The Commission has launched new actions to support the cultural and creative sectors in Europe and beyond, following the adoption of the first annual work programme of the Creative Europe 2021-2027. In 2021, Creative Europe will allocate an unprecedented budget of around €300 million to help cultural professionals and artists to collaborate across disciplines and borders, in order to find more opportunities and to reach new audiences.
The adoption lays the foundations for the first calls for proposals under the new programme. These calls will be open to all organisations active in the relevant cultural and creative sectors. The total seven-year budget of €2.4 billion has increased by 63% compared to the previous one. Creative Europe also aims to increase the cultural sector competitiveness, while supporting their efforts to become greener, more digital and more inclusive. Special attention is given to reinforcing the resilience and recovery of the cultural and creative sectors in light of the pandemic.
Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, said: “Over 8 million people across the EU work in a cultural activity. Culture knows no borders and no nationalities. Art represents a window to the world and contributes to building bridges among all of us. At a time when museums, cinemas, cultural heritage sites, theatres, all start to reopen, I want to reiterate the Commission's support for the cultural and creative sectors. With an increased budget, Creative Europe will strive to reinforce the recovery of the sectors while promoting the immense diversity and creativity that they offer us.”
Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: "Artistic and creative expression is at the heart of the cultural and creative industries and of our European identity. The reinvigorated Creative Europe programme will give a boost to European stories that resonate globally, and nurture Europe's creators, producers, distributors and exhibitors, so badly hit by the pandemic. By supporting collaboration across the value chain and linguistic borders, as well as new innovative business models, MEDIA will bolster a vibrant and culturally diverse audiovisual ecosystem. For the first time, and at a time of growing threats to media pluralism, Creative Europe will also promote a healthy and sustainable news media sector across the Union.”
A press release is available online.
EU boost for culture
MEPs have approved the biggest ever budget for the EU's culture and creative sectors - €2.5 billion for 2021-2027. Society
Creative Europe is the only EU programme that exclusively supports the culture and audiovisual sectors. After a rough period for artists and the whole sector because of restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parliament and the Council agreed on a €2.5bn budget for 2021-2027 in December 2020. MEPs approved the agreement during the plenary session in May 2021.
Better response to different sectors and their needs
To be able to respect the specific nature of different sectors and respond better to their needs, Creative Europe is divided into three different strands:
Culture focuses on networking, transnational and multi-disciplinary collaboration in cultural and creative sectors and fostering a stronger European identity and values with special attention for the music sector, as negotiated by MEPs.
Media is dedicated to stimulating cross-border cooperation, mobility and innovation; increasing the visibility of European audiovisual works in the new environment; and making it attractive to different audiences, especially young people.
Cross-sectoral aims to encourage innovation, support cross-sectoral projects, the exchange of the best practices and address common challenges. Creative Europe also supports:
- European Heritage Label
- European Heritage Days
- European prizes for music, literature, heritage and architecture
- European Capitals of Culture
Support for activities with EU added value
Creative Europe will support activities that promote common EU roots, cultural diversity and cross-border co-operation.
Promoting inclusion and gender equality
MEPs ensured a focus on inclusion and gender equality, promoting the participation of people living with disabilities, minorities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as supporting female talent.
10 cities competing for the 2020 #EuropeanCapitalOfSmartTourism title
Ten European cities have been shortlisted for the 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism competition (presented in alphabetical order): Bratislava (Slovakia), Breda (The Netherlands), Bremerhaven (Germany), Gothenburg (Sweden), Karlsruhe (Germany), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Málaga (Spain), Nice (France), Ravenna (Italy) and Torino (Italy). The finalist cities were selected from a total of 35 applications from across 17 EU Member States.
Last year, Helsinki and Lyon won the inaugural competition and the two cities jointly hold the titles of European Capitals of Smart Tourism in 2019.
This is the second edition of the competition to award two cities as the European Capitals of Smart Tourism in 2020. The two winning cities will benefit from communication and branding support for a year. This will include; a promotional video, a purpose-built sculpture for their city centres, as well as bespoke promotional actions.
Moreover, four awards will also be handed out in recognition of achievements in the individual categories of the competition (Accessibility, Sustainability, Digitalisation and Cultural Heritage and Creativity).
All winning cities will be announced and awarded at an Awards Ceremony, which is taking place as part of the European Tourism Forum in Helsinki on 9-10 October 2019.
