Toward A More Artistic European Union

As promised, I am following up on Monday’s post about about the first European Union (EU) wide survey of performing arts.

I wanted to note some of the recommendations made in the study. One of the most significant was to facilitate employment opportunities across the entire EU. The study noted that every country focused on their national performing arts entities.  Additionally, Covid restrictions have delayed the training and opportunities for younger artists to gain practical experience.

Among their proposals are to create more opportunities for artists to work across borders:

To address these concerns, the study calls for theatres around Europe to create so-called ‘third spaces’ at venues to support young artists.

Such a space would connect with theatre schools and academies to programme the work and support young artists to enter the professional theatre scene after graduating.

Similarly, the study suggests creating a ‘European Theatre Showcase’, potentially as an element added on to the European Theatre Forum, to offer a long-term perspective and provide the next generation of young artists from Europe a “much-needed industry networking space.”

Something that caught my eye were multiple statements that seemed to indicate a stark separation of interaction and dialogue between schools and training programs and performing arts venues. It hadn’t occurred to me that this might be the case given that universities can often be among the most prominent producers and presenters of performing arts in the U.S. (Association of Performing Arts Professionals which is essentially the national conference for presenters started out as Association of College, University and Community Arts Administrators (ACUCAA)) Among the proposals in this area were in regard to moving toward common standards of training and accreditation so that students were more easily employed in other countries.

Other proposals to facilitate cross-border employment included amending tax laws which often double-taxed artists; addressing sexual harassment, work environment, gender and racial disparities; mainstreaming the employment and depiction of sexual orientation, gender identity, physical and mental ability.

Another section discussed funding sustainable construction/renovation and practices with an eye to cutting energy consumption and impact on the environment.

It was interesting to read about all the factors that need to be navigated and sorted out among EU countries. Differences regarding discrimination, harassment and social standing of arts wasn’t particularly surprising. Nor was the idea that most countries focused on supporting their national arts entities.

There were many more administrative and legal hurdles noted than I imagined. If you have ever visited a European country and watched people breezing through the exit for citizens of Schengen Area countries while you queue up to be examined at customs, it is easy to think all these issues had been long settled.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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