Memo January 2007

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A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in January 2007

What occupied BO in January, will lead to products later. This memo is filled with observation on other agencies' output.

Here comes the SUN
A few days remain to apply to the summer course on cultural policy making in the post-communist countries, to be held between 16-27July at the Central European University, Budapest.   

Using Compendium
Compendium (a joint venture between the Council of Europe and ERICarts) got a new design in January. The news section reads fluently and deserves the name. Take Sweden: after the elections in September a new government entered in October, and Compendium already presents a number of changes in cultural policy.

This has really become a transversal information base. E.g: which countries have recently taken measures in the digitisation of culture? Digitisation dominates the heritage sector in Slovenia; a national programme began in Croatia; in the Netherlands this is co-ordinated by a Digital Heritage Association; Spain focuses on a national collection of digital images of museum exhibits.

Another example: theatre laws appear to be an eastern feature. Albania, Croatia and Georgia just passed one each, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania, Russia and Ukraine have had one for some time, and preparations are taking place in Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Hungary. In the west, a theatre law seems to operate in Austria only.

Any student writing a paper on cultural consumption or participation will find a nice comparative table created by Mikko. Nevertheless, lots of things remain to discover and wonder about in chapter 8.2.1.  

Intercultural efforts
The Compendium has an easy to handle collection. Go and check for yourself for the most convincing ones from the 50 cases on display (end of January), many from the west, few from the east. From the latter, BO vote goes to the Bielany project, Poland, as well as the Serbian offer.   

More intercultural efforts
We knew for long that intercultural dialogue is one of the three goals of the new seven year EU culture programme

We were sure that Germany would dedicate a subchapter to intercultural dialogue (linked to migrant integration), in the actual presidency programme.

However, the 18-month programme of the German, Portuguese and Slovenian presidencies surprised us by mentioning intercultural dialogue in the strategic framework, as well as at three different parts in the comprehensive programme (paras 25, 81 and 118).   

Discrimination in Europe
It is easier to overcome a conflict if you know how people feel about it.

Eurobarometer surveyed European opinions about these sensitive issues last summer. Of the six forms of discrimination examined in the survey, discrimination on the ground of ethnic origin is perceived to take place most widely. Swedes, above all, show concern about this form of discrimination: 85% of them believe it is widespread in their country, and 69% are dissatisfied about efforts against it. They also top the list with the view that being a Roma is a disadvantage in their society (about 90%, while in Bulgaria and Romania 60% only believe so). The reader is bewildered: is Sweden really the worst in this respect? Or the contrary: have such attitudes made it the most tolerant place of all?

With so few migrants (putting the Roma in brackets) in the eastern countries, fewer people felt the presence of ethnic discrimination than the European average of 64%: a bare 23% of Lithuanians sensed this evil in their country.  

Do people of another ethnic origin enrich your nation's culture? With large differences between countries, two out of three Europeans said yes! Of course, Swedes gave the highest number of positive answer (86%), Germany and UK, the biggest two, sitting on the average, and most easterners at the skeptic end. There was a resistant block in Central Europe: only 46-51% of Austrians, Slovenes and Czechs felt richer with other kinds of culture on their lands. 

Festival budgets
The synthèse of the research on French festivals - mentioned in previous BO memo - was made available. As a first exploitation, BO related its budget approximations to a previous exercise:

Income UK Hungary France   Expenses UK Hungary France
Own Income 42% 34% 36,5%   Arts 44% 47% 51%
Public Support 36,7% 42,1% 51,5%   Technical 12% 18% 18%
Private Support 17% 20,3% 12%   Communication 11% 9% 11%
          Office 8% 9% 20%
          Staff 16% 6% -
Other 4,3% 3,6% -   Other 9% 11% -
  100% 100% 100%     100% 100% 100%

(UK: 75 festivals in 2000/2001, Hungary: 211 festivals in 2004, France: 86 festivals in 2005)

Patterns are basically similar. Differences are telling - note the lines on public support and the arts spending. Further exploitation follows.

Eurostat choo choo
Eurostat does not entirely neglect culture. Sitting on a train is a classical cultural commonplace. Does it apply to today's Europe? On the increase - Eurostat tells us. The average European travelled 789 meters by train in 2005, which is 2,2% more than a year earlier. French people are the most railbound with 1277 meters, followed by Belgians, Danes and Austrians - above a kilometer each, while easterners are below the average, except for Hungarians. At the very bottom, Lithuanians hardly know the feeling, with 82 meters a year. (BO divided Eurostat figures by population.)

BO hopes Eurostat soon provides us with data that are more directly connected to cultural habits.