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Culturelink review, no.42/April 2004 - contents - imprint - archive

Report on the Culture 2000 Programme

Evaluation and Recommendations

The Culture 2000 Framework Programme is the key vehicle through which the EU can express its cultural policy. During 2003 an extensive evaluation exercise was undertaken, the results of which are soon to be published in a recommendation document by the Commission.

After almost four years of existence, the programme is facing criticisms on its design and implementation. The European Forum for the Arts and Heritage (EFAH) has prepared an evaluation overview to highlight the opinions and needs of the cultural operators.

Taking stock of existing assessments and of the experience of its members, EFAH drafted an analysis of the framework programme Culture 2000. The strengths and weakness are equally addressed in order to ensure a better understanding of the needs and expectations of the cultural sector when the EU comes to drafting a new programme for 2007-2011.

The following is the Executive Summary of the Report:

This report responds to a call from the European Union to reflect constructively on how the European Parliament and the European Commission (DG EAC) might make more effective use of culture in the design and implementation of European programmes. The European Forum for the Arts and Heritage (EFAH) fully supports the DG EAC in its aspiration to help generate greater European cultural co-operation.

The cultural sector throughout Europe is disappointed with the EU's general failure over more than a decade to take sufficient advantage of the wide-ranging competence it secured under Article 151 of the Treaty of Union. In particular, after more than a decade, important aspects of clause 151.4 have yet to be addressed seriously and the Community has an unrealised role to play.

EFAH is in favour of maintaining a broad framework programme with concise and limited priorities, and matching the objectives to the budgetary constraints. The concept of the European added value is one of the key criteria for the selection of cultural projects in Culture 2000. This is widely supported.

In view of the growing importance of culture for European societies, and in order to achieve a better balance between the economic and cultural aspects of the Community, the existence of such a cultural funding programme as Culture 2000 is essential for cultural operations in a European context. Transnational projects are often very difficult to finance with national, regional or local funds. Culture 2000 is the only programme for trans-European artistic and cultural projects and networks. It plays a vital role in supporting a constructive interpretation of the principle of subsidiarity. However, in spite of its relevance and strengths, the programme has been repeatedly criticised for its derisory budget, its opaque objectives, inadequate management and lack of evaluation. The chronic under-funding may be seen as a reflection of the varying levels of interest on the part of the Member States. Culture 2000 may be seen as overly ambitious in the light of its objectives and the resources at its disposal.

The choice of annual themes does not take account of an interdisciplinary approach in contemporary cultural practice and unduly restricts the field of co-operation and activity for cultural operators. The financial requirements are not realistic for small cultural organizations, yet it is often in the smaller, innovative initiatives that new practice needing support is taking place. The flexibility of artistic projects is incompatible with the rigid financial regulations of the Community. Payment schedules do not recognise, let alone comprehend, the day-to-day realities of the sector.

The broad recommendations are as follows:

The programme must ensure, as a priority, that it receives adequate funds and competent staffing to implement its actions.

There is a clear need to avoid delays in publication of calls for tender, in notification of selected projects and in prompt payment.

There is a need to reform the role and function of the board of experts charged with the selection of projects.

There is a need for improved dialogue and co-operation between the European institutions and cultural operators.

The role of cultural networks and platforms for cultural co-operation should be extended and strengthened.

A European Cultural Observatory should be set up to monitor co-operation, exchange information and co-ordinate policy between the Member States and the Community.

Valuable lessons about the design, evaluation, methodology, management and transparency must be learned and absorbed if any new programme is to be user-friendly and effective.

The EFAH Report on the Culture 2000 Programme is available at http://www.efah.org/en/policy_development/culture_2000/pdfculture/
efahc2000final.pdf