EU action for culture in Africa Caribbean and Pacific: main trends

By Francesca Pozzebon and Alexandra Gil Táboas

In June 2021, culture Solutions supported the organisation of the international webinar ACP-EU Culture Webinar: Towards a sustainable cultural and creative industry in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. This is the first piece in a series of two cS blog posts: part 1 aims to inform professionals and operators of the culture and creative sectors, in Europe and beyond, about current trends and opportunities in the ACP-EU Culture programme. The second blog summarises the main take-aways and lessons learned from the seminar, clustered around 5 themes (digital acceleration, CCI economics, access to culture, decent employment and sustainability).  


The ACP-EU Culture Programme: facts, figures, opportunities


The ACP-EU Culture Programme is implemented by the Organisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (OACPS – an emanation of europeanised relations between certain European states and their former colonies) and financed by the European Union. It aims to nurture and support cultural and creative industries in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. After 13 years of activity, it is unfolding its fourth edition [1]. The programme reflects a joint commitment to recognise the importance and value of culture in economic and social development and to enhance its contribution to social cohesion, peace and stability.



With its 40 million budget and projects implemented in 79 ACP Member States, engaging more than 200 ACP and EU cultural operators, ACP-EU Culture remains today one of the biggest EU-funded culture programme in international cooperation and development, aiming to encourage youth entrepreneurship, create quality jobs and raise the quality of cultural production, improve access to markets and facilitate access for international innovative funding, amongst others.


The development of mechanisms for intersectional discussion, together with the deployment of innovative collaborative initiatives would mean institutional strengthening on the ground. (Marielle Barrow Maignan, Caribbean Development Bank)


In 2021, the EU and the OACPS have launched a regional scheme to support the cultural and creative sectors, managed by six different regional hubs and a support mechanism for audiovisual co-production. This decentralised regional approach of the programme is new. It aims at a more equal distribution of financial resources. As Henriette Geiger, Director at the European Commission, highlighted during her opening remarks, this decentralised approach is also meant to ensure longer support to cultural actors over time (48 months), bringing ACP-EU Culture closer to the local context and with the aim of encouraging co-creation.



Connecting EU and ACP cultural actors: the 2021 international webinar


Celebrating the launch of the support mechanism and the regional scheme, the international webinar gathered 30 moderators and panelists and attracted over 450 participants from 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, the European Union and the rest of the world, providing an opportunity to discuss and exchange views on key issues that influence the competitiveness and sustainability of the creative sectors, stressing the potential of the programme’s actions for technological and financial innovation, economic growth, improvement of cultural education and gender equality. 


Support to ICC resilience could be the backbone of EU action for post-Covid sustainability and inclusion in the creative sector of ACP regions. (Damien Helly, culture Solutions)


Among the different topics, further developed in our next article, the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic was addressed as a core, cross-cutting issue. The global health crisis is indeed having harsh, long-term consequences on the culture sector, exacerbating and resonating already existing flaws of creative industries. A recent study by UNESCO on the impact of COVID-19 on creative and cultural industries showed that “the estimated US$750bn fall in global CCIs’ GVA corresponds to upwards of 10 million job losses in the sector across the world in 2020”, threatening the livelihoods of creative workers, especially freelancers, suggesting income loss and unemployment as a consequence.


As the pandemic’s negative drawbacks are not likely to fade in a short-term period, the programme is building its response and coming actions on fostering the resilience and long-term sustainability of the sector. In this framework, the webinar participants discussed the importance of diversifying funding through innovative instruments, and the need for concrete actions to support and protect the rights of artists and cultural professionals to counter their precariousness.



Investing in the resilience and sustainability of the culture sector


The crisis has also stimulated our capacity to re-think and re-invent the sector and actions to support it, starting from financial support and important investments for job creation, as Ibrahim Norbert Richard Assistant Secretary-General at the Organisation of ACP States pointed out during the webinar. In order to allow so, stronger collaborations between existing institutions, synergies among programmes and multilevel support mechanisms should be encouraged and supported, thus strengthening the whole cultural value chain


This event marked once again the willingness and commitment of the EU and the OACPS in supporting the cultural and creative sectors in the ACP and promoting exchange and new collaboration opportunities among culture sector representatives from the EU and the ACP countries. The following article presents the key messages and the 5 main topics that were debated on each panel, for which culture Solutions provided organisational and methodological support.



If you are interested in a culture-related training or event facilitation, contact culture Solutions’ Training and know-how sharing team.


The views expressed in this article are personal and are not the official position of culture Solutions as an organisation. 



[1] The predecessors of the ACP-EU Culture Programme are: ACP CULTURES (2008-2011), ACP FILMS (2008-2011) and ACP CULTURES + (2012-2017).