Memo January 2001


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of The Budapest Observatory in January 2001

Dear Colleagues,

I switch back to textual memoranda after the mystic picture that we sent around as a Christmas greeting. As our feedback rate is achingly low, I doubt if we will be stormed with requests for more pictures and fewer words.

Tax incentives
Just to contradict to the above, a pleasing response rate helped our work in this field. Seven questions were e-mailed to about 120 addresses (one day we may count them properly) and 18 full answers arrived from 10 countries. Although the original deadline is over, latecomers will not be refused. Results will be put on the site.

And much more. Since we have spent a lot of energy on completing our material on sponsoring, donation; concepts, laws etc. The thing has been mailed to the Council of Europe, which, if they like it and if they find funds for it, is going to bring it out in a booklet sometime later this year.

You will have the privilege to see the most exciting part earlier as we manage to update our html pages accordingly.

Concentrating on the previous project as well as end of millennium celebrations prevented us from a decent follow-up to the Ottawa World Summit of arm's length agencies, which we not only attended but the Budapest Observatory was a modest, though official contributor.

By follow-up I mean, among others, the extension of our collection of the state cultural funds in the region. I have two serious promises now from Prague and Riga, cities which have up to now kept their secrets on how those funds operate.

And a surprise from Sofia. Just when managed to get some tiny information on one of the five national centres, which to our knowledge fulfilled some functions of arm's length funding agencies, news came about the establishment of a National Cultural Fund in Bulgaria. A new target for information hunting.

In principle getting infromation from Bulgaria should not be a problem as I immersed in their cultural policy and made lots of acquaintances at the winter resort (through the window it indeed looked like one) of Bistritsa in the middle of January. Besides learning more about Bulgarian cultural life, I collected first hand experiences about the Policies for Culture project of the European Cultural Foundation.

So hard! I mean these human engineering excercises which have to tackle communication problems, cultural, historical, even generational differences, human weaknesses like exhaustion, verbosity, cynicism or the contrary, exaggerated devotion, being aware that most partners would prefer subsidy and not advice... The team of Rüdiger, Corina, Odile and Hannah, supported by Oana, Tsveta and Ela did an awful lot and deserve congratulations.

News from the Union
Having improved our skills in detecting what is new in the European Union and possibly relevant for culture in east-central Europe, I believe our site has more to offer to you now. We are on the right track towards becoming a real EU Observer in our chosen scope.   

Best Practices
There are two recent acquisitions, presenting the financial background of a Czech arts gallery and a theatre in the Caucasus.

Who do you propose to introduce next?