Access to Culture
The Platform on Access to Culture is a channel for cultural stakeholders to provide concrete input and practice-based policy recommendations to European, national, regional and local policy makers. It was launched on 5 June 2008 at the initiative of the European Commission in the framework of the European Agenda for Culture. Alongside with the Platform on the Potential of Cultural and Creative Industries and the Platform for an Intercultural Europe, it has the mandate to bring in the voice of civil society to provide recommendations for policies that can foster the access of all to cultural life in its different dimensions. The Platform also aims to represent the needs of the sector, identify suitable actions in the different stages of policy formation and also to organise itself the way many other sectors have done previously. Access to culture is a new crucial issue within the European agenda and the structured dialogue with civil society is a new instrument for consultation at European level. Special attention should therefore be given to the recommendations as they pioneer and open the way to new reflections and policy development at European, regional, national and local levels.
In order to ensure a perspective as wide as possible, the Platform has selected three main threads relating to access that have been examined in three respective working groups. The working group on education and learning explores the benefits of the interaction and synergy between education, learning and culture and the role that cultural participation plays in different educational settings. The working group on creativity and creation advocates for the best conditions for artistic creation, to ensure access to the creative process for all, and to explore the creativity of the arts sector within the wider field of ‘creativity and innovation’. Finally, the working group on audience participation advocates the importance of taking audience participation into account in all levels of policy making based on the broad spectrum of added value that a participative audience brings, not only to the cultural sector but to society as a whole, especially in terms of civic participation and citizenship.
On June 9th 2009 the Platform endorsed the Policy Guidelines document which is the outcome of the working process of its first year of existence. The document is directed to the European Commission, Member States, local and regional authorities and cultural institutions. It places access and participation within a human rights framework and provides guidelines for policy measures aimed at:
Improving access to culture and including it as a fundamental theme in the next generation of EU programmes (2014-2020) and in the Culture Programme in particular.
- Underlining the importance culture plays in the lives of the peoples in Europe and the urgency of taking affirmative legal and policy action to make culture accessible for everyone, based on Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which recognises taking part in cultural life as a fundamental right.
- Drawing attention to the contribution that an active, vital, thriving cultural sector brings to the development of society as a whole. Participation in cultural life, exposure to artistic creation, access to artistic skills and knowledge enriches individuals and communities, and strengthens the civic and social nets that compose the fabric of our European societies.
- Highlighting the importance of supporting all steps of the chain of processes related to creative expression, as well as their interaction. These include: education/training, creation, production, dissemination, documentation/ preservation and media/art criticism.
- Fostering special attention to improving conditions for artistic creation and artists; to facilitating conditions for a continued capacity building process of cultural, educational and creative professionals; to addressing imbalances in their social statutes. This includes legal financial and social protection, adequate funding possibilities, professional development opportunities - such as mobility and access to information – for artists. It also includes identifying new communication processes with the public in order to understand their cultural participation needs.
Stimulating more detailed, qualitative and impartial research and data collection on the different forms of access and participation in cultural life from education to creation, interpretation and enjoyment of culture.