Retooling the cultural and creative sector after the pandemic

By Platform

The online discussion on 17 November addressed the challenge of how policy makers can foster the economic recovery on the local level by using the skills available in the creative sector and 'retool' the local economy by combining:

  • Necessary support to the cultural and creative industries, which are heavily impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.
  • Creative input to the local economy for a faster recovery through cross-sectoral collaboration.
  • Improvement of the entrepreneurial thinking in local communities.

Support programmes for the cultural and creative sector on the European level

Mrs. Barbara Stacher, from the European Commission, DG Education and Culture, provided the participants with a

of existing and upcoming programmes relevant to the cultural and creative sectors, including the EU Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022 and measures put in place for the mitigation of the COVID-19 crisis as Cultural and Creative Industries have been the sector hardest hit by the crisis. Access the presentation

Looking further ahead, opportunities for the cultural sector in the new EU Research programme Horizon Europe as well as the new Invest EU programme were highlighted.

Regional approaches 

The discussion covered several aspects of how regional actors can grasp the impact of the Coivd-19 crisis on the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) sector and define actions towards recovery. The following topics were discussed:

Approaches to measure the impact of the crisis on creative and cultural industries

Two examples from the Basque Cultural Observatory (Spain) and Tuscany (Italy) of surveys on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the CCIs made clear how hard CCIs were struck. In both regions, the surveys provided input for taking action on the policy level and prepare action plans on multiple levels:

  • Mitigation of the immediate impact.
  • Reactivation of the cultural sector.
  • Adaptation of the sector to new market and economic conditions.
  • Innovation for fostering new growth opportunities.

Both the Basque and the Tuscan approach highlighted the need for a strategic approach to the recovery of the CCIs addressing not only short-term measures. Access the presentation


Addressing immediate needs of CCIs

Besides large economic programmes targeting the whole of the economy, targeted measures for the CCIs are also relevant on the local level. The topic was illustrated by a practice from Austria, presented by aws - Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH: a Comeback grant for film and TV covering costs for productions that are facing shut-down or delay due to COVID-19 (RCIA project). Access the presentation


Approaches to retool economic development

A number of strategic approaches to foster the economic recovery or reactivation of the CCIs were discussed and illustrated with practices.

Fostering entrepreneurship

Two practices from the ECoC-SME - Get ready for the Launch (game) and Developing creative thinking and entrepreneurial skills through a sustainable model of community integration introduced innovative approaches to early stage entrepreneurship support schemes involving the expertise of local business support partners assisting potential new entrepreneurs in the process of structuring business idea. Access the presentation on the get ready for the launch game

and the presentation on developing creative thinking and entrepreneurial skills

Access strategies to different markets

With the loss or strong reduction of their usual sales channels, CCIs face to need to develop new ways to access their client, as well as targeting new clients. Several strategies, which do not exclude each other, can contribute to support sales:

  • Digitalisation: turning to online sales, either via own platforms or using existing ones (such as e.g. eBay) appears as a priority for many businesses. The PLP online event dedicated to Fostering the digitalisation of traditional sectors – focus on e-commerce clearly highlights that this requires from business to develop a clear online sales strategy to be successful and that
  • Internationalisation: accessing international markets can often be combined with the digitalisation of the sales channels but also requires a dedicated strategy.

Those transformation processes require expertise and skills which are not always available within businesses and can be efficiently supported by suitable and easily accessible funding schemes such as vouchers. Several voucher schemes are presented in our story on Voucher Schemes – a great career since end of the 1990s.

Quality standards and joint marketing

While the strategies described above are often building on individual approaches from the businesses, collective approaches can generate mid- to long-term benefits to a larger number of businesses. They build on the definition of quality standards and joint branding efforts. Such approaches can be found especially in the tourism sector, represented in Interreg Europe by e.g. the Destination SMEs project with e.g. the good practice Taste Cork and Ta’ Dbiegi Crafts Village (Malta), or the RuralGrowth project with practices like Ruta del Vino de Rueda/Rueda Wine Route and Visit Savonlinna open collaboration and tourism marketing platform.

A similar line of thinking is currently further developed within the ECoC-SME project, where partners are exploring how “mega-events” such as the European Capital of Culture activities can be used pro-actively to stimulate cross-sectoral collaboration and entrepreneurship leveraging the huge marketing opportunities provided by the European Capital of Culture brand.

More innovation through links with other sectors – SMEs from traditional sectors

Linking businesses from the CCIs with SMEs from other sectors for generating mutual benefits – new markets opportunities for CCIs and improved innovation capacity for other sectors -  is a promising path illustrated by Interreg Europe projects such as RegionArts or RCIA. Two project partners from the RCIA project – Nort-West Regional Development Agency (Romania) and the City of Lublin (Poland) - are currently testing in the framework of pilot actions Creative Industries Voucher schemes having precisely the objective to facilitate such cross-sectoral collaboration, building on experiences from aws in Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH. Further interesting approaches from the RCIA project are provided by the good practices Emilia-Romagna Open Labs and Incredibol! - Bologna's Creative Innovation.

Further Policy Learning Platform resources



Online events:

Image credit: Photo by from Pexels