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Follow for the latest updates to the Pro-CCS: Microfunding Cultural and Creative Sectors project

Next steps for Pro-CCS

15 April 2024
Image Credit: M. Cooper
Pro-CCS: Microfunding for Cultural and Creative Sectors (co-funded by Erasmus+), after two years, has come to a close.

Over the past two years, this project has focused on how to address the challenges CCSs face in accessing finance, which is one of the most critical obstacles to the sector’s growth. The Pro-CCS project supports overall CCSs by reinforcing the competences of professionals active in the sectors and aims at bridging the cultural and creative sectors with the financial sector in order to facilitate access to credit.

Pro-CCS asserts that the Cultural and Creative Sector (CCS) is amongst the fastest-growing sectors of the economy. Nevertheless, the challenges in accessing finance are one of the most critical obstacles to its growth. In some cases, access to finance is circumvented by specific characteristics of CCS actors, such as lack of tangible assets, high uncertainty of market demand, generation of value over long and uncertain periods of time, and general lack of knowledge of funding opportunities.

For many budding entrepreneurs in CCS, there can be obstacles pertaining to a lack of business skills or a general fear of losing control of their business and/or control over their artistic practice. Specific market conditions can also play a role in stifling access, such as a lack of good market knowledge and pressure on existing business models due to changing factors in the environment, such as the digital shift, for example.

In 2016 the European Commission launched the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility (CCS GF) as a response to many of these challenges, easing access to finance for micro-businesses and small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) in CCS while increasing engagement with financial intermediaries. In addition to the fact that the cultural sector is largely composed of micro-enterprises, non-profit organizations and creative professionals who often lack access to financial support, the current crisis caused by COVID-19 compounded issues for the sector, due to the sudden and massive loss of revenue opportunities. The suspension of activities and the cancellation (or postponement) of events, shows and festivals generated a chain of negative effects, whose effects can still be felt today, even after the sector started resuming activities. For all these reasons, the Pro-CCS project has focused on bridging the skills gap of professionals in the sector and facilitating access to credit by creating dedicated channels and providing solid information on the economic potential of the CCS to financial intermediaries so that they can overcome a traditional distrust of the sector and support its growth.

Across the five partners, Ente Nazionale per il Microcredito (Italy), InnoGrowth (Bulgaria), ImpactHub Leipzig (Germany), Culture Action Europe (Belgium) and Euradia (Italy), Pro-CCS has focused on four key objectives: 1) creating a European community of mentors who are specialized in providing complete training and tutoring to professionals active in the Cultural and Creative Sector, 2) supporting the development of managerial and entrepreneurial skills of CCS professionals, 3) supporting the development of micro business ideas in the CCS by easing the access to credit and funding opportunities and lastly, 4) supporting financial intermediaries in better understanding of specificity and peculiarity of the CCS and to reinforce their awareness on the economic potential of the sector itself.

As the project now comes to a close, Pro-CCS leaves behind a set of open-source materials to continue developing new collaborations between the world of micro-credit and the cultural and creative sector:

These resources, which have been created through consultation with the business development sector, the cultural and creative sector, as well as financial intermediators, are now available online and after the official close of the project. More information about the project can be found at pro-css.com. For any organisation or individual interested in staying connected to topics of microfinance in the cultural sector, either through new grant-funded opportunities or informal connections to projects, conferences, and tools that focus on entrepreneurship and funding cultural and creative enterprises, please contact maya@cultureactioneurope.org.

Upcoming event:

Culturetrepreneur: Scope for Independence

Thu, March 28, 2024 2:30 pm (CET)
Impact Hub Leipzig GmbH
Naumburger Straße 25 04229 Leipzig Germany

Many people who work in the cultural and creative industries, often self-employed, have had the problem of inadequate social and financial security, and not just since Corona. Self-employed people and people in the areas of the creative and cultural industries, in the public cultural sector and in cultural professions in general often experience considerable fluctuations in their income and often feel inadequately prepared for crises in terms of social security. What is the best way to start your own business in the cultural and creative sector? What needs to be paid attention to, what challenges are there? The most important aspects of starting your own business are explained and translated in an industry-friendly way – with the active support of Yaelle Dorison (Clownin), among others.

With this event, together with the Creative Saxony State Association for the Creative Industry, we would like to provide space for exchange, support, questions and answers.

Come by for an afternoon meeting, we look forward to seeing you and your input and exchange. Your physical well-being is taken care of by vegan catering!

Creative Saxony: https://www.kreatives-sachsen.de/
Impact Hub Leipzig: https://leipzig.impacthub.net/

 (Event held in German)

* The event takes place as part of the Erasmus+ project Pro-CCS and is financed by the European Union.

