Main Recommendations:

Towards more balanced and productive cultural mobility programmes

1.  Adopt a developmental approach to mobility

The study recommends maintaining the plurality of actors and funding sources for cultural mobility. It also calls for the adoption of a developmental approach that recognises mobility not simply as an adhoc activity or as a one-off experience but as a longer term investment in a process leading to specific outcomes (not outputs) over a period of time, the course of a career.

Five key building blocks or pillars were identified on which this developmental approach could be based: intelligence - exploration - resources - fairness - sustainability. In short, artists/cultural professionals need intelligence, not just information, to ascertain what opportunities are available for them to explore the creative process with their peers in other countries and make productive contacts; but this is dependent on the availability of financial and human resources and the appropriate capacity to engage in mobility; it is also dependent on fairness in having access to mobility opportunities. Finally, productive engagement internationally often needs to be sustainable if it is to be effective in the longer term; one-off grants make it difficult to achieve sustainability or leave a legacy.

The following recommendations are built upon these five pillars and are addressed to the European Union and also to governments, regional bodies, NGOs and the research community in EU member or applicant states.

2. Adopt a cultural diversity dimension to the overall mission and activities of mobility programmes and grants

Bodies and organisations promoting mobility could:

  • recognise social and cultural differences through more targeted measures to empower those who want to engage in mobility activities. Such activities can promote genuine dialogue;
  • work to ensure that open mindsets that appreciate diverse experiences and cultural expressions are nurtured through artistic and educational activities. Culture can help to stimulate curiosity and instil empathy, as well as provide a basic stock of knowledge about other cultures and about one's own neighbours; and
  • develop joint programmes and projects to increase language capabilities needed for cross-border cooperation and co-productions especially those spoken in border regions. This could involve not only educational institutions and related activities, but also activities of the culture/creative sector.

3. Pursue mobility programmes and schemes that support productive mobility experiences

Mobility funders could:

  • endow residencies and travel grants with adequate funding in order to increase the number of 'incoming' artists or cultural operators from different parts of Europe and the world;
  • give priority to foster individual professional advancement, capacity building and exploration through intellectual encounters, artistic innovation and creative engagement across borders, without an imposed mandate;
  • offer additional support which could help optimise mobility experiences by providing professionals with the time and resources to engage in dialogue with the local community, interact with other artists/cultural professionals, lead workshops or training opportunities, etc;
  • support direct, productive encounters and project initiatives of cultural professionals from all parts of Europe, including in new member states/candidate countries;
  • target the typical, i.e. small-scale arts institutions/organisations and culture industry companies to enable them to participate in international co-productions;
  • encourage sustainability, networking and legacy building in mobility processes with, for example, follow-up funding, post-production funds, and dissemination aids. Post-mobility workshops for cultural professionals to share their experiences with peers could also be considered in this context, as much of the valuable expertise is not always put back into the sector;
  • introduce evaluation processes that focus on the outcomes ('impact') rather than the outputs of mobility schemes; and
  • provide additional support to intermediaries as instrumental actors providing 'intelligence' (advice, guidance etc) needed to enhance the effectiveness of cross-border mobility.

4. Re-examine cultural diplomacy / international cultural co-operation programmes

The European cultural space is both common and diverse. When cultural professionals are sent abroad by e.g. national cultural institutes to participate in events or programmes, they are often regarded as ambassadors of a particular country. The public in other parts of the world, however, often see them as Europeans influenced by Europe's cultural diversity. This in mind, governments or cooperation agencies and EU bodies could:

  • increase the number of joint European activities by national cultural institutes and by other cultural diplomacy actors outside of Europe, which could mean an extension of existing forms of collaboration e.g. in the EUNIC network or in cooperation with international bodies such as the Asia-Europe Foundation to which EU states belong. Similar cooperation initiatives could be created in other world regions such as Africa and South/Central America; and
  • encourage trans-regional bodies to introduce cultural mobility programmes, where they do not currently exist, and to foster cooperation between the various larger regions in Europe.

5. Concerted efforts to address mobility at the European level

The mobility of cultural professionals figures as a strategic objective of the European Agenda for Culture (2007) and in the EU Work Plan for Culture 2008-2010. The Commission's increased engagement with mobility responds to demands from networks and cultural operators for other financial opportunities to support their work in addition to that which is provided for trans-national cooperation projects through the Culture Programme 2007-2013.

