Commission unveils plans to boost audience for culture

Brussels, 18-10-2012 — / — The European Commission will tomorrow unveil its new plans for putting audiences, as well as artists, at the heart of its new Creative Europe programme for the cultural and creative sectors. Audience development will be a key focus for projects supported through the proposed €1.8 billion EU fund, which will encompass and strengthen the existing Culture and MEDIA (cinema) programmes as well as launching a loan guarantee scheme to boost bank lending to SMEs in the cultural sectors.

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for education and culture, said: “We need to do more to engage the public with European culture and to protect diversity. To do this effectively, we need to help artists and other professionals to build new audiences, in their home countries and beyond, to re-assess their relationship with existing audiences and to diversify audiences. If we want to introduce younger audiences to culture, we need to think afresh about how best to do this. If we don’t look at this issue seriously, we risk undermining our cultural diversity and its benefits for the economy and social inclusion.”

The Commission will outline its plans on audience development at the 2012 ‘Culture in Motion’ conference in Brussels, which brings together nearly 1000 representatives of the cultural and creative sectors. The three-day event, which opens today with a session on the impact of the European Capitals of Culture, will showcase 23 projects, mainly supported by EU Culture and MEDIA programmes, that provide inspirational examples of how to reach bigger and diverse audiences.


European Audiences: 2020 and Beyond

‘European Audiences: 2020 and Beyond’ will be the focus of the Culture in Motion conference (venue: The Egg Theater, Rue Bara/Barastraat 175, 1000 Brussels) on 16-17 October. Examples of what is meant by audience development and how it can make culture and the arts more widely accessible will be presented by, among others:

  • Ian Christie, President of Europa Cinemas (supported by the EU MEDIA Programme since 1992, it operates in 629 cities across 68 countries with a total of 1111 cinemas): “It’s a question of engaging audiences in what they think rather than simply handing something down to them to take or leave. We are interested only in intensifying the experience of European films.”
  • Gerald Harringer, Exchange Radical Moments! Live Art Festival (supported by the EU Culture Programme and involving organisations in Austria, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Italy, the Czech Republic and Germany): “With the Live Art Festival, we were not only crossing borders between countries, we were also breaking down the traditional frontiers that exist between the roles of the artist and the audience. We wanted to transform the audiences into partners and spectators into participants.”
  • Airan Berg, I like to move it move it, supported by Linz09 European Capital of Culture: “It is time to rethink our dialogue with the public and avoid the twin perils of exclusion and of simple indifference, even among those who could afford to come. Involvement is at the heart of our approach. Audience development happens when people get excited because they are involved.”

The Culture in Motion conference will be webstreamed live: and on Twitter at #AudienceDevelopment and #CreativeEurope.

European Capitals of Culture

The European Capitals of Culture will be in the spotlight today (15 October), with an opportunity for the exchange of good practices among representatives of past, present and future European Capitals of Culture. Every year, two cities are selected as European Capitals of Culture to highlight the diversity of European culture and the impact of intelligent cultural investment on the sustainable development of cities. Launched in 1985, the initiative has become one of the European Union’s most visible success stories, reaching millions of citizens.

Cultural and creative sectors

The EU’s cultural and creative sectors account for up to 4.5% of EU GDP and up to 8.5 million jobs. Although these sectors have proved relatively resilient in the crisis, they also face considerable challenges stemming from the digital shift, globalisation and market fragmentation along cultural and linguistic lines.

EU support for culture enables thousands of organisations, artists and cultural professionals to meet, exchange views, learn from each other, and ultimately create, tour and perform together in different European countries.

The Commission has proposed a new programme called Creative Europe to strengthen the competitiveness of these sectors and to promote cultural diversity. The Commission envisages a total budget of €1.8 billion for Creative Europe in 2014-2020, which represents a 37% increase compared with current funding levels. The programme will support 8 000 cultural organisations and enable 300 000 artists, cultural professionals and their works to operate across borders and gain international experience. It will also provide funding for the translation of more than 5 000 books (IP/11/1399).

On 26 September, the Commission unveiled a strategy entitled ‘Promoting cultural and creative sectors for growth and jobs in the EU’. The aim is to increase the export potential of these sectors, as well as to maximise their spill-over benefits for other areas such as innovation, ICT and urban regeneration. The strategy calls for measures to boost skills development, access to finance, promotion of new business models, audience development, access to international markets and improved links to other sectors (IP/12/1012).

To find out more

Projects on display at the conference

Website of the conference:

European Commission’s culture website

Follow Androulla Vassiliou onTwitter @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58); Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)


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