You’re Invited: Lunchtime Presentation: Pro-CCS Resources for Microfunding

Image Credit: M. Cooper

Culture Action Europe and  Euradia  will host a final online gathering for the project,  Pro-CCS: Microfunding for Cultural and Creative Sectors  (co-funded by Erasmus+) on 26 March 2024.

 Over the past two years, this project has focused on how to address the challenges CCSs face in accessing finance, which is one of the most critical obstacles to the sector’s growth. The Pro-CCS project supports overall CCSs by reinforcing the competences of professionals active in the sectors and aims at bridging the cultural and creative sectors with the financial sector in order to facilitate access to credit. 

During this CAE Lunchtime Presentation, CAE and Euradia will share and discuss the  open source resources  created in the Pro-CCS project:

  • a training course for business development services and financial tutors
  • a distance training course for cultural and creative sector professionals
  • a toolkit for financial intermediaries to support business start-ups in CCS

 

March 26, 2024
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Online

Make Culture and Cultural Enterprise. Be Creative Today.

March 13, 2024

Today at MAXXI, National Museum of Arts of the 21st Century, Ente Nazionale per il Microcredito held their concluding event of the ProCCS project – “Promoting entrepreneurship and access to finance in the Cultural and Creative Sector”.

„Today’s meeting dedicated to the conclusion of the project – explained ENM president Mario Baccini – offers us the opportunity to reflect on a topic, that of supporting the cultural industry, which represents a strategic asset for our country“.

Among the personalities involved, the president of the Maxxi Foundation Alessandro Giuli and Father Antonio Spadaro, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Culture and Education of the Holy See. Journalist Piero Schiavazzi moderated the meeting.

Pro-CCS Interviews at the Microfunding Cultural and Creative Sectors European Conference 

We interviewed policymakers, creative and cultural sector representatives and stakeholders from the financial sector about their thoughts on the tools and opportunities of the Pro-CCS project. Hear from some of our stakeholders in the video interviews below.

Arthur Le Gall, KEA

Barbara Stacher, European Commission

Ivan Parushev, IMD

Marco Mabritto, Italian Grower’s Association

Penko Stoev, IMD

You’re Invited: Microfunding Cultural & Creative Sectors European Conference

Pro-CCS (co-funded by Erasmus+), will host its final event in Brussels on 13 December 2023. Over the past two years, this project has focused on how to address the challenges CCSs face in accessing finance, which is one of the most critical obstacles to the sector’s growth. The Pro-CCS project supports overall CCSs by reinforcing the competences of professionals active in the sectors and aims at bridging the cultural and creative sectors with the financial sector in order to facilitate access to credit. 

In this final event of the project, project partners invite representatives from cultural and creative industries, local, regional and national authorities related to the cultural and business sector, and policymakers to join a unique opportunity to share and discuss the results of the Pro-CCS project:

  • a training course for business development services and financial tutors
  • a distance training course for cultural and creative sector professionals
  • a toolkit for financial intermediaries to support business start-ups in CCS

We are delighted to invite you to attend Pro-CCS’s Microfunding Cultural and Creative Sectors European Conference on 13 December 2023, 10:00-14:00 (CEST) at Regione Toscana in Brussels. (Lunch will be provided .) You then are welcome to stay for a special roundtable session from 2 pm – 4 pm to more deeply discuss the main challenges related to accessing credit and microfinance and better understand the peculiarities of CCS.

agenda

9.30 – Arrivals, Registration, Coffee

10am – Introductions and Welcome 

Moderator: Jaysha Obispo ( Communication Expert and Cultural Organizer)

Welcome notes – Massimo Macaluso (Euradia) and Tuscany Regional Dept of Heritage, Institutions, Cultural activities and Sport

10.15 – Project Results

Handbook for Business Service Providers – Lorenzo Marino (Ente Nazionale per il Microcredito)

CCS Distance Learning Course – Maya Weisinger (Projects and Communications Manager, Culture Action Europe), Marco Mabritto

Toolkit for Financial Intermediators – Tanya Trayanova (President, InnoGrowth)

10.55 – Q&A (10 mins)

11.05 – Professionalizing Cultural Management | C’Man 

Arthur Le Gall (Director, KEA)

11.25 – Q&A 

11.30 – Uniting Culture and Microfinance for Growth

Panelists: Barbara Stacher (European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture),  Francesca Raimondi ( European Commission, DG Regio ), Arthur Le Gall (KEA)

12.05 – Q&A

12.25 –  Evaluation & Close

12.30 – Lunch 

2 pm – Side event: Accessing Microcredit Roundtable

Facilitated by Pauline Lauch (Community & Event Manager, ImpactHub Leipzig)

 

Attendance is free, but registration is required.

