Memo October 2001


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of The Budapest Observatory (BO) in October 2001

Charms of the electronic age
Yes, we are firmly rooted in the electronic age. Gone are times when in Eastern Europe we used to queue for a telephone line or wondered at word processed letters received from the West. We have all of that now and even more. After a relatively harmless mailing virus in summer, we were hit by a really dangerous one now, which destructed the entire set of active files of BO. Just a quick, careless touch at an attachment named seducively “scholarships”… (As a private matter: on the same week my bank card was tapped in a similarly ingenious way. There the bank reimburses me, here our data are gone for good.)

Ruffolo Report
BO web site survived the attack. Find a short resume of the Ruffolo Report on it. This document is rapidly gaining momentum in circles of cultural policy, administration and diplomacy. Mr Ruffolo chaired the committee which drafted this report for the cultural committee of the European Parliament. The draft was passed by a uninamous vote last summer and posted to the Commission. There it lies.

The claim for joint European cultural policy making was never put forward so strongly before. The report regrets that in 2000 only 0,1% of community resources went on culture. It invites the Commission (dreadful name for the quasi government of a quasi confederation) to report on the cultural policies of the Union and the member states each year.

The cultural contact points in the respective countries, including some accession states, may have been pleased that the report advocates an upgrading of their functions. Furthermore, the report stresses the need of co-ordinating and developing the fiscal schemes which affect  cultural life in a positive way (tax benefits, one of the themes of BO).

EU Cultural Forum
The Ruffolo Report also called for the holding of a next Cultural Forum. From indirect sources we learned that it will take place in Brussels on 21-22 November. To find out more proved impossible from this side of the fence. The EU web site rebuffed our queries. On the cultural page the late summer news about Culture 2000 is the latest item.

My favourite search engine failed as well. Instead, it produced the Forum of European Cultural Networks held on 4-6 October as well as the European Cultural Forum of Cities and Regions of the EU on 17 October, both in Brussels.

In this respect the most informative have been the web site and the e-mails of the European Forum for the Arts and Heritage, which is not the event but an organisation that many of you may know. EFAH carries out a steadfast and resolute campaign for the cause of culture in the EU. Since they are registered in Brussels, they concentrate on the Belgian presidency which is over its zenith now. EFAH's home page tells the whole story.

London, 23 November
If you want to attend a discussion on developing cultural policies for countries with multiple priorities and minimal resources, go to the Barbican at 11.40 a.m. For details of this whole day event write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Trading culture
This is the title of a conference to be held next summer in Sheffield on the themes of the ‘indigenous’ and the ‘exportable’ in film and television culture. Regardless of the long time left, one of the deadlines is 30 November. Again, no web site, only an This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view

Bigger…, better…, beautiful?
Our conference on the impact of EU enlargement on culture, to be held in Budapest between 14-17 February, tries to adapt itself to these events and movements and at the same time retain its specific character. Go to our web site and check if the logo created for the event helps this endeavour well enough

Summer in Budapest
The Central European University has announced the summer courses for next year. Two of these are labelled "art & cultural studies": Cultural diversities east and west: postcommunism, postcolonialism and ethnicity, and From art history to visual culture: studying the visual after the cultural turn. Some of the remaining courses are also bordering cultural policy. 

Unesco General Conference
Being an odd numbered year, Unesco is holding its biannual assembly. BO web site lent its pages to follow the event through the Internet. Plenty of resolutions and documents affected culture, but the picture became blurred as we put on our filter lenses of east-central Europe and financing of culture. If we manage to fix our telescope sharp, we shall inform you if the meeting has produced something tangible for our region.