An Introduction to future Creative Europe Programme: Mobility as a crucial tool for cultural operators

The opening of the borders between countries in the region of South East Europe/the Balkans (depends on the reader’s attitude towards this name) and the rest of Europe is almost completed. Only the territory of Kosovo is still surrounded by walls from almost every side, but hopefully this will not be the case in the near future. Conspiracy theory experts, backed with the undisputed historical perspectives (every nation has its own), will always find some way to question this process.

Saying this, I stand clearly on the side of people who understand the symbolical power of the walls that surrounded us, and continuously fight against them and the power that hurt and influenced the lives of so many people in this region in the last two decades. And when the walls as physical structures fall down, suddenly, everything else seems different. You are not alone; your problems are not unique. You are not that important, nor are you so small. You are not that good, nor are you that bad. One day you had so many enemies, and the next day you are left alone with yourself as potentially your own biggest enemy.

It is not difficult to understand and recognise why mobility has become an integral part of almost every activity in the cultural sector in Europe. ERICarts Institute, in its “Mobility Matters” report recognised some of the main motivation factors of these types of exchanges in the cultural sector:

• collaboration with artists from other countries;
• engaging in a dialogue with other local cultures and their day-to-day realities;
• challenging their own assumptions and practices;
• having uninterrupted time to work and recharge their creative batteries;
• having access to unique education or training programmes;
• establishing professional and creative contacts;
• reaching out to new audiences and tap into new markets where they can present,
• distribute/sell their work;
• obtaining visibility and critical review abroad in order to increase their chances of
• obtaining visibility/recognition at home; and
• having access to infrastructure/funding which may not exist at home.

It has become obvious that no one can deny the nomadic character of the cultural operators in Europe, whatever the motivation for the mobility is. Developing the project idea in culture without any kind of contact (in the real or virtual sense) with the world outside the constructed walls of nations, cities, organisations and rigid structures has become almost inconceivable. Mobility has also brought something new for the cultural operators –  it has empowered them to have their strengths distributed inside and outside of their primary community. In the practical sense this means that workers in the cultural sector are no longer fully dependent on the mood and decisions of the local politicians, art councils, indifferent business sector, prejudices and small envy of colleagues. The development of the communication channels and new media has disabled some people and organisations that had gotten used to keeping information for themselves and spreading it only inside the small circles of the privileged. Now, almost everyone can get information, and after some time and gained experience, learn how to efficiently filter it to avoid information overload.

When it comes to the types of the mobility schemes, ERICarts experts have recognised nine basic types:

• infrastructure support schemes to host visiting artists;
• event participation grants;
• scholarships for further/postgraduate training courses or similar forms of capacity building;
• go and see or short term exploration grants;
• foreign market exploration / development grants;
• support schemes for information and network infrastructure;
• support schemes for projects or co-productions;
• research grants or scholarships to live and work for a certain time abroad and
• touring grants,

with the motives of these mobility schemes being foreign relations, career enhancement, creativity/new production opportunities, international market development, talent development, intelligence/information gathering/sharing and transnational project cooperation/co-production.

A large number of mobility programmes exists in Europe on different levels – public, civil, private and in various forms, as programmes that have mobility as their primary goal, or programmes that have mobility as a part of a larger strategy or vision. They can be presented through nine categories:

• National Arts Council and Culture Agency mobility programs, such as Arts Council England (www.artscouncil.org.uk); French Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication’s Department of European and International Affairs (DAEI) (www.culture.gouv.fr); The Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon (www.artscouncil.ie); Arts Council of Northern Ireland (www.artscouncil-ni.org); Arts Council Norway (www.kulturrad.no); Creative Scotland (www.creativescotland.com); The Swedish Arts Grants Committee (www.konstnarsnamnden.se);  Artists in Residence CH (www.artistsinresidence.ch);