Exploring Entrepreneurship in the Cultural and Creative Sectors: Insights from Protagonists

17 November, 2023
Image Credit: M. Cooper

Let’s pinpoint it: What does it take to succeed as a cultural entrepreneur and how can one overcome the unique challenges faced by those seeking funding in this sector? To provide an approachable answer, Francesca Dell’Orco from Pro-CCS partner Ente Nazionale per il Microcredito, provides an accessible introduction and three microcredit tutors who attended the ProCCS training course share their insight knowledge.

Introducing the topic, Francesca Dell’Orco examines the field of entrepreneurship in the cultural and creative sectors and sheds light on its economic importance and social contribution. She emphasises the crucial combination of passion for art and creativity with a solid entrepreneurial vision. Dell’Orco acknowledges the difficulty for cultural entrepreneurs to obtain funding given the subjective nature of their work and emphasises the need for innovative solutions in this dynamic and often precarious environment.

In the first interview, Maria Cicchitons further explores the financial landscape of the cultural and creative sector, emphasising the unique challenges encountered by entrepreneurs in quantifying the value of their creations. Cicchitons underscores the importance of a clear business plan, market understanding, and a well-established network to secure funding. She highlights diverse funding sources, ranging from government grants and private investors to crowdfunding and partnerships with companies and European programs.
Furthermore, she discusses the importance of having a strong network in the cultural and creative sector. Cicchitons notes that having a network of contacts can help entrepreneurs to secure funding, find new opportunities, and build their brand. She points out that one must be willing to take risks and underlines the important role of new technologies in the distribution of cultural content. She concludes by noting that the cultural and creative sector has enormous economic value and potential for growth.

Providing insights into the challenges faced by cultural entrepreneurs, Fabio D’Amora accentuates the subjective valuation of creative works and stresses the necessity of a clear business plan, market comprehension, and an extensive network. D’Amora also explores the impact of new technologies on the sector and enumerates various funding avenues, including government grants, private investments, and crowdfunding.

In the final interview, Jancario Zecchin underscores the economic value of the cultural and creative sector, emphasising the entrepreneurial prowess required for success. Zecchin categorises cultural and creative enterprises into performing arts, visual arts, and media, outlining the essential skills—creativity, business acumen, adaptability—crucial for cultural entrepreneurs. Networking and relationship-building within the sector are highlighted, along with the challenges of securing funding, given the subjective valuation of creations and limited access to financial services. Zecchin underscores the significance of a clear business plan and market understanding, drawing inspiration from successful cultural entrepreneurs who navigated and triumphed over these challenges. The collective insights from these interviews call for a creative approach to microfinance, recognizing the diverse models within the Cultural and Creative sectors and fostering value creation in this vibrant landscape.

The Pro-CCS: Microfunding for Culture project supports the development of competences of entrepreneurs and aims at bridging the cultural and creative sectors with the financial sector in order to facilitate access to credit. If you want to learn more about cultural entrepreneurship and join a unique opportunity to hear, share and discuss the results of the Pro-CCS project, come and join Pro-CCS’s Microfunding Cultural and Creative Sectors European Conference on 13 December 2023, 10:00-16:00 (CEST) at Regione Toscana in Brussels!

Call for Pro-CCS Business Ideas

October 13, 2023

WE ARE LOOKING FOR ENTREPRENEURIAL IDEAS IN THE CULTURAL AND CREATIVE SECTOR

Do you work in the cultural and creative sector and want to transform your creativity into a sustainable business?
Would you like to access financing programs but don’t know how?
Participate in our PRO-CCS CALL FOR ENTREPRENEURIAL IDEAS!

We are looking for promising business ideas in the cultural and creative sector, to support them with a free consultancy process and give them access to subsidized financing!

Submit your idea here: https://forms.gle/h1jCT9JRb8r4ARUf9

(Italian language only)

Deadline to participate: October 20, 2023

Event: How to finance and grow cultural and creative businesses in Tuscany

October 13, 2023

How to finance and grow cultural and creative businesses in Tuscany
Overview of opportunities and practical workshops within the Erasmus+ Pro-CCS project
27 October 2023 – 9.30 am – 1.00 pm

