Memo August 2006


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in August 2006

End of holiday season. Do you feel the fever of new beginnings? BO is not sure.

European(s) in Europe
European culture or culture(s) in Europe? The dilemma of usage has become increasingly relevant.

Ulrike and Anna in the introductory study in Transcultural Europe prefer to talk about cultural policy in Europe (rather than a European cultural policy). A few years ago Delia also pointed out that the term cultural policies in Europe is found less controversial for some critics than European cultural policy. At about the same time, Therese and Gerald firmly opted for European cultural policies.

The preferences were not underscored at length in the above cases. Andreas and team, however, argued adamantly for European cultural co-operation (instead of that in Europe), highlighting the differences of the two concepts in a tabular form. 

Trap 151
In Bratislava BO remarked that the opening phrase of Article 151 in the EU treaty about the flowering of the cultures of the Member States suggests a different concept of cultural diversity than what was celebrated at that conference.

Therese and Gerald, too, point at the conservative interpretation of diversity based on stable identities; Ulrike and Anna consider that ‘unity in diversity' implies a new regionalist agenda, with the emphasis being put on the idea of Europe as a cultural mosaic, with national cultures being the primary frame of reference. 

Instead of the integrationist agenda (Ulrike and Anna), instead of a progressive understanding of diversity, a productive concept implying dynamic differences, which are a matter of continuous processes of intersection and exchange (Therese and Raunig).

The text of Article 151 slumbers unchanged in the postponed constitutional treaty.

Indian summer wisdom

Whence all this wisdom in an August newsletter?

BO found (or revisited) the sources for those thoughts in the past weeks, prompted by the versatile homepage of the Lab and Nina's book.

That book analyses the need for European cultural policies and the impact of enlargement on cultural policies in the context of l'exception culturelle, in the various interpretations of the term. The book maps all areas of the concept and concludes what BO as a professional eastern reader melancholically reads that countries in our region "still in the middle of fundamental changes and searching for models to adapt their cultural markets to the new requirements, will have to rely almost exclusively on their own policy solutions, without much guidance. Had there been a more proactive European cultural policy, it would have helped move culture higher on the policy agendas of these countries."

BO is no determined partisan of harmonisation of cultural policies (we have recently had an interesting exchange of ideas with Swedish colleagues about this). However, the monotonous obstinacy of the expression (used in the Treaty also at other issues in national competence) of excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations is disheartening.

C2000 under eastern eyes
BO is positivistic rather than metaphysical. This is exemplified by the computing exercise of the scores of cultural operators from eastern Europe during the six years between 2000-2005 in the Culture 2000 programme. After preliminary specimens in the May and June BO memos, now you can find the entire analysis here. The printed version is ready in a few days.

Displaying eastern relationships
In the 93 projects that eastern operators led in the six years of Culture 2000 up to 2005, there were 72 links with the remaining nine countries from the east. In other words: 72 times were organisations from another eastern country invited to act as co-organisers in a Culture 2000 project.

The 72 couplings have formed 35 lines that we put on a graph (see below). The thinnest 16 lines represent one single bond each between two countries (in one direction). The more links there were between operations of two countries, the thicker the line is. The six Polish co-organisers selected by Czech project leaders stand for the thickest arrow. 

Enter OECD
Ifacca's bulletin as well as Compendium leadership informed us that the distinguished club of the richer half of the world at last set out to watching culture. Note the charm in the title that speaks about the economic and social importance of culture (and its international measurement).

The 100-page survey of the state of the art of comparative cultural statistics is of course a bit too much to digest at one sitting. Perhaps the sexiest part is Table COM1 on page 39 that gives estimates about the contribution of creative industries to the gross domestic product in five countries. The United Kingdom claims to top the list with 5,8%. This includes printing (creative, isn't it?) as well as television but does not include museums, heritage sites and libraries.

There is a lot to work on these figures. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is prepared to continue the work, next at a workshop in Paris in December.

Enter PACT
Less ground breaking yet very welcome is the arrival of pact online, another regional observatory, another laboratory for cultural co-operation, focusing on south-east Europe.  

Early October in Helsinki
BO has registered to Islands and Bridges, this year's annual conference of the European Forum for the Arts and Heritage - EFAH.

The Lab's stakeholders will hold their next forum session on the opening day of Islands and Bridges, on the 5th of October. An opportunity to advise on this European undertaking: things to offer or expect. About opportunity to attend, consult This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..