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Survey shows fall in European cultural participation



ACPlogoIs Europe becoming a less cultural continent? The findings of a new Eurobarometer survey on cultural access and participation – the first on the topic since 2007 – suggest this may be the case. Although there are marked differences between member states, in general fewer Europeans are engaging in cultural activities, as performers or spectators. Only 38% actively took part in a cultural activity, such as singing, dancing or photography, in the past year. In terms of 'passive' participation, the number describing their cultural engagement as high or very high is down to 18%, compared with 21% in 2007. The decline in participation has affected all cultural activities except cinema, with 52% saying they went to the movies in the past year (+1%). The main reasons cited for not engaging in culture are lack of time (44% give this reason for not reading a book), lack of interest (50% say this is why they have not seen a ballet, dance performance or opera), lack of money (25% give this reason for not attending a concert), and lack of choice (10% on average). The survey showed that over half of Europeans use the internet for cultural purposes, with nearly a third doing so at least once a week.

"Culture is a source of personal fulfilment, creativity and joy. I am concerned that fewer EU citizens are involved in cultural activities, as performers, producers or consumers. This survey shows that governments need to re-think how they support culture to stimulate public participation and culture's potential as an engine for jobs and growth. The cultural and creative sectors also need to adapt to reach new audiences and explore new funding models. The Commission will continue to support cultural access and participation through our new Creative Europe programme and other EU funding sources," stated Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou.

The survey shows that the most common form of cultural participation in the EU is watching or listening to a cultural programme on television or radio (72% did this at least once in the past 12 months, a 6% decrease since 2007), followed by reading a book (68%, down 3%). The least popular activity is going to see an opera, ballet or dance performance (18%, no change).

In terms of frequency of participation in all types of cultural activities, from reading to visiting a museum, Northern countries score highest, led by Sweden (43% describe their rate of participation as high or very high), Denmark (36%) and the Netherlands (34%). At the other end of the scale is Greece, where only 5% report high or very high participation rates, Portugal and Cyprus, 6%, Romania and Hungary, 7%, and Italy, 8%. Moreover, 34% of the EU population say they never or hardly ever participate in cultural activities, a 4% rise since 2007. This figure has significantly increased in some countries, such as Hungary (54%, +26%), Romania (55%, +14%) and Greece (63%, +8%).

Nearly 27 000 people across the EU were interviewed for the survey. The number of respondents in each country ranged from 500 in smaller Member States (Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg) to around 1 300 in the UK and 1 500 in Germany.

The highest levels of active participation are in Denmark (74% have participated actively in at least one cultural activity in the past year), Sweden (68%), Finland (63%) and the Netherlands (58%). The lowest levels of active participation are in Bulgaria (14%), Malta (18%), Italy (20%) and Hungary (21%). Only 12% of EU respondents were involved in photography or in making a film, compared with 27% in the previous survey, while 13% say they danced (19% last time) and 11% sang (15% in 2007).

Of those citing lack of interest, time, money or choice as the reason for non-participation, the highest/lowest figures are as follows:

  • Read a book: lack of interest (PT 49% highest, SE 15% lowest), lack of time (CY 55%, IE 31%), lack of money (HU, IT 8%, DK, LU, MT, NL, SE and UK all 0%), limited choice (RO 14%, NL 0%).
  • Watched or listened to a cultural programme on TV/ radio: lack of interest (AT 43% highest, LU, RO both 20% lowest), lack of time (MT 50%, AT 23%), limited choice (RO 16%, BG, MT both 3%).
  • Been to a concert: lack of interest (MT 49% highest, LV 11% lowest), lack of time (LU 34%, PT 13%), lack of money (PT 35%, MT 7%), limited choice (RO 30%, MT 2%).
  • Visited a historical monument or site: lack of interest (CY 47% highest, LV, RO both 18% lowest), lack of time (LU 44%, FI 25%), lack of money (CZ 21%, DK, LU, MT, FI, SE all 2%), limited choice (RO 26%, MT 1%).
  • Been to the cinema: lack of interest (CY 43% highest, LV and LU 17% lowest), lack of time (LU 43%, BG 18%), lack of money (ES 42%, MT 6%), limited choice (RO 29%, MT 1%).
  • Been to the theatre: lack of interest (MT 54% highest, EE 16% lowest), lack of time (CY, LV both 31%, PT 14%), lack of money (EL 40%, LU 4%), limited choice (RO 29%, MT 2%).
  • Visited a museum or gallery: lack of interest (CY 61% highest, LV, RO both 22% lowest), lack of time (UK 41%, PT 23%), lack of money (HU 18%, CY, MT, FI all 2%), limited choice (RO 26%, MT 1%),
  • Visited a public library: lack of interest (CY 62% highest, RO 26% lowest), lack of time (RO 36%, LU 17%), lack of choice (RO 23%, MT 2%).
  • Seen a ballet, dance performance or opera: lack of interest (CY 64% highest, RO 24% lowest), lack of time (LU 27%, PT 11%), lack of money (LT 25%, MT 4%).

The survey showed that over half of Europeans use the internet for cultural purposes. The most popular uses are reading newspaper articles (53%), searching for cultural information (44%) and listening to the radio or music via the internet (42%). Respondents from northern countries are more likely to use the internet for cultural purposes than those from southern and central-eastern European countries.

Socio-demographic factors continue to influence cultural participation: the best educated, those with a high social status or who almost never experience financial difficulties are more likely to participate in cultural activities. Encouragingly, the youngest Europeans (aged 15-24) show higher levels of participation in many cultural activities, and it seems that this is the age at which the greatest diversity of activities is experienced.

The European Culture Forum

The Eurobarometer survey on cultural access and participation is published to coincide with the opening of the European Culture Forum at the Brussels Palais des Beaux Arts. 1200 culture practitioners and policy-makers are expected to attend the Forum (4-6 November). Keynote speakers include José Manuel Barroso, European Commission President, Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Šarūnas Birutis, the Lithuanian Minister of Culture, and Tomáš Sedláček, author of Economics of Good and Evil. The forum is taking place on the eve of the adoption of Creative Europe, the new EU programme to support the cultural and creative sectors.

To find out more, go to the Special Eurobarometer 399 on cultural access and participation, 2013.

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Commission launches Creative Europe calls to support the culture and creative sectors



The Commission has launched the remaining calls for the culture and creative sectors within the culture strand of Creative Europe programme, making available a total amount of €88 million. This budget will cover European co-operation projects in the field of culture, the circulation and increased diversity of European literary works, and will provide training and performance opportunities for young musicians.

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “Culture and creation are vibrant sectors that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Now that restrictions are being lifted, it is time to focus on the sustainable recovery of cultural activities and venues. Creative Europe's budget for the next seven years has substantially increased, and for this year, €88 million will already be made available to support artists, authors and performers reconnect with audiences across Europe. I invite all parties to check the conditions of the calls and use this opportunity.”

The calls focus, among others, on European artistic cooperation and innovation on topics such as audience engagement, social cohesion digitization, and contribution to the European Green Deal. The call dedicated to European platforms will specifically contribute to increasing the visibility, programming and promotion of emerging artists. Interested organisations can now submit applications, with deadlines ranging from end of August to the end of September depending on the calls. More information and guidance for the various calls are available on this webpage.

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Creative Europe: Over €2 billion to support the recovery, resilience and diversity of cultural and creative sectors



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.

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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.

Creative Europe 

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