Memo May 2016


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

The greater part of this memo is in the attachment to the last entry.

World trade

The Montreal-based statistical institute of Unesco published a global overview of the international trade of cultural commodities and services. The downloadable huge volume includes 7 boxes, 43 tables and 66 figures. The most important points are summarised in 12 “highlights” on page 11: here Europe appears once, China twice.

Eurostat offers easier digestable information on the subject. BO extracted a table for you on the share of culture in the total export and import of the respective countries in 2013.

Among European countries it is in the UK that cultural goods count the most in the international trade with 1.8% of all exports. Also at importing culture, only the Swiss outdo the British.

On the whole, Europeans buy a bit more culture from abroad than what they sell. The most affluent countries typically have a negative balance: Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, Luxembourg and Norway import considerably more than what they export. Conversely, the three Baltic republics show positive balances in cultural trade, similarly to Turkey and Poland.

Being Hungarian, BO acknowledges with chagrin one more miserable position linked to 2013 (after this one).

If you go to the source, you can check in an interactive way how cultural export-import figures have changed since 2004.

Architecture in Venice

Since 2000, the architectural biennales took place every even-numbered year, leaving odd years to the Art Biennale. The awards of the current 15th Architecture Exhibition were announced a few days ago. From the three Golden Lions two – for an individual project and for lifetime achievement – went to Latin America, while Spain got the prize for the best national exhibition “for a concisely curated selection of emerging architects whose work shows how creativity and commitment can transcend material constraints” – to rouse your imagination.

There were a few more “special mentions” and a Silver Lion, but none for east-central Europe. No individual project was ever distinguished with an award from our region in the course of the 15 Architecture Exhibitions. The national shows received “mentions” in 2012 (Poland) and 2006 (Macedonia).

And there was 2008, when the Polish pavilion took the Golden Lion!

Ministers meet

Culture ministers of the European Union are having their council meeting while this memo is being edited. Whatever they conclude will be fundamentally influenced by the outcome of the voting on 23 June.

Creative bicycles

BO last examined the dynamics of cross-border European cultural collaboration based on EU grants last September. With the announcement of 66 winning cooperation projects a few weeks ago, the number of cross-border bonds grew to 1073. BO sorted all of them by the country of invitation and at the receiving end for you to browse the geography of cultural networking. This time we did not go as deep as the latest analysis because the basic patterns remained the same.

Slovenia is the incontestable east-central European champion in the Creative Europe programme. Its operators were selected 38 times – in the region only much bigger Poland could collect more – but the real achievement is the 60 partnership bonds that Slovenian project leaders have established in the past three years in 28 countries.



What to say about the difference from the Polish record?