Memo October 2009


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in October 2009

Forty-eight links, I say! (Even if four of them are Culture Action Europe.)


No boys’ faces

Nina – Jaka – Marcello – Amanda – Sophia – Davide, winners of the Cultural Policy Research Award. See the list with four portraits. The sixth award was announced at this year’s annual conference of the European network of cultural administration training centres (Encatc). Davide will compare the way urban diversity is managed in five European capitals. The same happened to four of these cities four years ago (Budapest, Paris, Rome, Tallinn); instead of revisiting Barcelona and Warsaw, Davide replaces them with Helsinki.


Breaking down barriers

EUNIC is a new player on the European scene. The letters stand for European Union National Institutes for Culture. Outsiders only suppose that it comprises national theatres or libraries. No, this is a partnership of cultural diplomacy outposts. It operates in national networks. Again, uninitiated only believe that national implies activities in their home countries. National networks are the clusters of foreign cultural institutes (of EU-members) in various parts of the world: Eunic-Hrvatska, -Japan, -Netherlands, -Prague, -Seoul, -Warszawa etc. 

The British, against the reputation of a euroskeptic nation, are particularly active in this very European initiative. They co-ordinated the organisation of a Eunic-Brussels conference in October, focusing on the momentous year of 1989. Culture Action Europe and CultureWatchEurope were co-organisers, too.

The event assumed the follow-up on the Cracow conference in June. Although held in an EU institution, eyesight streched beyond the river Bug and the Black Sea. This is how BO and other participants could listen to Marina’s account about Russian theatre losing momentum. Vesna’s diatribes on neoliberal cultural policies express the prevailing mood of the session.  


Seeking EDEN

Here is another acronym: EDEN, which stands for European Destinations of Excellence, a project promoting selected tourism areas across the European Union. Selection is based on values, the 22 spots awarded in October exemplify the mutual respect of goals of natural protection and tourism. Ten out of 22 new edens are in the eastern member states (or candidates like Velebit in Croatia).

Selection criteria were even closer to culture in 2008, when local intangible heritage (and tourism) was in focus. Then eight of twenty places represented east-central Europe. Clicking on the name can you find out why: Belogradchik, Đurđevac, Horezu, Hortobágy, Plateliai, Rēzekne, Soča, Viljandi.

The European Commission expects the network of past EDEN winners to propose future themes. Next year comes aquatic tourism. But then, in 2011, why not highlight European destinations of cultural excellence? Places that inspired great works…, where legacy of great author or performer is alive…, where archeology is in motion, etc…


Intricacies of arts education

Eurydice provides information and knowledge on lifelong learning in Europe. Co-ordinated from Brussels, it operates as a network in 31 countries (a decentralised observatory?). Their latest product is a 100-page rich overview of arts education.

The many aspects of arts education in the 31 countries are analysed at great detail. The authors refrain from appraising countries, or from identifying clearcut models. BO found one instance where our region plainly differs from the rest: chapter 3.1 presents nationwide (mostly civic) organisations that promote arts education in seven “western” countries – not finding any in the east.


Two in one

It is hard to believe one’s eyes: two international conferences on cultural policies in the same city on the same days, 12/13-15 November in Zagreb. One in the Mimara museum and the other in the Mosor cinema. The first organised by Culturelink, the other by Clubture network. The latter in conjunction with  Culture Action Europe, following two preparatory events in October in Skopje and in Sarajevo.


News from Sweden

Anyone who has had anything to do with European capitals of culture will read the 90-page winning proposal of Umeå with gusto. On page 20 one finds that Stockholm-based Intercult forms an important gateway for Umeå 2014, among others towards our region. Based upon past years’ Intercult projects, the preparatory years will touch four corners of Europe: the Baltic – North – Black and Mediterranean Seas, culminating in the Crossroads 2014 festival.

As a back-up to the roughly € 40 million budget projected for programmes, the city will spend about € 700 million on “infrastructure investments significant to the European Capital of Culture year” – an accomplishment that few of our cities can afford, with or without the ECoC title.

A propos Intercult: on 3-4 December they are organising – in collaboration with Culture Action Europe – an international conference in Stockholm, entitled Re:designing cultural policies.