Industry Report: European Policy
"I feel the program Creative Europe will be like water in the desert"
by Julie Belgrado
- This year, Cineuropa is associated with the Forum d'Avignon for a white card on "creation, Europe's engine ?". Through unique discussions the Forum d’Avignon aims at strengthening the links between culture and the economy, suggesting subjects for reflection at global, European and local levels.
Ignasi Guardans is a Spanish politician and an ex European parliamentarian. He's nowadays the head of CUMEDIAE, a non-profit-making organization, specialized in advising, international services and creative industries and cultural project management. Cineuropa has interviewed him in order to have a professional opinion from someone who works with cultural industries.
As an ex-parliamentarian, how do you feel about the situation where the program Creative Europe currently is ?
The context must be understood. If the current situation take place in a budgetarily different context, I think we would all be at the ready because there's a lack of definition, there's a doubt, we don't know what's going to happen and in what terms. It had been said that an important budgetary rise would take place, what is not that real any longer. We don't know exactly what will the real figures be, but it'll be certainly not what had been announced. Furthermore, the program object is being enhanced. If we do so, we will have to wait to measure its real impact. It's hard to judge it then. But, as I said, it's the context that matters. Indeed, in the current situation where many Member States, mainly in southern Europe, but not only, are closing other instruments that support culture and creative industries, there's obviously a resignation atmosphere. There's a sort of idea that every public subvention is a chance, and that we can't complain about it, because of the context.
Do you think that this program will give a real plus to creative industries ?
I have absolutely no doubt that the Creative Europe program will strongly contribute, or would strongly contribute, to different creative industries' disciplines in so many ways. We're talking then about what culture is in a classical sense, non-audiovisual creative industries, in a more modern sense as a factor of growth and as an audiovisual industry. There's obviously going to be a huge added value. Saying that more can be done, is one thing, and criticism what is or what's going to be is something different. I'm very positive towards what's being done.
As CUMEDIAE's CEO, how do you feel about the program ?
Nowadays I manage this organization I've founded, that tries to support creative industries in Europe and give them advice. Thus, I'm directly in contact with their needs and I think that the Creative Europe program will be like water in the desert, overall in some countries. It enables to do things that without a program would never exist and success. Certain ignorance about what creative industries are is to blame, though. A huge education work remains to be done, about culture and economy and their respective links. There are clearly some people who fears a program called "Creative Europe" that tackles more the economic aspect than in past. They're afraid that the program only concerns economic culture. Their thoughts need to be collected and they need to be said there's going to be money for programs with limited, little or no economic value. Still, a philosophy of subsides is necessary, we need to review some things and adapt them to our times. I was general director in Spain in the Ministry of Culture, I know a little this topic. Everybody must adapt their selves to the new situation, not only public powers, but also cultural creators and producers. They must understand that it's time to search new financial models for developing projects in international cooperation and coproduction, what wasn't the case before, and that concerns a lot my work in Brussels. To take advantage of European Money, people have to learn to exchange. By the past, those who have learned to evolve according to the European dimension have also experienced this famous international cooperation. Many others will have access to European capitals for the very first time. To these ones, we must say: if you want European money, you must work the European way. There's no European money for strictly local or strictly national projects. So European projects need European partners and a mentality beyond frontiers. There's still a transformation to be done for international cultural projects. Some things remain to be done in order to teach cultural managers to internationalize their selves and work with other people, with more than one language and budgets that concern more than one single member. The Creative Europe program will be the hearth of a whole new culture.
Do you believe that the cross-sectoral level can favor a real European cooperation ?
I really do. I have gotten some experience in Spain with such a financing instrument in cultural industry, but the truth is that's very hard. By the way, I know that the European Funds for financing is currently studying the practical side of it. My definite opinion will depend on the amount there will be on the table. Obviously, if available funds are not more important than what they are right now, the idea of keeping apart some of them for guarantee funds credits can be a real problem. This being said, I totally agree with its principle. I also agree with the idea that in many cultural activities, certainly not in all of them, and it’s really important to precise this, in many cultural activities then, you must have the means to develop a project than can be independent thereafter. There are many music festivals, musical productions and concerts, not all of them but many all the same, that can recover their investment if they’ve been supported at the beginning. But credit is necessary for the projects to take place the first time. From that point of view, I’m completely likely to the fact the commission commits to support creative industries’ credit. But, I insist, a definite opinion of this instrument could be given only when we’ll have all the figures and when we’ll see exactly how the cake will be divided.
Do you think that the program is lacking something, if it is…what ?
I guess the program depends a lot on the way it will be executed. There’s an entire pedagogy to develop in order to make the program touch directly the European cultural reality. I think that by the past, we’ve spent a lot of money at culture level, and not that much at media level, in projects that haven’t given measurable results. Therefore, there were some projects of which the value can be discussed, but now the situation is completely different. Lots of cultural activities will be done only if there’s a support. For the program itself, I think it won’t lack anything on the paper, from the moment we will know how important available funds are. Criteria for the projects selection are one of the most important things. There’s exactly the point where we’ll see if they’re setting a true lever for cultural industries or if we’ll still pay for projects that create a lot of talk about them but that don’t