Memo July 2004


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

Take a quick look, download or save, and read it again after the rentrée, with a cool mind.

Rotterdam summit
BO was among the nearly 200 participants who attended the culminating event of the advocacy campaign Enlargement of Minds of the European Cultural Foundation, waged for a more decisive presence of culture in European policies. It was difficult to concentrate on wise thoughts with so many nice people around.

Few of you will learn about this conference from this memo. Each month brings about a new informative e-bulletin.

BO likes e-bulletins
Of the many periodical e-mails lately the latest Policies for Culture e-bulletin made us read from first to last line. One can hardly do this to Alert, whose encyclopaedic complexity is formidable. (These are just two recent impressions. We like many more.) 

Youth-driven culture?
In this digital age of ours, we are witnessing that people, notably young people all over the world produce cultures by themselves and for themselves. Billions of "short messages", e-mails, chats and blogs, and thousands of discussion groups on the web make us believe that in the age of individualism a certain form of collective intelligence and culture is emerging. The forms, contents and values that these virtual communities share are not borrowed from, or approved by the older generation, nor by the established elite, nor again by business. Cultural policies have taken little note of this phenomenon - indeed, what if they do?

Circle decided to detect this issue in various parts of Europe and discuss it at the annual Round Table conference in Barcelona on 17-18 December. Both the European Commission and the Council of Europe have pledged to provide support. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more on the meeting and on Circle membership.

Cultural lotteries in Europe
The findings of one of the earlier Circle Round Tables have come out in a book form. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the availability of Gambling on Culture.

Habemus collegium
The culture (and education) committee of the European Parliament for the next five years got established with 35 members and 36 substitutes. BO was pleased to see a couple of familiar names. The chairman is a Greek socialist, his three deputies are another Greek - from the People's Party, another person from the People's Party - a Hungarian, and a green German. "Is that good for us?" - to cite the phrase Jews in eastern Europe used to comment political changes with; we shall see.

Hungarian capital for European capital of culture
The city that bears the same name as BO has invited us to join their campaign for the title of European cultural capital in 2010. If the campaign is flat, and a different Hungarian city is selected, BO will take some of the blame.

Eurostat counted minutes
Ten European countries were compared. BO separated the three from the east and examined if and how they differ from the western seven. Although Slovenia and Estonia are at the two extreme ends of BO watchment area, they do resemble each other fairly significantly, and completed with Hungary they prove that common historical past still matters.

On the original site you can get a full map of the 24 hours, as well as the structure of European domestic and free time. Below, find those cases where the data of the western 7 invariably differed from the eastern 3.

Dissimilarities are striking in the way our and their ladies live. "Mother in the kitchen" is the prevailing picture here; "mom is shopping" is more fitting to a western woman.

Daily hours for domestic work 3:30 4:07
Daily hours for work and study 4:04 4:26
Preparing food and dish washing, % of domestic work 30% 38%
Gardening, % of domestic work 3% 7%
Shopping and similar, % of domestic work 14% 8%
TV and video, % of free time 39% 48%
Hobbies, games, entertainment and culture, % of free time 8%
Preparing food and dish washing, % of domestic work 21% 14%
Shopping and similar, % of domestic work 17% 11%
TV and video, % of free time 41% 46%
Hobbies, games, entertainment and culture, % of free time 11%

BO is after culture. Eastern culture politicians will find the last two lines in both tables disheartening.

Here are a few more hand-picked items. Hungarians outscore all ten countries by watching TV in over half of their leisure time and by doing culture (including entertainment) in 1% of their free time only. Slovenian men spend the least time of all on reading and the longest time to rest. Out of the 7 western countries, it is France that comes closest to eastern standards of time use.

Eurobarometer asked what counts for homeland
Eurobarometer poll results have also been made public in July. From the 310 pages about a couple relate to culture, examining views on identity. Nationalism is steadily though not sharply on the rise, slower in the west, faster over here. The data of the two eastern countries at the opposite end of the scale illustrate the issue. 37% of Romanians consider themselves Romanian only, and 58% declare being also "European to some extent". Who is at the opposite end? Their closest neighbour: Hungarians regard themselves just Hungarians in 61%, and at least a bit Europeans in 38% only.

Sorry, for sharing such data. Next time BO hopes to please everyone.