As the officials from the UK and EU continue trying to agree how the future relationship will work post-Brexit, 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.
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 brings millions of pounds in funding to the UK each year and without which thousands of jobs and hundreds of culture initiatives would cease to exist.
Creative Europe offers financial support for creative and cultural organisations across Europe. Since 2014 it has contributed some £79 million to 376 UK-based organisations, enabling hundreds of arts projects, performances, exhibitions, festivals, community initiatives and artist commissions.
Clymene Christoforou, Director of D6: Culture in Transit, a north east 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.
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.”
Read the open letter signed by over 250 European cultural leaders here.
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.