Memo February 2016


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in February 2016

Enter Cinderella. 

The Cinderella in European cultural policies

The one-third slice in bright colour has no real name or statistical code, thus no place in the European discourse. And this is a problem. Also that it was not addressed in the latest study on cultural statistics. Read more about it on seven pages.


Self-identification of cultural centres, implying cautious steps of harmonisation, may enhance the emancipation of Cinderella. Open for centres in all of Europe. Deadline: 15 March. 


Does the term apply to conferences? It certainly does if a seminar evolves into an intensive course on sustainable cultural management. In summer, in Greece. Deadline: 15 March.


The International Fund for Cultural Diversity has launched its seventh round of funding. Criteria are fairly general but only request from “developing” countries are accepted. Quite a few of these are in Europe, even with EU membership. You can browse among projects that were funded before. Here was a bit more on the background. Deadline: 15 April.

Urban culture

Cities can delegate participants to study visits in Aarhus, Antwerp, Barcelona, Regensburg or Vilnius. Some of you may remember the previous call in the project. Deadline: 21 March.

Urban life

Eurobarometer asked people about the quality of life in 79 cities (and four urban conglomerations). 99% in Zurich are satisfied, followed by Oslo and Aalborg with 98%. Inhabitants of Athens are by far the least satisfied at 63%, preceded by Palermo 76% and Naples 77%.

Cities in the eastern EU member states (in orange) are concentrated in the middle (the median). And here is the great question about Białystok, what made it the most liveable city in the region? Its satisfaction rate is 96%, matched by Tallinn only. The two eastern cities lagging behind are Miskolc 83% and Bucharest 81%. (Q3.4 On the whole, are you satisfied with the place where you live?)

Among a dozen other aspects people were also asked about the cultural facilities in the city. The two graphs tell that citizens are a bit more critical about cultural facilities than general conditions. Maybe the latter is too broad to think that one’s opinion changes anything while it is worth grumbling about concert halls, theatres, museums or libraries.

Most satisfied are inhabitants in Vienna 97%, Zurich 95% and Helsinki 94%. Most critical are in Valletta, European Capital of Culture in 2018, with 34% satisfaction, before Heraklion 53% and Diyarbakir 55%.

From east-central Europe Cracow 92% and Prague 90% are near the top. Least happy about cultural facilities in the region are citizens in Piatra Neamț 66% and Burgas 67% but Sofia and Bucharest are uncomfortable near with 70%. (Would you believe though that their rate of satisfaction with cultural facilities is still higher than in Madrid or Rome?)

With strong glasses you can spot your city, too.

External relations

An important study appeared on cultural institutes of European member states abroad. It matches the one done by Interarts and the predecessor of Culture Action Europe in 2003. Regretfully the websites of the two organisations offer no track but the Commission has kept the summary and the text available.    

Similarly to the first post in this memo, the examination of a cultural area is done through its characteristic institutions: the inspection of foreign cultural outposts serves for the analysis of the field of cultural diplomacy of the EU. And as it is with socio-culture, also here, too, difficulties begin with the name. Most stakeholders in cultural diplomacy prefer terms like culture in external relations, (international) cultural relations or cultural cooperation (in the 2003 study).

The scrutiny of the network of over 2000 institutions that employ about 30 000 people worldwide serves to answer the question that the previous study put to governments 12 years earlier: “Would it be too difficult to emerge from a logic of diplomacy, bureaucracy and promotion to engage in another dimension of cooperation?”

The study describes and dissects this huge soft power arsenal of the 28 member countries – which Brexit would effectively bisect as from the 2.3 billion euro global turnover of the network 1.2 billion belongs to the British Council.

The key issues of the paper include the analysis of coordinated actions like EUNIC; beyond increasing the impact of the cultural mosaic of Europe there are projects that promote common or fundamental EU values. Yet these initiatives rarely if ever involve (the cultures of) those member states that are not represented institutionally in the given place.

The study is inquisitive about the role of EU Delegations in this regard and lists concrete proposals. BO enhances the initiative of Europa Houses as joint cultural centres (Teheran and Kiev are suggested to start with). Instead of diluted “European” messages, they can present productions from all over the EU. Programming should include topics like freedom of speech, women's rights and the fight against xenophobia. Even more welcome is the idea of Pop-up Europe Houses – a flexible model whereby spaces could be rented jointly to showcase Europe for a six-month duration.

BO is eager to look for these proposals in the relevant “communication” under preparation at various directorates in the European Commission and planned to be adopted during the first half of 2016.


The fuller version of the Cultural Climate Barometer is available. It shows more details and tells about the background of the instrument.