If you are involved in local development or have experience of planning or managing Operational Programmes in your country or region, you will be aware of the policy framework of the Structural Funds.
You may also know how the Structural Funds have supported culture.
What you may not be aware of is the full range of culture's contribution to the objectives of the Structural Funds.
The role of culture within the Structural Funds has evolved in recent years and continues to evolve.
Whereas once the chief role of culture was thought to be its contribution to tourism, a much broader conception has emerged recognising the potential of culture in diverse areas:
rehabilitation of the physical environment, economic diversification, promoting local businesses and growth in creative and innovative ways, attracting and retaining highly skilled staff and a distinctive contribution to developing skills and talent and promoting social inclusion.
In the programming period 2007-2013, €6 billion have been allocated for culture based projects. This represents 1.7% of the total Structural Funds budget. However, in addition, there are other current and potential culture-based interventions funded under other headings: tourism, innovation, entrepreneurship, the information society and improving human capital.
The section on Culture-based Development provides more detailed information to assist with developing culture-based action within Cohesion policy, including specific examples of successful and innovative initiatives over the period since 2000.
Discussions are already beginning on the priorities for the programming period after 2013. You may find some inspiration for reflection here on how these priorities should be formulated at a national or regional level.