Memo February 2005


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in February 2005
The shortest month is never the dullest.

Inclusive Europe: Horizon 2020
Hunting continues. Having inspected a number of venues and talked to hotel managers, still could not make up our minds about the final locations of the conference that BO is preparing for the ministry of culture and EFAH. Are there so many good places in Budapest? Or are we too demanding or indecisive? Are entrepreneurs too greedy? A little bit of all. Anyhow, the best candidates are in the quarterfinal and MemoMar will announce the ultimate choice.

With a lot of help from friends
As said in the previous memo, Ifacca communicated ten questions of BO on ways of funding festivals in various parts of the world. Quite a nice number of answers came that are being processed now. Present continuous means that additional remarks arriving here in the next few days are still warmly received - if that makes it easier, also in French, German, Spanish or Russian. If your psyche resists structured questions, you may just drop an observation or two about public funding of festivals.

Findings will come later. In anticipation, I share with you my appreciation of the way some arts councils manage to combine administrative rigour and sophistication with user friendliness. Anglo-Saxon culture at its best.

How to assess urban multiculturalism
To determine this was the aim of the methodological workshop BO attended with partners in the EU-supported research in Rome. The intermediate output will be Circle's Round Table meeting in Warsaw in September, leading to the final product - a book.

At last
The Bermuda triangle of European council - commission - parliament has let the issue of cultural capitals loose of its grip. The list of east-central European countries to nominate a city is now official:

2007 Romania (Sibiu), 2009 Lithuania, 2010 Hungary, 2011 Estonia, 2012 Slovenia, 2013 Slovakia, 2014 Latvia, 2015 Czechia, 2016 Poland.

The greater part of the original proposal, however, continues its circulation in the triangle. Recommendations about the selection and monitoring of the cities will be digested for a few more months to come.

Strolling among pages of the European Parliament, BO discovered a report on a hearing about the future of tourism in Europe. Since culture considers tourism as a distinguished partner in the search for funds, BO was curious to see how tourism considers culture.

It was rightly stated at the outset that the EU is "the richest and most varied region in the world, with a huge variety of landscape and cultures". The way culture was or was not, directly or indirectly referred to further on, was neither encouraging nor insulting. There was a strong call for a cohesive tourism policy across the EU institutions, which is a strong call for us to position culture more firmly in this policy area.

400 million tourists a year were mentioned, which is less than the population of the EU. Some of us were left without a visitor.  

Handy encylopaedia
It is for the second time BO memo recommends the online A to Z of audiovisual and media policy to you. Besides niceties of the media and film world, the updated version provides clear and concise definitions on items like Copenhagen criteria, Intercultural dialogue, Lisbon strategy, Western Balkans, Wider Europe etc.

Here is a taste of the AV entries. The one on State aid to cinema and TV productions tells you that producers are free to use a fifth of their film budget in another EU country without losing national subsidy; and that aid intensity (nice expression) must in principle be limited to 50% of the production budget. "In principle" relates to "difficult and low budget films" that each member state is free to define and remove the 50% ceiling.

Magic sequence
8 - 16 - 24 - x... How would you continue? This frequent IQ quiz question relates to the inclusion rate of east-central Europe into Culture 2000. The three figures correspond to the number of grant-winning projects led by a cultural organisation from one of these countries in the years 2001 - 2002 - 2003. (Two remarks: the opportunity opened up in 2001, this is why the corresponding figure in 2000 was zero; translation grants are treated separately, not included in these calculations.)

Now what would you guess for the next item - maybe 32? The obvious answer is that after such a regular sequence odds are for a random continuation like 19 or 27. And no: in 2004 once more 24 project leaders came from east-central Europe. Keeping the same number as in the previous year marks a halt in our growth. Less than 15% of the leaders are from our region, which is below our share among member states or population.

What comes next? Stagnation or a leap forward? Will Qabalah stay with us? Guess for 2005: 0 - 8 - 16 - 24 - 24 - x... 

Magic performers
Within the frames of the small figures, each cultural sector showed steady growth before 2004. Last year, however, our visual arts organisations submitted or won too few C2000 projects and their share fell sharply. To save face (and the total of 24 wins), performing artists had to produce spectacular growth. It is in this domain that east-central European operators performed above the EU average in 2004. (See diagram below.)