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04 Apr 13

Serbia’s Culture Sector Seeks Financial Solutions

Local and international culture experts gathered in Belgrade to discuss ways to solve the cash-strapped arts community’s funding problems.

Nemanja Cabric
BIRN Belgrade
Minister Bratislav Petkovic taking his seat | Photo NC

Arts experts and culture ministry representatives gathered for a public meeting at the Serbian assembly on Wednesday held under the banner ‘Models of Financing Culture in the EU’.

Speakers at the event included culture minister Bratislav Petkovic, the president of the parliamentary committee for culture and media Vesna Marjanovic, as well as the film director Srdan Golubovic, representatives of the EU Commission’s Cultural Contact Point offices from Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Serbia, the Serbian government’s European Integration Office and the Institute for Comparative Law.

In the audience were also managers of state cultural institutions, representatives of the civic sector and journalists.

Briefly greeting the gathering, minister Petkovic said that he was confident that the experts would offer some good ideas about how to finance culture in Serbia, adding that some “ideas that culture should be completely left to the market are absurd”.

However, Petkovic didn’t listen to what the other participants had to say because he left the hall for a more pressing engagement shortly after his presentation.

The participants tried to formulate recommendations that the parliamentary culture committee can direct to the culture and finance ministry in order to improve the existing situation.

Culture will receive only 0.62 per cent of the 2013 budget, there is no money for state co-financing of cinema projects, and many arts institutions have had to cut their budgets.

Opening the public meeting, Marjanovic said that the economical crisis has affected culture budgets both in Serbia and EU countries.

However, she stressed that EU countries have mechanisms to help institutions that didn’t receive state financing to survive.

Participants watching a movie about the importance of culture

The participants presented various European models of financing culture as well as campaigns and projects that are being implemented in European countries.

Ognjen Miric, funds coordinator at the European Integration Office, said that there are many problems when it comes to the implementation of projects and there are no clear state criteria on how to disburse money when it comes to culture.

Miric stressed that project financing demands knowledge of how to realise of projects, and suggested that cultural institutions that need money raise their capacities so that they can compete for funding.

After presenting numerous projects that the EU finances in Serbia, Miric said that Brussels will provide further funding through a new programme from 2014 to 2020 and that money will be available from 2015.

Ana Hijerpolitanska from the Adam Mickievic Institute in Warsaw presented the Polish campaign ‘1% for Culture’ that started in 2010 and has since significantly influenced the country’s culture budget.

She said that the movement started with a petition first signed by artists and cultural experts and then by the general public, finally attracting 100,000 signatures.

The petition encouraged the Polish government signed a ‘contract for culture’ in May 2011, in which it promiseds to raise the culture budget to 1 per cent of the total budget by 2015.

Eva Zakova from the Cultural Contact Point in the Czech Republic said her country has the same percentage of money from the state budget for culture as Serbia, but that makes some 350 milion euro in total, some six times more than Serbia.

However she said that in the Czech Republic, 57 per cent of all expenses for culture are covered by local budgets, 31.8 per cent comes from state funds and 10.5 per cent from regional funds.

Director Srdan Golubovic, whose latest movie ‘Circles’ (‘Krugovi’) enjoyed significant international success, said that culture should have a more important place in society as well as in the state budget.

 

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