Creative Europe struck back yesterday at the House of Lords committee which is reviewing the European Commission’s proposed new culture programme. Last week the UK’s minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, said the UK government will oppose the planned 37% budget increase. Yesterday Ann Branch (European Commission), Yvette Vaughan Jones (Visiting Arts and the UK’s Cultural Contact Point) and Agnieszka Moody (MEDIA Desk UK.) refuted Vaizeys’ objections.
Last week I said that the supporters of the Creative Europe programme need to offer hard facts rather than appeals to vague concepts of “Europeanness” if they are to convince politicians to support the increase in the EC’s culture budget. That is precisely the approach the three “witnesses” took yesterday.
To every question they replied with hard facts and practical explanations of the impact the EC Culture programme has. Benefits to UK?.. of course; benefits to arts and creative professionals?..here’s an example, benefits to wider society?.. lets look a this example, supporting jobs and growth?.. look at the numbers and the multipliers, is there European added value?.. see through these examples, Will the increase benefit the UK arts sector and society? here’s another example. On the critical issue of the proposed loan guarantee facility the Ann Branch gave compelling evidence of support from the European Investment Bank.
Watch the session here on Parliament TV.
Vaizey was clearly embarrassed last week when he said there had only been 6 responses to the UK consultation exercise run by his ministry. He extended the deadline to 26 March. The CCP, and this blog, alerted the arts sector. There are no nearly 50 responses. There are still a few days to get more responses. Send them to DCMS.
The Committee were clearly impressed when the sheer scale of consultation across Europe was listed by the three witnesses.
And now? My guess is that the Committee will support the increase in the programme, re-assure the Minister that EU funding is not replacing reduced UK arts funding and will benefit the UK sectors. The big question is less over the Creative Europe budget itself. I suspect that over the next 12 months as heads of government start to become involved over the EC budget as a whole .. and I guess that the EC will not get away with any real increases but have a static budget (except for inflation) then the inter-programme battles will resume within the Commission. The issue then is whether the proposed culture programme benefits Europe’s (not the sector) jobs and growth strategy more than other programmes run by the EU. We all have our favourite programme to hate. Naturally the Common Agricultural Programme tops my listing!