Memo June 2004


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in June 2004

In this early harvest season our memo presents a few accomplishments with or without BO contribution.

Constitution approved
EU leaders have reached agreement on a new constitutional treaty for Europe. Remember BO screening for references to culture in the text.

The Netherlands look east
After a successful Irish season, Dutch presidency begins impressively for east and central Europe. The relevant page of the official presidency site says that the entire cultural programme is dedicated to the ten new members.

An easy guide
You are warmly recommended to check the mini-encyclopaedia that BO discovered on the Europa web site: A to Z audiovisual policy. The web page offers definitions and explanations about terms, most of them connected to television, very much in the context of European politics. The entries are apparently up to date, at points even Utopian. E.g. see this sample:

Lisbon Strategy
In March 2000, the European Council in Lisbon set out a ten-year strategy to make the EU the world's most dynamic and competitive economy.

Jobs and movies
In June, too, Eurostat came out with something that affects eastern Europe and culture, albeit tangentially. 258 cities were selected from the 25 EU members and 2 accession countries and rank-listed by a number of indicators. Of these latter the press release quoted six, one of them a cultural one: number of cinema seats per 1000 residents.

Would you guess this number in your city? If you are in Europe, the figure will be somewhere between 5 and 50, meaning that there is a cinema seat for every 200 or 20 city-dwellers in your town. Frankly, BO would never have guessed such a density (one seat per 20), yet cinema havens like Luxembourg, Poitiers, Liège, Athens and Manchester come quite close to it.

And what about east and central Europe? Our cities occupy seven of the last ten positions, with values like Bulgarian Ruse offering 3,9 seats for a thousand citizens.

Still better than jobs, where all bottom ten places go to cities in the east, over 20% unemployment rate each. 

Jobs and doubts
Pearle (Performing Arts Employers Association League Europe) held its 27th general assembly conference in Budapest. BO director attended a session and availed of the opportunity to present the tables on cultural employment prepared on the basis of the statistics just released by Eurostat. Who should be more competent on employment issues than employers? Eyebrows were raised, heads shaken, signals of doubts - certainly, there is much to do to gain confidence towards European cultural statistics.

BO gets easily fascinated by facts and documentary sources. We were duly impressed by the preparatory documentation of the meeting, updating Pearle members on complicated and dry issues like taxation, copyright, world trade negotiations, working time regulations, health insurance etc. 

Culture 2000 with eastern eyes
Find the edited version of BO statistical analysis of cultural co-operation between old, new and future EU members. The printed version will be presented to the participants of the Sharing Cultures conference next week in Rotterdam.  

Northern mystery
We made balance of viewers of BO web site during the first half of 2004. The largest number of visitors came from networks, identified with domain names ending with .net.

As to visitors by country identifiers, see the top twelve of the percentage rank list:

        Estonia  11,8
        Poland  9,0
        United Kingdom  8,6
        Netherlands  8,3
        France  8,1
        Lithuania  4,3
        Romania  4,2
        Italy  3,6
        Latvia  3,5
        Germany  3,3
        Belgium  3,2
        Croatia  2,8

 Why Estonia on top? The most distant country observed by BO and one of the smallest. Why not Czechs, Serbs or Bulgarians, all below 2%? Mysterious. (Hungary, with its many technical insider visits was excluded from the list.)