Memo February 2003


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in February 2003

This memo is not supposed to take more than a couple of hours to compose, a couple of minutes to read. Why? BO team is busy beyond imagination, that's why.

Curious Commission
The Commission in Brussels, for its planning in progress, is curious to learn about the current shape of state-generated and state-supported cultural cooperation in Europe. For this purpose a tender was announced last summer for agencies that are able to prepare such a landscape. There were rumours that highly professional and greedy business & administration consulting firms were keen to get the assignment; this concern quickly brought together an alliance of non-profit organisations in culture to take the challenge. And we won!

To be frank, to our knowledge, in the end, no outsider put in a bid.

Interarts - EFAH - Circle
The victorious consortium is lead by Barcelona based, Eduard led Interarts (full name: The Interarts Foundation, International Observatory of Urban and Regional Cultural Policies) and Brussels based, Dragan led EFAH (full name: European Forum for the Arts and Heritage), with the backing and collaboration of Europe based, Dorota led Circle (full name: Cultural Information and Research Centres Liaison in Europe). Skeptics will remark, too many actors, too poor result. Just wait!

The report must cover 31 countries and a web of much more than 31 times 31 relationships, since not only bilateral co-operation will be analysed and not only between themselves; covering practically the whole of culture (grouped in five ‘sectors' like performing arts etc.).

The 31 countries include old member states, where EU executives know most of the senior cultural administrators or creators by the first name. But also those weird folks in the east, the accession countries; it needs added forces to come to grips with their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (I hope I do not recall this string from my Marxist education).

BO in action
We are the added force. The deadline is near, therefore small BO team is full of activity to meet expectations. We hope to be able to establish whether there exist features that are specific to transnational cultural co-operation of the accession countries; if so, what is their nature, reasons and manifestations. And so forth.

Some of you will be contacted with a related short question or two. Not more, since the project involves 31 national experts who are proceeding alongside a special questionnaire and we would hate to interfere.

Having said this much about future achievement, it is high time to hail one true accomplishment. If you have not checked recently, go and see the Compendium now, a joint venture between the Council of Europe and ERICarts, which features a number of new country profiles. If BO director was not one of the contributors, I could really go out of my way in the praise of this undertaking. It has compact, simple to handle, easy to compare bits of information in a carefully structured manner on cultural policy issues in 28 European countries now.

Setting up such a valuable collection takes enormous conerted efforts. Maintaining its validity in the future may require even more stamina. Danielle, Margrit and Andreas, BO feels for you.

Stockholm, encore
The Swedish National Commission decided to revisit the high principles in Stockholm, formulated during the world cultural policy summit. Questions, related to the Action Plan, born in the spring of 1998, were sent out to every member state and a smaller scale meeting is  planned for May to ascertain the relevance of the proposals made five years ago. (BO had a role in the Hungarian response.)

Call for speakers
IFACCA, the world federation of agencies of public support for artistic creativity, seeks people who can address this issue in an authentic and interesting manner next November. And who endure a long flight connected to that. For more, go to