On 25th March, the Motovila Institute (CED Slovenia) issued a call for the representatives of the Slovenian organizations supported by the Creative Europe programme to submit information on the current and expected issues in the implementation of the supported international projects caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and to propose measures to alleviate its negative effects. In a matter of days, we received a response from 44 organizations from various cultural and creative sectors, including the audiovisual sector that are currently implementing 57 Creative Europe projects as leaders or partners (43 supported by Culture, and 14 by MEDIA). Although it is currently not possible to anticipate or predict the extent of the ramifications, the beneficiaries implementing European projects have already encountered the key issues they will have to contend with in the future. Flexibility on the part of decision makers and relevant authorities and a constant level of support on both European and national level will therefore be indispensable.
The publishing sector, cinemas and distributors among the most affected
The book market had not yet recovered from the last financial crisis when the national resources for books were reduced. Publishing houses are expecting liquidity difficulties. With several book fairs cancelled, book distribution interrupted, and schools and libraries closed, traditional access to readers has been disrupted. Since sales at bookstores have been put on hold, there has been an effort to promote online/e-book sales. Cinema attendance has come to a complete halt. In 27 Slovenian cities, members of the Slovenian Art Cinema Association closed their doors as early as in mid-March. To stay in touch with their audiences, some cinemas connected with the European online platform MUBI, which offers quality on-demand film productions.
Concerns over too many autumn events for a critically reduced audience
The organizations generally report that most activities have been cancelled, adapted (transferred into a virtual environment) or postponed until autumn 2020. The biggest problem is the implementation of international mobility (residencies, touring, festivals, exhibitions, shows workshops, conferences, etc.) and its related costs (travel, accommodation, coordination of workflow, payment of authors/creators). Most organizations are uncertain as to how and when to plan activities, as they do not know how long the crisis/lockdown will last, and when the situation will normalize. The organizations will have to make substantial adjustments to the timelines and budget breakdown of their projects.
Most organizers of postponed events and other activities will need additional contributions in terms of finances and human resources. As the situation concerning public budgets grows more tentative, there is increasing uncertainty regarding the critical sources of funding (tenders are being delayed or may not be implemented at all), as well as partners’ financial contributions.
Cash flow expected to be problematic in the following months
Some organizations have already experienced a loss of income as a result of events that have not been carried out (e.g. cancellation of shows during high season). The same applies to public institutions whose funding depends partly on the market (e.g. for some organizations, festival events represent a source of revenue with which they fund some of their other activities, the activity of cinemas depends largely on the ticket sale, etc.). As EU support mainly represents only 50-60% of the budget of individual projects, the organizations are concerned with project co-financing: from public sources in Slovenia, especially from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Public Administration, as well as from private sources abroad. The cuts to public budgets announced in some of the EU Member States (including Slovenia) may also impact staff salaries, which in public institutions represent the key source for their own financial contribution to the projects. The beneficiaries are concerned about possible delays in EU grant allocations by the EACEA Executive Agency, and about the implementation of national calls that enable them access to a significant share of their co-financing. These are issued by the Ministry of Culture, the Slovenian Book Agency, the Slovenian Film Center, the Ministry of Public Administration, the City Municipality of Ljubljana etc. Lastly, the organizations highlighted long-term problems: the impracticability of replacing cancelled activities in terms of time and finances, the additional costs of cancellation, the possible collapse of weaker partner organizations, etc.
4 sets of measures to overcome difficulties in the implementation of Creative Europe projects
We asked the Creative Europe beneficiaries to propose measures which they believe would most effectively contribute to the successful implementation of complex European projects. In summary of the proposals of all 44 responding organizations, we can highlight 4 main sets of measures:
(1) PROJECT ACTIVITIES & BUDGET: Adjustment of activities, flexibility of project budget and eligibility of costs incurred.
(2) PROJECT INCOME STRUCTURE: Reduction of the beneficiary’s contribution and increase of the EU co-financing share.
(3) PROJECT TIMELINE: Extension of project duration.
(4) EACEA PROCEDURES: Simplified and faster tendering and reporting procedures.