A host of prominent European creators have added their name to an op-ed which calls on EU leaders to deliver meaningful support for the creative industries during the pandemic crisis. In the op-ed, the creators detail the devastating effects the COVID-19 crisis has had on the creative sector and call on EU leaders to “be bold”, to rethink current pledges and invest more in creativity and the arts.
This op-ed is especially pertinent given the meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on 17-18 July, where the EU recovery plan and budget will be the main topics on the agenda.
A full list of names can be seen below the letter but some prominent names from across Europe include: singer Björk, electronic music pioneer Jean Michel Jarre, film director Agnieszka Holland, conceptual visual artist Daniel Buren, performance artist Marina Abramovich, award-winning author Nina George, singer MØ, Benny Andersson of ABBA, choreographer Anne-Teresa Keersmaeker, film directors the Dardenne Brothers, singers Ibeyi, and many more.
In May 2018, the European Commission proposed MFF 2021-27, which allocated €1.8bn for Creative Europe, an increase from the current Creative Europe €1.4bn amount. In May 2020, amidst the devastating crisis in the cultural sector, the Commission reduced this earlier proposal to €1.5bn in its new MFF draft, despite the European Parliament’s position of doubling the amount. The Commission also did not detail any targeted support for cultural and creative sectors within the various elements of recovery mechanisms (Next Generation EU).
The creative sector welcomes several recent high-level statements in support of culture at the EU level made by Mariya Gabriel, Didier Renders, Thierry Breton, Emmanuel Macron, among others, but now asks for a concrete commitment to realise this objective.
The following letter follows an unprecedented campaign by cultural and creative organisations, 99 in total, including GESAC, urging the EU institutions and member states to recognise that cultural and creative industries are under existential threat, although they should be at the centre of a sustainable recovery plan to re-boost EU economy. Germany, France and Italy are supportive of allocating more EU budget for culture.
A CALL TO INVEST IN ALL OUR CREATIVE FUTURES
European culture is in the midst of a crisis. How decision-makers choose to respond now will set the scene for the next decade of cultural and creative life in our union.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, theatres, cinemas, music halls, museums and other venues of cultural expression have remained closed. Many of those venues will simply not reopen.
The result has been to squeeze the life out of the cultural and creative sectors, exacerbating the desperately perilous situation in which culture, the arts and the creative sectors at large find themselves.
Cultural and creative sectors are Europe’s third largest employer. Meaning the economic consequences of a stagnant sector have reached far beyond the realm of culture.
But, despite such a diminished cultural landscape, it is to culture that we have all turned during this time of great personal and societal adversity.
It is music that has brought us together on balconies, films and TV series that have entertained us, documentaries, books, performances, pieces of art that have all truly comforted us in our solitude and helped us to escape intellectually and creatively.
Europe’s most treasured asset is our culture. It is a culture united in its diversity, a culture that draws in millions of people from all over the world every single month.
Cultural expression in all its diversity is at the heart of what is meant to be European.
Despite strong messages from leaders of the European Union that our sectors would be firmly supported, the current proposals for a recovery plan and a European budget strangely fail to consider the needs of the cultural and creative sectors.
As creators and professionals from the sector, we call on the EU leaders to be bold and to invest in culture and the arts, to invest in all our creative futures.
We need a plan that revives our cultural ecosystem and inspires the next generation of Europeans.
This means providing the financial resources at a level which will allow art, culture, cultural and creative enterprises, creators and creative workers to continue their work, to survive and thrive into the future.
This is an opportunity for the EU to amply demonstrate that it can honour its values. The time is now for Europe to be ambitious and invest in its creative future.
Culture is the fertile soil out of which Europe’s next generation will unite and flourish. Let’s show Europe’s next generations what kind of future we want to offer them!