Meet Sabine Verheyen (MEP) chair of the CULT-committee

At the 2020 digital version of Kulturmødet – the annual Cultural Summit in Denmark, Peter Hanke is interviewing the German EU-politician, Sabine Verheyen, chair of the cultural committee in the EU Parlament.

Thursday 20 August 18.00-18.45 CET – sign up here
Introduction in Danish here

Sabine Verheyen is the chair of the CULT-comittee that is currently working for securing culture and education a part of the EU Recovery Fund. You can read the May press release about the need for saving European culture and values in the current crisis.

During the interview we will touch upon some of these themes:

  • European values and ideas
    Does a European culture actually exist? – what is Europe’s role in a new world order? (USA fading, China rising) – can culture solve some of long term challenges for the continent?
  • Conflict between EU and European nations
    Traditionally nations don’t want EU to cover much in cultural matters. However EU’s role in the cultural digital age could be relevant (current issues about YouTube censoring Danish Radio’s TV for children, Global tech companies dominating etc.). What are the future opportunities?
  • What is needed for culture to speak with one voice and gain political importance?
    An EY-report from 2014 stating that the cultural sector is hugely important to the European economy (4% of GDP, 7 mill jobs, far more than the car-industry). The sector should speak up more effeciently.
  • Culture should be a part of EU’s Covid-19 Recovery Fund
    CULT wants to devote 1% for culture of the proposed €b390 budget.

    Read Sabine’s keynote on the specific suggestions below:

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, 

I am honoured to speak to you today at the Denmark Cultural Summit, thank you for this opportunity. Thank you for the invitation and organisation of this meeting and for the initiative to have this exchange, bringing us all together. In these difficult times, it is of the utmost importance for those who believe in the power of culture and creativity for Europe to join forces and raise our voices.

Reminiscing the past months, in the cultural sector, we have seen cinemas, big concert halls and small venues, theatres and museums close their doors. Many festivals, conferences, book fairs and film and television production have been cancelled or at least postponed until further notice. 

As many of us have spent several weeks at home, it cannot have escaped us how fundamental culture is to us. Whether it be watching a film, listening to music, enjoying an online museum tour or simply reading a book, culture matters so much to our everyday lives. However, it seems that this fact does not materialize in our actions. When looking at the proposals for the next 7-years EU Budget, the Multi Annual Financial Framework, and the Recovery Fund, it is still the case that the priorities for Europe`s recovery lie elsewhere. 

Few people would doubt that culture and creativity are essential elements of the European identity. However, they are just as essential for the European economy. Probably not enough citizens and decision-makers know that culture and creative industries employ 7 million people, that they generate 4.2% of EU GDP, and that they are such powerful sources of jobs and growth that they provide jobs for nearly 2.5 times more Europeans than the automotive industry. The cultural and creative sectors also contribute significantly to youth employment, employing, on average, more young people than any other sector. 

The key is creativity, a free and renewable source of energy — a resource which is abundantly present in countries of the European Union. Creativity feeds on culture in its widest possible sense: the European culture is a tremendous asset, a common good that must be protected and promoted.

The competitive advantage of our cultural and creative sectors depends on maintaining a virtuous cycle of creative talent, artistic expression, entrepreneurship and investment, as well as proper reward and remuneration for creators. Enhancing this cycle by fostering the right environment for cultural diversity and creativity in a digital world will surely be a key task for the coming years.

For me, it is crystal clear: If today we do not support our artists, creators and professionals working in cultural and creative sectors, it may have devastating consequences for our European cultural diversity and mean that we simply will not have access to the range of cultural content and expressions we do now. 

A crisis can be an opportunity, as we begin to see things from another perspective. Let’s use this opportunity to redefine our priorities: 

We need to protect and support out cultural and creative sectors and the people making up these industries. The European Commission and the European Parliament have been working together to form new policies and release funds towards the affected communities. Now, we need to make sure that the new Multi Annual Financial Framework and the recovery plan will include not only a focus, but also dedicated money for culture and creativity. 

Now we need to ensure that these sectors and the people making up these sectors will be properly represented in the recovery plans. Spending money on culture and creativity is investing in the future of the continent. 

We need to tailor support to those sectors and help them access that support. We also need – without delay – to boost and adapt the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility under Creative Europe to help the sector access further financing. And we need dedicated support to the cultural and creative sectors and industries earmarked in the recovery funds. 

In my position as Chair of the cultural and education Committee in the European Parliament, I request that out of the 390 billion grants of the Recovery Fund, at least 1% should be exclusively dedicated to the cultural and creative sectors. 

We need to create the conditions for our vibrant cultural and creative sector to recover and to thrive. However, and here we need to stay realistic, this will not come without costs. We need to invest in the cultural sector now. If we miss this opportunity, the losses will be immense. 

Let´s all pull together on this, the industry, the artists, people in creative jobs, everyone in these sectors, the Parliament, the Commission and the Member States Governments – we need to work together now to absorb and mitigate the evasion of the crisis on the sectors. It is crucial for our cultural diversity and creative richness in Europe.

Many thanks for your kind attention.