Rub your eyes: Brussels follows German lead with massive arts funding boost

Rub your eyes: Brussels follows German lead with massive arts funding boost


norman lebrecht

November 24, 2011

The European Union has announced a 1.8 billion Euros ($2.4 billion) funding programme for arts and culture, starting in 2014.

Titled Creative Europe, it marks a 35 percent increase in EU support for ailing cultural industries. Here’s the first report on Irish TV and another on Artsinfo. It is the biggest arts initiative by far in the history of the EU.

The bad news is that half of it will be spent on film, which ought to be commercially self-sufficient. But the other half is expected to reach more than quarter of a million artists across the continent. Androulla Vassiliou, the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, and Youth, said in a statement: “This investment will help tens of thousands… to reach new audiences in Europe and beyond; without this support, it would be difficult or impossible for them to break into new markets.”

 ((Vassiliou, picured with Michel Platini)


The statement came a few hours after the German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann announced a 5.1 percent increase in state ‘investment’  in the arts. Subsidy, he said, belonged to the past. This was a stake in the nation’s future.

Could this mark a turning point in political attitudes?


  • Ziggy says:

    While it’s no doubt marvellous for individual artistes, for an organisation that hasn’t had its accounts signed off for 17 (yes, that’s right, seventeen) years – and that furthermore is in a very dark place financially – where in the name of all that’s holy is this money coming from?

  • Philip says:

    Why should film be commercially self-sufficient but other arts not?

  • Emil Archambault says:

    Film is not self-sufficient. Only a small part of the film industry is. It’s like the difference between Lang Lang (or any big soloist) and the orchestra violinist.

    In film, there is the big commercial production and the small independent films with artistic non-commercial objective.

  • Michael P Scott says:

    To answer your question about this wonderful action marking a turning point, I can only speak for how I view the US: No!

    Now were it (American) football, basketball, or baseball, the answer might be affirmative.

    We’re such clods.

    This story reminds me of the remark — I think without looking it up that it’s Churchill — made during the height of WWII in England. Someone asked the PM if he didn’t think budgets should be cut for “cultural” events. The response was to the effect, “Hell no! What do you think we’re fighting for.”

  • Maria Osende says:

    Wouldn’t it be something if North America would take such initiatives…congratulations