Presenting selections from the discussion paper on EUs external culture relations. Believe these points will have great impact for the sector in third counties. Mimeta has taken part in the expert discussion of the preparation - as one of many parties - and happy to see some of the outcomes in the discussion paper.
Principles for Europe in the world".
1. Little benefit will accrue from a more strategic approach to culture in external relations unless procedures concerning applications for EU funding are greatly simplified, made more accessible and based on more transparent selection criteria. An equality of position for all stakeholders is needed – but without artificial bureaucratic procedures or quotas.
2. New models of financing cultural relations projects
Since budgets for culture in external relations are limited, new models of funding and EU leverage for them are going to be needed. There is no evidence whatsoever that private philanthropy or investment will step in to replace public subsidy any day soon. Yet there has been a shift from a vision of grant making or subsidy for deserving cultural projects to the idea of ‘investing’ in cultural projects that are in a sense ‘bankable’. Hence there is scope for the forging of public/private partnerships to complement traditional funding sources. The potential is most obvious in fields such as the cultural and creative industries, and in clusters of ‘incubators’ in areas of need such as urban neighbourhoods.
Another area of demand is for regranting through local institutions. The EU could work through local service providers in implementing projects across a larger area involving several (smaller) cultural actors on the ground, rather than operating on an individual project basis.
As regards grants, smaller ones need to be made available. Cultural operators are often totally overstretched – even the process of filling in applications is daunting – by the sheer size of EU grants. Quick access to small grants is also needed for project development. Many operators observe that the creation of local foundations to channel funds could help avoid cumbersome bureaucratic processes. Equally recurrent was the idea of targeting new players, mostly private investors. It was suggested that the EU could test brokering platforms with the finance community so that cultural projects become part of the profile for investment; it could also broker public incentives for private cultural investment (e.g., in African and Arab countries) or facilitate the creation of local funds independent of government influence and managed by local players.
3. New ways of empowering local actors
Many examples of collaboration between established cultural organisations and/or foundations and local actors were cited during the consultation. There are potential models using different kinds of expertise.
The EC could attempt to develop such new modes of cooperation and elaborate a pilot project for this purpose. Crisis‐related cultural interventions are among the biggest challenges in international cultural relations. There is widespread evidence that cultural aspects are not taken into account at all or sufficiently in crisis and post‐crisis situations, including in refugee camps in particular. However, there is enough good practice in this domain already that could be tested out through a specially designed pilot project.
5. Strengthening civil society
Cultural processes and values have played a key role historically in the nurturing of robust civil societies, notably over the past few decades, in the ‘transition countries’ of Europe after the demise of the Communist regimes in the 1990s. It is now Europe’s turn to share this positive experience with civil society cultural actors in third countries where major social and political transformations are occurring. It is clearly important to deploy more resources through non‐governmental channels, at the ‘people‐to‐people’ level.