Memo August 2002


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

July and August have brought a lot of changes for BO; in fact we are in the middle of these.

New office
An unidentified burglar, leaving with a PC and a fax set, has prompted us to move into a well-guarded, well-tempered office in the Central European University complex. The Internet-connection is still not perfect but otherwise we feel fine. We must work and beg harder to earn for the rent.

New staff
Zita has left to seek fortune in - where? of course - America: wish luck and expect her back. Zsofi is around; Dora till end of September; Marci from 1st September; more to come.

New expectations
First of all a refurbished BO-site. This is hoped for the next few days: there further plans and achievements will be disclosed.

101 puppies
Just finished analysing the 2002 round of "Culture 2000" with eastern eyes. Out of 224 grant winning projects 101 have involved cultural operations from east and central Europe. Although at the outset of the analysis we had been predisposed for the usual grumbling, this gradually gave place to some careful satisfaction. Has BO been infected by euro-loyalism? Judge it for yourself.

  • Nearly half of all winning teams included organisations from Eastern Europe;
  • 21 out of the 24 multiannual projects have involved East European partners;
  • Nearly every tenth one-year project is being led by a non-member from Eastern Europe.

Hungary and Poland appear to have been the most successful applicants in this round. However, if we consider that project leaders dispose over most of the granted money, Hungarians, Czechs, Romanians and Latvians stand out with 7-5-5-4 "pole positions", whereas Poland (and Lithuania) have only two. The most uneven score has been reached by the Czechs, very strong in the visual arts and totally absent from the performing art and heritage projects.

Grazie, molto bene!
We ranked member countries whose operations were in charge of projects with eastern participation. Not surprisingly, three countries in our geographic neighbourhood lead the list - Italy, Austria and Germany -, although few would expect the first to be the champion of east-west cooperation.

Next deadlines: 15 October for annual projects and 30 October for multi-annual co-operation projects, see

Subsidising publishing

Data from the Open Society Institue surveys tell about the extent of public financial support to publishing (mainly promoting national literature) in selected countries.

  % of Sales Cent per Inhabitant
SLN 11,1 93
LIT 4,1 34
EST 2,7 39
UKR 1,3 3
HUN 0,9 13
POL 0,9 1
RUS 0,5 2
LAT 0,4 14
ROM 0,4 0,5
SLK 0,2

The middle column relates the amount of public subsidies to the total sum of sales in the book market of the respecitve country: the column on the right expresses the same in USD cent per inhabitant. Slovenes and Slovaks: so similar in many ways, how do you feel being so much apart in this respect? 

On our web site you will find 49 such tables, as the result of our arduous data processing work done during the summer months. (OSI Book Sector Surveys, editing still going on.) 

Hail to younger sister
The birth, in this summer, of the Observatory of Cultural Policies in Africa remained unnoticed by few of you. Founding father Mate Kovacs has been sending the digital information bulletin OCPA News to hundreds of addresses. If you were left out, contact him.

Interculturalism on the Balkans
Thought-provoking title, stimulating programme and names. Study course to be launched in Belgrade. You may have more luck with the internet link if you wish to dig deeper (or try just the first part).

Progressive ferment
Computers resisted and froze but persistence got its reward. We managed to download the 3rd issue of the policies for culture Journal reports about the ferment that is (or is hoped and urged to) take place in eastern Europe.  Focus: decentralisation, close to our heart, thought to be vital in our part of the world.