Memo October 2015


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in October 2015

The BO barometer is online and activated. You may choose whether to respond before or after reading the memo.

On the air

What are the climatic conditions for culture in your country? Which are the strengths and the weaknesses? (And yes, the opportunities and threats...) What kind of cultural policy model prevails?

BO is launching the Cultural Climate Barometer 2015 in search of answers to these questions. The link to the survey will be alive for five weeks. Based on the responses from the actors of the culture scene in as many countries of Europe and beyond as possible, the barometer report will tell the main similarities and differences between the respective cultural ecologies. Changes revealed since the previous 2014 edition will also be highlighted.

The instrument has been evolving in several steps since the first pilot version in the autumn of 2013. Beyond the problematic factors for the vitality of culture, the current expanded variant also asks about the accommodating, positive aspects that affect the cultural ecosystem.

Voices of culture

And here is another opportunity to have your voice heard. In the struggle against alienation from citizens the European Commission resorts to various forms of participatory or deliberative democracy. One of these has been the Open Method of Coordination: lots of professionals, administrators, researchers and activists have had experiences in the fourteen OMC groups that have acted since the EU adopted the method also for culture matters in 2008.

The programme Voices of Culture intends to establish structured dialogue between the European Commission and the cultural sector. Here too is about workshop meetings but differently from the lasting OMC groups these collectives are recruited for a single brainstorming session in each of the five selected topics. Recruitment is done via open calls: two were issued in 2015. Those two sessions were held in summer. Here is the product of one of them, the resume of the brainstorming of thirty-three selected representatives of the sector on how to attract audiences by digital means.

One of the five topics for the project is still open. You may avail of this chance of direct democracy and vote. The online consultation is online until 18 November.   

Culture forum

The European Culture Forum is another form of “structured dialogue” between the administration and “das Volk”. Cultural operators flock to Brussels every second autumn to discuss current issues (and admittedly, to find out about prospective EU subsidies and investments).

Culture research prize

The ceremony of the ENCATC research award will be held at the eve of the Forum in Brussels. See the winners of last year and of the predecessor of this prize.

Writers’ prizes  

Svetlana Alexievich from Belarus received the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature. She is the ninth from east-central Europe in the 114 years of the award (after onetwothreefourfivesixseveneight – yes, she too).

Another pride for our region was the 2015 Man Booker International prize of László Krasznahorkai from Hungary (after Kadare in 2005).

Neustadt International, another prestigious literary prize, was founded by an American philanthropist family grown rich from oil. Out of the 23 prizes hitherto awarded (onetwothree came to our region.

Public libraries nominate books for the Dublin literary award in a transparent fashion: you can check their choices! One out of 21 prizes found its way to east Europe.

No wonder that every third winner of the Franz Kafka Prize is from the region.

Finally, pay a visit to the Princess  of Asturias cluster of distinctions. Literature is one of the eight awards, once decorating someone from our region. Worthy of your interest are the 2015 winners in two more categories: Coppola and Wikipedia (!).

World music

Continuing the theme of prizes in culture: three Womex awards were handed over on the closing session of this year’s world music expo, which attracted more companies and people than ever.



This was the 20th edition of the fair (BO caught sight of the 15th, held then for the fourth time in Sevilla). The expo was held for the first time in east-central Europe, in the strict sense as Thessaloniki is really next door. Hopefully artists from the region could benefit from the occasion, as once only did the award come here.

The 57 performers showcased during the fair were selected from a large number of applicants (disregarding the opening and closing stage shows). Every single performer at each of the former 19 fairs is properly archived and presented. 

The base of Womex is in Berlin, just as that of the chart of world music broadcast in Europe. The latest top twenty includes one item from our region and one more with a very telling name.

Gentle reminder

This is the way to the BO barometer.