Culture and the arts, relevant for the quality of our life and the European project

Some values can never be put into economic numbers. Numbers on arts are wrong as they miss a part of the story.
– Tomáš Sedláček

While global challenges intensify and have an impact on European societies, Europe needs to preserve its interlinked economic and social model and enrich it with cultural awareness.

The Europe 2020 strategy as well as the Union’s foremost goals and emerging priorities are unattainable without culture and the arts. They are deeply embedded in society and thus play a fundamental role in this context.

Culture and the Arts | EU Priorities

European values and human rights: Day to day, artists and art professionals defend the values addressed in the Charter of fundamental rights. Access to and participation in cultural life has been recognised as being a fundamental right for individuals, helping to create individual and collective fulfilment in societies.

Economic benefits and growth: The cultural sector is an excellent vector for economy and sustainable growth. As an example, in France, it brings an added value of € 57,8 bn to the economy, which is 3,2% of the sum of all added values. This “cultural GDP” is twice as high as the one for the telecommunication sector and 7 times larger than the equivalent of the automobile industry.

Education: Participation in structured art activities increase cognitive abilities and studies prove that students from low income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to get a degree than children with the same background who do not engage in arts activities in school.

Social cohesion: Participation in cultural activities is an essential tool for individuals and communities to communicate, to define and develop their own identity, to distinguish themselves from others. It allows isolated or marginalised people to acquire skills, self-confidence and self-esteem.

Migration and citizenship: Culture and the arts teach individuals about complexity and contribute to the constructive experience of “otherness”. They reflect our “living together”, they stimulate us to celebrate differences and discover affinities. At local level artists and arts professionals are committed and get involved to tackle new societal challenges.

Innovation: New technological platforms are used to give access to culture to the global audience and vulnerable groups in society.

Health and wellbeing: People who attend cultural events are more likely to report good health and research has evidenced that a higher frequency of engagement with culture and the arts is generally associated with a higher level of wellbeing.

Regional and urban development: Culture is a powerful tool for urban regeneration, development and social cohesion. The presence of cultural activities is a major factor of the attractiveness of regions and cities – high-human-capital employees are keen to settle and they in turn stimulate regional growth.

External relations and neighbourhood policy: Cultural diplomacy strengthens the bi-lateral relations between European and third countries and builds bridges between societies – as it is a tool to exchange ideas and thereby fostering better mutual understanding. Cultural exchange creates an open environment within which political and social issues as well as liberal values can more easily be addressed.

International cooperation and development: The cultural dimension is a key element of any development strategy. In general, culture and the arts enable a sustainable social, economic and human development. They also facilitate the dialogue between cultures which appears to be an essential condition of peaceful coexistence.