Memo May 2002


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


This month's memo will be dominated by news from and about the EU.

Culture 2000
Nine candidate countries from east and central Europe (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia) participated in the programme for the first time in 2001, when more than 500 applications were received under all actions. 163 annual cultural co-operation projects amounting to approximately € 14.5 million and 23 multiannual co-operation projects amounting to approximately € 15 million were selected for community financing.

According to europa website east and central European countries obtained the following results. (Reference is made to project leaders only. Other winners are not cited here.)

Annual projects: out of the 28 cultural heritage projects in all 1 Latvian was awarded; artistic and literary creation - 66 projects, 2 Polish, 1 Bulgarian, 1 Czech and 1 Latvian winner to celebrate; literary translation - 43 projects, 1 winner from Hungary, 1 from Bulgaria; European history and mutual knowledge - 19 vs.1 Polish and 1 Czech.

Estonia was the only country from east and central Europe to undertake the responsibility of leading a grant winning multiannual project (in the section of history and mutual knowledge).

As for the 2002 round regarding 2003, the calls are expected to be disclosed any of these days.

 0.054 %
Just above the half of the tenth of a percentage. This number indicates that between 1996 and 2001, on the average, 54 out of 100 000 cinema goers in the European Union went to see a film from east and central Europe.

There are many indicators which are more encouraging than this one; but this is one which brutally tells a field where it takes a long, long journey for us to catch up with western Europe.

Good news after bad news
The same EU statement, which served as the source for the previous shocking data, also announced the admitting of eight countries of east and central Europe to the Media programme. (Hungary, a former pioneer in Media, managed to disqualify herself, due to silly political games.) At the Bigger, better, beautiful conference a lot of criticism was voiced with regard to Culture 2000; the Media Plus programme was treated more benevolently, which may have been due to various reasons. One explanation, of course, is that Media might indeed have a better record. If this is so, with the help of Media grants we can cherish hopes to tackle the targets of 0,1%, 0,2%, or even 0,54% of EU cinema goers!

Eastern Europe and world diversity
The disheartening record of eastern European films reminded me of the crusade for the protection and promotion of cultural diversity. This movement has a diversity (a circular definition?) of objectives: North versus South, global versus local, America versus the rest of the world, Judeo-Christian versus other traditions etc. The specific grievance of the low representation of east-central European culture is a marginal issue only. The dismal statistics cited above confirmed the conviction that we should make ourselves heard much more during the disputes over the place of culture (especially our culture) in world trade. 

Check the web site of International Network for Cultural Diversity to see what has been achieved in this regard.

Seminaring over films
As part of the Spanish Presidency, a seminar was dedicated to cinema art in Seville early last May. One of the major issues tackled in Sevilla is highly topical nowadays: the transfer to digital cinema from 35 mm film. The other central theme of the meeting is vital for our region as well: the challenge of the preservation of the audio-visual heritage of the past century.

Reading this report makes one wonder, why an international identification system, similar to ISBN of books, has not yet been introduced for films.

Unesco has more on the subject
Unesco recently conducted a worldwide cinematographic survey. The largest yearly average producers are India (839 film features), China and Hong-Kong (469), the Philippines (456), USA (385) and Japan (238).

The highest rate of state subsidy was found in Austria (90%), Azerbaijan (90%), Luxembourg (88%), Spain (80%) and Portugal (80%) - no country is cited from eastern Europe.

We are mentioned in a different context: Hungary and the Czech Republic are among the most "regulated" countries in Europe, with the number of specific laws and decrees passed  on the audio-visual sector.

You may say he's a dreamer (but he's not the only one)
Joost Smiers has courageous dreams about arts and culture. The reader is often astonished by his theses, "yet there is method in them". To prove these merits, you are invited to follow him along article 151 , the systematic analysis of what the famous Article 151 can or should do for culture in Europe - with special references to the enlargement.

Results and perspectives of cultural policy in central Europe
The invited experts will undertake a critical and multi-aspect evaluation of cultural co-operation in Central Europe. This meeting, due in Cracow on 14-15 June, should produce starting points for discussions within the framework of a congress planned for 2003 on the questions and perspectives of cultural co-operation in Europe.

Unfortunately our Internet search provided no clues, in addition to this exciting piece of e-mail news, although we checked all three organisers: the International Cultural Centre, and two German organisations. Our digital perseverance is unlimited. We shall keep searching.