Memo March 2002


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of The Budapest Observatory (BO) in March 2002

Most of the items in this memo are issues covered before and revisited during the last few weeks.

European Cultural Foundation
Last year, in the August and November memos the web site and the newsletter of a (joint) ECF project were mentioned (Policies for Culture). Now I paid a thorough visit to and was impressed by it: simple, informative (decorated cleverly with small photo inserts). This refers above all to the section with probably the highest number of hits: funding. Cultural operators from east and central Europe (especially from south-eastern countries) will find it worth visiting. I did not realise earlier how strong the cooperation with local Soros agencies is - or is it a recent development?

Curiously, once you are at a lower level of, say, here , you cannot find a lift to take you back to the reception level (home).

Info chain
Our attention was called to changes in ECF Amsterdam funding by Mate from Unesco Paris, who got news from Isabelle at ENCATC Copenhagen, who had received it from Rod and Sheena at International Intelligence on Culture London, and I forwarded the file to fellow CIRCLE board members all azymuths.

How different it was ten years ago, in the clumsy fax age. Or twenty years ago manipulating with heat photocopy, envelope and postage. Or seventy years ago...

But Agnes of the European Council of Artists is just telling me that they dug out documents of civil initiatives of European artist from the 1930s, which appear timely and actual even today. How did they manage to bring such papers together under those prehistoric circumstances?

EU advocacy
Among ECF goals we were pleased to read: "It is important that the cultural sector is heard during the process of European integration. Whether EU enlargement or EU reform is being

discussed, culture needs to feature prominently on the European agenda. The ECF is interested in building partnerships with organisations which share these objectives."

How close to the aims of the February conference!

Bigger, better, beautiful
While composing this memo I made a quick check just to find out that our partners, so brilliantly efficient in preparing and running the conference, have not surmounted yet the difficulties of editing the final huge list of participants for the purposes of, the conference site. Undisclosed list of participants?

Easter may bring about miracles. Also during the 50 days to pass before Whitsun, the printed report must be accomplished.

Books sector survey
Almost every other day we enlarge our section on the Open Society Institute survey.

This is an extensive exercise which takes up substantial energies measured in time and money (respondents, administrators, evaluators...), although it is no classical sociological or statistical survey. Methodologically it is rather like a poll with one selected informant per country. Regardless of the level of exactness, findings are symptomatic. 

In the Baltic republics 10 to 20 thousand inhabitants are reported to be served by a bookshop on the average. In the Caucasus or Central Asia the same number is near or beyond 200 thousand!

If a Polish or Latvian university professor spends his (her) entire salary on scholarly books published in his country, he can purchase over 100. A colleague in Slovenia or Slovakia less than 50. In Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan below 20.

We used to be very conscious about the function of the words uttered on a stage, printed in a poem, or a visual effect in a painting when this was done in a totalitarian state. Are we conscious enough about the different effects of arts between circumstances where people in the audience (and of course the artists themselves) work 5 minutes for a daily paper like a professor in Czech Republic or Latvia; or 60 minutes like in Kyrgyzstan or Azerbaijan; or even more like in Tajikistan or in today's Serbia? Not to speak of other European societies.

Higher degree from cultural policy
MA or Professional Doctorate in Cultural Policy... largely through distance learning but also

'hybrid' in so far as it would probably offer a flexible combination of on line teaching materials, hard copy reading dossiers, set texts, face to face teaching in intensive 'blocks' (Summer Schools and/or Winter Schools, and/or weekend short courses, etc)...

These lines were copied from the message received from Nottingham. For more, see their website or send a 'keep me informed' e-mail to administrator This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Colin Mercer .

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