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Evaluation of culture and tourism in European Regional Development Funds (ERDF)

Understanding the impact of 14 billion euros of investment, to help shape future funding priorities.

Jonathan Todd

Chief Economist

Jonathan is an economist with over a decade’s experience in impact assessment and evaluation, and high-level policy experience, particularly within the cultural and creative sectors.

Jonathan Todd - Chief Economist | BOP Consulting

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European Commission


Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI), Museums and Galleries


Culture and tourism have emerged as important recipients of ERDF funding

In the 2007-2013 programming period 80% of ERDF Operational Programmes provided support for investment in culture and tourism. A minimum of EUR 14.4 billion was allocated to culture and tourism if account is taken only of direct funding (i.e. leaving aside other support going to SMEs, transport and urban regeneration, for example, which could also have benefited culture and tourism). 

Given the pre-existing scattered and rather scant evidence available on the effectiveness of ERDF investments in culture and tourism, BOP Consulting was comissioned as part of a bigger conglomerate, to provide factual and concrete evidence on the logic for ERDF support of these sectors in the 2007-2013 period, the nature and distribution of the interventions, together with their main achievements and expected effects on territorial development. The overall aim of the evaluation was to understand the rationales for investment, rather than uncover causal impact.

The evaluation is based on a range of research tools, including a review of the literature, an analysis of available statistical and administrative data, a cluster analysis and an on-line survey of 95 regional Managing Authorities, 6 in-depth regional case studies and 12 mini-case studies of specific projects. 

Key Policy implications

The findings of the evaluation led to a number of key policy implications for future ERDF investments in culture and tourism, including

  • The first is that there is scope for the ERDF to more effectively address culture and tourism in order to support regional development. This requires, however, that regional and national authorities put greater emphasis during the programming phase on the contribution of culture and tourism to regional development, and hence on the definition of more focused ERDF investment strategies in these sectors.

  • Greater entrepreneurship and innovation is needed in both sectors, but particularly in culture. As for the perceived administrative burden of ERDF funding, while there may be scope for simplification, private sector and third sector operators could also be helped to improve their capacity to comply with the necessary regulations.

  • Monitoring and evaluation systems need to be improved through the definition and dissemination of clearer guidance and methodological support for (a) classification criteria for categories of intervention, (b) common indicators, and (c) defining relevant programme-specific indicators.


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Jonathan Todd - Chief Economist | BOP Consulting

Jonathan Todd

Chief Economist

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