Original publication: November 2017
Authors: Rosanna LEWIS (author), Polly MARTIN (co-author)
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2jcFYlq
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This briefing paper explores cultural work with refugees in Europe, analysing the current funding programmes of the European Union. The paper particularly focuses on the Erasmus+, Creative Europe and Europe for Citizens programmes, which fall under the remit of the CULT Committee. The findings are complemented by case studies and feedback from EU-funded projects under each programme. The paper provides recommendations for the future EU programme generation, and suggested actions for the CULT Committee and its Members in order to inform and influence the next EU programming beyond 2020.

EU funding for cultural work with refugees: towards the next programme generation

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The paper finds that, although cultural work with refugees is possible under each programme, they serve very different purposes. Erasmus+ is more focused on projects that build capacity and cooperation between organisations, sometimes around the common theme of inclusion where cultural organisations are eligible to receive funding for work with refugees, but neither culture nor refugees are the main focus of the programme. Instead, the Creative Europe programme directly responded to the increase of refugees arriving in Europe by launching a specific call for ‘Creative Partnerships’ in this field, which encourages collaboration between cultural organisations and NGOs and CSOs working directly with refugees. For this reason, the direct beneficiaries of the funding are largely established European organisations who have devised projects where refugees are seen as the main target group or final beneficiary rather than directly included in the development and delivery of the project in their own right. Europe for Citizens is the most tailored programme to the needs of refugees and citizens, although funding is very limited for a programme whose aims are so large-scale and long term. All three programmes require a significant increase in funding in the next phase, as well as an approach that is more inclusive and far-reaching, in order to develop cultural work with refugees that is meaningful and impactful.

Consultations with EU-funded projects in this field revealed that there is a general appreciation for the funding opportunities through these three programmes, and in particular for the chance to work with like-minded organisations across Europe. However, there are several concerns related to the following:

Refugee Empowerment: A better inclusion and dialogue with refugees from the beginning of projects would be beneficial, taking into account individual and collective needs of refugees.

Spaces of Welcome: Based on the principle that integration is a two-way process, activities could support more creation of safe spaces, enabling dialogue between refugees and host communities, fostering better understanding, communication and empathy towards refugees.

Results sharing: A better system of results sharing could greatly improve future projects as well as allow a deeper understanding of positive and negative effects of past projects and their outcomes. It would allow for better evaluation and more transparent cooperation in the future.

Access for smaller organisations: Smaller or local organisations are often unable to compete against larger ones, who in turn are better placed to take on the financial and administrative burden of a project and are more likely to already receive funding from elsewhere. More pre-financing, combined with the inclusion of smaller organisations in projects could lead to better collaborations.

Looking beyond Europe: It has been put forward that funding could not only be eligible to projects in European and partner countries, but also in other relevant countries especially in the Middle East and North Africa. This could open cultural borders and lead to a trans-disciplinary approach.

The three main recommendations of this paper are:

1) An increase in access to funding, through providing more funding that is better coordinated between DGs and programmes, easier to apply for, and more visible at local and national levels. This could be achieved through networking, capacity building, peer learning and awareness raising activities, using both physical and digital spaces and platforms.

2) Improved methodology, by defining the expected impact and audience, and how the outputs and outcomes can be realistically achieved and measured based on the end product and process used. Furthermore, future programmes should ensure that the impact of their projects reach policy and decision makers at local, national and European levels.

3) Developing a tailored programme, that is multi-annual and multi-country, using a sub-granting mechanism to directly involve and benefit refugees. The programme would provide safe spaces for dialogue and exchange, and encourage refugees’ voices to be heard, fostering intercultural understanding, the empowerment of refugees and social inclusion between refugees and host communities.

The paper concludes by suggesting actions for the CULT Committee and its MEPs to take forward in order to inform and influence the next programming period of the EU. It also provides a list of key EU stakeholders for cultural work with refugees, and information on other related EU programmes.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/602-005

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