Memo June 2003

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

In June most of BO tasks and thoughts were connected, in one way or other, to the EU. One neighbour to east-central Europe passes now the presidency on to another one. Is the region profiting from this enough?

Draft constituted
Against odds, the Convention succeeded to complete its task and produced a draft constitution for the Union before the end of June. The number and weight of the occurences of the word ‘culture' in the text will be scrutinised in the next months.

BO is greeting the emergence of one article (albeit without the word ‘culture'). Article I-56 on the Union and its immediate environment, vital for our region that indeed hopes to become ‘an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union', commonly called European values. It is hoped that the proposed reference to the Council of Europe in this article will be adopted; this amendment was supported best by delegates from east-central Europe.

Will manifested
A wish akin to the above article was echoed by the participants of a meeting of the European Cultural Foundation on the Herengracht in Amsterdam: here you can find the one-page Manifesto. .

The following excerpts originate from the same gathering:

"European multiculturalism is, as practised today, more than ever just a politically correct disguise for indifference, for lack of contact between different ethnic groups, for politically acceptable racism."

"In cultural cooperation - ... danger is hidden in the term ‘advocacy for culture'. Cultural policy experts, cultural operators, cultural managers, cultural facility providers might in some near future outnumber writers, artists, film-makers, composers."

BO admits being part of this hidden danger - yet wholeheartedly recommends you to search for the full text and the author of these excerpts, again at the site of the European Cultural Foundation . (For a clue: the title is 'Balkans, my Balkans'.)

Job done
What the Interarts-led consortium did can be measured to that of the Convention. An extremely rich and complex study has been compiled from the contributions of over 40 experts (including BO team) on cultural co-operation in Europe. The opus of nearly 1000 pages was submitted to the Commission, from where it returned with careful signs of appreciation and pertinent criticism, which led to another round of deep-going editing.

Hopefully the Commission endorses the paper soon and makes it public. So that governments should be able to read the question: "... is it too late for governments? Would it be too difficult for them to emerge from a logic of diplomacy, bureaucracy and promotion to engage in another dimension of cooperation?"  And: "It would also be important for national governments in Europe to combine their resources and synchronise their objectives in order to boost international cultural cooperation outside the EU, primarily with the countries of first proximity in Eastern Europe, South-Eastern Europe and the Southern Mediterranean. In those zones, cultural diplomacy could play a major role to weaken ignorance and prejudice, dispel hatred and intolerance and stimulate mutual respect, trust and understanding."

For the record: the consortium included the European Forum for the Arts and Heritage (EFAH) and has been supported by CIRCLE (Cultural Information and Research Centres Liaison in Europe). See also our February, March and April memos.

Wroclaw, cultural capital in 2008?
Sounds nice, doesn't it? Or Tartu, Maribor, Brno, Varna, Kaunas? Yet it can probably work out next to Liverpool only. This is how the primary stakeholders, the actual members of the Union decided in May 1999. 

Call, please
Colleagues in the heritage field have been waiting for the next Culture 2000 call with particular interest: theirs being the priority area next year. End of June was the latest promise. Those who try at the website are teased by the sentence "The call for projects beginning in 2004 will be issued during the first semester 2003".

We easterners have been warned about new expectations once accepted to the EU. Gestures like the above make us feel quite comfortable already.

Respond, please
The Central European University has announced the next international policy fellowships programme. One of the fourteen thematic areas is "cultural policies and cultural heritage". Applicants are encouraged to submit research proposals by the end of July. Winners will be provided with a one-year stipend, expenses including travel, and needed communications equipment to work full-time on research of their design. For more, consult the OSI summary.

Répondez s'il vous plait
Those speaking French, or willing to learn it, will have chances to get a grant for a postgraduate course of studies in cultural management and cultural policy in the Balkans, announced by the University of Arts in Belgrade in conjunction with three distinguished French universities. Speakers of English are also welcome. Go to www.arts.bg.ac.yu, but don't be slow, the first deadline is 18 July.