ARTINFO: EU Plans Largest-Ever Arts Funding Program, Pinning Economic Hopes on Culture Industry (24 November 2011)

As posted in ARTINFO, 24 November 2011.  Note:  The European Union’s “initiative . . . to stimulate the economy through cultural enterprise” illustrates an “ideological gap” with more than Mitt Romney.  It is also in sharp contrast with Queen’s Administration’s initiative to close down cultural enterprise to reduce its deficit—a deficit that it increased by over $100,000 last year when it hired a Toronto ad agency to steal Queen’s new “brand idea,” “The Spirit of Initiative,” from Renault.  What if we had paid even half of that to our own Fine Art department to come up with our very own, brand new, “brand idea”?

In Brussels today, the European Commission proposed the world’s largest-ever cultural funding program under the title Creative Europe. The initiative, which would disperse a projected €1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) between 2014 and 2020, represents a 35 percent increase in European Union expenditures on culture, and is part of a larger Pan-European goal to stimulate the economy through cultural enterprise. Representing an average 4.5 percent of the region’s GDP, culture and media have drawn great attention on the aging continent as a robust sector in which they can prosper. This marks a stark ideological gap between the E.U.’s policymakers and the United States congress and prospective U.S. presidential candidates likeMitt Romney who propose to slash federal funding for the arts to balance the budget and improve the economy.

While approximately half of the funds will be allocated to the film industry, €500 million ($670 million) will be targeted directly toward promoting the visual and performing arts, with an estimated 300,000 artists to receive funding of some kind for cultural projects across the continent. The remainder of the budget would be provided as collateral against loans totaling up to an additional €1 billion ($1.4 million) for “small operators” across mediums.

Androulla Vassiliou, the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, and Youth, said in a statement: “This investment will help tens of thousands… to reach new audiences in Europe and beyond; without this support, it would be difficult or impossible for them to break into new markets.” She emphasized the program’s focus on diversity and expanding Europe’s cultural horizons beyond its cosmopolitan hubs.

The announcement comes after Bernd Neumann spoke last week in Berlin of Germany’s commitment to cultural progress, allocating an additional €50 million ($68 million) to the country’s domestic culture funds, a 5.1 percent increase over the previous year.

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