Memo September 2014

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A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in September 2014

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Barometer reloaded

Regardless of their readiness to complain, people engaged in culture are basically positively oriented, which made them feel comfortable about an exercise that focuses on the negative aspects of national cultural policies. Yet they entered the game in nice numbers and facilitated the birth of the first BO barometer report.

The barometer indicated clear division between western and eastern countries in Europe (old and “new” democracies) a year ago. Excessive political influence was found to be the greatest plague in the post-communist half, coupled with favouritism and lack of transparency.

Have the past twelve months brought about conversion between the two basic poles? Will the north and south, or else the south-east and north-west manifest clearer profiles and culture policy features than what the first report revealed? You can contribute to the answers (tomorrow).

Festival labels

Coming: European quality labels for festivals!

 EFFE (Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe) is a two-year EU project of the European Festivals Association – EFA. In this first year festivals are encouraged to apply for the label, deadline 15 November. Assessment is done at country level administered by national hubs. An international jury will select “the most adventurous and exciting festivals” to hand over European awards on a gala in the autumn of 2015. The head of this jury has just been announced.

Cultural policy jamboree in Lower Saxonia

BO missed an opportunity to maybe never come back. Over 400 people interested in culture policy research have gathered at a mere 1000 kilometres from our office, in Hildesheim. The next global conference on cultural policy research (ICCPR) will be held at 8000 kilometres, in Seoul in 2016. (The story began in the past century. 140 delegates came together in Bergen in 1999.)

“Are we just playing an academic career game? Or are we agents of change in a development context?“ – quoted by Anke from the concluding statement in Hildesheim. Her impression was that cultural policy as social policy re-entered the stage, visibly rejuvenated, especially by the presence of delegates from other continents.

Cultural policy jamboree in Southern Moravia

Overseas participants added to the flavour of this year’s Encatc conference too, held in the historic centre of Brno, in streets named after eagles and Mozart. (BO was particularly impressed by the introduction to the consecutive stages of monitoring and financing cultural institutions in Hong Kong.)

Cultura viva

 Latin Americans found a shortcut for the semantic problem of how to call local community cultural activities (including amateur art) – cultura viva. There is a continent-wide movement around the concept: their site testifies about intensive activities. The name comes from Brazil, where the Grammy Award holder singer and culture minister launched the programme a decade ago, which culminated in a parliamentary act in July. (Some more in English.)

Participants of the first world summit of community cultural centres in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, were impressed by the presentation on cultura viva. Its impact may contribute to a fuller emancipation of local community cultural activities also in Europe.

Capitals of culture 2019

Veliko Tarnovo is difficult to access but easy to be charmed by. No wonder it was shortlisted next to Sofia, Varna and Plovdiv to become European Capital of Culture in 2019. The title finally went to Plovdiv.

Six Italian cities are preparing for the final audition on 16 October: CagliariLecceMateraPerugiaRavenna, and SienaThey have been selected from among fifteen candidates last November.

On Navracsics

 Diversity and plurality are fundamentals in the European Union. From this respect culture and citizenship are particularly sensitive areas. It was a brave pull from Jean-Claude Juncker to offer this portfolio to a politician who has been a chief architect of a regime that favours uniformity and breeds discord. Nevertheless Tibor Navracsics has managed to keep certain integrity, has refrained from saying or directly doing things that would irritate believers in democratic plurality, fairness, tolerance and other values of the EU. The post of commissioner for culture etc. offers good chances for compensation. Navracsics has the abilities and maybe the determination to do so.