In the first stage of the competition, an independent panel of experts evaluated the applications. All finalist cities demonstrated excellence across the four competition categories combined.
In the second stage, representatives of the 10 finalist cities will travel to Helsinki to present their candidatures and the programme of activities planned for 2020 in front of the European Jury. The European Jury will meet on 8 October 2019 and select two cities to become European Capitals of Smart Tourism in 2020.
The selection of the most innovative projects, ideas and initiatives, submitted by cities to the last year’s competition can be found in the Compendium of Best Practices, the go-to guide to smart tourism in the EU. For all the latest news on the European Capital of Smart Tourism, sign up to the newsletter, or follow on Facebook or Twitter.
#Koezio for indoor adventure
They say good news travels far and news about one of the newer and more exciting visitor attractions in Brussels has stretched a long way – as far as Canada and Thailand.
The indoor adventure park Koezio, located at the thriving Docks Bruxel shopping and leisure complex, sees about 150,000 visitors pass through its doors each year.
Some participants, acting on recommendations by hotels, Trip Advisor and Visit Brussels (and keen to get the experience for themselves) have even come from as far away as Canada and Thailand.
The centre has proved a big hit since it became the first Koezio to open outside its heartland in France.
Headquartered in Lille, in northern France, the Brussels centre was the fourth to open (there are also two in Paris) and it now attracts participants –known as “agents” – from all over Belgium.
First, an explanation for first-time visitors. Koezio (it is pronounced as Ko-wa-ze-o) is a place quite unlike any other you have probably visited. It offers “training as a special agent” in a converted 3,200 square metre space.
For two hours, your endurance, intelligence, courage and team spirit are challenged to complete the “journey” through what are called four districts: a mysterious labyrinth, a machine room with giant modules, an escape room and finally a dizzying trail at 12 metres heigh.
It’s the type of test that James Bond author Ian Fleming himself might have appreciated.
No need to be fearful though: what matters here is ‘being together’ and increasing cohesion – the invented word Koezio is derived from cohesion - within a group. Koezio is accessible for both young and old and from 2 players upwards.For safety reasons you must be 1 metre 40cm in height and anyone under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Worth pointing out that you do not have to be super fit or an athlete.
The fun starts on arrival with the “secret agent” subterfuge. This is when you are given your very own “secret code” allowing access to the park. On arrival, you enter your “secret code” details on a touch-screen monitor before changing into freshly laundered overalls which is when you are let loose on the course for the next couple of hours.
Seven teams of up to 5 players are allowed entry every 15 minutes, with the idea being that the park does not get overcrowded.
The idea is to clock up as many points as you can. So called “elite agents” can score up to 600,000 points but the average per visit is about 330,000.
Unlike other escape games in Brussels and elsewhere, the idea here is all about working as a team, not against each other. The emphasis for the “secret agents” is on team work and co-operation. At the end, each participant/team is give a detailed print out of their score and performance.
For a small supplement, you can also take a special camera into the park to film the whole adventure (the images can later be downloaded on to a USB stick). Koezio is great for a family visit but is also ideal location for team building exercises.
Kjell Materman, its communication manager, says the Brussels site has become particular popular for companies whose members can meet up in a private room for a “discover my team” chat before the adventure starts. The centre, built on what used to be a fabrics factory dating to the mid-1800s, also has meeting rooms, a dining room and a lounge for an aperitif or meal or drink after your “mission”.
Kjell, who used to work at The Parlamentarium in Brussels said: “We are also seeing more and more tourists who may have been sent on the recommendation of others.”
There are special discounts if you book online and reductions for schools and youth clubs. Try also to have a go on the virtual reality game at the entrance.
The Brussels centre is not as large as in Lille (which has two “missions”) but, because of clever designing, has a similar layout.
The first Koezio opened in Lille in 2006 and so successful has the concept proved that a fifth one will open in Lyon this summer with plans for others in London, the Netherlands and Spain.
This go ahead company has invested a lot in spreading the word about Koezio and, as the visitor figures, this policy is paying off.Beware that weekends are particularly popular so best to book then.
Transport links are great as the site is situated on two tramlines which whisk you into central Brussels in just 10 minutes. There is a huge car park nearby and, from the summer,there are also river tours on the nearby Brussels Canal.
Another great reason to pay a visit right now is that the Royal Greenhouses at Laeken are currently open to the public until 10 May.
Whatever time of year you come here, though, you are sure of great fun.
Eat your heart out James Bond!
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