Access to culture goes beyond accessing cultural products, attending spaces and receiving information, it is also about an experience of personal development and enjoyment. Apart from classic channels and institutions, youth culture channels are dynamic and often informal, and many times do not enjoy official recognition. The study on youth access to culture in Europe illustrates that the ways young people access culture as users or creators, or simply participants of a cultural experience, are various and sometimes experimental.

Following an open invitation to tender, the European Commission selected the Interarts Foundation to carry out this study. It aimed to answer the following main questions:

  • What are the areas where actions aimed at fostering access of young people to culture can and have been taken?
  • What are the relevant practices carried out by national authorities and other actors (NGOs, local communities, associations) in different Member States?
  • What are the main obstacles that hinder young people’s access to and participation in culture?

The study uses concrete examples and practices from different sectors and parts of Europe, such as financial incentives to cultural consumption, projects using new technologies or projects engaging young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in culture.

The study illustrates inter alia the need for building bridges between school, family, youth workers and community, as well as the administrations in charge of youth, culture, education, family and social affairs and other involved actors. To that aim, it suggests strategies to be developed at all levels of governance.

In order to cover a vast range of subjects, the study has been structured so that each of the chapters forms an independent unit that concentrates on a specific theme.Chapter one includes the conceptual introduction and description of previous studies. Chapter two describes international and national legal provisions and specific legislations related to the access of young people to culture. Chapter three defines administrative structures, policies, actors, programmes, initiatives, processes and policy priorities. Chapter four presents youth culture tendencies and common elements in the current European youth culture. Chapter five concentrates on obstacles to cultural participation. Chapter six classifies existing good practices. Conclusions are presented in Chapter seven and Chapter eight includes policy recommendations (to the European institutions, stakeholders and Member States (at national, regional and local levels).

The Study lists also the following typology of good practices in promoting youth access to culture:

  • Economic catalysts for cultural consumption
  • Cultural institutions and young creativity
  • Connecting with heritage and community
  • Mobility and cooperation
  • Interdisciplinary cultural / art forms and expressions
  • Engaging young people from diverse backgrounds
  • Art and creativity in education
  • New technologies
  • Young people as cultural producers and consumers

The study has been elaborated in 2009 through the participation of many parties.

The project has been carried out by the Interarts Foundation directed by Mercedes Giovinazzo and coordinated by Annamari Laaksonen with project assistance by Elena Alós, Maria Giovanna Fara and Dace Kiuliņa. The experts’ group and team of main authors were composed by Carles Feixa, Rupa Huq, Annamari Laaksonen, Leena Suurpää and Lidia Varbanova, as well as 27 national correspondents. The study has received valuable input from the European Commission, youth organisations and young people themselves.

Download the full report in English (including executive summary in English, French and German.

Read the blog post also on LabforCulture.
Image: “Youth Times”, Photo credit: Darina V

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