ETC Theatres Lobby for the Arts in Europe

Save and Support Theatres!


12 June 2020

Artistic and cultural diversity are at the heart of Europe’s rich traditions and innovative spirit to create our future. The implications of the Covid-19 pandemic have shaken up our continent and disclosed our weakest points. The cultural sector was the first one to close and is amongst the last to open again. Do we have a lobby for the arts in Europe to safeguard our rich diversity, that is so important for the social health of our continent and the wellbeing of our people?

The estimated financial loss and implications due to the Covid-19 crisis in ETC Member Theatres alone add to:

  • 61 million EUR of income loss by the end of 2020
  • Reduced audiences until the end of 2020, decreasing from 2,7 million to less than 1 million people
  • 5000 performances were cancelled from February – June 2020, losing over 1 million audience members

1) We call upon our Member States and the European Institutions to ensure the survival of our rich and diverse cultural landscape in Europe.

2) We call for an appropriate increase of the Creative Europe budget in 2020 to save cultural places, without additional support thousands of theatre and live performing art venues across Europe will shut down by the end of 2020!

3) We call for the need of a strong Creative Europe 2021-2027 programme of the European Union, as the one and only dedicated European funding instrument for the creation and dissemination of art and culture with a European dimension. The current proposal dedicates 0,08% of the entire European budget of the next MFF (2021-2027) to Creative Europe. This is not acceptable and does not match the needs of our sector to overcome the crisis. We demand 1% of the European budget to be invested in the cultural and creative sectors!

The Creative Europe programme must safeguard the existence of European theatres and their international collaboration and should

1) highlight the importance of theatre as mother of the performing arts for Europe’s cultural and linguistic diversity and its importance as a public space for an open European society. To commit to the fact that:

  • culture is not a luxury, but an integral part of our democratic societies;
  • culture has social and economic importance to overcome the crisis and create the future of Europe;
  • culture creates resilience, critical thinking and is a source of inspiration.

2) strengthen European theatres, performing arts venues, the producers and programmers during the reopening phase with the aim to:

  • ensure the continuity of our sector’s activities, in particular with a European relevance, and as an employer of the many individual art professionals;
  • strengthen artistic international collaboration;
  • invest in and enhance existing international networks and partnerships to prevent the disappearance of decade-long-grown structures.

Theatre has specific sectorial needs. Out of the crisis and into the next decade, we want our art and talents to strive to play a vital role bridging digital and human interactive experiences.

Therefore, we ask to include in Creative Europe the sectorial support for theatre as one of the key European art forms

  • with a European Theatre Forum on an annual basis, an advocacy dialogue platform between the sector and policy makers
  • with a European Theatre Label for theatre and performing art venues to better promote innovation and creativity, language and cultural diversity, allowing better access to European culture
  • with the continuation of sectorial expert group meetings to strengthen dialogue with the European Commission

A strong Europe needs a strong and diverse cultural sector. International collaboration in theatre and arts is essential to achieve this. Geographical imbalances from North to South, from East to West are realities we need to face and tackle. European policy is key to enabling equal opportunities for artists, theatre professionals, venues and audiences alike – to offer and enjoy the diversity of artistic and linguistic forms of expression.

ETC theatres lobby for the arts in Europe to be enjoyed by the most diverse and largest audience groups possible. We lobby as representatives of European theatres for the role theatre plays for society in questioning and mirroring societal and human developments and behaviour. We lobby for theatre’s crucial contribution to building a cohesive and resilient Europe for the future and to be recognised and supported on European level.



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This call has been translated to French. Read the French-speaking version here

This statement is the result of ETC International Theatre Conference, which took place from 10 to 12 June 2020 Online.

Learn more about "Connecting the Separated – Reopening European Theatres" here

EU Cultural Policy for Theatre

Our Advocacy Work in Europe and Beyond

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