Memo June 2010


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in June 2010

At last real summer has arrived in Budapest, which has cut this memo short. (The next one will be even shorter.)


Six years after the 27th conference of the Performing Arts Employers Associations League Europe (Pearle*), BO attended the 39th, hosted by the Theatre Federation at the Neumünster Abbey in Luxembourg. Besides informing about CultureWatchEurope, we took part in the discussion on how executives of leading performing arts organisations feel about the diversifying policy expectations that are conveyed towards their institutions through growing amount of indicators (beyond artistic goals).


BO is no more as impartial about European Capital of Culture 2016 as it was at the startline. Three days at the Lodz art centre made BO fan of Lodz2016. It is amazing how people have grown to sincerely respect top manufacturers of capitalist Lodz: German and Jewish protagonists of the great accent of the city, who erected those magnificient industrial complexes that are now taking up various post-industrial functions. This city needs and deserves the title.


The most opaque country in BO remit. We have been following the birth of a volume that helps you penetrate the fog around that country. Nelly’s book caters for intellectual curiosity, including chapters focusing on contemporary Belarusian cultural phenomena.

The Netherlands

The Dutch rarely brag about their past glory. They were little obsessed (until recently) about national identity. The country has no network of cultural institutes abroad. And yet in 2009 an average of some thirty Dutch cultural presentations took place abroad every day.

This record includes a truly remarkable programme. Dutch Design Fashion and Architecture (DutchDFA) promotes creative industries in conjunction between cultural and economic administration, and between public and private bodies.

BO is pleased to be positive after criticising bullshiting and isolated pseudo-activity around creativity and its industries with childish intransigence. 


Besides cultural and creative industries, the programme for the Belgian presidency of the European Council (July-December 2010) tackles the issue of cultural poverty and exclusion, too.

In these endeavours, Making culture accessible, a publication of the Council of Europe will be of great use. Annamari produced a timely concise review of cultural rights, access, participation and habits. East European specifities of these things have been a central concern for BO, see for instance this extraction from Eurobarometer data:

This graph, and many more, are also included in the publication of the International Cultural Centre in Cracow. 


Minor translations

Contributing to the research activities of Literature Across Frontiers (LAF), BO analyses information accumulated in the Index Translationum of Unesco. Here is a graph generated from that data base:


By the past few years, the annual number of books translated from Catalan got double of the 120-150 titles in the early 1990s.

Much slower was the growth of translations from the next 25 most frequent European minority languages (taken together). Here they are: Gallegan, Basque, Yiddish, Occitan, Breton, Tatar, Frisian, Provençal, Welsh, Kurdish, Asturian, Raeto-Romance, Chuvash, Romani, Saami, Avaric, Faroese, Moksha, Corsican, Kabardian, Chechen, Erzya, Sorbian, Mari, Kalmyk. The range is from an average of 39.6 titles per year from Gallegan or Galician (almost exclusively published in Spain), down to the annual average of 1.1 translations from Kalmyk.

If you want to read more about concepts like minority language, dialect and so on, you should turn to specialists: a language observatory.