European Theatre Convention (ETC) has joined up with cultural organisations across Europe to implore the European Union (EU) and EU member states to protect culture as part of the coronavirus recovery plans.
110 networks and associations have pledged their support in a joint letter, coordinated by Culture Action Europe, that urges the EU and Member States to “make sure that culture is placed at the core of each and every recovery plan, which aims at a sustainable, inclusive and future-looking revival of our social and economic life.”
The letter calls for “at the very least 2% of the RRF budgets” to be allocated to the cultural and creative sectors, which should be monitored through the Commission’s assessment of the national recovery and resilience plans.
“Culture has always been a vibrant social resource, able to heal wounds in times of crisis. Culture carries tremendous intrinsic value and contributes significantly to the economy, with 4.2% of the EU GDP and 7.4 million jobs created. Culture is a vital component of the European integration and solidarity. It unites the European multitude of mentalities and histories in all their diversity, and shapes a common space for Europeans to develop a shared identity.
“Cultural and creative sectors (CCSs) themselves are among the most seriously damaged by the pandemic. Cultural activities are being halted, millions of jobs are frozen or wiped out, micro and small businesses are on the brink of bankruptcy and many talents are forced to leave the sector altogether.
“On top of that, we are at the beginning of a second wave in Europe that will undoubtedly increase the impact of the pandemic crisis on the CCSs.”
The letter also warns that the “unprecedented uncertainty” prevents the cultural and creative sectors from bouncing back or devising “viable short and medium-term plans”.
“There is a risk that citizens will not find their vibrant cultural life back in the post-pandemic world. This would be a huge loss in terms of social cohesion, communities' empowerment, individual well-being, and the economic revival of the EU.”
One version has been sent to the European Commission and President Ursula von der Leyen. Another version has been directed to Heads of State and Culture Ministers in each of the EU member countries.
The letter follows the European Commission’s decision in May to include culture as one of the 14 priority areas to repair, although the signatories express regret that the Commission “has not integrated clear and strong references to culture in the ‘Guidance to Member State Recovery and Resilience Plans.’”
It also comes as new lockdown legislations in countries including Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic require theatres to close to the public until at least the end of November.
The European Theatre Convention (ETC), the network of 42 public theatres across more than 25 countries in Europe, has pledged its support. Commenting on the release of the letter, ETC Executive Director Heidi Wiley said:
“Theatres in Europe are locked down and closed for the 2nd time this year. Without sufficient financial funds venues, companies and artists across the continent will not survive this season. European and national policy decision makers have to invest and save one of Europe's key cultural sectors.”
Main image credit: ETC Member Belarus Free Theatre perform Minsk 2011 (C) Nikolai Khalezin
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