Wales will be automatically taken out of the Creative Europe programme in December, following the UK Government’s decision to end a relationship worth £79 million to the UK.
As the UK and the EU continue discussions on a post-Brexit relationship, a group of over 250 European cultural and creative leaders have signed an open letter calling on the UK Government to reconsider their decision to opt out of the Creative Europe programme worth £79 million to the UK, over £11million of which has funded projects with partners in Wales.
From the Vice Mayor of Rome to the Center for Creativity in Iceland and the Dutch National Ballet, hundreds of cultural and creative leaders across the UK and Europe are campaigning to keep the UK in the Creative Europe programme. A programme which not only brings in millions of pounds in funding but creates thousands of jobs.
Creative Europe offers financial support for creative and cultural organisations across Europe, and in March 2020 the UK Government took the decision to end UK participation without any consultation with the devolved nations of Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
376 UK-based organisations have benefited from Creative Europe to date, including Hinterland Films, Hay Festival, National Theatre Wales, Ffotogallery, Literature Across Frontiers and Welsh National Opera. The Creative Europe programme has enabled hundreds of arts projects, performances, exhibitions, festivals, community initiatives, artist commissions and audiovisual productions.
Clymene Christoforou, Director of D6: Culture in Transit, a north east England based organisation working internationally who have accessed funding from Creative Europe for over a decade, is leading the call for Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to reconsider the decision to remove the UK from the programme.
“It is absolutely vital for the UK that we continue to be a part of the Creative Europe programme,” said Clymene, “The decision to stop UK involvement threatens an already impoverished future for British creativity and sends the message that we are closing ourselves off to our nearest neighbours. We will let down our artists and communities if we don’t reconsider.”
Many non-EU countries are members of Creative Europe and so Brexit does not need to impact access to the funding or the opportunities say the campaigners, who have written to the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, this week to express their concerns. In March, 800 UK artists and arts organisations also wrote to the Culture Secretary imploring him to reconsider.
“At a time when many UK cultural organisations are on a knife-edge due to the impacts of coronavirus it is mystifying that we would voluntarily opt out of what at present is an irreplaceable source of funding,” campaigners say.
A July 2020 report from the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee says the government has consistently failed to recognise the scale of the “existential threat” facing the UK’s cultural institutions during coronavirus, campaigners see this as another nail in the coffin for the UK cultural sector and are compelling Oliver Dowden to reconsider.
Luca Bergamo, Vice Mayor and Councillor for Cultural Development, City of Rome, a supporter of the campaign said, “Our UK friends and colleagues make a vital contribution to the cultural life of Europe. The Creative Europe programme is a portal to working with the UK. Without continued UK participation, successful collaborations are at risk, to the detriment of the UK and the rest of Europe.”
D6: Culture in Transit was founded in 1991 (as ISIS Arts) when recent arts graduates collectivised to produce an exhibition for International Women’s Day. A shared interest in the political role of the arts and its ability to draw threads between artists and communities at home and abroad cemented the organisation. D6 has now run an international programme of commissions, residencies and events for over 29 years. In the last decade D6 has worked across 57 countries, led over 50 international arts residencies, delivered mentoring and training to over 7,000 individuals and reached diverse regional and international audiences of over 142,000.
Clymene Christoforou is a founding member and executive director of D6: Culture in Transit, where she oversees programme and arts development, focusing on international collaboration and developing a strong international platform for local engagement. Clymene sits on the Board of Directors for Res Artis, an organisation spanning across 70 countries dedicated to the value of residential art programs and is an active member of Culture Action Europe. She is also chair of International Newcastle, a Community Interest Company, established in 2012, dedicated to supporting internationalism in the city.
Creative Europe is a €1.46 billion European Union programme for the cultural and creative sectors. Creative Europe’s aims are to help the cultural and creative sectors seize the opportunities of the digital age and globalisation; enable the sectors to reach their economic potential, contributing to sustainable growth, jobs, and social cohesion; give Europe's culture and media sectors access to new international opportunities, markets, and audiences.