Trends in Public Funding for Culture in the EU

In April 2013 the Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) of the European Commission asked the European Expert Network on Culture (EENC) to produce a short report examining the main trends of public funding for culture in EU Member States.

The research focused on public budgets for the cultural and creative sectors as provided by governmental departments in charge of cultural affairs or other public bodies to which responsibilities for cultural policy have been allocated, as well as on other forms of data classification which make cultural purposes explicit, insofar as this data was available.

The initial aim was to collect data for 2012 and 2013 as well as initial forecasts for 2014. However, the lack of available data in many countries and years, alongside with the wish to present figures in a longer-term framework to facilitate the interpretation of trends, has led the research team to collect data also for previous years through both the Eurostat and OECD databases which, moreover, present it in a uniform, comparable format.

The examination of the statistics of public expenditure of the last years reveals different, sometimes even opposite, patterns between cultural and total spending as well as between central and local budgets, respectively. With regard to the individual countries, the analysis reveals no overall “European trend” in how the new financial environment has affected public cultural funding. In most cases trends follow the curves of general public budgets in each country: when and where government budgets suffer major reductions cultural expenditure also falls to a large degree. This correlation between general and cultural budgets is, however, not automatic. In most countries the crisis had an immediate impact on the budgets of central governments, reaching local (regional and municipal) finances in later waves.

The report was written by V. Čopič, P. Inkei, A. Kangas and A. Srakar on behalf of the EENC. Research and editing support was provided by Interarts.