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Culture and Creativity

European Theatre Initiative

Theatre and performing arts are of outstanding importance for Europe with their diversity of forms that transcend language barriers. Both have a twofold relevance as an art form and as a public space for cultural-political dialogue since ancient Greece to the present.

The Theatre Initiative and Creative Europe

The performing arts and music sector altogether have benefited from over €200 million in funding since 2014. Support for the priorities and objectives of the sector will continue under the new Creative Europe programme (2021-2027). The European Theatre Initiative plays a central role in this perspective.

The new European Theatre Initiative

With the initiative, the European Commission wants to create an overall structure for its approach towards European performing arts and in particular the theatre sector. The medium-term aim is to translate this into a strategic way to support the sector.

In the long-term, the theatre initiative is set to shape a coherent approach towards the sector. This means filling the gaps between already existing support under Creative Europe and pilot projects such as the recently launched platform for distributing performing arts works, and the individual mobility scheme i-Portunus.

The Commission has carried out several actions so far together with sectoral and institutional stakeholders and based on the experience of projects supported under the Creative Europe programme.

Actions taken to date


  • first mapping exercise
  • informal dialogue with representative organisations and networks


The study ‘‘The situation of Theatres in the EU Member States" was the first EU-wide study launched in gathering data on the European theatre sector. The results were published in June 2022.

First European Theatre Forum

In November 2020 the European Commission launched the European Theatre Initiative implementing the first "European Theatre Forum 2020: European Performing Arts in Focus".

The aim of this event was to establish a more structured creative dialogue within the sector and with policymakers at national and European levels through partnership and international collaboration.

As of 2023 the Forum is to become a regular event, to create a platform for exchange while promoting the outstanding importance of theatre in Europe with its diversity of performance forms, across language barriers, both as an art form and an important public space for cultural-political dialogue.

The corona virus crisis added to the urgency of these needs around issues such as sustainability, digital and virtual context as well as linguistic diversity.

The Dresden Declaration

The Forum delivered a strong signal on the importance of culture in Europe, fundamental for every democratic society: More than 150 policymakers, artists, theatre-makers gathered and created, for the first time ever, a collective political voice for the theatre and performing arts sector.

Signed by 12 major European theatre and performing arts networks, The Dresden Declaration sets out conclusions from the first European Theatre Forum 2020 and calls on Europe to urgently create a plan to revive the sector during and after the pandemic.

As the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said:

“The crisis is affecting us all. Therefore, we need to help each other, to share best practices, experiences, solutions. This first European Theatre Forum has a crucial role in this regard, connecting European Theatres to each other.”

Next steps

The Commission is set to develop a more targeted policy approach towards the performing arts and theatre sector, based on the results of

  • a 2019 internal expert report which aimed to improve the Commission’s understanding of the main challenges the theatre sector faces in Europe and identify relevant themes and stakeholders for an EU level dialogue
  • the study "The situation of Theatres in the EU Member States" (see above) which, together with the European Theatre Forum 2020, aimed to provide input for policy recommendations and follow-up at European level

The next edition of the European Theatre Forum will take place in 2023.

Funding opportunities and Calls

Funding opportunities under the new Creative Europe programme (2021-2027) will continue to be open to the sector for

  • cooperation projects
  • network and platform support
  • mobility support.