1. General context
The transnational mobility of artists and cultural professionals is of major importance in helping to make a common "European cultural area" a reality, and to bring about cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. Artists and cultural professionals need to travel beyond borders to extend their scope of activities and meet new audiences, to find new and inspiring sources of inspiration to make their creations evolve, and to exchange experiences and learn from each other with a view to developing their careers.
The transnational mobility of artists and culture professionals has been a priority of the Culture programme since 2000. It has been further reinforced as one of the three specific objectives of the Culture programme for the period 2007-2013, as a means of enhancing the cultural area shared by Europeans and encouraging active European citizenship.
In November 2007, the European agenda for culture was adopted by Culture Ministers as the first comprehensive policy framework for culture at European level. Removing obstacles to mobility of artists and cultural professionals has been included among the five priority areas for action in the work plan for 2008-2010, through which the European Agenda for culture is implemented. As part of the newly introduced open method of coordination among EU Member States, an Expert Group on Improving the Conditions for the Mobility of Artists and other Professionals in the culture field was set up in March 2008.
Mobility is also a cross-cutting theme in the three civil society platforms (Access to Culture, Cultural Industries and Intercultural Dialogue) set up by the European Commission as a means to facilitate a structured dialogue with the cultural sector.
As an accompanying measure, the European Commission launched a study funded by the Culture Programme to provide an overview and typology of the mobility schemes which already exist in Europe, to identify any gaps and to propose recommendations for possible action at the EU level. Following an open invitation to tender, the ERICarts Institute was selected to carry out this study. The report entitled "Mobility Matters" was published in November 2008.
2. The Pilot Project for Artist Mobility
At the end of 2007, the European Parliament voted an additional line (1.5 million euro) on the 2008 budget dedicated to supporting the environment for the mobility of artists through a new pilot project. This pilot project will feed into the work of the Member States in the context of the new open method of coordination, as well as serve to test new ideas in order to contribute to the preparation of the Culture Programme for the next programming period beyond 2013. As part of this, two initiatives were launched in 2008:
1) Feasibility study for a European wide system of information on the different legal, regulatory, procedural and financial aspects to mobility in the cultural sector
2) Networking of existing structures supporting mobility in different cultural sectors
3. Continuation of the pilot project for artist mobility in 2009
At the end of 2008, the European Parliament voted a new budget line on the 2009 budget (1.5 million euro) for the continuation of the pilot project on artist mobility implemented in 2008. The objective of this new appropriation is to enable contributions to the operational costs of mobility funds, programmes or schemes on a matching basis, in the sense that European Union support will free up or elicit new funding to be used exclusively to achieve concrete mobility, and/ or is used to open access to a new target group, geographical area, expressed need or other similar improvement/ development (added value) and/ or is used to generate new programmes, formats or structured experiences of mobility.
The Commission received 102 applications which were evaluated by an evaluation committee and nine projects were selected for a co-financing.