8.1 General context
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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, theatre performances, solo art exhibitions, youth festivals, local folk culture and philanthropic events are the main and the most popular activities funded through the national “Youth Initiatives Funding” scheme.
However, the main challenge to the activity of young people in forms of arts, such as painting, classical music, dance and movies, 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.
In the Cypriot formal educational system, children with special talent in music have the opportunity to attend public musical schools while 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 each Municipality in Cyprus or through “The Steamers” programme of the Youth Board of Cyprus. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth also provides such classes to young people over 15 (and to the rest of the public), through the Adult Education Centres which offer lifelong learning opportunities at every community and/or youth club that is interested in forming small groups of participants (similarly, the tuition fees are very low).
According to the Labour Force Survey 1999 – 2020, of the Statistical Service of the Republic of Cyprus, 7 114 people have been working at the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation sector of the economy in 2020, rather than 4 290 in 2008. 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.
In addition, a decreasing trend in young people’s participation in cultural clubs has been observed in the Youth Barometer 2020 and 2021 results (Αποτελέσματα Ερευνών). The Youth Barometer is a quantitative study conducted by the Youth Board of Cyprus in cooperation with a research centre, twice a year, with the aim to investigate the needs, interests and views of young people aged 14-35 years old. According to the 2020 and 2021 results, only 15% and 8% of young people respectively, take part in cultural clubs.
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.