Memo October 2003


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


Sorry for being a bit longer than usual. October has more days than the neighbouring months.

Joining the pack
BO has given up another bit of its autonomy and joined the European Forum for the Arts and Heritage. On this occasion we observed the EFAH site, meeting our satisfaction. Quick, informative, decorated to the necessary degree and containing the essential information for those who find European cultural matters a bit too complex and abstract.

We also find pleasure in our portrait on the members' tableaux:

Fishing for words
EFAH is preparing to its assembly in November in Berlin. One of the topics selected for discussion is about joint European cultural policies. The BO file that shows all the ocurrences of the word culture in the draft constitution set up by the Convention, may be of use while pondering on future position of culture in the EU:

People may be wrong
Learning that people's attitude towards this issue - the mandate of the Union in cultural matters - figures among the questions of the latest Eurobarometer poll of the summer, made BO particularly curious. Do not have illusions; it seems as if we, new EU members, were going to cool down efforts for joint cultural actions. Click to for more.

A fine couple - unless they discuss cultural policy
She is a student of 23-24, lives in a small town in Slovenia. He is 27-28, a self-employed Estonian from Tallinn or Tartu. Will they agree on how much mandate to give to Brussels in cultural matters?

Most unlikely. They represent two groups of people that, according to Eurobarometer, occupy the most distant positions in this issue. Can you guess which is for and which is against?

Warsaw fog
One more subject of the EFAH assembly will focus on the relationship between culture and foreign policy. Which was the subject of the seminar More Europe - Foreign Cultural Policies in and beyond Europe, held in Warsaw in October. By the time was revisited for sake of this memo, the extracts of speeches were gone and you find a skinny summary only.

Enlarging minds and moving borders
One European cultural foundation (which one? - the European Cultural Foundation) is infatiguable in advocating the cause of wider Europe in cultural matters. Coming to grips with cooperation with Belarus - Ukraine - Moldova - Russia is no easy game. shows you the path we followed in Cracow. Soon the same eurocult site will offer you the Manifesto that was produced on the subject.

BO keeps good memories of the days at Villa Decius; and of the quiet, wise words of Mr Woźniakowski.

BO in the Council of Europe
Certain chagrin characterised the latest session of the Council's steering committee for culture, seeing the lack of support of the governments in order the Council could exploit its natural position for sake of a wider European cultural cooperation.

Not that there were no tangible proofs of busy actions: national policies of Serbia-Montenegro and Macedonia were appraised, the Stage programme in the Caucasus praised, a couple more cooperation projects acknowledged, delegates could pick up interesting papers (and a fantastic CD with traditional music from Serbia). Yet next year's budget looked disheartening, the seat of the EU empty.

BO in the European Parliament
One often wonders what one would say if a roomful of politicians were eyeing him/her. BO had the opportunity to speak our minds in the presence of the cultural committee members of the European Parliament at a hearing on cultural sponsorship.

Were the four proposals contained in the most adequate and important to tell them on the subject, in actual fact?

Poor effect of article 151(4)
Soon after completing a paper on a neglected area: the social functions of local cultural activities (, BO had the experience of sitting among like-minded people and discuss the subject in Northumbria. To one's pleasant surprise, the issue had been raised in Brussels. How come? The Commission was disappointed at the general failure of the National Action Plans (NAP) to sufficiently reflect cultural dimension.

NAPs were an invention of the Lisbon summit in 2000, and are supposed to contain measures against poverty and social exclusion. The new members must make their NAPs in 2004. Urge your culture ministries, please, not to be left out. BO will remind you in spring, too.

Creative match-makers
On the move, a feature of IETM - Informal European Theatre Meetings - caters for those, who often learn with disappointment that BO provides no clues for fund-seekers. Or for searchers for cooperation., the ‘Performing Arts Traveller's Toolkit', provides help to those who want to create and act culture, not just observe it, as the typical visitor of BO site does.

New acquaintances
More new addresses have been included for this memo than usual: we felt encouraged by earlier reactions. However, the magic word ‘unsubscribe' will save your privacy.

Waiting for Brussels
Dozens of researchers in as many points of Europe have been waiting to be paid their modest fees for their contributions to the study for the Commission on cultural co-operation, done in spring. This time-lag may be euro-conform, and we, newcomers need to get adapted. Still, it is not ... nice.