Culture: Reset!

Europe Creative supports Austrian cultural actors by providing funding and mentoring. Their only obligation in return: to privilege the European interest by associating with other countries.

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Author : Isaure Hiace

Photo Credit : Niko Havranek

Creative Europe is not necessarily well known, yet this programme of the European Commission has been helping and supporting cultural and audiovisual industry actors across Europe for years. How can a project receive funding? Esther Krausz, who works for the “Media” programme at the Creative Europe Desk in Vienna, is used to this question. “Applications come from all the member countries of the Creative Europe programme, and they are completed online,” she explains. “All projects are then evaluated and ranked according to a points system: there is an evaluation guide for each funding scheme and an independent jury evaluates the projects. At the end, all the applications are ranked according to the number of points attributed, and the funding is awarded to those who come out top.” Specific criteria exist for each category, and Esther Krausz‘s main role is to accompany applicants: “at the Creative Europe Desks, we do not influence the evaluations. What we do is provide information. If you have a project and would like to apply, you can turn to the Creative Europe Desk in your country. They will tell you: ‘yes, this is a very good European project, you can apply for such and such a funding scheme’. We can also assist with the application itself. This is a big help because the application system is quite complicated. Finally, we can help find project partners because the Creative Europe Desks are very interconnected. For example, in the film industry, we often find partners through film industry marketplaces or gatherings. We are often well-informed about these things.”

“It helps people to get to know each other”

The most important criterion for every project is evidently its European dimension, which is why several countries are very often involved. This is certainly true of the “Songs for Europe” project, led by Gerald Wirth, founder of the Wirth Music Academy. “It’s a small organisation that supports music teachers all over the world, by providing worksheets for their students, making training videos for teachers and organising workshops worldwide,” he explains. “The ‘Songs for Europe’ project is being deployed with three partners: one in Slovakia, one in Greece and one in Bosnia. There are two aspects to this project. First, the introduction of new software to these different countries to help train teachers in partner organisations. It’s also interesting for us to get feedback on this software and how it functions, which is important for its future development. The second aspect of the project involves sharing repertoires. All the partner organisations work with young people and music, and we believe that Greeks should become familiar with, for example, traditional Slovakian music, play it with their orchestras and vice versa. ” This project received funding from Creative Europe. It is due to end in 2022, but Gerald Wirth expects that the repertoire exchange will continue beyond that, much like the sharing of teaching skills and experiences. This is why, in his view, the Creative Europe experience is a positive one: “it helps people to get to know each other and exchange ideas. For me, that’s the biggest advantage.”

Niko Havranek @ We are Europe
Clowning Connect Us – ClowNexus © Niko Havranek

Another project: “Clowning Connect Us – ClowNexus”, supported by the association Red Noses International. Bringing together eight European partners, this project aims to promote the benefits of clowning to vulnerable audiences, in particular people with dementia and children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). It also benefited from the support of Creative Europe, which came rather quickly: “we applied in 2019 and got the result in 2020. The project was launched in October 2020 and will continue until 2023,” explains Carmen Valero, the project leader. “As artists, we bring something to children, the elderly, the disabled, etc. Clowns are not just entertainers who go on stage to deliver a performance. Clowning is also an art that focuses on the connection we have with people. And [with this project] we want to learn more about these audiences and include them more, making them creators too. So we’re going to organise workshops to hear them out, which will also help us evolve,” says Christophe Dumalin, artistic director of Red Noses International. Here again, Creative Europe is fostering human and artistic exchanges.

Clowning Connect Us – ClowNexus © Red Notes International

“A real challenge”

But improvements could also be made to the Commission’s programme. A recurring criticism relates to the overly bureaucratic and complex process. “It’s a real challenge,” admits Carmen Valero. “I would advise those who have the resources to do what we did: get outside help. We asked someone to give us feedback on our first draft and then on our final version. It gives you some reassurance to know that you’re on the right track. This is something I’d advise because although the Creative Europe Desks offer support, they have limited time.” In addition, Creative Europe is not always widely known or understood, so one of the objectives for 2021-2027 is to improve this. And it’s not the only one. We already know the general goals that projects will have to meet because they are those of the European Union: “sustainability and environmental preservation, diversity, gender equality and inclusion,” notes Esther Krausz. And she admits that her phone line is already very busy: the next programme looks promising.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article in the Creative Europe series, which explores the opportunities and potential pitfalls of the new 2021-2027 programme and gives a voice to European cultural actors.

It is important to note that the testimonies collected in this series are those of present and former beneficiaries of the Creative Europe programme. Their perspectives inevitably reflect a bias linked to personal experiences – whether fruitful or unsuccessful – and therefore cannot represent a reality across the board.

Nonetheless, they can shed light on the challenges of applying to the programme, and on the benefits of a successful candidacy.

About the Author

Isaure Hiace is a french journalist based in Vienna (Austria). She’s mainly working with Radio France and Radio France International.

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