Therefore, the following recommendations are directed to the European Union:

a)   Initiate action through pilot projects aimed at artists/cultural 
in 2009, with a possible focus on:

  • the creation of a matching fund for mobility to strengthen existing funds and provide incentives for trans-regional, national, local and independent bodies in order to implement a developmental approach to mobility funding;
  • improving the transfer of mobility experiences through support for cross-border training modules targeted to different user groups, i.e. funders, intermediaries, professionals seeking to become mobile, in order to ensure a more lasting impact. The involvement of artists / cultural professionals as 'trainers' is key and would enable them to share their experiences with others; and
  • the development of online mobility toolkits that provide intelligence, not just more information, by synthesizing good practice. Such kits could be developed with the help of agencies, foundations with a European scope, mobility information providers, regional bodies, sector associations and independent experts.

b)   Introduce additional activities into the various strands of the current 
      EU Culture programme 2007-2013, as well as in the next generation
      of the Culture programme:

  • Multiannual cooperation projects: introduce support for the building of trans-national cultural links and project cooperation between cultural operators, networks and institutions whose programme priorities are aimed at promoting the visibility and mobility of artists/cultural professionals from more diverse cultural backgrounds;
  • Support for cultural action - cooperation projects: through this programme strand strengthen the capacity of the informal infrastructure for mobility, which is sustained by underfunded or non-funded independent artist-led initiatives that either house visiting artists or provide them with work spaces. This could be done through a call for structured cooperation projects lasting two years; and
  • Support for analysis and dissemination activities aimed at:
    • collecting data on the mobility flows of artists and cultural professionals;
    • developing an impact assessment scheme of cultural mobility programmes that focuses on the 'outcomes' of mobility rather than the 'outputs'; and
    • designing a SCOREBOARD to monitor how governments address the obstacles to mobility in the cultural sector.
c)   Make use of the open method of coordination (OMC), the new working
      method in the field of culture, as a means of strengthening policies on
      mobility at the national and European level. In particular, encourage the
      expert working group on improving the conditions for the mobility of
      artists and culture professionals, which was created for the implemen-
      tation of the EU Work Plan for Culture 2008-2010, to:
  • promote policy development on mobility through the exchange of succesful practices in Member States;
  • engage in a regular dialogue with all stakeholders i.e. culture sector platforms, European networks, art councils, national agencies and local level organisations; and
  • initiate reflection on cultural mobility indicators and establish a working relationship with the new Eurostat working group on culture and explore synergies with other bodies that have competence in mobility research to discuss indicators on the impact of mobility funds/programmes.

d)   Use the possibilities offered by the EU Leonardo and Grundtvig
      programmes to improve the mobility and exchange of professionals
      working in arts institutions/administrations
and training facilities;

e)   Address the imbalance of mobility flows both inside and outside of
      the EU through new strands in Structural Funds or the INTERREG
      IVC Programme and through its Neighbourhood Policy;

f)    Encourage international mobility and project driven cooperation.
      Key to this are efforts to support the development of better
      market conditions for the creation, production, distribution or
      exhibition of artistic and literary works in other countries,
      as well as the strengthening of local infrastructure such as
      artists' residencies. This could be accompanied by support for
      technical, financial and managerial capacity building activities
      such as those foreseen in the EU-ACP Cultural Industries Support
Such initiatives could help address the problem of
      'brain drain' and strengthen dialogue and encounters with
      cultural professionals on an equal footing;

g)   Building on the experience gained in the context of the
      EU-Europe for Citizens programme 2007-2013 explore the
      development of new mobility schemes with a view to nurture
      a culture of tolerance and mutual understanding

While the team considers the recommendations above to be realistic, it is important to point out that their intended outcomes could remain aspirational rather than achievable unless continuing obstacles to mobility are seriously addressed. According to in-depth expert studies and to recent proposals made by the European Parliament and culture sector networks, such obstacles are often due to inconsistent visa, tax and social regulations in the Member States.

To overcome these barriers and to support the healthy development of a diverse creative / culture sector, it seems important for European and national authorities to:

  • gradually harmonise definitions, procedures and application forms in fiscal / social matters;
  • simplify procedures and reduce costs of visa and work permit applications;
  • enhance the capacities and collaboration of existing online information systems; and
  • introduce or support training workshops on legal and social regulations in different countries.

The study on mobility information systems currently being undertaken by ECOTEC is to address such issues.

What is Mobility?

Mobility is the temporary cross-border movement of artists and other cultural professionals.

Related Websites

European Agenda for Culture

Causes & Consequences of Mobility

Status of Artists in Europe

Compendium of Cultural Policies
    and Trends in Europe





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