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Resource typeDissertation
Title(s)Culture & Cohesion: The access of culture and the arts to EU Structural Funds - A case study on Poland
Alternative title(s)Kultur & Kohäsion: Der Zugang von Kultur und Kunstprojekten zu EU Strukturfonds - Eine Fallstudie aus Polen
CreatorRiepe, Anna
RefereeKirchberg, Volker  0000-0001-6522-8389  12262761X
Kahle, Egbert  115517928
Zembylas, Tasos  115469184
AbstractFostering socio-economic development throughout all Member States is a fundamental goal of the European Union. With one third of its budget, the EU tries to support regional development in lessdeveloped regions and improve the life of its citizens. To reach its goal, a shift can be observed from a single sided focus on factor mobility and thus transportation and other infrastructure facilities to a higher diversity in approaches, including culture, the arts and creativity. Here, creative industries and innovation are keywords within Structural Funds, the main instrument of EU regional policies. However, very little is known on how cultural operators in the form of artists, opera houses etc. contribute to regional development by implementing Structural Funds projects. The framework conditions set on EU level are very open, allowing the sector to contribute in their own way to socioeconomic development. To improve the understanding of how cultural operators access Structural Funds this dissertation was guided by the question: What kind of strategies do cultural operators use to access Structural Funds in Poland? Or on a more abstract level: What are the formal and informal norms within the application process for cultural operators, and in which way do they impact the application strategies of cultural operators in Poland? By working on those questions, this dissertation is providing an insight into how cultural operators on the ground approach Structural Funds. The case study on cultural operators in Poland serves as a concrete example and gives a clearer picture of access strategies, barriers and facilitators within this process. Because research is scarce on this subject, a choice for an in-depth case study analysis within one country was taken. With a theoretical framework of sociological Neo Institutionalism, especially a model developed by Victor Nee and Paul Ingram (1998), the research focusses on different levels of interaction and the role of formal and informal norms. The model was modified to support the analysis of actors’ strategies, and explain the application process of cultural operators. Here, the focus was on the micro level (cultural operators) and its interaction with the meso level (national). The model was enriched at the end of the research with elements of Bourdieu’s theory of practise, namely his concepts of fields and capital. Poland was selected as case study country due to its unique position as the biggest new Member State with its long cultural tradition at the heart of Europe and a very positive formal framework for cultural projects within Structural Funds. The focus was on the years 2004-2007 and thus covered mainly the first funding period for Poland. As empirical evidence, 27 expert interviews were carried out with cultural operators and their environment in Poland. They were analysed on a qualitative basis, using Atlas.ti, and co-occurrence network views. The author conducted all interviews within a period of two months, and most of the interviews were conducted in English. Important steps within the analysis were the emergence of a project idea, the ‘melting’ of this idea into a project application, different challenges linked to the application process and information gathering as a crucial factor within this process. In the end, the findings were validated by three EU experts from the Commission and the European Parliament. Conclusions: Findings show that the application strategy is driven by a set of formal and informal norms. Among them one can find elements linked to financing and co-financing, access and distribution of information and capacity building in the form of knowledge gathering and experience. The informal channels proved to be especially valuable. Further, the organisation resources have a significant impact when applying for Structural Funds. This is not limited to sufficient financial means but also related to existing networks and knowledge of whom to ask for information and support. Here, reference can be made e.g. to Bourdieu’s concept of capitals. Based on those findings, a typology of three different actors’ groups with different challenges and project profiles was developed. It can be shown that their positions and strategies are influenced, not only by formal rules and norms, but also to a high level, by informal norms and structures. As a result, projects were generally implemented by rather big and well-established organisations. Most of them focussed on the conservation of cultural heritage or the construction of new, ‘classical’ cultural infrastructure such as museums and opera houses. However, innovation and creativity are thought to grow especially in smaller, often younger and ‘different’ settings. As the EU is interested in those elements to find a region-tailored solution to socio-economic development needs, a nearly exclusive focus on rather traditional flagship projects implemented by well-established organisations appears insufficient: In other words, there is a discrepancy between proclaimed possibilities and attempts within political statements and Structural Funds rules on one side and the picture on the ground on the other side. Thus, if the fostering of socio-economic development through innovation and new approaches is to emerge, attempts need to be taken to increasingly support cultural operators with less favourable given capital. The thesis presented enhances knowledge within these processes and therefore contributes to the improvement of the situation. Because only if conditions are analysed and known, processes on national and EU level can change and alternatives be considered. As a conclusion for the micro level, a strong networking and gathering of know-how independently from formal structures seems the most promising short-term approach. From a long-term perspective, a formalisation of networks and stronger lobbying, especially on national level but also on EU level will be needed if framework conditions are to change in favour of a more diversified and flexible approach.
KeywordsStrukturfonds; Europäische Union; Kulturelle Entwicklung; Regionalentwicklung
Date of defense2010-03-05
Year of publication in PubData2010
Publishing typeFirst publication
Date issued2010-05-19
Creation contextResearch
Granting InstitutionLeuphana Universität Lüneburg
Published byMedien- und Informationszentrum, Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
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