that any changes "in policy making will have to be backed by a strong sense of evidence."

Culture in figures: Nordics most engaged

In general in Europe, those in the north are more culturally savvy than those in the south, if statistics are anything to go by. But there are some outliers.

Culture: 'A new wind is blowing in Europe'

Faced with falling ticket sales, cultural institutions in Europe should be looking both for ways to reach new audiences and keep existing audiences on board, according to the European Commission.

Art to protest politics in Spanish town

In early 2012, Pablo Lag stood in front of an abandoned, half-constructed house in Alicante and kicked in the door. Inside, he began work on an art exhibition “to make people in the world know what is happening in Spain.”

Culture in Europe

For cash-strapped EU member states, spending on culture is not a priority. Yet the sector drives economic growth and employs millions of people across the European Union. EUobserver looks at the issues.

News in Brief

  1. EU secures deal with Novavax for potential Covid-19 vaccine
  2. France fined €10m for failing to tackle air pollution
  3. Fire near Athens forces thousands to evacuate
  4. EU to Lebanon: 'deliver results' on Beirut blast probe
  5. Belarus opposition leader demands regime end
  6. Croatia's border-monitoring of migrant rights 'falls short'
  7. Court stops Austria's Afghan deportation, as conflict worsens
  8. 'Missing' Belarus exiles group chief found dead in Kyiv

Column

Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion

There are no fixed rules. Anyone can criticise, condone and codify women's apparel. The game is inclusive, bringing together an assorted collection of voyeurs, misogynists, racists, bigots, religious fanatics and culture warriors – but also feminists and other equality campaigners.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Italy seeks EU help on migrant boat arrivals
  2. WHO calls for vaccine-booster pause to help poor countries
  3. Romania selling on its jabs, despite low vaccination rates
  4. Cyprus' Varosha is Erdogan's canary in the coalmine
  5. Europe sees drop in Covid-19 cases
  6. Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion
  7. Telegram groups lure migrant hopefuls to Lithuania
  8. Third-time lucky for one Syrian grandmother in Denmark

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us