Memo June 2000


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in June 2000

Dear Colleagues,

You may want to know that these monthly memos are put on the web-site and are floating like bottles on the surface of the digital ocean waiting for being uncorked and read.

The most significant change in the past weeks is a personal one. Miklos Marschall had from the beginning complained about having too many duties and urged the founder of our foundation to choose another chairperson. On its latest assembly the Association of Mediators of Culture voted on the issue and nominated Ms Valeria Pavluska, a lecturer at Pecs University. In next month's memo I shall be able to present our new chairperson to you, who by that time will officially resume her function.

Miklos has offered to stay on the international board, which hopefully will be set up in its new composition early in autumn.

Tax Incentives
This project was in the centre of our activities in the first half of June. The findings of the survey were presented at a seminar on sponsorship, organised by the Council of Europe at beautiful Moscenicka Draga. Since then the Czech file has been completed and am expecting the accompanying law extracts to arrive any moment.

Eight country profiles will be ready by then. Due to the extremely condense character of the files the amount of work behind them is not apparent at first sight. Thanks to the contributors!


May may be the longest month of the year (long days, 31 of them, no holidays etc.), when great achievements can be  expected. Yes, but it also attracts meetings and travels when people leave their offices and computers. This is why the length of the month is not (yet) really reflected in the amount of work done around the Budapest Observatory since the last Memo.

Two contributions arrived to the donors & tax project. With that Slovakia equals Croatia on the top. Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia are behind with one each. The rest, still zero. (Hungary, as you know, is a special case.)

Best Practices
Hard to believe. Hunger for acknowledgement, greed for money, word of promise, remorses: all these motivation factors have not produced presentations of exemplary cases of financing cultural actions in East-Central Europe so far (other than the two Hungarian samples). Do you know of more effective ways?

Unesco has tried one. Mounir Bouchenaki, assistant director-general for culture wrote a letter to the cultural ministries of the member states asking for examples of good practice in the financing of culture. The Budapest Observatory is mentioned in it, countries in East-Central Europe are encouraged to send their best practice profiles directly to us. If you come across this, warn the authorities that our e-mail address is miss-spelt in that circular letter.

Have confidence in the young. Milena Dragicevic Sesic, director of the summer course of the Central European University on Innovative cultural policies and cultural management in societies in transition has agreed to invite participants to bring along small case-descriptions to the course. With some luck, this can lead to a nice collection. Similarly, Dorota Ilczuk promised to encourage her students to present an exciting case from Poland.

Public Grants for Cultural Projects
This is not a new project just a new name for the "Arm's length..." one. It started as a collection of information on the arms's length agencies of financing culture but gradually got extended to those countries, too, where financing projects is kept in charge of the ministries. Oskar Novotny called my attention to the inconsistency between the title and the content. The change of name was accompanied by some rearrangement of the files, which goes on.

So does the involvement of new countries, although no addition was made this month.

The concept is ready and from June on the Budapest Observatory starts to collect information on the processes which are taking place in the countries of East-Central-Europe for sake of knowing and understanding cultural policies and, of course, financing mechanisms in the Union. In the beginning we do it with friendly encouragement but without any official support from Brussels. I hope soon we will deserve some.

I am leaving for the yearly gathering of CIRCLE, the network on European cultural policies tomorrow. Looking forward to fostering relationships with old and new partners there.

New avenues
Traditionally the end, and not he beginning of summer is the season for looking for new departures. However, the phase of primary accumulation of information has reached a level when it is time to think of further elaboration. We should avoid brainless growth. Analysis, meaningful comparison, conclusions - this is where we should arrive.

The front page of the Tax incentive project shows a tiny, embryonic attempt in this direction.