ARCI Tuscan Regional Committee
Piazza dei Ciompi, 11, 50122 Florence

OVERVIEW

On 27 October 2023, starting from 9.30 am, the dissemination event (Multiplier Event) of the Pro-CCS (Promoting entrepreneurship and access to finance in the Cultural and Creative Sector) project will be held at the headquarters of the ARCI Regional Committee, co -financed by Erasmus+ program of the European Union. The event, aimed at start-ups in the cultural and creative sector and financial operators in the Tuscan territory, will take stock of the various financing opportunities that public and private bodies at regional and European level make available to cultural and creative start-ups in the area. A particular focus will be on microcredit, a device still little known and used by the sector, which the Erasmus+ Pro-CCS project has investigated at a European level.During the event, the tools created during the project will be presented, which serve on the one hand to facilitate access to microcredit by cultural and creative businesses, and on the other hand to microcredit promoters to better understand the cultural sector and creativity and its peculiarities . At the same time, the event will represent a unique opportunity for cultural and creative start-ups in the area to have free consultancy aimed at defining a business plan and a development project for their business, or to transform a project or a business idea in reality: tutors from the National Microcredit Agency will be present on site and will offer their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, registered for the Pitch Lab session.and on the other hand to microcredit promoters to better understand the cultural sector and creativity and its peculiarities. At the same time, the event will represent a unique opportunity for cultural and creative start-ups in the area to have free consultancy aimed at defining a business plan and a development project for their business, or to transform a project or a business idea in reality: tutors from the National Microcredit Agency will be present on site and will offer their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, registered for the Pitch Lab session. and on the other hand to microcredit promoters to better understand the cultural sector and creativity and its peculiarities.At the same time, the event will represent a unique opportunity for cultural and creative start-ups in the area to have free consultancy aimed at defining a business plan and a development project for their business, or to transform a project or a business idea in reality: tutors from the National Microcredit Agency will be present on site and will offer their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, registered for the Pitch Lab session.

THE PROGRAM

9.30 – Welcome coffee and registration

10.00 – Welcome by ARCI Toscana

10.15 – ROUND TABLE: Overview on experiences and financial opportunities for cultural and social start-ups in Tuscany.

Interventions:

  1. EU funds for the sector
  2. Close to the innovators: the tools on the territory
  3. Testimonials and opportunities from/for the Third Sector
  4. Microcredit

10.15 – PITCH LAB: Analysis/development sessions for project ideas and business plans with the National Microcredit Institution tutors

11.30 – ROUND TABLE: Focus on the Pro-CCS project and its results

Interventions:

  • Discovering microcredit: a course for future cultural and creative enterprises
  • Understanding cultural and creative businesses: support for financial intermediaries

12.00 – Conclusions

12.15 – Announcement of Pitch Lab winners and presentation of projects

12.30 – Final greetings

 

Your Feedback Needed!

25 July, 2023

The pilot phase for the  Distance Training Course for Professionals in the Cultural and Creative Sector (Pro-CCS) is now closed!

We will reopen the course to be publicly available online in Autumn 2023.

Before we do so, we need your feedback! How was the course for you?

Please take a few moments to fill out a short evaluation so that we can use your feedback to improve the course and offer it as open-source material to more artists and cultural workers in the sector.

We will be accepting feedback until

Friday, 28 July 2023
11:59 AM CEST

If you did not have time to walk through the pilot course, you can still do so on the Google classroom platform . The course is self-paced, so you are able to complete it on your own time and download all of the learning materials whenever is convenient for you.
However, we will close the platform on July 30 in order to prepare the final course to be available publicly in Autumn 2023.

Pilot: Distance Training Course for CCS Professionals

June 19, 2023

The  Pro-CCS: Microfunding for Culture  project supports overall CCSs by reinforcing the competences of professionals active in the sectors and aims at bridging the cultural and creative sectors with the financial sector in order to facilitate access to credit.

The Distance Training Course is dedicated to professionals working in the cultural and creative sector and aims to help them structure their creative activities as a sustainable business. 

From 7 July – 21 July , we will be piloting the Distance Training Course for Professionals in the Cultural and Creative Sector (Pro-CCS) this summer. At the end of the pilot course, we will ask for a short evaluation from you so that we are able to improve the course and offer it as open-source material to more artists and cultural workers in the sector.

Pre-register for the pilot course and we will send you a link to the platform so you can get started!
The course is self-paced, so you are able to complete it on your own time, whenever is convenient for you.

*Note: You will need a Gmail address to use the online learning platform.

Free Training Course for Business Development Tutors

24 May 2023

Organized by Pro-CCS partner  Innogrowth-European Association for Innovation and Growth

This training course aims to train Business Development Tutors, or more specifically, „Operators in non-financial auxiliary services of microcredit assistance and monitoring“ to work more deeply in the Cultural and Creative sector. It aims to transfer knowledge and skills to the recipients, enabling them to provide support for the start-up of cultural and creative enterprises.

The project is designed for tutors working in Europe and is delivered through a distance learning „pilot“ course. The course specifically focuses on Cultural and Creative Enterprises and the funding opportunities associated with them. Its objective is to foster full professional autonomy among the tutors, equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills to address the needs and requests for assistance and monitoring in the financing, start-up, and management of micro-enterprises in the specified sectors, while ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.

Duration:
The training course consists of a total duration of 5 hours, which is divided into 4 Learning Units. Each Learning Unit has a different duration and is designed to achieve specific learning objectives.

