Memo November 2012


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in November 2012

St. Nicolas has failed to bring us the new web site. We expect it now from Christkind.

Creative Europe in making

Although the first concentrated attempt to agree on the next seven year budget of the European Union failed, deliberations continue on the new Creative Europe programme. When the ministers of culture last met in November (at the 3201st Council Meeting), they cautiously “reached a partial general approach” about the programme. Some aspects still need further reflection – they thought – like the position of commercial cultural projects, and the issue of indicators.

The European Parliament is also busy improving the proposal. No fewer than 676 suggestions have been recorded to change the original 19-page text. If you are particularly concerned with one or other aspect of the programme, you can check what the MEP-s want to change about it. (The proposals follow the order of the text.) And if you want to know what happens to the proposed amendments, from page 83 of this “draft report” you can see what the MEP in charge thinks of the first 197 propositions.

Language transversally

MEPs are particularly eager to keep the strands based on the current Culture and Media programmes apart, At the same time, however, many of the amendments emphasise transversal elements. Linguistic diversity is such an issue. MEPs want to add subtitling and surtitling to literary translation (Art.10, para1, point d); also the Cypriot Presidency aims to change the new loan scheme (the “financial facility”) in favour of member states with restricted linguistic areas.

Governance in focus

The 3201st meeting of ministers adopted a paper on cultural governance. Or rather “a twin-track approach to the issue”: stressing evidence-based policy-making, and advocating integrated strategies.

By integrated strategies the document implies a more holistic conception of culture that can better harness its economic and social potential.

The same goal is behind the aspiration to promote culture to the rank of fourth pillar of development: this concept received great attention at the Culture Action Europe (CAE) conference also in November.

Evidence needed

The other track of the EU Council “conclusions” on governance, the issue of evidence was also addressed at the CAE conference. The grey line in the programme (p12) discussed what the ministers’ document calls qualitative indicators. It was disheartening to watch that the spectacular and ingenuous OECD Better Life Index lacks reference to culture. CAE pledges to take action for the recognition of culture’s role in well-being in the future.      

Some eyes glared up at the battle cry that cause and effect research is rubbish, down with academic hoobalaboo, we know we are fine…. Not fully in line with the new CAE credo: “What we can do for the European project, in what ways can we be useful?”

The recent study on access to culture touches upon the issue (p.55): “impact evaluation in this field can be extremely complex, both because of the difficulties of assessing the strength of correlations, and because of the difficulty in working with indicators around culture.”

That report, the product of an OMC (Open Method of Coordination) expert group includes a useful collection of audience building schemes, and offers a sound set of concluding recommendations. 

Ever more Europe

By the time this memo reaches you, More Europe, the year long string of debates has had its culmination event in Bozar of Brussels. BO attended the Warsaw stopover and was impressed by the attendance of the event (Eastern partnership was the central theme), as well as by the amount of public backing that a civic initiative can enjoy. The venue was impressive, too, a pride of the city, the Copernicus Science Centre, one of the eleven Polish members of ecsite, the European network of science centres and museums; exploring its genesis in great detail – although BO dug up the amount of EU investment (about €50 million) elsewhere.      

In an ideal world BO should have produced the cultural policy landscapes of 18 post-communist countries that was presented in Warsaw by the Austrian sponsor. BO found particular pleasure in the comparative analysis from p85 – seeking truths beyond facts.  

17 the 25th time

The European Film Awards has reached a jubilee. On the 25th occasion the most important of the seventeen categories (and a couple more) went to Amour / Love. Our region has harvested two awards: animated film, Tomáš Luňák CZ, and short film, Tudor Giurgiu RO. What about Maria Djurkovic, celebrated for her contribution to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy? "I am British-born but my mother is Czech, my father half-Russian, half-Montenegrin.”

Bonds of Europe

People were asked by Eurobarometer, the factory of qualitative intelligence: what can create a feeling of community among the citizens of the European Union. Five years ago people said culture and economy (euro, internal market etc) were the strongest glue. But today Europeans seem to attribute a weaker cohesive power to culture. True, a new item (healthcare, education and pensions) captured some of the votes from the original items. (More options were allowed, this is why the totals are high above 100%.)
















Solidarity with poorer regions






Healthcare, education, pensions












Inventions, science, technology







Does the clue lie with the eastern members? Not really. Five above, five below the EU average of 22%.