There is genuine concern about Europe's financial stability and indeed, the future of the European Union (EU). The effort to foster a Creative Europe, however, holds unique promise.
While the Economic Summit in Davos reported financial experts were breathing a little easier about European stability, stories about the financial crisis of Portugal, Italy and Ireland, Greece or Spain--continue to concern investors and too often--at least the last several years--have dominated media attention. Unemployment remains at a "record high at 11.8 percent with 18.8 million people out of jobs according to Eurostat."
The big question remains to haunt politicians and policymakers: Will the 1992 accord to create a common market and a community founded on "principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights" survive?
It looks bight, however, if as suggested, there is a "new economy" in which creativity and innovation are the benchmarks. In such an economy Europe should be leading the world's economy, and turning out a workforce that is one of the best.
For starters, nowhere in the world -- surely the Western world -- does art and culture so permeate the social fabric of a region as Europe. Think of Manet, Monet, Cezanne or any of the French impressionists. Think of Rome, its coliseum and its empire, Egypt and the pyramids, Greece and the Temple of Apollo, the Parthenon or Acropolis. Europe's history of art and architecture and culture are everywhere. Importantly, the shift in the world's economy in the wake of globalization puts most of Europe at the leading edge of a revolution in creativity and innovation, the benchmarks of the new, knowledge driven economy. This is a bright spot for Europe often overlooked.
The European Union (EU) seems to know this too.
Last year, despite budget woes, they announced a "budget of €1.8 billion ($2,423,520,000) for the period 2014-2020 (to) "boost their cultural and creative industries,' which, they said, "are a major source of jobs and growth in Europe."
According to the EU Commission's Creative Europe proposal, it would enable:
• 300 000 artists and cultural professionals and their work to receive funding to reach new audiences beyond their home countries;
• More than 1 000 European films would receive distribution support, enabling them to be seen by audiences throughout Europe and the world;
• At least 2 500 European cinemas would receive funding enabling them to ensure that at least 50% of the films they screen are European;
• More than 5 500 books and other literary works would receive support for translation, allowing readers to enjoy them in their mother tongue;
• Thousands of cultural organisations and professionals would benefit from training to gain new skills and to strengthen their capacity to work internationally;
• At least 100 million people would be reached through the projects financed by the programme.
While this effort is extremely heartening, the EU looks to its member states to do the
heavy-lifting -- particularly in the field of education -- as it believes that:
With each EU Member State responsible for its own education and training systems, Union-level policies are designed to support national actions and help address common challenges such as: ageing societies, skills deficits among the workforce, and global competition. These areas demand joint responses and countries can benefit from sharing experiences.
Toward that end, the Commission on Youth has developed policies and programs which recognize the importance of creativity and culture to economic development, and helps member states foster the kinds of educational opportunities nurturing the new workforce. Across Europe, not unlike the various states in America, members are struggling with the task of insuring students develop the thinking skills the new economy will demand. The successes in many members' schools are promising.