CreArt (Network of Cities for Artistic Creation) is a European Network comprised of cities and public and private cultural institutions. Launched 5 years ago within the framework of the Culture Programme (2007-2013) its aim was to respond to certain needs shared by European cultural institutions: to maximise the economic, social and cultural contribution that the visual arts can make by better supporting artists, managers, the industry and the general public by allowing them to create, exhibit and enjoy works of art, as well as to access training through seminars, artist residences, workshops and research programmes.
Almost 5 years later, over 200 artists and 30 curators from the CreArt member cities have benefited from its training and promotion opportunities. We have organized 20 AiR programs in 4 European cities; 3 workshops led by renowned artists and curators; circa 10 seminars, conferences and encounters, organized with the collaboration of experts and professors from European Universities; 4 travelling exhibitions, stopping in 3 different cities every year from the North to the South of Europe, with the participation of 80 artists and 4 highly regarded curators. Also from within our Network –and inviting other cities to join in- we have introduced the annual celebration of the “European Day of Artistic Creativity” (21st March). Furthermore, and we have coordinated, together with the Kea European Affairs Agency, the study titled: “Contribution of Artistic Creation to local development”. European artists from the Network cities have travelled, worked and exchanged their knowledge and expertise through this program, and we understand that the mobility of cultural stakeholders and artworks has been one of its key elements of success.
The piece of research above mentioned examined case studies from 40 medium-sized European cities and revealed the importance of culture-led strategies and the promotion of creativity to contribute to social innovation, economic growth, and the image and internationalization of cities. This research also analyzed the impact of the CreArt project in Valladolid, its coordinator city, highlighting its influence on the local cultural management due to the experience gained during the last 5 years. It also revealed the enrichment of the local cultural offer; the appearance of new creative spaces and the positive impact on the artistic community. Local artists are the main players in the events organized by CreArt, contributing to a creative atmosphere in the city.
We can therefore confirm, after our daily involvement in the project, that the CreArt methodology is effective and that it has become essential in Europe. This idea is also shared by the political representatives of the CreArt citites, as stated by them during the “CreArt. A new way to develop Culture in medium-sized cities” encounter. Our experience has shown us that European medium-sized cities differ from each other in many ways, but we all came together with the common desire of European cooperation and to improve the lives of our artists and citizens.Only in this wan can we act in our cities but this is still only possible with the support of the European Union. Medium-sized cities with great local artists need to put this kind of work into place to make their art visible at a European level, as an example of real and efficient cultural policy. A key sample of the CreArt project activities is the AiR programme, included as an example of best practices in the Guidelines prepared by the European Commission titled “Policy Handbook on Artists’ Residences” (December 2014).
In CreArt we are convinced that training and the organization of exchanges are essential to all sectors involved in the cultural activities of our cities (artists, curators, managers, technicians, politicians, the press, ...). For this new project we are committed to increase the number and variety of activities and the opportunities for cultural stakeholders in general. We would like to develop a programme designed to help a sector that has been especially affected by the current economic crisis. We will do this by promoting smart and sustainable growth in the public administrations. An inclusive, coherent and more creative programme, based on a better distribution of the resources and the activities:
- A new network of cities, more homogeneous from the point of view of size, experience in cultural cooperation and quality of cultural and artistic services. In this new edition of CreArt we count on the most committed partners fro the existing project, from the point of view of management and artistic development. Then, over the past months, we have contacted and invitied a group of new medium- sized cities which, based on their characteristics (location, experience, services ...), we believe are ideal to complete the new partnership of CreArt. At the same time we will maintain permanent contact with the rest of cities that participated in the first edition of CreArt.
- A new program of activities with more training and exchange opportunities for artists, cultural agents and workers, institutions and the development of artistic programmes aimed at children, students, special groups and the general public to also promote creativity among citizens. In our 5 years of experience we have measured the positive degree of satisfaction of the 200 participating artists and the 30 curators. Understanding the importance of this, we are focusing our new programme even more on training and exchange activities, increasing the number of residences and workshops for artists, but also through meetings, conferences and seminars during the year (as you can see in the calendar) involving cultural organizations, creative spaces, clusters, art galleries... from different perspectives. CreArt focuses on the artists living in medium-sized European cities, but also on the curators, art associations, media, entrepeneurs and cultural and creative institutions, without forgetting the audience. n this context, in the CreArt program and budget we have reinforced the “European Day of Artistic Creativity”. We believe this event, given its European dimension, has great potential for the development of new audiences. For instance, in its research study, KEA links the cellebration of the European Day with the set-up of the annual platform for CreaVa, an association of emerging artists. Thus for a month, Art fills the streets of the city, shops and bars with different exhibitions featured by young artists and curators. This new “Creava” program will be held annually in all the network.
- A tighter new budget fit for purpose. As mentioned, in this new CreArt program we have strengthened and increased the overall work program to better adapt to the reality we faced during the recent years, therefore increasing the opportunities for all the cultural stakeholders. We have also reinforced the celebration of the “European Day of Artistic Creativity” because of its key role in the dissemination of the principles of the Creative Europe program beyond the cities of the network, and to establish the “CreArt Europe” brand both at European level and in the cities themselves. At the same time we have increased the budjet for travelling European exhibition: after the organization of 4 exhibitions in 12 cities. All this after the analysis of the average cost of each of the activities and their assessment within the overall program.
The continuation of the CreArt network is a necessary step. The new programme will mean an increase in the mobility of artists and works and the professionalization of the artistic and creative sector of the cities. We also wish to establish connections with all the other sectors that can help the cultural, social and economic development of cities, maximizing the use of new technologies. In consequence, we find local administrations with a greater disposition towards the artistic sector.
We are convinced that for the training of the different cultural stakeholders, not just the artists but also managers, curators, entrepreneurs, politicians, media is a fundamental element for success. This is not only done for the artists or for the artistic sector but because we are convinced that art and culture creates jobs, attracts investors and stimulates the local economy. We are convinced that a city, when culturally alive, is both healthier and free.
- To continue with the permanent and professional system for transnational mobility, cultural exchange and joint work experiences among the different players in the creative and cultural sector.
- To develop more training opportunities for cultural agents: Artist in residence programs, workshops, seminars, conferences, encounters.
- Introduction of work methodologies for specific groups (children, youth and adults) that will promote creativity as a skill for personal development through educational programmes.
- To take advantage of technological tools for the communication, dissemination, exchange of creativity and cultural management ideas through the CreArt website and the platform of ideas and projects.
- To enhance audience development through the institutionalization in different cities of the European Day of Artistic Creativity and the European travelling Exhibitions.
- To identify and research, within the framework of conferences, seminars and encounters, the best practices in culture-led development
- To help develop a social status for artists, based on the Proposal Resolution of the European Parliament (2006/2249)
- To enhance the creation and dissemination of the cultural offer in the cities of the Network
- To encourage the development and modernization of Visual Arts sector and cultural industries, helping to consolidate the creative sector at local and European level.
- To help improve the education and training of the workers and entrepreneurs in the Cultural and creative sectors.