Memo February 2001


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

Dear Colleagues,

I was warned about the shortness of the last message. Indeed, less than 600 words. On the other hand, in order to respect your time, a ceiling of 800 words will be observed.

Country by country
Staying with statistics: the number of files on specific aspects of financing culture in 18 countries in east-central Europe, accessible via our web site, has gone beyond one hundred. The country which is best covered can be observed through 12 files; those who believe it is Hungary, are wrong. For the right answer, see our report . Having also in mind the Useful links section, the BO site can now really claim to be a portal.

Chances of the Internet
The latest few inclusions present the findings of one section of the Open Society Institute - Center for Publishing Development survey, conducted about the prospects of the use of Internet in homes, libraries and schools in (among others) our region. The issue has relevance to finances. Where do you think money matters more when it is about the spreading of Internet: at libraries or at schools? For the answers in the survey follow the route given above.

As the elaboration of the survey proceeds comparative tables on further topics will be on display at the OSI site, with access from ours. Next comes book distribution.

Tax incentives
The country profiles have been updated to reflect conditions in 2001. Changes are not always for the better: until last year Lithuanian law offered 200% tax reduction to donors to good causes, from now it is the dull 100% like elsewhere. I have not heard any explanation. Were businesses too generous? Or just no-one watched the hands of the finance minister as he was preparing amendments to tax legislation? Who knows more?

Zsofia Foldesi, new BO staff member, has dug out a few new pages from the internet, presenting now Latvia, Macedonia and Yugoslavia, too. (This reminds me of the many promises collected in this respect from Albania and Bosnia. Also our less than complete Czech and Romanian pages.)  

Screening the web pages of the European Union produced an interesting document in this field. A Communication from the commission of a few years ago - no more recent information was found - on the assistance given to ngo-s in the member states. This includes references to tax reliefs, which we labouriously cut out and added to our collection.

The summarising done for the Council of Europe (see previous memo) contributed to our conceptual clearsightedness in the maze of sponsoring, donation, gifts etc. Hopefully the respective pages of our site confirm this statement.

I keep the Hungarian word (with accents in the original), which comfortably denotes both the processes as well as the items to be presented at - tenders, calls for proposal, competitions and applications... It is often not easy to find the correct English equivalent.

Anyway, with two of the early projects reaching relative completion (on public grants and tax incentives), it is time to venture into new fields. BO participates in a number of palyazatok now and preparations are being taken about new projects: areas where phenomena of cultural finances can be compared between countries.

The crucial thing is not to identify the topic, I believe, even from the funders' point of view. The most important is to find the right people who guarantee success. If we see potentials in an idea and the persons behind, BO will do its best to get the necessary means. (Money.) I hope to be more specific next time.

The Visegrad Fund
This Fund is accessible only for the four members, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. For the others a look at here tells about  the functioning of a subregional fund, with cultural content also.

Bigger, better, beautiful?
By the time of the next BO memo the outline paper on the European conference planned for February 2002 with this title will be complete and I can report about early developments in the preparation. The subject will be the impact of EU enlargement on cultural opportunities across Europe, seen from both sides. (Actually even from more angles.) The idea came from Euclid, London, with whom BO is busy preparing, involving the EU cultural contact point for Hungary. We expect altogether about 200 participants.