AccessIT was a 2 year project funded under Europe’s Culture 2007-13 programme. It delivered a unique package of practical training and skills development, supported by clear guidance, to enable smaller, local cultural organizations in countries where progress in this area is currently limited to maximise the opportunities provided by new technologies to most effectively deliver and disseminate arts and cultural offerings to the citizens of Europe. It took work in cooperation with major policy implementations such as the European Digital Libraries Initiative and took into account especially the needs of candidate states for which eligibility for Culture 2007-13 offers an otherwise currently unavailable funding vehicle for this purpose.
Perhaps the most effective way to encourage widespread and democratic circulation of artistic and cultural works and products is by digital means. Internet-based services offer the end user the opportunity to select and view high quality, multimedia representations of works from a very wide range of Europe's artistic and cultural productions, in their own language and set within their historic, thematic and geographic context.
The major European policy and practical initiative in this area is to build a common European Digital Library. This is manifest in the development of the Europeana service www.europeana.eu. To be successful, Europeana needed to draw on sources of digital culture which are held by a wide range of cultural 'memory' institutions.
Through the Culture 2007-13 programme, AccessIT played a highly significant role in enabling the development of a service which represents the full extent and true richness of European culture in countries where:
- the necessary skill and competences for cultural institutions at local or regional level are not widely available;
- the resources available to accomplish this goal are not widely available or cost-effectively distributed.
AccessIT initiated work to resolve this problem on a sustainable basis in three such target countries, Greece, Serbia and Turkey by transferring expertise and successful approaches in use elsewhere in Europe to create ‘centres of competence’ and by creating a practical model for training and implementation which can subsequently adapted and transferred elsewhere, perhaps especially to other EU candidate countries which are supported now and in future under Culture 2007-13.