Memo August 2011

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

In memoriam Dragan Klaic (1950-2011), who died in an Amsterdam hospital on the 25th of August.

Honouring past diversity

The memory of the lively yesteryear multiculturalism of cities like Sarajevo (where he was born) or Novi Sad (where he had family ties) and many other in Europe was dear to Dragan. Similarly to his reservations voiced about the year of intercultural dialogue, he was little enthusiastic about another project promoted mainly by politicians and administrators, the European heritage label.    

Although near the final stage, there are some doubts whether the label initiative will indeed meet the expectations. We hold, and have put it in writing, that the real added value would be a specific European way of presenting and interpreting heritage – differently from the Europa Nostra award that we grumbled about. What could have been the right sequence (in our view) about the heritage label is contained in the last two paragraphs. 

Mobility of imagination

After the English original and a Latvian edition, Dragan’s book on the purpose and expected benefits of cross-border cultural collaboration is now coming out also in Polish.

The book was used at his university courses, too, which are recalled by some of his students at the Central European University.

Many people but him

A few days are left to the European Culture Congress to be held in Wrocław, a top event of the Polish presidency of the European Union. The congress site accordingly recommends the cultural programme of the presidency, and the presidency site informs about the congress, also about the culture ministers’ informal meeting held same time, same place.

Dragan was supposed to moderate the discussion about advocacy at the congress with his extraordinary wit, humour and intellectual elegance. Instead, we can read his introductory thoughts, the expression of a life-long campaign for a dynamic cultural scene, waged against petrified structures – especially in our parts of the world, in east Europe.

Czech bi-cycle

Our analysis of Culture 2000, the seven-year support programme of the European Commission has met with great interest. Since no-one paid for it, some incentive was required to go further along the road. Euclid International gave us the push as they were working on a similar report for the current Culture programme, to be available free to members of Connexus, their new international news and information service. The report, aimed both at policy makers as well as anyone interested in how well the various countries are doing, consists of descriptions like the following on 43 countries.

The wheel on the left shows from which countries did Czech leaders of 24 co-operation projects that won grants during the first five years of the Culture Programme between 2007-2011 involve 81 co-organisers. They chose the easy way by inviting 13 Slovak partners who speak a very similar language. On the other hand none of the next three countries is Slavic… On the whole, operators from post-communist countries (in orange) participated in Czech-led projects in nice numbers. The wheel on the right, standing for the 73 cases when a Czech cultural organisation was selected as a co-organiser, is rather dominated by western European countries. Slovaks did not choose Czech partners more often than Italians did.

       

What you cannot read from the two circles is how the Czech picture relates to the rest of participating countries: Is the 24 projects many or few? Are the 73 selected Czech partners close to the average? Are these two patterns very different from the others? Does the noticeable attraction of Czech partners for Austrian and French leaders mean a leading Czech position on the Austrian and French wheels? The Connexus report contains the answers.