Are national museums prepared for Creative Europe?

Creativity and diversity, these two buzzwords are at the heart of the new EU programme dedicated to the cultural and creative sectors,  and proposed by the European Commission on 23 November 2011. During the next year the proposal Creative Europe, will be discussed among the Council of EU Ministers and the European Parliament before its possible realisation. It is an important programme as it is connected to the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020, and thus decides the roles for culture for a considerable time frame. The new programme differs from its forerunners due to the fact that it joins the previously separated areas media and culture. Digitalisation and the increased role of the cultural and creative sectors of the European economy are bringing the two areas together.

When Vladimír Šucha introduced the programme to the cultural sector in Sweden the message was that the economy alone cannot bring together the European member states. Culture was introduced as the way forward out of the monetary crisis at an event significantly coloured by the fact that in Brussels the leaders of the European member states discussed how to solve the crises for the single currency and how to keep trust among the member states. Šucha, who is the Director for Culture, Multilingualism and Communication, at the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission, stressed that culture cannot be a mere decoration. Rather, the sector is an economic asset to be used in education as well as in social and industrial innovation.

View photostream from the event Europaprojektets framtid organised by Intercult et al.

A European take on Cosmopolitanism                                                                         With its focus on developing capacities among artists and cultural professionals to work across borders and financial instruments to support transnational cultural activities of small companies within and outside of the EU, the programme could be seen as expression of a European take on Cosmopolitanism. Šucha himself warned for locking culture in regional and national boxes. His arguments on extended transnational collaboration were further radicalized by Chris Torch, one of the moderators at the event and in the context of European cultural policy a well-known proponent of cultural diversity and multicultural mélange also within nations.

National Museum initiatives                                                                                                                                                  But where does this suggested step towards increased economically based cosmopolitanism, which is now complementing EU:s motto “united in difference”, leave national museums, established markers of national identities? As a matter of fact, museums are already building capacities for creativity, innovation and transnational collaboration. NEMO, the Network of European Museum Organisations, provides a database with links to projects on Innovation and Creativity in Museums, Intercultural Dialogue and lifelong learning in museums, and Digitisation in European Museums. Transnational collaboration is also built into the topic of collection mobility, which has been on the agenda for about ten years now. This topic has generated working groups, guidelines and an impressive volume with editors from several European museums. Another forward-looking project is LEM, the learning museums network project. The LEM project has 23 partners from 17 European countries and the US. It is funded under the EU Lifelong Learning Programme Grundtvig. The Mobility Scheme is one of many activities this network coordinates. Five of the LEM partners have agreed to host colleagues for job-shadowing or study visits.

It is clear that museum networks as well as the European Union already have acted in the directions proposed in the new Creative Europe Programme. The question is though if the new programme relates to museums at all with its emphasis on access to finance for small under-capitalised enterprises. EuNaMus will closely follow the discussions on the reception of the Creative Europe Programme and return to the subject in 2012.

Bodil Axelsson

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