Two new pan-European alliances are in the process of being created ahead of the launching of the European Union’s Creative Europe framework programme in January 2014.
Organisations as diverse as the Motion Picture Association (MPA), the Federation of European Film Directors (FERA), the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) and the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF) have joined forces to found the new coalition, Creativity Works!
According to its mission statement, the initiative’s aim is ¨to have an open dialogue with European audiences and decision-makers about the challenges we all face: our online world has to provide fair and equal opportunities for all individuals, creators and current and emergent businesses to flourish. Striking the right balance in this context will ultimately benefit citizens and consumers, safeguard and create jobs, and help to promote cultural diversity¨
Speaking at the launch in Brussels, EU Culture Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou welcomed the venture and noted that ¨the next necessary step for us is to make sure we have the appropriate regulatory framework and support cultural diversity and access to culture,¨ while MEP Arlene McCarthy pointed out in a roundtable discussion that the creative industries were a success story at a time of economic crisis: ¨The key is, how do you monetise all the content that is being uploaded on to the Internet?¨
Meanwhile, Chris Marcich, MPA’s President Managing Director, EMEA, told Screen Daily that Creativity Works! is ¨an important initiative for the MPA and we are proud to be a founding member of this coalition. Bringing together such a diverse group of people to champion creativity is a worthy endeavor.¨
¨ The creative community is a vital component of both current and future economic growth across the European Union,¨ Marcich said. ¨More than 14 million people make up Europe’s creative community. IP-intensive industries contribute 26% of employment and 39% of EU GDP, within which the copyright-intensive industries play an important part. Europe’s cultural and creative sectors also make a significant social contribution, communicating cultural and social values, creating shared experiences throughout and beyond Europe’s diverse population.¨
According to UNIC’s Chief Executive Jan Runge, ¨there is a real need to re-position the creative content sectors regarding current debates on creativity and innovation in Brussels and in the EU. Our sectors are incredibly dynamic and we should speak about them in a more positive and imaginative way while not shying away from fact-based debates on issues such as copyright, licensing or privacy.¨
¨The creative sectors make tremendous contributions to well-being across all EU member states - from a social, a cultural as well as from an economic perspective,¨ Runge continued exclusively to Screen Daily. ¨Many countries in this world envy our ability to create, our openness and Europe’s cultural diversity. We need to celebrate this “creative competitiveness” which at times is endangered by a political discourse that too often ignores that artists, creators and the companies that they work with are the real source of creativity and innovation in Europe.¨
¨In my view, we also need to become better in illustrating that our sectors and the talents that they promote and rely on are inextricably linked. There is a need for more success stories and less complaining. The fragmentation of Europe’s creative content sectors is to some degree reflected by a need for a more coordinated advocacy and communications approach in Brussels. Creativity Works! seeks to address this need.¨
¨For UNIC, it is, of course, essential that cinema exhibition plays an active role in this initiative as our sector is closely linked to the well-being of many other partners in the value chain. Having moved our office from Paris to Brussels only two years ago, it is important that we illustrate cinema exhibition’s willingness to cooperate with other partners from across the film industry value chain,¨ Runge concluded.
New Europe countries planning CentEast Coalition
At the same time, preparations are underway for the 12 so-called New Europe countries - Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia - to launch the CentEast Coalition in order to better represent the interests of the youngest EU member states on a European scale.
These plans will be discussed during an audiovisual summit, entitled From MEDIA to Creative Europe and to be held in Warsaw from 11-12 December, which will examine the experiences of the MEDIA Programme in the New Europe countries and identify the challenges for the future.
Speaking exclusively to Screen Daily, the summit’s organiser and director of MEDIA Desk Polska, Joanna Wendorff-Ostergaard said: ¨the idea is to see how we as countries from Central and Eastern Europe can cooperate. Paradoxically, we know each other in the region less than we know our colleagues in, say, France or Germany because they organise so many events and promote themselves so efficiently that it is easier to know a French director than an Estonian one!¨
¨Nowadays, political declarations imply that Central and Eastern European countries are no longer ‘new’; we are supposed to have integrated fully, contributing fresh energy and unconventional solutions to the European economy and spirit. We do recognise the value of being fresh and brave, yet quite well-established. Nonetheless, we feel we could reap even more benefits from this energy and power if our countries were to work closer together.¨
The summit will be opened with a key-note speech by Jan Truszczynski, Director-General for Education and Culture at the European Commission, and an address by Poland’s Minister of Culture Bogdan Zdrojewski, to be followed by a series of panel discussions with leading players from the region such as film funders, broadcasters and producers as well as decision-makers from the European Commission and the European Parliament,
Issues to be covered include the pros and cons of being a producer or a distributor in a country with a small language group, new business models and value chains in the audiovisual industries of the new member states, building an audience in the digital era, and the role of public television in developing the film industry in new member states.
¨ I think everyone would agree that MEDIA has made a lot of difference in our countries - possibly more so than in Old Europe,¨ Wendorff-Ostergaard said, ¨because it has brought in innovation and new working practices.¨
Creative Europe budget to be finalised
Creative Europe is now expected to have a total budget of € 1.46 bn from 2014 to 2020. This total - a 9% increase on current funding levels - takes estimated inflation into account and is the equivalent of € 1.3bn in fixed/constant 2011 prices.
The European Parliament and EU Member States are likely to finalise the budget during November. (Ends)