Memo July 2007
A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in July 2007
We are certain to receive at least a thousand out-of-office replies, their owners enjoying sun, sand or other summer pleasures. Not so BO.
1078 cases of cultural co-operation
It always takes some time before the Commission discloses the complete list of projects that received grants in the previous year. BO had to wait till July to be able to start mapping cultural co-operation bonds in the last, seventh year of Culture 2000. Here are the first findings.
BO counted 1078 cultural co-operation projects during the seven years of the Culture 2000 programme. They include both annual and multiannual operations, cover all areas from heritage to books and literature, but do not comprise translations grants - which are observed separately.
The 1078 projects were initiated by European cultural organisations 1077 times and once from Japan (they are put into a little column with three more "3rd country" organisers). The most striking feature is the Italian domination. Italians have commanded over 20% of all winning projects and led the list in each of the seven years. When trying to find explanation, people often point at heritage, where Italians are particularly strong. However, they are equally successful in all other Culture 2000 domains. Italians are then the main engineers of European cultural co-operation. Also, the busiest bees collecting nectar from the flower-bed of European funds for culture.
2007-2013 - a new era?
The executive agency in charge of EU cultural grants has already disclosed the names of the 78 winning co-operation projects in 2007. From the list we can judge whether the composition of the project leaders shows a different pattern from 2000-2006. Not quite: in 2007 gold, silver and bronze went to the same three nations as before. Project leaders are based in Italy 11, France 10 and Germany 9 times. The east is closing up, the ten member countries together produced for the first time more (12) leaders than Italy!
Italians of the East
The Czechs hover above the rest like the Italians do in the west. The 30 projects that Czechs guided to victory between 2000-2006 represent 26% of eastern-led operations; also their three in 2007 is 25% of the eastern twelve. Engineers, bees - ahoj!
Next to Culture 2007, the Union runs Media 2007, another cultural grants programme, which has released now a fact sheet. The name is misleading, as the programme focuses on cinema, spending €755 million on this art form between 2007-2013 (compared to the €400 of Culture 2007). Here is the percentage structure of spending in Media 2007:
Issuing the fact sheet is not meant to herald the launch of Media 2007, which has been progressing full steam ahead: seven calls with ten deadlines have already been announced this year.
Facts about private contribution to culture
So much is spoken and written about cultural sponsorship - or more correctly, about private support to culture - and there is so little statistical evidence. Data are difficult to collect, most countries do not even bother. In the absence of regular official registering, information must be gathered by way of research, by interviewing selected cultural organisations (sometimes also businesses).
BO has browsed the latest A&B report. 2005-2006 appears to mark an inflexion point: entering a new paradigm. Which, by the way, is the old pattern in the USA, where rich individuals have always donated more on culture from their own money than from their businesses. A&B research showed that in 2005-2006 British individual donors for the first time spent more on culture than corporations and corporate foundations together.
The research compared the total sum of "private investment in the arts" (to use the British formula) to the major public funds (the arts councils of England and Scotland, including lottery funds), to find that these were somewhat bigger than all private contributions taken together. Putting this into an equation form:
public funds ~> [ individuals > (corporations + foundations) ]
Maybe as soon as the following year ~> for "somewhat bigger than" will become an = or even roll over into ~<.
Benchmarking private contribution to culture
Few English words have made a greater career lately than benchmark, a point of reference for a measurement. Besides the equation above, BO has extracted two more easy-to-remember benchmarks from this UK study against which the nature of private contribution to culture can be compared.
1) The 1 - 10 - 100 formula. In 2005-2006 in the UK the amounts of private givings to literature - festivals - heritage followed the hierarchical string of 1 - 10 - 100.
2) Heritage = double the performing arts. Heritage, the great winner in the UK, attracted twice as much from the private sector as the various forms of performing arts (theatre, dance, music, opera) together.
(The A&B notion of heritage does not include museums, libraries and archives, which institutions also have important magnetic power vis-à-vis British donors.)
Cultural policy and academia
Cultural policies lack the rigour of most other fields of public policy. Nonetheless, considerable number of professionals (and students) expected to deepen their knowledge about cultural policy making in the post-communist countries, in the frames of a summer course held in July at the Central European University in Budapest with BO involvement. Some of those who attended might also show up in Istanbul in next August at the fifth international conference on cultural policy research (ICCPR) .