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The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers adopted the Kaléidoscope programme on 29 March 1996 for a period of 3 years (1996-1998), with a global budget of 26.5 million euro. It was extended in 1999 with a budget of 10.2 million euro. 518 projects were funded over these four years. The European City of Culture and the European Cultural Month were also supported, as well as the activities of the European Union Baroque Orchestra and the European Union Youth Orchestra.
The programme, prepared for by way of pilot activities between 1990 and 1995, was intended to encourage artistic and cultural creation in Europe through cooperation. Its aim was to support projects with a European dimension, i.e. implemented in partnership with bodies in various Member States, in order to promote knowledge and the dissemination of the culture and cultural life of the European peoples, to contribute to professional training for artists and other cultural operators and to facilitate access to culture for all.
The sectors covered by the programme were: the performing arts (dance, theatre, music, opera, etc.), the plastic and visual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, carving), the applied arts (photography, design) as well as projects involving multimedia as a form of artistic expression.