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The EU seeks to preserve Europe's shared cultural heritage – in language, literature, theatre, cinema, dance, broadcasting, art, architecture and handicrafts, to name but a few – and help make it accessible to others.

Violinist © Rossen Donev - Varna Summer Music Festival

A young performer at the international music festival in Varna, Bulgaria.

The EU supports the cultural and creative industries through:

  • support programmes to help them make the most of the EU market and digital technologies
  • funding
  • help with research projects
  • support for cooperation with partners inside and outside the EU.

Many EU policies have a link to culture: education (including language-learning), scientific research, support for IT and communications technologies, social policy and regional development.

For example, as part of its regional policy, the EU helps pay for music schools, concert halls and recording studios. It has also funded the restoration of historic theatres including the Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona and the Fenice in Venice, both damaged by fire in the 1990s.

Woman restoring monument © Van Parys Media

The EU helps restore Europe's cultural heritage.

The EU culture programme

The current EU culture programme (2007-13) has a total budget of €400 million to spend on non-audiovisual cultural activities. Its purpose is to:

  • promote awareness and preservation of cultural assets that are important not just for a region or country, but for Europe as a whole
  • help people working in the cultural industries to live and work in other European countries
  • make it easier for works and cultural and artistic products to circulate freely around the EU
  • stimulate dialogue between different cultures.

The upcoming Creative Europe programme (2014-2020) is expected to have a budget of more than €500 million, as well as launching a €210 million loan guarantee scheme to encourage banks to lend to small businesses in the cultural sector.

European capitals of culture

Every year, 2 cities are chosen as European capitals of culture.

The title gives these cities a unique opportunity to celebrate their European identity, improve their cooperation with both national and foreign cultural bodies and generally make their cultural life more vivid and attractive.

Various events take place in the city during the year in any cultural field. Experience shows the capital of culture year has long-term benefits for the city's cultural, social and economic development.


Culture and audiovisual

Published in June 2013

This publication is part of the 'European Union explained' series



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