Memo March 2005

A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in March 2005

The world is a festival. This less than original statement expressed BO mood in March, struggling with materials of research on festivals.
Festivals interviewed
63 questions were put by professional pollsters to organisers of 238 festivals in Hungary (plus visitors at 8 festivals), which is bigger than any survey in the theme we had come across in Ireland, the UK, Estonia, Finland... you have not informed us about further cases. Findings are being wrapped up for the Hungarian Cultural Fund but we shall munch on them for a long time.
12% of these 238 cultural gatherings date back to more than 20 years; another 28% to 10-20 years; quick readers know the rest - yes, 60% were established during the last ten years. We grew up in a sparsely festivalled world and look, where we are. It is a global cultural epidemy. No matter how formidably it sounds, in most cases we felt that each festival (or "festival") has its organic function. Modern man needs events, and events are framed or stuffed with arts, BO watches and reports.
Festivals defined and co-funded
Experiences collected by IFACCA for BO from 10 countries on public funding of festivals still need to be summarised. There are few countries where special channels operate for public support to festivals.
The fifth continent excels. Creative New Zealand runs a sophisticated operation that is characterised by how they define festivals: "an activity or series of events that has its primary focus on the development, presentation and/or participation in the arts; has a programme conceived, produced, curated, marketed and presented as an integrated package; and occurs within a defined area/region and within a defined period of time". Festivals Australia (a special government grant programme) puts the accents differently, stating that "a festival is a regular public celebration that is organised by members of the community and has clear and strong community support".
The practice of the Hungarian Cultural Fund appears to be unique by co-funding festivals with the national tourist agency, jointly applying parallel criteria of the arts and tourism.
French comedy
Comédie-Française will host 400 top artist and intellectuals of Europe at the Rencontre pour l'Europe de la culture on 2 and 3 May. They will, at the initiative of the President of the Republic, discuss the issues of culture at a time when a new constitution is being adopted for the Union (and a new seven-year budget, adds BO), and when a convention on cultural diversity is expected to pass at this year's Unesco general conference. Invitations have been signed by the minister and mailed to the invited guests.
Stakeholders meet in May
Invitations still pending to members of the forum of stakeholders of the Laboratory of European Cultural Cooperation (the Lab), preliminarily planned for 4 May in Paris. Sent out by EFAH secretariat, might be reaching interested parties just before or after this memo.
Horizon Budapest
The conference in Paris is defined as part of a movement started in Berlin in November. The Berlinerkonferenz lives on, you may follow actual steps at its site.
As is widely known, the relay continues in Budapest in November at the conference Inclusive Europe: Horizon 2020. In our latest memo we complained about difficulties to identify the right venues along the Danube. Search stopped at the Parliament building, this is where the opening session will be held on Thursday evening, 17th November. Debates will continue on the next two days in a similarly conspicuous building, the newly erected Palace of Arts.
Co-organiser EFAH admittedly feels somewhat uneasy in such majestic scenery. There is shared commitment, however, to ensure that the distinguishing feature of the Budapest conference will be the plenty of opportunities for intellectual dialogue.
Official opening of registration will take place in June.
Horizon Europe
Are hopes well founded? News in the media do not reflect a rise in economic output in, or political and civic support for the European Union. No victory without hope, however, in this spirit was the 70 cents for culture campaign launched in March. You may join in with your personal support that is not restricted to citizens of member states. Increased EU funds are supposed to benefit a wider geographic space, including all countries in east-central Europe. 
Compendium enlargement
36 country profiles are available and comparable now at the Compendium of cultural policies in Europe, including 14 from BO covered region. It takes long before the European Union catches up with the Council of Europe (if it wants to), in providing such a useful tool for harmonising a policy area in member states (if they want to). Hommage à l'Ericarts.
Mapping cultural co-operation
Other obligations have slowed down BO work on the analysis of cultural grants won from the European Union. Upon the general success of the cobwebs on pages 10 and 11 of our analysis , we continue searching for visual representation of who does it with whom in the frames of Culture 2000. To illustrate our search, see below how we display the choices to run joint projects with cultural operations in Romania between 2000 and 2004.