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Mobility of artists and cultural professionals

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Mobility, whether for work, study, research, co-production, or participation in a residency or exchange programme, is an integral part of the regular practice and career of artists and cultural professionals. Mobility may not be simply a matter of personal choice, but also of professional survival.

The mobility of artists and cultural professionals is essential for a variety of reasons, including:

  • accessing new career opportunities, audiences and markets
  • creating jobs in the cultural and creative sectors
  • promoting cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue
  • networking and building partnerships

Artists and cultural professionals are frequently highly mobile, touring to display their work and performing in multiple countries. Improving the conditions for mobile artists also helps to sustain their livelihoods.

Reducing barriers to mobility

The Commission supports and complements the actions of Member States to reduce barriers to mobility for artists and cultural professionals. It seeks to improve the environment for mobility by providing funding and opportunities, and ensuring that information and advice is comprehensive and readily available.

Mobility is embedded in certain actions of Creative Europe, the EU’s programme for culture, where it can be part of cooperation projects, networks or platforms. However, a new funding scheme for the mobility of artists and cultural professionals has been created, ensuring congruity between policy dialogue at the EU level and the EU’s programme for culture.

i-Portunus, the first EU demand-driven mobility scheme for individuals, was trialled in 2019. It yielded impressive results and received enthusiastic support. Nearly 350 individuals received funding for professional mobility periods, including production-oriented residencies and professional development activities, from a total of €620 million of available support.

Among the participants:

  • 97% reported having acquired new skills
  • 94% developed new audiences or outlets for their work
  • 94% established co-productions or co-creations
  • 49% received a job offer or new contract

The participants received between €1,500 - €3,400 each to support their mobility. Find out more about the i-Portunus participants’ experiences.

EU programmes supporting mobility

In addition to the Creative Europe programme, a number of other EU initiatives and programmes aims at supporting mobility in Europe, including also for cultural and creative sectors. The mobility grants can be provided through, among others, the Erasmus+ programme, Erasmus for young entrepreneurs (COSME programme of the European Union for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises), STARTS Residency programme and The STARTS initiative (Science, Technology & the Arts initiative of the European Commission, launched under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme of the EU).

Furthermore, the Worth Partnership Project funded by COSME covers includes design and offers specific mobility actions, while the Makers’ mobility pilot project aims at testing actions supporting mobility and the exchange of experience between the cultural and creative industries, creative hubs, maker-spaces and fab-labs.

Helping Member States to shape better cultural mobility policies

Together with the European Commission, the Member States have also been collaborating on the mobility of artists and cultural professionals since 2008 through the Open Method of Coordination (OMC). As a voluntary but structured cooperation framework between the EU governments, the OMC continues to facilitate the exchange of good practices and fosters peer-learning.

In 2011, a dedicated Expert Group convened by the Commission issued a set of guidelines (Mobility Information Standards) on quality standards for establishing information and advisory services for artists and culture professionals. In 2012, an OMC EU Member States’ expert group issued a policy report proposing five key principles for building and maintaining a strong framework to support the mobility of artists and cultural professionals, while another OMC group completed a Policy Handbook on Artists' Residencies in December 2014. The latter analysed the value of artists’ residencies and included examples of good practices from across the EU.

In 2013-2014, the Commission held two thematic seminars for the Member States and the cultural sector to analyse administrative practices creating obstacles to the mobility of artists and culture professionals. The seminars focused on, among others, Schengen visas, social security and cross-border taxation. In 2016, the Commission held a stocktaking meeting to assess progress made since 2014 regarding the obstacles to artistic and cultural mobility in Europe. The exercise brought together a number of stakeholders from the cultural and creative sectors as well as policy-makers. The stocktaking allowed concluding that despite higher awareness of the obstacles to artistic and cultural mobility, numerous problems persist.

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