Memo September 2002


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


Dear Colleagues,

Apologies to those, whom we failed to inform properly about our new directions. Kindly check at the bottom. Our main channels, the electronic ones, remained unchanged.

101 puppies + 1
The analysis of the winning projects at "Culture 2000" has met with considerable interest. Congratulations came; Eike and Ieva were, however, quick to point at inaccuracies. Indeed, there were errors in the figures of each Baltic state; we even had to add one more item to the original 101. In an acknowledgement of my apparent bias towards that region, I let Marci do a re-counting. The main findings remained the same though. Final (?) figures will be available here .

Rate of return
We were tempted to compute or guess whether the money that flows to the ten countries through the 102 winning projects has attained the amount of the "entry ticket", the financial contribution of each government to the programme. (This year the net payment of the ten states was altogether 1,7 million euros.) It was concluded though that Culture 2000 is not just about money, furthering cultural interaction between European artists and heritage people being the main objective. So we refrained from calculating rate of return.

Spending on books
We got mild reproaches because of the superhuman size of the synthetic table on the Open Society Institue survey on the book sectors in the post-Communist states (900 kb available here). We are therefore putting it on our site in smaller chunks soon. Till then, figures like the following are a bit too hard to access. 

Our data reveal that Russia has a book market whose turnover - reported as USD 625 million in 2000 - is bigger than the total of the 19 other countries in the survey, including Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic etc.

In per capita spending, however, Latvia is on top, with more than 30 dollars, which is about 8 times more than the arithmetic mean of the 20 countries covered. At the low end, the pessimistic estimate for Armenia was 5 cents per year. 

Culture and international organisations
BO team has completed a brief overview of the role of culture in the activities of international organisations from the UN family through the World Bank to the myriad of networks. BO was commissioned to do so in the frames of a larger Hungarian project. It is too early to judge if it is worth the effort to make an English version of it.

Grants for cultural projects
The next undertaking is to update and extend the information base on arm's length agencies for culture in the region. Where we get stuck with other sources, Zsófi may turn for help to some of you, dear friends and acquaintances of BO.

Parallel to this, we shall examine conventional granting, i.e. the distribution of project funds directly by the government administration. We are trying to detect its dimension and raison d'être.

15 cultural policies
BO is fond of comparative surveys. No wonder that we read the paper on Cultural Policies in the EU Member States with great interest. The abridged version at the website offers an easy-to-handle checklist of the main aspects of the subject. (Similar undertakings are duly acknowledged by the authors.)

The authors refrain from analysis proper, i.e. no value statements are there; to complement this diplomatic pedantery, the subjective views of 15 cultural personalities were collected and annexed to the paper.

BO hopes to be able to make a similar compilation on east-central European countries one day. (Ours, too, would include slips like "Manuscript completed in December 2002" in this study.)

The paper was brought to our attention by Cyberkaris. I tried to attach a link to this fine newsletter but failed to locate it on the site of the publisher .

Gambling on culture
It is about the last moment to make up your mind whether you join us in Rome on 15-16 November at the Circle Round Table dedicated to European schemes of channelling lottery revenue into culture  - update.