Program:

29/05/2023 from 3pm to 4:30pm EEST

  • The cultural and creative sector
  • The creative enterprise

30/05/2023 from 11.00 to 13.30 EEST

  • The financial framework

31/05/2023 from 3pm to 4pm EEST

  • Digital skills and innovation

Registration:
The course is free of charge. All you need to do is register by clicking on the button below.

Find more details about the course here 

Culture Club: How cultural networks create value

7 April 2023
Image Credit: M. Cooper

As with any successful enterprise or organisation, having a proper support system in place is key to unlocking opportunities and realising potential, both in terms of value creation and relationship-building. One such support system is cultural networks, which represent and help develop the Cultural and Creative Sectors (CCS). There is a myriad of these networks which include networks at the European level, Production Networks, CCS Pedagogical & Information networks, Networks for Services Organizations and Representative networks. Given the large presence of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the CCS, these SMEs stand to benefit greatly from taking part in a cultural network. SME or not, any cultural enterprise has the opportunity to leverage the support of a network in regard to production, advocacy, and collaboration.

Cultural networks themselves also require support, in order to provide their members with the highest quality of services and resources. The Creative Europe Programme of the European Commission provides support for European networks to help the CCS enhance their capacity to nurture talents, face common challenges, innovate, prosper, and generate jobs and growth. Networks funded by Creative Europe provide value by connecting professional organisations throughout Europe and beyond.

They also collect and disseminate information, practices, ideas, and solutions that help the sectors to innovate and grow, as well as advocate on their behalf on key sectoral issues. Furthermore, these networks help European organisations and professionals develop their skills, broaden the international scope of their careers and contribute to the competitiveness of the European CCS. These cultural networks include Music, Cultural Heritage, Museums, Theatre, Dance, Circus, Architecture and Design to name a few.

The Pro-CCS project, in fact, is fortunate to have networks among its partners. Culture Action Europe (CAE), Pro-CCS partner, is the major European network of cultural networks, organisations, artists, activists, academics and policymakers. CAE has a unique position to inform opinions and the debate about arts and cultural policy in the EU through its knowledge development, advocacy, resource sharing, and project implementation – together with its members across Europe at the national, regional and local levels.

Interested in exploring more cultural networks? Check out the list of examples below:

Content in this article references the Pro-CCS project’s “Supporting The Cultural and Creative Sector: A Handbook for financial tutors & business service providers.” Pro-CCS: Microfunding for Cultural and Creative Sectors is a project co-funded by the European Union with partners all over Europe: ENM (Italy), InnoGrowth (Bulgaria), Impact Hub Leipzig, (Germany), Culture Action Europe (Belgium) and Euradia (Italy). Views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union.

Connecting the dots: CCS‘ relationships with other sectors

31 March 2023

The cultural and creative sectors (CCS) have immense potential to create and benefit from cross-sectoral synergies, including boosting social and civic engagement in public spaces. Understanding the impacts of these relationships across sectors help figure out how to drive growth in CCS and unlock future opportunities.

One connected sector to CCS is the education sector. Reflecting on the importance of educational and cultural connections, the European Commission (EC) plans included a cultural education policy to strengthen the demand for cultural services which contribute to better employment and training of professionals in the sector. The ESSnet-Culture report goes even further to define cultural jobs as those related to the creative and artistic economic cycle and identifies education as one of the key elements in this cycle. Beyond education, youth participation is also closely linked to the CCS, particularly with the potential of cultural involvement to strengthen social and civic engagement. The European Platforms for the Promotion of Emerging Artists ” (EPPEA) offers grants or loans to support the development of creativity among young people by increasing access to things like innovation and creative tools.

Historically, there has been an understanding of the link between the CCS and health and well-being, particularly the contribution of cultural activities to a stronger sense of well-being. However, the connection and vital relationship between culture and health and well-being does not stop there. In the last few years, the search for a more evidence-based approach to CCS and health and well-being has greatly expanded. For example, The Royal Society for Public Health , UK, produced 23 reports on Culture and Health in 21 years, including the 2018 report “Creative and Cultural Activities and Wellbeing in Later Life.”Cultural activities, like going to theatres, concerts and museums, featured prominently among the examples quoted by citizens as contributing to well-being. The World Health Organization (WHO) published the scoping review: “ What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being ” in 2019, advancing knowledge and raising awareness in this field. In its growing body of research on the relationships between culture, health and wellbeing, the 2022 CultureForHealth report (spearheaded by Culture Action Europe) has built upon the work done by the 2019 WHO report.

