Memo October 2008


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in October 2008

It looks like we have entered a new era. Pity we did not fully exploit the old one yet.

Culture in the new era
In October BO attended two rallies of cultural operators: one in Lyon and one in Marseille. Luckily, the latest thrusts of the global financial crisis did not turn the conferences of Encatc and Culture Action Europe into emergency sessions. Fluctuat nec mergitur – we were in France, ne c’est pas?

The world will learn to live from less. Cultural observatories will watch the effects on culture. How funds shrink will not be difficult to see; also what the sector does to protect itself. More challenging is to detect the change of position of culture in the minds and behaviour of people. Where will culture lose the most? Where will it – gain?

Nina – Jaka – Marcello – Amanda – Sophia
BO acts as a modest but persevering media sponsor of the Cultural Policy Research Award. This year, the founder’s 10k grant went to a young French doctor, which she will spend on examining the impact of heritage sites on their social and economic surroundings. 

From Madeira to Guadalupe
Sophia’s research theme prompts us to present one more table left over from those selected from the Urban Audit pool of data. In tourism Eastern Europe lags behind almost as much as in cinema-going. Our champion, Tallinn occupies the 44th position out of 239 European cities. (It is to note, however, that Bulgarian, Czech and Romanian cities are absent from this collection.) Panevėzžys in Lithuania is the least tourist-stricken place, although two francophone cities are even more intact.


Number of tourist overnight stays in registered accommodation per year per resident population Cities in EU 27 Of these east European Selected cities
More than 10 13 0 Funchal (Madeira) 39,9 (EU top), Edinburgh 29,0, Venezia 25,6
5-10 28 0  
3-5 54 2 Tallinn (eastern top) 4,3, Budapest 3,6
2-3 50 3 Kraków 2,8, Jelenia Góra (Poland) 2,6, Győr (Hungary) 2,1
1-2 52 17 Toruń 1,0
Less than 1 42 25 Liepaja (Latvia), Żory (Poland) 0,3, Panevėzžys (Lithuania, eastern bottom) 0,2, Charleroi (Belgium) and Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadalupe, EU bottom) 0,1
  239 47  


For explanation, we shall take a city with a value of 1,0. Toruń, the Polish city (German name Thorn) has 206 thousand inhabitants, and statisticians registered about the same number of tourist nights in the course of a year in this world heritage site, where Copernicus was born.

From Sevilla to Copenhagen
While writing this memo, people gather in Andalusia for the annual world music summit. Showcasing is an important part, this time with scarce east European presence: some three and a half formations out of three dozen on the official list. Click and see – and listen! 

Womex has never taken place in our region. It will move closer though. Between 2009-2011, Copenhagen will host Womex. Sponsored mainly by a centre that shows a different image of Danish interculturalism than the famous caricature case. Roskilde festival, another partner, has maintained a more consistent image.

Intercultural rainbow
The final version of the Rainbow Paper on intercultural dialogue was explained to the participants at the Marseille meeting. (The first version was disclosed in January.) The editor herself would rather use interculturalism, and she is not the first to feel unease about “dialogue” in this context. This document is the product of a “platform” that has served as a sample for further interfaces of the “structured dialogue” between the European Commission and the civil society; a sort of direct democracy.

The Rainbow Paper conceives intercultural dialogue as a phenomenon with an aim and a purpose. Instead of being contented with polite exchange, or at a higher level empathy and curiosity, the Rainbow Paper advocates an even higher stage, that of interaction: learning the ways of living, working and creating together. Importantly for our region, the document treats the cultural aspects of migration and minorities on an equal basis.

Next May in Novi Sad
While writing this memo, some other people gather in Moscow for Big Break, a festival that also hosts a European festival research (EFRP) workshop. The links hidden in this short news item open up to broad fields of theatre and festival life in huge Russia, as well as to the many past and future stations of the EFRP process.

You have a chance to join in the festival research, nearer than Moscow, in the capital of Vojvodina (Novi Sad, Serbia) next May.

How long does it take you?
The members of Ifacca, the global club of agencies for public cultural funding, keep exchanging answers to questions raised by their daily practice, researched by the rather unsophisticated method of interviewing each other. In the past six years quite an anthology has been created. The last question was about the length of time while grant applications are assessed and decision is made. To say that 12 weeks is the global average, would be a brutal simplification of what the report  implies.

In spite of the efforts of Ifacca to go beyond their natural Anglo-Saxon environment, this time too, only Nelly from Sofia spoke for our region.    

Gulliver collects applications
From the announcements handpicked for our memo, here is one that nearly fully matches BO remit, because it affects all the countries watched by us (and a couple more). The 15th of December is the deadline for Gulliver Connect, a mobility programme that offers a few weeks work placements for up-coming artists, art managers and cultural operators.