Memo March 2011


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

Most of these passages are taken up by three conferences. BO attended two physically, and one virtually.

Following up

We were eager to find out whether the flagship cultural conference in the frames of the Hungarian EU presidency had some impact on EU culture ministers, who met informally in Gödöllő last week. BO was not there but did what you are also advised to do: checked the webpage of the meeting.

You will find the customary bragging about the dynamic advances of the neighbouring areas to culture, namely of the creative industries, without further specifying its bearing on cultural policies on local and EU levels. On the new deal, as Philippe has put it. How does it relate to the shrinking of public support to culture across Europe?

For your own unbiased view read the presentations and summaries of the Smart Growth section of the Budapest conference, mostly about creativity and the creative sector. (One of them is in a truly creative format.)

Following down

BO acknowledged with chagrin that in spite of the lively contribution of at least three speakers (Marta, Miguel and Nadezhda) at the Inclusive Growth section of the Budapest conference, the role and function of community culture centres (houses of culture) was not mentioned in Gödöllő in relation to the human condition of economic success. The struggle for the recognition of socio-cultural animation as a sub-sector, with special institutions, professionals, functions and activities of its own continues.

Particularly in eastern Europe a sizeable amount of public cultural budgets goes to this rubric. Tens of thousands of professionals are employed for the function. Now try to fit them into the recently revised statistical framework of Unesco (graph on page 24):

Measuring culture

Otherwise the session called Measurable Growth was the real bonus of the Budapest conference: browsing those presentations and summaries will convince you. This strong section may have influenced the Gödöllő meeting to reiterate the necessity of improving the measurement of culture.

Enjoy the variety of colourful graphs by Róbert. Nevertheless, do not expect Inna or Valérie to offer any hope for overcoming the neglect of socio-cultural animation in statistics.

Capital of books

Ljubljana is world book capital for one more fortnight when Buenos Aires takes over. After a year, however, the title returns to Europe, to Yerevan. After a brief earlier encounter with a book capital, BO was now in the middle of one of its programmes, the World Book Summit. The keynote speakers outlined possible scenarios vis-à-vis the advances of the electronic book: Jens in an entertaining, Mike in a sobering manner. 

The diagrams showed by BO included one that illustrates how in the early 1990s English rocketed towards acquiring near-monopoly among the originals of translated books. Fortunately, the trend halted in 1996 and remained somewhat over 60% until the year of the last (relatively) reliable data of the Index Translationum of Unesco. Unfortunately though, the long tail, the multitude of really little spread languages, including Albanian, Farsi, Gallegan, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Slovene, Ukrainian etc. failed to profit from this. Instead, the group of literatures occupying the 2nd to 26th position in quantity (ranging from French to Turkish) managed to slightly confirm their combined rank on the European publishing arena.

The same was earlier demonstrated by the example of one country, also in the frames of a Literature Across Frontiers report. 

Also in the Charter

We complemented the page that shows the occurrences of the word culture and its cluster in the fundamental treaties of the European Union – and now also in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Remembering Mark

A number of organisations, as well as private persons joined forces for sake of establishing a prize on comparative cultural policy, in honour of the late Mark Schuster. The deadline for 2011 submissions is the 30th of May. For all other details go to the LabforCulture website.