Arts, Creativity & Heritage

Why is this topic a priority for the EU?

Europe’s strength lies in its diversity and cultural richness. Culture and the arts are relevant for the quality of life and the European project because they enable the creation of a thriving European society and sustainable economy.

Culture and the arts foster social cohesion, unity and tolerance, on the one hand, while the cultural and creative sectors are playing a valuable economic role contributing to a thriving European society, on the other.

There is a strong commitment at the EU level to ensure that culture is mainstreamed in all policy areas, with a special focus on the protection of cultural heritage and cultural diversity, which are key elements in cultural identity and expression.

With individual EU Member States responsible for their own policies for the cultural sector, the role of the European Commission is to help address common challenges.

In order to ensure that the social and economic role of culture is acknowledged in wider EU policy making and actions, the Commission works on a number of key themes:

  • Supporting cultural heritage
  • Socio-economic value of culture
  • Boosting gender equality and diversity
  • Measuring the positive impact of culture

To ensure that its goals in the cultural sector are met, the Commission offers a range of main actions and funding instruments. These include the New European Agenda for Culture, the European Capitals of Culture and the Creative Europe programme.

Relevant EU Policies and Objectives

New European Agenda for Culture

The New European Agenda for Culture aims to increase EU collaboration on culture and citizens’ participation in cultural activities at a social, economic and international level.

Key Points: 

  • social: harness the power of culture and cultural diversity for social cohesion and wellbeing, by promoting cultural participation, mobility of artists and protection of heritage 
  • economic: support jobs and growth in the cultural and creative sectors, by promoting arts and culture in education, boosting relevant skills, and encouraging innovation in culture 
  • international: strengthen international cultural relations, by making the most of the potential of culture to foster sustainable development and peace

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations? 

The Agenda sets out enhanced working methods with Member States, civil society organisations and international partners. It actively involves civil society organisations on member states level in shaping and implementing its specific strategic objectives corresponding to social, economic and external dimensions.


European Capitals of Culture

Every year, two European cities are chosen as Europe's cultural capitals. This gives an extra boost to local economies, and puts the spotlight on local artists and each city’s unique cultural wealth. In 2020, Galway, on behalf of Ireland, hosted the European Capital of Culture,

Key Points: 

  • Highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in Europe 
  • Celebrate the cultural features Europeans share 
  • Increase European citizens' sense of belonging to a common cultural area 
  • Foster the contribution of culture to the development of cities 

Irish civil society organisations can benefit from a broad range of EU funding opportunities for culture in cities and regions:  

  • Interreg: Supporting cooperation across borders
  • European Social Fund+: Investing in people with the aim of building a more social and inclusive Europe.

Creative Europe programme 

Through Creative Europe, the European Commission supports European cinema, arts and creative industries to create European jobs and growth, as well as to open up new international opportunities, markets and audiences. 

The Creative Europe programme helps audiovisual, cultural and creative professionals to reach new audiences and supports the development of cross-border cooperation and networks. 

How will it impact Irish civil society organisations? 

Irish civil society organisations not only benefit from participating in the Creative Europe programme but from a broad range of EU funding opportunities for culture and the arts:  

  • Erasmus+ Support the educational, professional and personal development of people in education, training, youth and sport.
  • Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values programme: Protection and promotion of the rights and values as enshrined in the EU Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Useful Links

Culture Action Europe

Voices of Culture


Have Your Voice Heard

Decisions that are made at the EU level can have a big impact on our daily lives. At The Wheel we believe that citizens’ active participation in society is vital so they can play a part in influencing the decisions that affect them.

Here’s how you can connect with the EU:

Join Together.eu 

Together.eu is an online community of pan-European active citizens interested in learning from each other and finding common ground on EU issues. Created by the European Parliament during the 2019 European elections, together.eu encourages everybody to participate in democracy through virtual events and activities.   

In the lead-up to May 2019, volunteers helped raise awareness about the issues that matter most to them, their friends and families. From climate change to data protection, thousands of EU citizens throughout Europe organised activities, events and debates to remind others that participation in pan-European platforms is essential to dealing with today's challenges.

Check out the latest events organised by the European Parliament and the together.eu community, happening online and across Europe, by joining together.eu  here.  

Vote in European elections and get to know your MEPs 

Following the European elections in May 2019, 11 MEPs representing Ireland's three constituencies, Dublin, South and Midlands-North-West, took their seats in the European Parliament on 2 July 2019 for Parliament's 9th term. 

With the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 31 January 2020, Ireland gained an additional two MEPs.  Barry Andrews (Fianna Fáil/ Renew Europe), Dublin, and Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael/ EPP), South, took up their seats in the European Parliament on 1 February 2020. 

Who are your MEPs and how can you contact them? We have gathered the information for you here.

Engage in EU-funded projects  

Through involvement in EU-funded projects, you’ll deliver on current EU policy and programme goals while helping to shape future policy.

Learn more about the various EU funding programmes and the projects they support here.

View the latest funding from the EU