Memo August 2000


A memo sent to local correspondents, friends and acquaintances of The Budapest Observatory in August 2000

Dear Colleagues,

I heard with astonishment that in the western part of Europe this summer has been wet and cool. Over here, in East-Central-Europe, we had heat and draught. So the intellectual output of the summer was less than average. The Observatory is no exception.

Tax Incentives
Having accomplished the identification of the legal background of tax incentives for financial support to the arts in eight countries, we commenced the second stage: the examination of the implementation. With discouraging results, as far as Hungary is concerned.

First of all, this country is not the best choice, as there is no effective organisation of either providers or recipients of business sponsorship for the arts, so it is difficult to gather information and findings are fairly accidental. From what we have found so far it seems that due to a variety of reasons (which can soon be read in the "Tax incentives" chapter of our site) most sponsors care nothing about the tax relief and provide support in the conventional give-and-take way: they buy advertisement from the cultural partner on the basis of a normal advertisement agreement.

We shall dig deeper in the other countries as well when everybody is back from holidays.

Best Practices
Finally good prospects.

Exciting first versions and abstracts arrived from a number of places and if Olinka, Magdalena, Rudina, and Biliana also think so, we can have good profiles from Croatia, Poland, Albania and Bulgaria in September.

We shall use all our charm to animate dormant promises from Bucharest, Maribor, Tallinn, Timisoara and a few other towns.

Public Grants for Cultural Projects
The list of participants of the Ottawa meeting of arm's length cultural agencies in December is reported to close down in these days. If the organisers agree, we shall disclose here the names of registered persons and organisations from East-Central Europe.

Promises unkept
This is not a feature of the Budapest Observatory. Our mouth was bigger than our abilities. Three of our plans envisaged for the summer months will be subject of the autumn harvest:

  • The new project on monitoring preparations and adaptations for the European enlargement in the countries of our region;
  • An attempt to explore the positions and interests of our region in the global negotiations regarding the place of cultural goods and services in the international trade agreements;
  • Establishing regular and - er - institutional relationship with our most important partners, especially by way of mutual hyperlinks; and then going on for becoming a portal in the area of our mission.

A small remark to the last item: to my consternation, in spite of repeated oral and written pleas, the Observatory has been granted no link from any of our brothers and sisters until this day. The only response with dignity is to do the opposite and guide our readers to as many other sites as possible. (Check BO website every other week for the advances in this regard.)

We are looking forward to the first gathering of the cultural observatories of the world, organised by Unesco and (guess who, of course:) the Canadian cultural ministry in Hanover on 19-20 September.

I have mentioned the conference of arm's length agencies in Ottawa above, see also our "Public grants" file.

The Hungarian Cultural Institute, which generously lets us our office, is hosting a small conference next week on cultural policies in Eastern Europe in the context of EU enlargement, organised by IG Kultur Vienna. We shall report unless it is confidential.

Since only 122 days are left, we must make up our mind soon, whether a small working meeting will give a push to any of the endeavours of the Observatory in this millenneum year.