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Following a series of consultations with young people in 2015-2016 where creativity and culture was highlighted as the main form of expression of young people, one of the action fields of the National Youth Strategy -as mentioned in chapter 1 on Youth Policy- was dedicated to Creativity and Culture.
Music festivals, modern music concerts, photographic exhibitions, local folk culture and philanthropic events are the main activities funded through the national “Youth Initiatives Funding” scheme, which reveal that some forms of arts such as painting, classical music, dance, theatre, movies are not so preferred by young people in Cyprus.
Therefore, the main challenge to the activity of young people in such forms of arts is the lack of proper education as stated by the young people themselves throughout the consultation process that took place for the purposes of drafting the National Youth Strategy. Arts and music have always been considered as secondary subjects under the official curriculum of schools. Despite the fact that all schools and communities organise events for different occasions throughout the year, these are restricted to organising choirs, bands and dance shows with the participation of youngsters who attain private arts classes during their out of school free time, which are paid by the families only. Theatre and dance performances are not coordinated by specialists in the subjects, but by literature and physical education teachers respectively. Despite these challenges though, children with special talent in music have the opportunity to attend public musical schools and the rest who are interested in other forms of arts can choose the specific sector (Fine Arts) during their upper secondary school attendance.
Local authorities and the Youth Board of Cyprus offer to youngsters and young people up to the age of 35, the opportunity to participate in art classes on a very low cost, either through the Open Schools of the Municipalities or “The Steamers” programme of the Youth Board of Cyprus. Experience though shows that, a very limited number of young people takes part in such classes. The Ministry of Education and Culture on the other hand, provides such classes to young people over 15 (and to the rest of the public), through the Adult Education Centres which provide lifelong learning opportunities at every community and youth club that shows interest to form small groups (again the tuition fees are very low).
According to the Labour Force Survey 1999 – 2019, of the Statistical Service of the Republic of Cyprus, 7674people have been working at the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sector of the economy in 2019, rather than 4290 in 2008. Segregated data provided by the Statistical Service show that 19.6% of the people who worked at the cultural sector in 2018 were young people between the ages of 15-29. That is just 3.1% to the total working population in all sectors. Unfortunately, the Statistical Service of the Republic of Cyprus does not keep records on the participation of young people aged 14-35 (which is the target group of the National Youth Strategy) in the creative and cultural industry on a paid or voluntary basis.
The history and culture of Cyprus date back 9000 years to the 7th millennium BC. At the crossroads of three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa - and with a turbulent history with various conquerors, Cyprus has developed and for centuries maintained, its own civilization. It remained a centre of Greek culture with Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, French, Venetian, Ottoman and British influences. The maintenance, protection and preservation of the rich archaeological heritage of the island is high on the governments’ priorities list. At the same time, the government prioritizes the preservation of customs and the promotion of literature, music, dance, the visual arts and the cinema amongst Cypriot citizens and abroad in order to highlight Cyprus' cultural richness and links with the international community.
All the above showcase the richness of culture in the country. Nevertheless, the national legislation does not conceptualize "access to culture" nor "cultural heritage". In 1975 Cyprus signed the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, therefore Cyprus considers as "cultural heritage" the following: • monuments: architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science; • groups of buildings: groups of separate or connected buildings which, because of their architecture, their homogeneity or their place in the landscape, are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science; • sites: works of man or the combined works of nature and man, and areas including archaeological sites which are of outstanding universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological point of view. Regarding creativity as a concept, the official documents and policies strictly connect it with entrepreneurship rather than creative expression.