Memo December 2002


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

2002 brought about a proliferation of excellent electronic newsletters pertaining to BO's sphere of interest. Which allows our memos to further pull back to our remit: east-central Europe, and what happens around BO.
Film directors' priority rights acknowledged

Questions like ‘what the EU can mean for culture' have become more important since the EU summit in Copenhagen, where the countries in east-central Europe received their timetables for 2004, 2007 and indefinite future respectively.

A little piece of illustration on EU harmonisation: a report by the Commission establishes that by now every member of the Union has adopted the principle of considering the director as the main creator of a film, also from intellectual property point of view.

One day before the EU summit, the General Plan of the first Universal Forum of Cultures was approved in Barcelona. The preliminary figures are breath-taking: over 300 thousand m² new urban public space, 5 million visitors, over 800 artistic activities, 50 thousand congress members etc...  the official website has more.

There are 16 months left to assure that our region is properly represented. (Sarajevo has already been involved in a city-to-city basis.)

Circle, too, is considering to join in with one event, the working title is ‘Culture and Governance: Happy together?' Go to this page for updates.

The Circle Round Table on e-culture is nearer in time and space. Consult the draft programme for updates, and keep watching for further news. If you are not a Circle member, this event may be a good pretext to become one.

That was an opportunity missed. BO figured in the programme but we could not make it. Although the theme: The role of cultural foundations, funds and endowments in south-east Europe, is very relevant for us. A first hand report by János makes us want to check the Balkankult Foundation's website
  for further information.

BO had not missed the Circle Round Table conference in Rome. Find our contribution on the odd Hungarian case, where the practice of using lottery money for culture was stopped in 1995: (the full conference reader is available at the same place).

Will there be a comeback? The culture ministry commissioned BO to sniff around. To our consternation we found that Hungarians spend about twice as much on state run gambling  than the neighbouring countries. Source:

The December Info Bulletin of Policies for Culture says that the Rome meeting had a follow-up in Sofia, too: Biliana gave a review on lottery money for culture and similar funds at a seminar organised by the culture ministry.

Tax benefits for donors
Can you recall when, as a child, you collected something and an uncle bought you a huge box of that thing? We had the same feeling, when after updating most of our files in this folder piecemeal, Internet surprised us with a complete set - which turned out to be edited in an office 5 minutes away from ours. Waking up from the shock, we are pleased to share the information with you and are working on the adaptation of our work strategy. Instead of digging for raw material, we shift to processing, quite a progress.

Conflict of interest
While taking care of our information bank on granting agencies (find new acquisitions here), we are keen on identifying critical issues. One of these is beyond doubt the conflict of interest during the evaluation of applications for grants. Now Ifacca has done a fine paper on this, based on field contributions, among which we were pleased to discover Ainiki, kind help to BO, and Miklós, our founding president.

Why not, indeed?
We work along similar lines. The latest BO paper, on how the arm's length principle prevails in east-central Europe, also involved contributions from friends and acquaintances:

Suggested reading
Two publications have recently been spontaneously and authentically recommended to us: Colin Mercer's "Towards Cultural Citizenship" and Ilkka Heiskanen's "Decentralisation : trends in European cultural policies".

May I add "Anticipating European Cultural Policies" by Therese Kaufmann and Gerald Raunig, of which we received a tasty sample at the EFAH meeting in Ljubljana.