New EU Program Promises Slate Funding, Longer-Term Support for Producers

About $1 billion of the $1.8 billion in funding for the Creative Europe scheme is earmarked for the film, TV and video game industries.

WROCLAW, Poland – European producers are being promised more secure public funding and greater certainty under a new EU cultural program launching next year.

New details of how the seven-year EU framework program known as "Creative Europe" will operate started emerging here Thursday, a month after its $1.8 billion budget was finally confirmed following 18 months of negotiations between the European Commission and European Parliament.

Speaking in Wroclaw at the first public presentation of the program since the budget approval, Susanne Ding, a policy officer for the Creative Europe program and the MEDIA unit of the European Commision's Education and Culture Directorate, said 56 percent of the money, or $1 billion (€823 million) was earmarked for a new expanded program that would support the film, TV, audiovisual and video game industries in the EU and its partner countries.

She also said that $606 million (€454 million), or 31 percent of the budget, is earmarked for the cultural strand of the program, which supports museums, theater and other arts. The remaining $245 million (€184 million), or 13 percent, is earmarked for cross-sector initiatives.

A key benefit of the new program, the backers of which successfully fought off bids to severely curtail its funding, would be longer-term financial commitment for projects, enabling producers to apply for slate funding and grants to be given for schemes of two to four years' duration, Ding said.

Talking to an audience of film industry professionals participating in the first edition of a new training program, SOFA (School of Film Agents), which supports the creation of innovative industry support projects, Ding said "sustainability" was a key concept of the Creative Europe scheme.

"There will be an increase in slate funding to help companies grow and more emphasis on the development phase of projects," she said.

Festivals that show at least 70 percent European and 50 percent non-national films, and that improved audience interaction, would be prioritized, she explained.

Encouraging educational initiatives that developed "cross-border cooperation in film literacy" between at least three countries was also a new aim. And greater emphasis on what Ding termed "innovative screening events" or "secret cinema" -- for example, a possible showcase of all European Oscar nominations -- would be encouraged, she said.

The final details of the program, which are due to be debated and ratified by EU nations in the next two months, are due to be officially announced in late October, with detailed guidance and calls for projects published in December ahead of an official launch of Creative Europe in January.