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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

Dayton, (de-)centralisation and money shortages

Culture and budgets in Bosnia and Herzegovina are managed by 10 cantonal ministries in the Federation, two entity ministries, the Ministry of Civilian Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina and numerous municipal departments, with their armies of assistants and advisors.

Each ministry has its own criteria for awarding funds, mostly generalised and unclear to people who work in culture. Each ministry also has commissions which deal with the distribution of money. The competence of the commissions is often questioned. There is less and less money for culture.

Ljiljana Labovic-Marinkovic, director of the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Banja Luka, is seen as a successful manager of a public institution that attracts visitors despite its small production budget – this year it was 45,000 marks (€23,000 euros).

The museum employs 22 people, she says, with average monthly salaries below 500 marks (255 euros). She comments acerbically on the complex structure of ministries in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

““Ministries in Bosnia and Herzegovina are like containers connected by a tube in a physics experiment, but they are empty. There is no money. If you ask me how we manage to survive, I will tell you – somehow. It is the Bosnian haiku response that often comes up when finances are discussed.”

The complex mechanism for the financing of culture, its lack of transparency and confusion, stems from the constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The constitution was adopted as a part of the Dayton Peace Accord, which regulates culture in the two entities separately.

There is no state ministry of culture, and at this time there are no cultural institutions which both entities would accept as theirs.

Culture that is deemed to be significant to the state, however this significance may be defined, is partially supported by the Ministry of Civilian Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina with a measly grant of three million marks (1.5 million euros).

The cultural institutions that make up the public sector, and the cultural NGOs, are both entitled to apply for this grant.

As the grant is not especially generous, institutions public and independent also seek money from other sources such as ministries and donors.

A representative from the office of Sredoje Novic, the minister of civilian affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, says: “In Bosnia and Herzegovina there are no state institutions of culture. Instead, according to the constitution, the culture is decentralised and in the control of the entities. [The] Ministry of Civilian Affairs is not in charge of financing cultural institutions.”

Ministry of civilian affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina – (in millions of KM) Distribution in 2010

Source: BIRN

Ministry of culture and education of Republic of Srpska (in millions of KM), 2011

Source: www.narodnaskupstinars.net

Ministry of Culture and Sport of the Sarajevo Canton (in millions of KM), 2011

Sources: Interview with Minister of Culture and Sport of the Sarajevo Canton Ivica Saric and http://mf.ks.gov.ba

Distribution for independent productions and associations, from the budget of the Ministry of Culture and Sport of the Sarajevo Canton (thousands of KM)

Source: http://mf.ks.gov.ba

The entity of the Republic of Srpska is following a centralised policy, where the ministry of education and culture allots a guaranteed budget for seven institutions which were founded by the government, while the independent sector has to apply for the money through open competition.

This year the total budget was 10.4 million marks (€5.3 million). Of that figure, 10.1 million marks (€5.2 million) is set aside for public institutions and 300,000 marks (about 153,000 euros) to independent projects. The independents get an additional 120,000 marks (€61,350) from the ministry of finance.

Irena Soldat-Vujanovic, assistant to the minister of culture in the Republic of Srpska, says that the amount intended for cultural programmes was virtually halved over the last year. These funds had been steadily shrinking for the last several years.

In the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, no public institution is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and Sport. However the 10 cantons are obliged to allot guaranteed funds from their own budgets to public cultural institutions that they have founded.

The federal ministry has 10 million marks (about €5.1 million) this year. According to Salmir Kaplan, the Minister for Culture and Sport in the Federation, this is somewhat more than it had last year.

This money is allocated for cultural events, heritage restoration projects and to four foundations – spanning film, theatre, music and art. It is also earmarked for publishing and libraries.

Cantons have the biggest budgets in the Federation. Among them, the Sarajevo canton, with nine municipalities, has around 25 million marks (€12.8 million). This figure is a million marks lower than it was last year.

Most of the cultural workers are in this canton. The Sarajevo canton is the founder of 14 institutions that it has to keep alive. It is also expected to help everybody else – those in the independent sector, as well as in seven institutions whose legal status has not been resolved at the state level.

This canton also finances big events, such as the Sarajevo Winter Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival and some others.

The newly-appointed Minister of Culture and Sport of the Sarajevo Canton, Ivica Saric, who held the same post between 2002 and 2006, says this budget supports as many as 300 independent projects every year.

At this point, none of the institutions in the Federation have complete data for how much money each canton allocates for culture. Nor is that information available for the allocation of money by the local self-government.

Distribution from the budget of the ministry of culture and sport of the Sarajevo Canton (thousands of KM), 2011

Institutions Number of employees Funds allotted (in thousands of km)
The Sarajevo National Theatre  226  6.306
The Sarajevo Youth Theatre  41  1.132
Chamber Theatre 55  49  1.42
The Sarajevo War Theatre SARTR  26  0.934
Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra  52  1.798
Institute for Protection of Natural Heritage  25  1.12
The Museum of Sarajevo  23  0.671
The Sarajevo Library 64 1.583
Historical Archive  27  0.784
Bosnian Cultural Centre  20  0.592
International Theatre Festival MESS  7  1.02
The Collegium Artisticum gallery  5  0.208
Sarajevo Arts agency  8  0.796
The Alija Izetbegovic Museum  3  0.222

Source: Ministry of Finance of the canton of Sarajevo: http://mf.ks.gov.ba/preuzimanja/budget

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