• Other government agencies and national cultural institutes like Artistic Cooperations and Exchanges programme of Cultures France (www.culturesfrance.com); L’Office National de Diffusion Artistique – ONDA (www.onda.fr); Goethe Institute (www.goethe.de); Instituti Italiani di Cultura (www.esteri.it); Pro Helvetia (www.prohelvetia.ch); The British Council (www.britishcouncil.org); Visiting Arts (www.visitingarts.org);

• Supranational institutions and their programs with examples like Commonwealth Foundation (http://www.commonwealthfoundation.com); Nordic Council of Ministers (www.norden.org); Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos – OEI (www.oei.es); UNESCO through the UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries programme (www.unesco.org);

• Transnational mobility programs like AsiaLink (www.asialink.unimelb.edu.au); Asia-Europe Foundation (www.asef.org); Asian Cultural Council (www.asianculturalcouncil.org); CEC Artslink (www.cecartslink.org);  CITF – Commission Internationale du théâtre francophone (www.calq.gouv.qc.ca/citf);  European Cultural Foundation (www.eurocult.org); Franklin Furnace (www.franklinfurnace.org); Gulliver Connect (www.gulliverconnect.org); KulturKontakt Austria (www.kulturkontakt.or.at); Mondrian Foundation (www.mondriaanfoundation.nl); Open Society Foundation Arts Program (www.soros.org/initiatives/arts); Roberto Cimetta Fund (www.cimettafund.org);

• Bilateral cultural programmes, foundations and initiatives such as The American-Scandinavian Foundation (www.amscan.org);  Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (www.gulbenkian.org.uk); Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation (www.dajf.org.uk); Fondation Franco-Japonaise Sasakawa (www.ffjs.org); French-German Youth Office (www.ofaj.org); Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation (www.gbsf.org.uk); South African-Norwegian Music Cooperation (www.mmino.org.za);

• Artists residencies and studio programmes with the examples of The Japan Foundation (www.jpf.go.jp);  Pépinières européennes pour jeunes artistes (www.art4eu.net); ResArtis (www.resartis.org); Triangle Network (www.trianglearts.org) and useful directories and associations such as Alliance of Artists Communities (www.artistcommunities.org) and TransArtists (www.transartists.nl);

• Networks: projects and programmes such as Informal European Theatre Meeting – IETM (www.ietm.org) and SEE/Balkan Express, which functions as a part of IETM; ENCATC and Thomassen Fund (www.encatc.org); Young Arab Theatre Fund (www.yatfund.org);

• Culture and development programmes like Creative Exchange (www.creativexchange.org); Culture et Développement (www.culture-developpement.asso.fr); Danish Center for Culture and Development – DCCD (www.dccd.dk); Hivos cultural fund (www.hivos.nl); Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation – NORAD (www.norad.no); Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development (www.princeclausfund.org); Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency – SIDA (www.sida.se);  and

• Resources to support international mobility some of which are On the Move (www.on-the-move.org); Artfactories (www.artfactories.net); Artistes Etrangers (www.artistes-etrangers.com); Culturelink (www.culturelink.org); Lab for Culture (www.labforculture.org).

These, and many other programmes that have developed globally, prove that mobility has become one of the crucial elements for the development of the artists and cultural operators, providing the support for everyone who has the need to engage himself/herself in these exchange processes.

Thus, it is not only the question of officials of European Union saying through the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992 that the unrestricted mobility of persons, goods and services should become a part of the bundle of rights and freedoms of all EU citizens, or that mobility “should become a natural element in the professional career of all Europeans” , because a lot of times these are just words and frameworks that do not coincide with real life. It is about the “little man” realising again the value of movement that denies borders and engages in various types of communication processes. For our region, which was so proactive when it came to the Wall Building Industry, this is not easy. With a vision and smartly developed mobility strategies, we can start demolishing the consequences of our own mistakes. 
 
Aleksandar Brkić
 
Objavljeno 5. oktobra 2012.
 

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