It would be impossible to discuss key connections across the CCS and other sectors without mentioning sustainability . Currently, there are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations that “provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.” However, there is not an SDG dedicated strictly to culture. Nevertheless, the relationship between culture and sustainability is not forgotten. The eleventh SDG, which refers to sustainable cities and communities, includes ‚efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage‘ putting safeguarding biodiversity and cultural diversity on the same level.

Image Credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel

The eighth SDG on decent working conditions mentions ’sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products, as well as ‚productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, and creativity and innovation.‘

CCSs are also a key driver for local, regional, and national development and tourism . Beyond CCIs (culture and creative industries) direct contribution to GDP, CCSs trigger spill-over into other sectors of the economy such as tourism fueling content for tech and digital sectors. CCSs are an indispensable part of the tourism economy and have a direct impact on the regeneration processes in terms of culture-led urban regeneration strategies.

Finally, cultural and creatives have a profound impact on social cohesion and civic engagement , due to culture’s multidimensional presence across our societies. Cultural expression and creation not only enrich us as individuals, but they also provide the framework for a cultural space to build a shared cultural identity. As for cultural participation, it can act as a driver of greater tolerance, openness and respect for others. It has the potential to foster socially inclusive societies and reinforce democratic principles and values. Understanding these key relationships across sectors and domains is key to unlocking the potential of the CCS.

Content in this article references the Pro-CCS project’s “Supporting The Cultural and Creative Sector: A Handbook for financial tutors & business service providers.” Pro-CCS: Microfunding for Cultural and Creative Sectors is a project co-funded by the European Union with partners all over Europe: ENM (Italy), InnoGrowth (Bulgaria), Impact Hub Leipzig, (Germany), Culture Action Europe (Belgium) and Euradia (Italy). Views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union.

Getting Creative with Microfinance

24 March 2023
Image Credit: M. Cooper

Ever wondered why microfinancing for the cultural and creative sectors is so important? Cultural and creative sectors (CCSs) are uniquely defined by having a larger number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in comparison to other sectors. Microfinancing can be a great way of boosting the sectors’ growth. Due to a number of factors like average business size, lack of capital and the perceived invisibility of value, the average SME in the CCS operates in a precarious environment with limited funding. As a result, growth in the CCSs require creative and innovative solutions.

Let’s not forget about the small, single and self-sustaining businesses in the CCS. These single individuals, artists or cultural operators are well-positioned to take advantage of microfinancing opportunities. As small self-sustaining businesses with often few tangible assets, there is immense potential to provide a return on a loan or investment. This is where the funder plays its part, understanding the variety of models that exist in the Cultural and Creative sectors, assessing the potential and addressing risk.

The CCSs are also greatly affected by employment and funding structures, especially in the case of SMEs. In 2021, 77 % of cultural workers in the EU were employed on a full-time basis, a significant 4% lower than the whole economy. This is likely due to the existence of many cultural jobs that are characterised by self-employment, freelancing and job flexibility. Additionally, many CCS SMEs operate on a not-for-profit basis, often receiving state or government funding of one type or another. Sometimes Cultural and Creative Enterprises (CCE) connect creators to the market, rather than interacting with the market directly. Thus, the success and value of CCS SMEs is not always measured in economic terms, but rather based on other social and civil value systems.

Though microfinancing poses significant benefits to SMEs in the CCS, it is important to note that any organisation or individual that forms part of the CCS may be considered for microfinancing. It’s time to get creative with microfinance and support CCS value creation.

Content in this article references the Pro-CCS project’s “Supporting The Cultural and Creative Sector: A Handbook for financial tutors & business service providers.” Pro-CCS: Microfunding for Cultural and Creative Sectors is a project co-funded by the European Union with partners all over Europe: ENM (Italy), InnoGrowth (Bulgaria), Impact Hub Leipzig, (Germany), Culture Action Europe (Belgium) and Euradia (Italy). Views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union.

Culture Matters

17 March 2023

There is immense intrinsic value to culture, often unquantifiable within the bounds of extrinsic economic outputs and numerations. However, culture also has its own set of internal values, which contribute further to its external value creation. While the EU remains dedicated to the community-based values ​​of civil rights, freedom, human dignity, justice, equality and democracy, culture has the power to convey these abstract values, communicating them to EU citizens, as well as to the outside world. Beyond passive transmission, culture’s real power is demonstrated through active participation, which has the potential to mobilize citizens and stimulate civic debate. Culture opens minds by showing alternative perspectives and at the same time empowers individuals and communities by strengthening their democratic skills. Grassroots cultural activities, civil society engagement and socio-cultural operations are key in this respect. Culture is therefore capable of preparing EU citizens to support and shape the future of Europe.

