Jonathan Goodacre discusses some of the core arts funding streams to emerge from Europe and their role in driving forward recent innovations in our field.
The EU funding streams of Creative Europe, Erasmus Plus and Horizon 2020, amongst others, have been crucial to the UK cultural sector. Whilst they might not be everyone’s cup of tea - the bureaucratic demands are challenging and the application processes competitive – they do facilitate some fascinating initiatives that are constantly pushing our practice forward.
Creative Europe and Erasmus Plus
- According to the Creative Europe UK desk, since its launch in 2014, Creative Europe has awarded €89.5 million to 376 UK-based cultural and creative organisations and audio visual companies. The benefits of such schemes, though, go beyond the funding itself.
- In recent years, Creative Europe’s focus on audience development as a criterion has encouraged it to be treated with greater respect than it might otherwise have commanded. This strategy led to the Engage Audiences study, to which The Audience Agency contributed, and which remains an excellent resource for reading and case studies as well as providing a guide to key considerations for the sector, despite many of the debates having moved forward with the times.
- Adeste and Adeste Plus led by Fondazione Fitzcarraldo (Turin, Italy) have embodied the continuing evolution of audience development thinking. The Audience Agency has designed a methodology specifically for this programme, in conjunction with partners, which is being tested in seven different countries. It investigates how cultural organisations can move beyond initiatives to become more public facing overall. In the UK this is being implemented by The Mercury Theatre in Colchester. It also involves summer schools and conferences open to all, starting in Lisbon, Portugal this September.
- As Anne Torreggiani wrote in June 2019, the Erasmus Plus Connecting Audiences project saw us working with Goldsmiths University and other European partners on a ‘Twin Track Programme’. It brought together students and practitioners on a course based around design thinking with planning under way for follow-up programmes next year. Watch this space…
- Also breaking new ground is Asset, which involves research with theatre audiences in Helsinki, Prague, Sofia, Vienna and Zagreb. Led by the Department of Arts Management, Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, it is already providing key insights into the similarities and differences between countries. Asset is linked to the European Theatre Night initiative that takes place in November in some European Countries, though not currently in the UK.
- On another track again, we are currently completing work on COLA, a Horizon 2020 project led by the University of Westminster. This looks at the role of Cloud Computing and in the long term will help us and other cultural organisations in the more efficient running of programmes such as Audience Finder as the role of cloud-based work becomes increasingly integral in the arts and beyond.
It is still not entirely clear what the future of EU funding holds for the UK in the years ahead as it will depend partly on, but it is hoped that there will continue to be opportunities for further innovation and partnerships.
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