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Research 28 Jun 11

Rewarding the best

The authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are facing growing calls to clarify their strategy for culture amid deepening cuts in the budget for the sector. Across the country, state institutions and the independent sector are demanding that funds for culture be distributed with greater transparency, and to the worthiest recipients. Pročitajte članak na bosanskom / hrvatskom / srpskom jeziku

Reported by: Naida Balic, Zvjezdan Zivkovic and Duska Jurisic from Sarajevo;
Nejra Aganovic from Mostar, Tuzla and Travnik; and Drazen Remikovic from Banja Luka

Among budget recipients, some are more equal than others

The National Museum in Sarajevo annually lacks around 350,000 marks (€179,000)

The independent sector is not alone in feeling threatened. Public cultural institutions are also unclear as to which ones deserve to be rewarded.

Banja Luka is home to Banski dvor, an institution that is funded from the city’s budget and faces regular scrutiny of its artistic policy.

Adnan Busuladzic

"Everything is in danger. The metal is being eaten away by corrosion, the textile by insects, the paper by damp."

Adnan Busuladžić
Director of the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo

The organisation has been criticised for its New Year’s parties, which hire folk stars from neighbouring Serbia, along with brass orchestras and tamburitza players. Banski dvor gets about 50,000 marks (€25,600) as additional funding for each of the annual parties.

The sum is somewhat greater than the 45,000 marks (€23,000) allotted this year for productions in the Museum of Contemporary Art, located some 200 metres away from Banski dvor.

The annual budget of the Museum of Contemporary Art, provided by the government of the Republic of Srpska, is around 460,000 marks (€235,000).

The Facebook social networking site hosts a group calling for the dismissal of Milorad Petric, the director of Banski dvor. The group currently has 665 members.

Planned distribution in seven cultural institutions of culture at the level of Bosnia and Herzegovina (thousands of KM)

Source: National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Of significance for the state, but without its support

The highest price for the weakness of the state’s central bodies has been paid by the seven institutions whose legal status has yet to be resolved, even though they are officially said to be “of significance”.
The seven institutions are made up of three museums, one gallery, two libraries and one film library. They were approved a grant of 1.6 million marks (€0.8 million) by the Ministry of Civilian Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina last year.
All the directors agree that the funds are insufficient and barely cover their running costs. They say they need at least twice as much money if there are to stage exhibitions and events. Currently, the institutions cannot afford any significant activities and most of them fear imminent closure.
The federal Minister of Culture and Sport, Salmir Kaplan, says he is planning meetings with the directors of the institutions.
“However, the order in which they can be helped must be decided, and the founder’s rights are at the level of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which should deal with this.”
But it seems no state capable of assuming this duty can exist while the gulf between the two entities remains so deep. Kaplan argues that until there is closer co-operation at a state level, he can at most provide an emergency response to the problems.
“I won’t spend my energy at all on the issue. For now, I can stick to extinguishing fires until representatives of authorities at the level of state of Bosnia and Herzegovina do their job.”

Banski dvor is intended as the city of Banja Luka’s cultural centre. It organises book promotions, concerts of classical music, as well as art exhibitions. Its budget for this year, paid by the city, was 1,114,000 marks (€569,600).

The budget of Banski dvor is greater than the total budget of all the city theatres. Its roof is leaking, its facade is ruined, and the whole facility is in need of restoration.

Of the money it received this year, 639,000 marks (€326,700) is due to be spent on the salaries of 37 employees. A further 465,000 marks (€237,750) is due to be spent on maintenance bills.

Director Milorad Petric says that so far this year the institution organised 58 events, of which 37 were concerts. It received 12,600 visitors.

In response to accusations that he wastes public money, he says: “No one wants to deal with the problem of Banski dvor seriously. People are just pointing to my office, which has furniture from Vrbaski ban Milosavljevic [a historic local leader], and say  that I fool around and lie about on medieval furniture.”

The National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the so-called “nobody institutions” that has no founder to guarantee its funds, has been the custodian of priceless treasures and traditions for more than a hundred years.

The museum gets 850,000 marks (€434,600) from the ministry of civilian affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina annually. It receives a further 168,000 marks (€85,900) annually from the Sarajevo canton.

The museum must use this money to maintain a 15,000 square-metre space and to pay a monthly electricity bill of 5,000-6,000 marks (€2,560-3,067).

According to the director, Adnan Busuladzic, the museum has an annual shortfall of around 350,000 marks (€179,000).

He says the funds cover salaries for only seven of the museum’s 12 employees, and that the whole museum itself is in peril.

“Everything is in danger. The metal is being eaten away by corrosion, the textile by insects, the paper by damp,” he says.

While the museum is wasting away because of institutional decisions within Bosnia and Herzegovina, smaller museums in the Republic of Srpska have secured financing from the budget.

“Museums in Bijeljina, Trebinje and Banja Luka have influence and significance, but these institutions are not even close in rank to the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. That should be said loud and clear,” says Busuladzic.

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