Beyond the intrinsic value of and values ​​of culture, cultural activities make a significant contribution to employment and EU-wide and national GDPs. For example, according to the European Commission statistical office, Eurostat Cultural and Creative Industry (CCI) activities accounted for nearly 3.7% of EU employment in 2015 (8.4 million), more than the automotive industry, and 29.5 million worldwide (1% of the active population). These activities contribute 4.2% to EU GDP. Since the CCIs encompass cultural values, as well as artistic and other individual or collective creative expressions, the industry benefits from value creation that extends beyond the production and dissemination stages of industrial and manufacturing operations. As for the CCS, the sector has shown strong value-added numbers through the creative and cultural stages of production. At the EU level, the CCS account for EUR 413 billion in terms of value-added (5.5%). Over the period 2013 to 2017, the value added produced by the CCS generated a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1%. The main driver of this growth is the Audio-Visual and Multimedia (AVM) subsector which makes up 2.5% of the EU’s overall figure. Additionally, employment in the CCS and the number of CCS companies have grown steadily at above 4.5% CAGR since 2013. In 2021, there were 7.4 million people in cultural employment across the EU. The main driver of this growth is the Audio-Visual and Multimedia (AVM) subsector which makes up 2.5% of the EU’s overall figure. Additionally, employment in the CCS and the number of CCS companies have grown steadily at above 4.5% CAGR since 2013. In 2021, there were 7.4 million people in cultural employment across the EU. The main driver of this growth is the Audio-Visual and Multimedia (AVM) subsector which makes up 2.5% of the EU’s overall figure. Additionally, employment in the CCS and the number of CCS companies have grown steadily at above 4.5% CAGR since 2013. In 2021, there were 7.4 million people in cultural employment across the EU.

credit: Michelle Ziling Ou

Given the value generated by the CCIs and CCS, it should come as no surprise that the creative economy outpaces many other parts of the global economy and the numbers only show further room for growth. Speaking of added value, the CCS‘ close relationship with the Information and Communication Technology Sectors (ITCS) and Knowledge sectors, among others, gives it an advantage in cross-sectoral collaboration and creation. Not to mention that the CCS is a key driver for local, regional, and national development and tourism. One of the most famous examples of culture-led development is the case of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Since it opened its doors in 1997, the Guggenheim Bilbao has recorded over 8 million visitors, out of which more than 60% are foreigners. in 2005,

Built upon the values ​​of creative expression and artistic freedom, culture and the CCS have demonstrated not only their intrinsic values ​​that better society as a whole but also their ability to generate value creation extrinsically in the economic sense. As a driving force for many sectors and industries in Europe, the value of culture should certainly not be underestimated.

Content in this article references the Pro-CCS project’s “Supporting The Cultural and Creative Sector: A Handbook for financial tutors & business service providers.” Pro-CCS: Microfunding for Cultural and Creative Sectors is a project co-funded by the European Union with partners all over Europe: ENM (Italy), InnoGrowth (Bulgaria), Impact Hub Leipzig, (Germany), Culture Action Europe (Belgium) and Euradia (Italy). Views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union.

CCS, CCI, ITCS & CI, Oh My!

10 March 2023
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It can get confusing trying to define exactly what all the parts of the cultural and creative ecosystem are, especially when there are so many acronyms floating around, all of them different, yet still related. One of the biggest distinctions to make is between the cultural and creative sectors (CCSs) and the cultural and creative industries (CCIs). CCSs include sectors whose activities are based on cultural, artistic or creative values. The activities may include the development, creation, production, dissemination or preservation of goods and services which embody cultural, artistic, or other creative expressions.CCIs on the other hand refer to those parts of the modern economy where culture is produced and distributed through industrial means, applying the creativity of individuals and groups to the generation of original cultural products.

There are some fundamental principles that define the CCS and make them different from CCIs. Notably, we can identify the CCS as the resource center for CCI, making the relationship between the two symbiotic rather than oppositional or competitive. CCSs, however, have many intangible, social and non-economic outputs which remain undervalued and invisible, unlike the CCI, which means that quantifying the value of the CCS is often difficult.

There are indeed some financial characteristics that are specific to CCSs and to the type of support they could need from external funders or business service providers. For example, CCSs have a high number of individuals and “businesses” who receive grants rather than loans. CCSs create work that often is not or cannot be duplicated (think in the case of a painting or a performance.) This differs from CCIs, which inherently seek the potential for replication and diversification. Workers in CCSs can often be limited in resources and capacity, which means they are often unable to expand their respective financial toolkits. Lastly, another financial characteristic of the CCS that demands attention is how CCS creatives are often lower-paid, sometimes living in relative poverty.

