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|Dimitrije Vujadinović, osnivač i direktor Balkankult fondacije|
Most people working in culture expected the democratic changes in Serbia in 2000 soon to lead to changes to the Law on Culture passed in 1992 under the authoritarian regime of Slobodan Milosevic.
Cultural policy professor Vesna Djukic recalls that the 1992 law annulled a set of laws from the earlier period that took a better strategic approach to cultural development.
Dimitrije Vujadinovic, director of the Balkankult Foundation and cultural policy expert, says the 1992 law was soon outdated because it did not reflect the new cultural circumstances of the times, particularly regarding the emergence of companies and the independent sector. Therefore, the drafting of a new law in 2002 began with great expectations.
Vesna Milosavljevic, director of Seecult, a citizens association in Belgrade, expected the new law in 2009 to make radical changes, in terms of depoliticization, greater transparency and equal status for the independent and public sectors - together creating a foundation for the adoption of new legislation.
Ministry: Law on Culture Fulfilled Expectations
BIRN: Has the Law on Culture met expectations regarding the reform of cultural institutions – the transition to project funding and cuts in staff numbers in cultural institutions?
Ministry of Culture: Until the adoption of the new Law on Culture in 2009 no law, or any other major piece of legislation governing the field of culture had been passed for over 15 years. Along with this we should bear in mind the fact that the Law on Culture is the first systemic law in this field in the history of our culture. Another thing that should be noted is that the Law on Culture is a systemic act for this field that constitutes a basis for the passage of other laws that will individually regulate, in more detail, certain areas of culture.
„Particularly important levers (at the time of the adoption of the new Law) were setting up the National Council and the adoption of a Culture Strategy, which were to serve as a basis for the adoption of local strategies,” she recalls.
But the National Culture Council has drawn complaints. This body, tasked with drawing up a development strategy, comprises prominent artists, employees of cultural institutions, members of cultural associations, academicians and representatives of national minorities.
According to Vesna Djukic, however: „The law failed to give the National Culture Council decision-making powers establishing it solely as an advisory body, while the minister is still the one passing the decisions.”
„This means that the state cultural policy model introduced by the 1992 law is still in force, even though before that we had a para-state (decentralised) cultural policy model.”
Vujadinovic is even more critical, describing the National Culture Council as redundant. It is merely „a smoke screen for the Culture Minister's broad powers,” he says.
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