Memo April 2005


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

BO felt humiliated and utterly annoyed that the new security device kept removing hyperlinks from our memo in March. We are treble-checking this time. 

Success in the EU?
There are rather few EU initiatives that are really successful and popular. It is sad to see that an idea that offers so much practical and symbolical value cannot be brought home to people more convincingly -if the French say no to the EU Constitution, the British will follow suit. The European Capital of Culture is a fine exception, accepted and supported by most politicians, the cultural professions, businesses, the press and the wide public. Given the low standing of cultural affairs in the priorities of the Union, it is especially important that a top achievement is linked to our sector.

Of course the way capitals of culture are realised can raise criticism. We found a similar vein in Robert Palmer's account about his team's analysis of the cultural capitals in the past 20 years.

The overall balance is positive. People look upon their own city differently after they have gone through a year as European Capital of Culture. Also the world treats these cities in a different way. In most cases this effect is lasting, should we say permanent. This is what Manfred said about Graz and Laurent about Lille a few hours ago at a few corners from BO office.

Budapest is host to the concluding conference of the Deutsches Vereinigung der Europäischen Kulturstiftung für kulturelle Zusammenarbeit in Europa, the German committee of the European Cultural Foundation. This project brought together German and Hungarian cities that have been competing for the title in 2010, in order to work out recommendations about the way European Capitals of Culture are conceived, prepared and run.

The example of these two countries (and the UK) shows how much energy can be mobilised if the selection is done by way of open competition of a great many cities - more than ten in all three cases.

BO attends the meeting because we are involved in the bid of Budapest. It is often argued that a city that is (in the country) best equipped with cultural infrastructure should not compete. No-one can deny, however, the right and need of any city to re-define and re-position itself culturally, for which contesting for the title is an excellent opportunity.

This is today. Tomorrow Paris. The web site of the French culture ministry guides you about what the organisers want to achieve by inviting the crème of European culture for two days.

The Paris conference is for BO also a station in the Berlin - Budapest rally. The conference Inclusive Europe: Horizon 2020, prepared by BO (for and with partners) is supposed to follow up these two events. 

Circle in Brussels
Circle is truly a network, with several "centres" at the same time. The "office" moved from Barcelona and got established now in Brussels, given office space by courtesy of Lewiatan , a kind of commercial chamber in Poland. For more, consult the re-newed Circle web site. (Members, hating to be reminded about paying membership fee, should prepare their souls before clicking.)

Circle in Zagreb
Among others, the site presents the latest issue of Culturelink (the review with the same name as the organisation). The volume contains the material of the 2003 Circle Round Table conference held in Zagreb on eCulture. How cultural agents see the advances of the information society, what is greeted and what is observed with anxiety.

Renewal of Romanian fund
Delia wrote the closing article in the Zagreb volume in a different capacity than this spring, when - as re-established secretary general of the culture ministry - she reported about a topic that is highly relevant for BO: the renovation of the National Cultural Fund in Romania.     

Circle in Warsaw
Coming back to Circle: we have the dates and place and theme of the 2005 Round Table: cultural life and mutual interactions for cultural diversity in European cities, to be discussed in Warsaw on the 23rd and 24th of September.

Mapping cultural co-operation
With the previous memo you could examine how Romanian cultural operations select their partners in Culture 2000 and who selects them. The chart showed a fairly even distribution. The eminent interest manifested by French and Italian bidders to co-opt a Romanian partner, has more to do with these two dominating C2000 than with Latin solidarity (BO guesses).

Now two more graphs are shown below. Lithuanian cultural groups have participated in a greater number of projects than Latvian neighbours, demonstrating particularly close co-operation with Polish partners. Both countries have nourished northern (and Nordic) contacts, less to do with the south - including the closer south of the Visegrad countries. Similarly to the Romanian case, the many approaches from Italy (towards Lithuanians, less to Latvia) is largely explained by the statistical weight of Italians, who have won over 20% of all C2000 projects over the five years.

This analysis of C2000 results between 2000-2004 will be edited in the form we did with the 2000-2003 period.