Mapping of Policies, Good Practices, and Educational Needs for Artists & Aspiring Artists

The pandemic crisis of the COVID-19 virus both in Europe and internationally has tested both the health and safety of people and society. Everyone’s daily life has changed because of the restrictive measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Our social contacts and communication with our families, friends and loved ones have been affected, and our daily habits, our working hours and places of work, our ways of interacting with government services and our ways of having fun and entertainment have been greatly affected. The period of the COVID-19 pandemic admittedly triggered rapid developments in terms of the use of digital and online environments in terms of transactions, services, entertainment, and art, while the lack of face-to-face contact increased social isolation and affected the psychology and emotions of a large part of society.

But what makes us all special as human beings is the sharing of these emotions, positive and negative, of passion and of our thoughts, of hope or fear that arise in times of crisis and challenge. This very expression that emerges through art and connects us all has had to adapt in the time of the pandemic and today to new digital environments, tools and media, and with-it artists and viewers/listeners or audiences in general.

However, what happened to this adaptation in times of pandemic? How was the work of artists and aspiring artists affected? How did it affect the way they produced their artistic creations, the way they communicated with the public and the necessary in many cases live performances or exhibitions? And in particular what happened to those categories of artists or aspiring artists in European countries belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups who were already facing challenges and problems in their daily lives? What problems did they face and are they still facing in adapting to digital media? How ready were European countries and their policies for the transition to an exclusively digital world in the arts? What skills and knowledge are artists lacking to face this digital challenge? And which digital modes are preferred by the wide and divertive consumer audience in different European countries?

All the above is the subject of the mapping undertaken in the first phase of the Digi Helicon project to develop an Educational Methodology & Handbook for Capacity Building of artists and aspiring artists to cope with the digital era. In the framework of the Digi Helicon project, the partners from seven (7) European countries [Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Belgium and Netherlands] carried out in the period February-May 2023, an extensive desk research on the policies of the European countries participating in the project to support the digitalization of the arts and the training of artists on issues related to the adaptation of their livelihood and artistic needs and skills in the new digital era. At the same time, this mapping examined good practices and case studies that have been carried out in European countries for the capacity building of artists and their support for the best possible adaptation to the new digital needs. In addition, at least 275 people participated in the field mapping, either artists and aspiring artists from vulnerable and disadvantaged groups [137 people], or consumers of art works and services [138 people] from all participating project countries through interviews/focus groups, and online questionnaires. The mapping resulted in useful findings in 7 National Reports which in turn compiled the DIGI HELICON Transnational Report on existing policies and capacity building needs of artists and aspiring artists on issues of adaptation to the new digital age. At the same time, a list of at least 20 good practices and 15 case studies was developed to support the digitalization of the arts and the education of artists on issues of adapting their livelihood and artistic needs and skills to the new digital age.

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