Memo December 2017


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in December 2017

BO wishes you happy 2018, in the colour of the year and hopes that it will clear up soon.

Year of two lions

Don’t be shy, click here and touch the two golden lions to learn about European capitals of culture in 2018.

Year of three lions

At least until July, when the Bulgarian lion and its two supporters pass on the EU presidency to the Austrian eagle.


Year of cultural heritage

The main feature of the Culture Forum held in Milan was the launching of the next European Year after 2015, dedicated to cultural heritage, BO will browse the national sites once Austria and Hungary become accessible.

The authentic full version of the label is reserved for projects which contribute to the aims of the Year: here is the way to apply

Valuing heritage

A special survey inquired about Europeans’ attitude towards cultural heritage. The decisive majority, 80% believe that cultural heritage is important for the European Union. At the same time, however, 91% of the interviewed hold that it is important for the nation.

BO thinks the narrowing of the gap is one of the missions of the European Year. Achieving harmony is a challenge where relatively few people care about the value of heritage for the Union (especially in Latvia where only 62% think so), or where the gap is large (like Czechs’ and Estonians’ 20%, behind the 27% of Latvia).

Eastern puzzle

A collective attempt was made at identifying the prevailing cultural policy priorities in six countries in the December brief of the Eastern Partnership Cultural Observatory.

Ministerial sites

As forecast, the cultural ministry websites of Greece and Poland are visited.



Predictably, heritage dominates. Yet the list of menu items – Ministry / Activity / Citizen / Information / Contact – and the fact that a great part of it is bilingual (sometimes trilingual) suggests openness; also that the third picture that pops up takes you to Creative Europe.

Heritage dominates indeed, events under modern culture, tend to be linked to heritage or take place in museums. We find detailed data on 8 central museums and 65 more supervised entities from the Drama School of the National Theatre through cinemas, theatres, contemporary art centres and museums to the Athens Conservatory; as well as 772 music schools.

Remarkable features:

  • Similarly to Danes, Greeks also pay tribute to former ministers. Their ministers proved to be less resilient than their Danish colleagues. Since July 1974 there have been 31 culture ministers in Greece (average term 1.4 years), while in Denmark 21 ministers since September 1961 (2.7 years in average).
  • The homepage features Odysseus, an EU-supported partly interactive presentation of the many faces of Greek antiquity. A broader picture of cultural heritage is accessible through another route.
  • There is a useful anthology of cultural awards, although some pages appear to be outdated.
  • Under citizens there is a useful page on sponsorship, with regulations, assistance at the ministry and sample agreement templates.


The news and events suggest extraordinary activism of the ministry, stored years back in the same format.         

In the folder Accessible Culture reductions and opportunities are listed by types of audience and cases like Free Novemberthe month of unpaid entry into royal residences.

Subsidies and grants are administered by the ministry in 29+1 categories from music to the creative sector with deadlines of January 31. (Czechs had early October deadlines!) Plus one is promesa, the minister’s contribution to the own sources required from winners at European funds. Past results are all inclusive, with detailed scores on the application, including each loser and disqualified applicant. The ministry handles appeals by the dozen. The evaluating teams are also disclosed, with varying composition each year – often rotating fully, e.g. folklore 20172016.

Special pages relate to historical grievances: lost or stolen cultural treasures, WWII victims and BO knows no other culture ministry site that takes charge of the comprehensive presentation of the national symbols.

Scholarly grants

BO saw it coming. Generous sums have been offered for research in interesting cultural topics with March and April application deadlines:

  • Collaborative approaches to cultural heritage for social cohesion 
  • Curation of digital assets and advanced digitization
  • Digitization, digital single market and European culture
  • Inclusive and sustainable growth through cultural and creative industries and the arts 
  • Innovative approaches to urban and regional development through cultural tourism 
  • Social platform on endangered cultural heritage and on illicit trafficking of cultural goods
  • The arts stimulating innovation
  • The societal value of culture and the impact of cultural policies in Europe

Spell is broken

BO felt sorry for Ukrainian failures a year ago. Luckily, between the latest set of seven Unesco development grant winners three projects are from post-communist east Europe, on theatre, public art and creative industries: see pages 9-10 of the Decisions file (bottom left). 

Had we not reached the limit of this memo we would submerge into the 2018 global report: Re|Shaping Cultural Policies.