Memo November 2007

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

Resurrection is habitual for BO, digging for lifeless information in various cemeteries of data in the hope of reviving and presenting them to the curious.

Lisbon pilgrimage
Where would you prefer to attend a seminar on the role of culture in the Lisbon process? Of course in Lisbon. The invention of the creative sector has changed our mindset. But certainly, our vocabulary. This, among others, is what BO said on this occasion.

Mappers' reunion in Sofia
BO is looking forward to reading a paper from Milena on cultural mapping, ranging from the atlas culturels to the variety of marketing surveys and partner searches, as she reviewed the genre in Sofia on 17 November, at the workshop organised by the European network of cultural administration training centres (ENCATC).

Mapping cultural industries was one of the focal points: there have been a number of such exercises on the Balkans lately. Bulgaria also joined the list of countries that conducted a WIPO-coordinated survey on the contribution of the creative (copyright based) sector to the economy.

Is culture competitive?
What about the other side of the fence? Do analysts of European competitiveness properly highlight the contribution of the creative and cultural branches? No, they don't. The 112-page EU industrial structure 2007, the latest brochure on the economic output of the Union does not contain the words creative or copyright. The list of European competitiveness, measured by its trade balance with the rest of the world, is led by pharmaceuticals: this sector requires not exactly the kind of creativity that culture offers. Surprisingly, printing and publishing is at the fifth place, just behind aircraft industry. (This is not a European extravaganza: in the USA print & publishing is at third position!) There is no other culture-intensive sector on the list.

The chapters on consumption patterns show that entertainment society (Erlebnisgesellschaft) is still a long way down the road. Recreational and cultural services make up 3,5% of private consumption in the Union, with newspapers, books and stationery another 1,6%. On the other hand, Europeans spend 11,5% on food and 2% on tobacco.

A pocketful of numbers
Eurostat has made a small but significant step by publishing a pocketbook on cultural statistics. It is not the product of carefully planned strategic data collection, but admittedly a medley of available statistics that relate to culture.

The chapter on publishing confuses poor BO. Eurostat says that this branch stands for 2,7% of value added in manufacturing in the Union: is this enough to occupy the fifth position in the champions' league of competitiveness, as defined in the brochure cited above? On the other hand, the pocketbook sheds some more light on this subsector: out of the roughly 36 million people in "print and publishing" about 750 thousand are in "publishing of books, newspapers, journals and periodicals", the other 35,25 million in manufacturing. An army of printers.

BO will recycle some more of the stuff included in the pocketbook, pertaining to our observation remit, as it is done further down in this memo.

Intelligence in hiding
The European Cultural Foundation assisted the Committee for Civic Initiative in the Serbian city of Niš to publish the findings of a large scale survey on the cultural needs, habits and taste of citizens of Serbia and Macedonia. The book presents a lot of data on these challenging issues, on which BO will chew on. Especially if the text is available on-line, which is still to be expected from Niš.

The reader is impressed by the profundity of the theoretical framework offered at the beginning of the book, and also of each chapter. A propos Macedonia, pages 5-7 of a Council of Europe publication on the cultural policy of that country offer similar intellectual stimulation, describing the challenges of post-national, post-independence cultural policies.     

Cultural Brussels
BO found an odd event for those in or near Brussels. The European Economic and Social Committee is arranging a debate over the cultural functions of large administrative hubs in the post-modern era. The road from Ford to Florida.

Cultural employment revisited
The Eurostat pocketbook prompted BO to revisit its examination of an earlier issue of the same data. We were surprised then to find that western countries employed more people in culture than we do in the east. We also wondered whether when data arrive from Poland (the biggest member country in our region), the picture would remain the same.

Comparing data from 2002 and 2005 we find that the gap between old and new EU members has narrowed - not because we could add Poland, Romania and Croatia (dobro došli!), but in spite.

  Cultural workers % of all Graduated cultural workers % of all Temporary cultural workers % of all Part-time cultural workers % of all Cultural workers with 2nd job % of all Self-employed cultural workers % of all
EU 15 in 2002 2,57 1,03 0,49 0,70 0,23 0,76
EU 15 in 2005 2,53 1,17 0,42 0,62 0,18 0,72
East 8 in 2002 1,99 0,89 0,21 0,21 0,13 0,35
East 8 in 2005 2,30 1,04 0,21 0,26 0,15 0,31
East 11 in 2005 2,11 0,83 0,20 0,20 0,11 0,31

With regard to cultural employment, western and eastern EU members still show different patterns. In some cases very different: the proportion of part time employment is three times higher in the west than in the east. Peeping behind the figures could we tell which side is to rejoice, which is to regret. 

Warsaw rally for five million
Whenever the active kernel of the European Forum for the Arts and Heritage (EFAH) gathers - as it happened in Warsaw, attended also by BO - one wonders about the numbers behind. Eurostat has now offered an answer, giving the number of people employed in culture in EU27 as 4 940 300.