Memo June 2006

A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in June 2006
High season for conferences before real vacation time in August.


Dire times for the east
June was the month of disgrace for eastern European football. If not on the courts, we should excel in conference halls, especially when it is about our pride - culture. BO counted heads on the rolls of major events in June and July. Speakers or delegates from the east have not reached ten per cent even in neighbouring Vienna.

  Newcastle Gateshead Vienna 1 Vienna 2 Vienna 3 Connect CP
Bulgaria 1 - 1 - 3
Croatia - 1 - 5 11
Czechia 1 - - - -
Estonia 3 - 1 - -
Hungary - - - 1 3
Latvia 1 - - - -
Lithuania 1 - - 1 -
Macedonia - - - 1 -
Poland 1 1 1 3 2
Romania 2 - 2 - -
Serbia 1 - 1 7 2
Slovakia - 1 1 - -
Slovenia 1 - 1 - 1
From the total: 500 122 110 203 228

Unus actor nullus actor, we are near to the point of declaring the Czech Republic and Hungary non-existent on the international arena of thinking and speaking about cultural life.

Summit of 500 sages
The NewcastleGateshead column refers to the meeting with the ambitious label of world summit on culture organised by IFACCA between 14-18 June. The place was was appropriately selected to the theme, which is also well chosen: Transforming places, transforming lives. The statements and discussions that BO could follow on the closing day were indeed largely pertinent to the role of culture in urban regeneration.

The venue of the event was The Sage, whose age, functions, dimensions, aspirations and geographic position on the banks of the river Tyne are similar to the palace on the Danube, venue of Inclusive Europe. BO was impressed by The Sage and found it better and more attractive than the building in Budapest; BO was surprised to learn that it cost about the same to construct the one as the other - £70 million.

The last column refers to Connect CP, a database of cultural policy experts, launched at the summit, which BO instantly put to the usual scrutiny from an east-central European standpoint.

Vienna Falls
Columns Vienna 1-3 above relate to three forthcoming events. Thoughts and words about culture will flood in three big waves in Vienna:

BO has heard about at least one memo-reader who believes to have the stamina to sit through the three tide flow.

All we need is Lab
This was the reaction of the sector when the establishment of a European Cultural Observatory was suggested a few years ago. Instead of spending on staff and building, a light structure network project is needed, a laboratory that produces new knowledge, concepts and orientation.

The web site of the project is now live. And that's what it aspires to, be a live interactive platform, where experiences, ideas, proposals can be generated on cultural co-operation in Europe (the whole of Europe). LabforCulture will become a point of reference, a source for inspiration to actions in the field and decisions on the top if it becomes the bookmark on thousands of culture operators computers, and if hundreds become regular contributors. Then - Lab is all we need... 

Counting cents and letters in Vienna
BO attended the conference arranged by Next Page and hosted by KulturKontakt in the middle of Vienna. The workshop took to comparing, assisting and combining national efforts in the promotion of literary translation in Europe. BO complemented the report about the survey done by the Literature Across Frontiers programme, showing graphs like the one below.

The diagram shows cents per citizen received from the translation grants in the Culture 2000 programme of the European Union during the six years between 2000-2005. Island hovers above all the rest, followed by another outsider, the Norway. The eastern achievement is respectable: seven countries are above the overall average, 0,25 cent per citizen per year. From all member countries, Lithuanians have used the greatest amount per head for literary translation from community coffers.

Coming back on the EU average: 0,25 barely covers the fee for the quality translation of one character. Enough to translate a six-letter word for one citizen from 2000 to 2005.

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