The CCIs are the umbrella under which the CCS operate. However, if we want to dive further into what distinguishes the CCS from the CCI, we can look at the Information and Communication Technology Sector (ITCS), which has a particularly strong connection to the CCI given its industrial focus. The CCI and the ITCS combine together to facilitate and extract cultural products from the CCS, publishing (digital or otherwise) being a significant example. Where the CCI are by definition focused on the industrial production and capitalization of the cultural product, the CCS as a whole, include the fine arts and the humanities, where outputs may often be less tangible. Namely, the CCI often includes the following industries: Advertising, the Art and Antiques Market, Crafts, Design, Designer Fashion, Film and Video, Interactive leisure software, Music, Performing Arts, Publishing, Software, Computer games, Television, Radio and Digital communication. Of course, definitions of the CCS and the CCI can vary, even at the global level, and there are cases of overlap between the two, such as the publishing subsector. Given the ITCS‘ close connection to the CCI and their deep integration into society, it is safe to say that the CCS has not yet unlocked the full potential of the ITCS in terms of new opportunities and productivity.

To add another layer to the seemingly ever-growing terminology surrounding the CCS and CCI, the UK makes its own distinction with the ‚Creative Industries (CI),‘ a term that according to the British Council “began to be used about twenty years ago to describe a range of activities, some of which are amongst the oldest in history and some of which only came into existence with the advent of digital technology.” In practice today, the CIs focus particularly on design-based activities, digital creative (including game and VFX), and content creation industries.

Breaking down the CCS and its distinctions, as well as connections, from the CCI, ITCS, and CI is crucial for identifying sector-specific needs, especially when it comes to financial services and microfinance. Bridging the knowledge gap between these different entities will undoubtedly result in more visibility and higher productivity, as well as an accurate economic valuation, for the cultural and creative sectors.

Content in this article references the Pro-CCS project’s “Supporting The Cultural and Creative Sector: A Handbook for financial tutors & business service providers.” Pro-CCS: Microfunding for Cultural and Creative Sectors is a project co-funded by the European Union with partners all over Europe: ENM (Italy), InnoGrowth (Bulgaria), Impact Hub Leipzig, (Germany), Culture Action Europe (Belgium) and Euradia (Italy). Views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union.

Sticking to Culture and Creativity

3 March 2023

“Cultural and creative sectors are important for ensuring the continued development of societies and are at the heart of the creative economy. Knowledge-intensive and based on individual creativity and talent, they generate considerable economic wealth. More importantly, they are critical to a shared sense of European identity, culture and values. In economic terms, they show above-average growth and create jobs – particularly for young people – while strengthening social cohesion.“ – Creative & Cultural Sector, EC

Cultural and creative sectors include all sectors whose activities are based on cultural values ​​​​or artistic and creative expressions. Essentially, CCSs have an impact on every part of human expression, including education, health and notions of community. Over the past few years, more and more evidence-based analyzes have shown us the importance of CCSs in our economy. 

For example, CCSs are an integral part of the experience economy and tourism, as cultural tourism is estimated to account for up to 40% of European tourism ( KEA ). Tourism is a great example of the “stickiness” of the CCSs. Some cultural practices or products can “stick” to a geographic location, population or community. For example, many regions across Europe have their own specific traditions in terms of food, arts, and tangible or intangible heritage which are location-specific. These include the Pyramids of Egypt, the artisanal know-how and culture of baguette-making in France, Inuit drum dancing and singing in Denmark, as well as numerous other products and practices. 

This “stickiness” adds cultural value, enhancing identity, ownership, and other forms of social cohesion. Italy, for example, is home to the largest number of UNESCO world heritage sites, claiming 58 out of the 1,145. In this case, Italy benefits from the tourism that comes with caring for, maintaining and preserving these sites. These sites, when preserved and maintained by Italian regional and national governments, add to the value of each “cultural product,” extending beyond economic value and fostering a shared global heritage that belongs to everyone.

credit: Michelle Ziling Ou

Another example of this cultural “stickiness“ can be seen inside the French boulangerie. French bakers pushed for a UNESCO designation for the baguette , which resulted in a spot on the intangible cultural heritage list. Speaking on the importance of the heritage designation, “Bakers say the UNESCO listing would protect a know-how that has passed through generations and shield the baguette from imposters around the world.The UNESCO “intangible heritage” marker – meant to recognize oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and methods of traditional craftsmanship.“

Given the unique nature of the cultural and creative sectors, it is no surprise that there can be knowledge gaps and discrepancies in perceived economic and cultural value between actors inside and outside of the sector. Pro-CCS aims to bridge that gap and push the CCSs to their full potential.

Content in this article references the Pro-CCS project’s “Supporting The Cultural and Creative Sector: A Handbook for financial tutors & business service providers.” Pro-CCS: Microfunding for Cultural and Creative Sectors is a project co-funded by the European Union with partners all over Europe: ENM (Italy), InnoGrowth (Bulgaria), Impact Hub Leipzig, (Germany), Culture Action Europe (Belgium) and Euradia (Italy). Views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union.