Memo February 2011


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in February 2011

We could be host to many of you in our city earlier this week.

Four growths, more endeavours

BO was instrumental in the most important cultural conference of the Hungarian EU presidency. The objective of the event in Budapest was to define how culture can be used more explicitly in the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy – the ten-year plan of the Union that replaced the Lisbon strategy. The programme was divided between sections dedicated to inclusive, smart, sustainable and measurable growth respectively. The first three sought to identify culture’s chances to be calculated with in the realisation of the three main priorities, particularly on national and local levels. The fact that as a fourth section measuring – assessing, quantifying, delineating etc. – culture was given the same weight was a special feature of the event.

The closing day began with a powerful short video, available on YouTube. The conference site will display the rest of the contributions, including the summaries prepared by the rapporteurs of the four sections. The annotated programme of the section that BO was in charge of can be seen here

Culture ministers’ dilemma

The creative industries obviously received central attention at the Budapest conference. It has intrigued BO for long, how the concept of the creative sector is best and smoothly inserted into the existing structures of cultural governance. This knowhow can be useful for late followers: cultural policy makers who love to quote statistics about the achievements of design, advertisement, computer games etc, but are still not sure what exactly they, and their ministries can do for even higher achievements. BO browsed the Baltic practices for the answer to the dilemma. 

Help us to be more

You can do so by reading the manifesto of an EU-wide cultural advocacy campaign, and by following the instructions.

Now they are eleven

Four very different events are entitled to bear the Council of Europe Cultural Event label. Since the launching of the distinction in 2008, there are altogether eleven such events. Deadline of next applications is 30 June. (At selection, the organisation faces similar dilemmas to those in our project of assessing festivals.)

Going to cinema 2003-2010

On the occasion of Berlinale, the most European of film festivals, the Strasbourg based European Audiovisual Observatory habitually releases the (preliminary) data about cinemas in Europe in the previous year. BO distilled a few sets of figures from the latest press release and compared it to those of 2003, from the same source. Here is attendance figures first. It was a shock for BO to find how much the east is lagging behind the west in the seemingly most democratic cultural pastime of going to cinema. The left columns show per capita visits to a cinema in 2003, the right column in 2010.



Countries in the eastern half are catching up (except for Hungary), but still, the one Pole – one film annual average is way behind the one Frenchman – more than three films a year.

National share 2003-2010

We did the same exercise with the data about the national share on the cinema market. (Left column 2003, right column 2010.) This indicator shows great fluctuation over the years: one local success can sometimes swell the figures in a single year. In case of Turkey, however, the increase of the amount of Turkish films explains why in 2010 more tickets were sold to national films than foreign ones, including Hollywood!



The general picture is positive. In twelve out of the 18 countries more people went to see national productions last year than seven years earlier. Czechs chose a Czech film once out of three occasions in 2010, which shows a different pattern from the rest of east-central Europe.

Romania is a mystery on both graphs. How come that the international esteem that Romanian films have accomplished in the past few years finds no reflection in the national statistics?