Memo November 2004

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

Those who read till the end will learn what is common in Poland and Budapest.

Five-point work plan
The 2616th session of the Council of the Union approved a five point EU work plan for 2005-2006:

1. Lisbon strategy (contribution of creativity and cultural industries to European growth and cohesion)
2. Co-ordination of digitisation, focusing on heritage, but not only.
3. A culture portal with a view to improving information on the anticipated priorities of the 2007-2012 period (mobility of artists, mobility of works, intercultural dialogue).
4. Mobility of works - insurance, couriers, loans and other down to earth matters.
5. Mobility of persons - solving obstacles caused by taxation

Audio-visual yes, print no?
BO appreciates the little we can see of the Media programme. See, for example, these sentences from the 2616th:

"With regard to the difference in the EU between countries with a high production capacity and countries with a low production capacity and/or a restricted language area - do ministers consider the positive discrimination measures foreseen in the draft programme sufficient and effective? If not, how could the Media 2007 programme better contribute to reducing this imbalance?"

Why, oh why nothing like this is being articulated with relation to the book sector? Why do we have to be contented with the meagre translation programme, a loose appendix of Culture 2000?

Youth programme was evaluated at the 2616th. From the press release one learns little. One finds, however, that the Commission leaned down very close to the citizens. "Between 2000 and 2002, the programme has allowed the implementation of more than 34,000 different projects which involved around 345,000 young people, for a total financial cost of 215,9 Million euros."

Ten youths per project, for over €6300 per case. Cosy little projects they must have been. "The programme has proved to have a large impact on participating young people." No doubt.

The recommendations call for "better targeting of the programme towards all young people, particularly those with fewer opportunities". BO wishes success.

Whose culture is it?
Trans-generational approaches to culture in today's Europe - title and sub-title of this year's Circle round table conference in Barcelona on the last week end before Christmas. Blessed we shall be. As usual at the annual meetings of Circle (Cultural Information and Research Centres Liaison in Europe), the chosen theme is examined in the various countries of Europe (and Canada), enriched with invited experts of the topic. This year's subject is cultural habits of youth in Europe.

Berlin - Budapest
BO was witness to a significant achievement. A small group of dedicated culturists succeeded to glue real big games to their seats and make them listen about culture's role in the European project. What is more, President Barroso, Chancellor Schröder, Minister Fischer, and many more acting or ex-presidents, ministers, parliamentarians etc. were forced to praise and promise. Senhor Barroso was particularly eloquent; many participants expected Commissioner Figel to raise the stakes, which he did not. BO was however pleased with his style.

Berlin may turn out to be a crossroads in European policy on culture. Even if we pay attention to the warning by the dynamic German lady-MEP about Sunday speeches and Monday inertia.

BO was pleased to note favourable reception of the announcement made by state secretary Benedek about a conference to be held in Budapest next autumn. BO is involved.

Séminaire Malraux
BO was in charge of the two-day seminar where the Hungarian public got first hand information about the great advances of CSR in France. The seminar was exempt of such horrible English acronyms - it took some time to realise that the seminar was in fact about the celebrated concept of corporate social responsibility, very close to actual mécénat in France. Listeners were impressed by the energy that the French culture ministry has invested into the exploitation of the loi de 1er aout 2003 relative au mécénat; and even more by the result: over 50% of the donated value was said to go to culture (which figure is typically around 15% in other countries).

Festivals researched
BO is half way towards completing a national survey on cultural festivals. The figures collected from 8 of the biggest ones in Hungary show reassuring similarities with the 80-odd festivals contained in the BAFA report Festivals Mean Business II. Find a few couples of data, some of which show a reverse order than expected:

  Top festivals in Hungary Top festivals in the UK
Share of local government grant in budget 15.2% 13%
Tickets 34.8% 30%
Share of sponsorship in budget 24.5% 14%
Share of artists and programmes among the expenses 48% 44%
Share of PR and marketing expenses 7% 11%
Share of personnel and organisers' expenses 7% 16%

Find a few more curiosities among BO findings. The same top figure occurred in different contexts in two local government budgets: in the town of Szeged 8.1% of the cultural spending went to the summer festival of the city; and 8.1% of the annual revenue in the village of Vigándpetend came from the Valley of arts festival.

Public subsidy ranged from €1.2 to €35.8 per visitor, averaging €6.7. In the final report BO is supposed to judge which figure is better.

Ten little cities - nine, rather
At the time of writing, ten cities are competing to become European Capital of Culture in 2010, both in Germany and in Hungary. Budapest has more inhabitants than the remaining nine Hungarian candidates: just like Poland with relation to the remaining nine new EU members. Nevertheless, Budapest wants to rely on its grace, not on its size.

BO supports Budapest. Many people in Europe do the same. At an on-going quiz, nearly 50% have voted for the capital city. Join in, turn the tide or ride it, as you wish. Inside Hungary, however, most decision-makers seem to prefer a provincial town, where the event would make a greater impact than for big Budapest. BO believes that the citizens of the country and of Europe at large, would profit more if Budapest was selected.