Memo July 2003


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


What makes this summer different from the previous ones? BO used to respect the vacation season and emitted no memo on July. A couple of curious e-mails made us compete with other attractions.

A new doctrine?
In a demonstration of openness to the citizens' voices, the European Commission has launched a consultation for the development of a future cultural European programme. BO believes in grass-root democracy and sent a message to Brussels.

BO message bears an ambitious title: Calling for a new doctrine of EU external cultural relations. Few people could predict the accelerating process of intensification and institutionalisation of the joint external relations of the Union, that has taken place in the past several years. In today's world European leaders must reckon that it is vital to show the wide world more about European cultural values, and this needs more concerted efforts. This is what may lead to a new doctrine. For more, go to

Culture 2000 site moved
If you have not given up hopes of reading the call for proposals for 2004, do not follow your beaten path. Links of to C2000 (and to cultural contact points) are dead. Try new instead.

Translation in C2000
BO has repeatedly chewed on Culture 2000 scores, for the last time on grants on translations - see our May Memo. Here is one more bit: in the three years of 2000-2002 no publisher from Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg or Portugal won such support (or Poland, for that matter).

BO has contributed with these and other findings to the Mercator Centre in Aberystwyth, who are running a project on the European policies in the area of literary translation. For more, go to

More on the same
As part of the above co-operation, BO analysed data of Unesco's Index Translationum, combining it with other sources. One interesting indicator is the share of English as the source language of fiction published. From among a few selected countries Greece only shows a stable low of less than 60% each year between 1995-2000, slightly even sloping downwards. Czech and Hungarian publishers, on the other hand, were increasing the number of literature borrowed from the English-writing world, from 43 to 61% and from 65 to 86% respectively - with the latter figure Hungary is topping the list of translating English fiction. France and Germany march hand in hand within the 69-73% range.

Space for culture in the community
BO staff is busy about the issue of local cultural life in Europe. Where can citizens watch or do culture in their neighbourhood? (Other than under the big oak tree or on the bank of the lake...) We are trying to compare kulturhuset, casa del popolo, gemeenschapscentrum, osvetové stredisko, Kulturszene, shtëpi kulture and all the rest. What is common, what is different? Whether and how they fit into the cultural policy of the country?

We feel stunned by the scarcity of information and reflection on the theme. Willing to help? Send us how such institutions are called in your language. Or guide us to literature accessible on the net.

Three countries, four rivers
After lengthy coquetting with the subject of the role of culture in regional development, BO has finally entered the scene, as one participant in a meeting under the aegis of Danube-Kris-Mures-Tisa , a European Border Region at the junction of three countries, four rivers. There are 183 such entities on the continent, and the most interlocking net of them can be found in our area, in east-central Europe.

BO contribution examined the potential financial resources of cultural tourism in a border region.

Tax incentives to donors
We took a closer look on US tax regimes just to find proof of what we had known and stated earlier. Systems of deduction on charity are complex and consist of many cases and sub-cases on both sides of the Atlantic. However, the two sets are not that different as commonly supposed, neither is significantly more generous than the other.

So when you again hear the fairy tale about American tax haven for donors to culture, tell them that the tale is a hoax. And if they ask who says so, tell them BO does.

Nothing, of course, is that simple. We shall come back on the issue.

If you send us the e-mail address of an interested colleague, we shall send her/him the monthly memos.