How can I finance my cultural project with european grants ?

Do you have a project in the field of cultural and creative industries (CCI) or in the social and solidarity economy (SSE)? Do you want to look into the question of European subsidies and are you looking for information to get started?

Creative and cultural industries include, among others: architecture, archives, libraries and museums, arts and crafts, audiovisual (including film, television, video games and multimedia), tangible and intangible cultural heritage, design, festivals, music, literature, performing arts, publishing, radio and visual arts.

In this article, we decipher the essential elements of European policy towards this industry, and the key points for a calm approach to the various European subsidies adapted to culture.

N.B. Before you read this article, please note that the European Union is completing its 2014-2020 “Horizon 2020” programme, and is in the process of voting on the new 2021-2027 programme. Some schemes may evolve from next year onwards.

The fundamental principles

Europe can finance cultural projects as long as they meet the guidelines it has set itself (increasing employment, integration, research and development, climate action, the fight against poverty…), and the needs of the audiences they are aimed at. Certain elements are fundamental when it comes to submitting an application to a call for projects.

The partnership

This is the basis of a European project. Indeed, Europe wishes to enrich relations between its member countries through concrete actions and exchanges of good practices. An ideal consortium is made up of complementary and diverse partners : organisations of different sizes, associations, local authorities, companies.

By building a strong consortium, the lead partner shows its ability to mobilise its environment and work with others around a collective project.

The additionality

European funds are additional to national funding, but do not replace it. In other words, it is not possible to have a project 100% financed by Europe.

the Foresight

Europe pays particular attention to innovation, research and development. In this respect, it finances many experimental projects, even on a small scale, which propose a new way of doing or experiencing culture and enable professionals to develop systems which they would not otherwise have been able to do.

A long process

EU-funded projects often run for several years and are long-term processes. Before responding to a call for projects, organisations need to mature their project in terms of content (actions and objectives) and consortium (profile and role of partners). After submitting an application, it takes several months before a positive or negative response is received, and sometimes a few more months before the actions start.

The different types of European funding

CCI associations and companies have, contrary to what one might think, access to a wide range of European funding. It is sometimes difficult to identify the most relevant schemes: here is a non-exhaustive list of the programmes most mobilised by cultural stakeholders.

Project of local scope: the structural funds

The European Union has delegated the management of a part of its policies and credits called “European Structural and Investment Funds” (ESFI). They are intended to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion. In France, they are managed by the various regional councils. As such, they finance projects of local scope with beneficial effects for the territory, employment and the environment, and which meet the territory’s priority objectives.

For cultural actors, the most used funds are :

– for equipment, infrastructures: the European Funds for Economic and Regional Development (ERDF)

– for people, mainly in situations of fragility: the European Social Funds (ESF) and

– for the attractiveness of territories, especially rural areas: the European Agricultural Funds for Rural Development (EAFRD/ LEADER).

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European cooperation projects : sectoral programmes

Europe promotes cooperation between actors between countries, to develop cohesion between them. Culture is therefore a strong vector, identified to foster this cooperation.

Europe has a programme specifically dedicated to the audiovisual, cultural and creative sectors: CREATIVE EUROPE.

However, many additional programmes can be mobilised if the project integrates issues related to citizenship (EUROPE FOR CITIZENS), youth and adult education (ERASMUS+), environment (LIFE), employment and social innovation (EIS).

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development project in countries outside the European union

The European Union supports initiatives in the Member States but also outside its borders. Several programmes may be of interest to cultural and social project promoters, listed below.

European Development Funds : Africa, Caribbean, Pacific, Overseas territories

Development Cooperation Instrument: Asia, Latin America, Middle East, South Africa

The key points for success

To make a European project a success, it is useful to consolidate the following key points:

cooperation : it is the keystone of a project financed by Europe. The constitution of the partnership and the role of each partner is scrutinised when evaluating an application for a call for projects.

technicality : European calls for projects follow several management rules. Once mastered, these rules become easy to understand, but it is sometimes useful to be accompanied when submitting an application for the first time.

the logical framework : the management of a European project requires the application of a specific method, which includes the production of results, integrated evaluation, reporting, the organisation of transnational meetings, etc. As with technicality, this method is learned and refined as the various calls for projects are submitted.

the identification of a need : a good European project must start from a clearly posed problem and a very well targeted public. It is necessary to be able to clearly formulate the objectives and explain how, thanks to a creative project, this need can be met.

Market research : it is always useful to carry out a study of the sector you want to invest in through the European project, to find out about existing practices and explain how the project’s objectives can be complementary or different.

Are you looking for support and assistance in setting up European projects ? A partner for your Erasmus+ project, Creative Europe or any other programme ? Do not hesitate to contact us !


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