Memo May 2017


A memo sent to correspondents, friends and acquaintances of the Budapest Observatory (BO) in May 2017

Labels, prizes, awards, challenges, ministers.

714 remarkable festivals

The list of festivals that can wear the EFFE Label in 2017-2018 was announced in Wiesbaden. The distinction confirms their confessed commitment to artistic excellence and innovation, community involvement and European engagement.

The organisers of the EFFE programme plan to couple the symbolic value of the label with practical benefits. Accordingly, the event, hosted by Rheingau Music Festival, combined splendour with work: the picture shows as festival organisers discuss issues connected to their undertakings in small buzz groups. The trio in the corner signalled when it was time to shift topic by playing a tune.

108 promoted writers

Twelve emerging European authors, with two to four books on their record, and particularly one, that was published in the last 18 months and was found excellent by a national jury (although not yet translated to more than four languages) stood on a stage in Brussels at this year’s ceremony of the EU prize for literature. This was not a contest between countries because the twelve countries had been defined long before.  

Four of the twelve are women; on one occasion, in 2015 the gender rate was the opposite with eight female writers. Altogether, out of the 108 writers that received the prize since 2009 47% are women.

This year Sine Ergün was the youngest, with whom Turkey became the sixth country to offer the prizes exclusively to women at all three times (after France, Germany, Lithuania, Slovenia and Sweden), which is one more item on an impressive listThe eldest winner is from Iceland; BO appreciates the decision to consider a writer in her 67th year as emerging.

The jury in Malta chose a Palestinian author, the second writer with a refugee background after a Dutch choice in 2011.

The EU Prize for Literature could be held an exemplary action if it had not hijacked the EU translation grant programme to an unhealthy degree.

31 heritage distinctions

This year’s winners of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage received their distinctions in Turku. Among the 29 awarded buildings, projects, institutions and persons, as usual, the post-communist area is properly represented with twos from Croatia, Czechia and Romania; one each from Estonia, Georgia and Poland. Europe’s eastern half is furthermore represented by two Greek prizes and a Cypriot one.

Europa Nostra awarded 650 projects between 1978 and 2001, another 455 projects since 2002 in conjunction with the European Commission. 231 winners of the latest period since 2010 are displayed in an easily searchable fashion.

Why 31 in 2017? In addition to the 29 prizes two more were awarded from outside the Creative Europe remit. We highlighted them blue in the press release tailored to Ireland. Europa Nostra prepared personalised statements for 21 nations: see also the Romanian and the Georgian versions.    

Urban challenges

How to maintain momentum when your city has just missed becoming a European capital of culture? How to raise the joint profile of successful urban festivals? How to attract digital nomads to a place where some of the conditions are ideal? And how to run a palace of contemporary dance that bears all signs of an oversized EU project? Beyond the fame of olives and a reputable EFFE festival, such questions expected the coaching team arriving in Kalamata at the foot of Mount Taygetos.


The 3541st Council meeting

EU culture ministers kept their habit of coming together in May. The long march for an EU strategy for international cultural relations has reached an important milestone as the Council adopted “conclusions in this regard. Connected to this is that after their parliament ratifies the deal, Tunisians will be the first nation on the African continent – also the first Arab country – to fully participate in the Creative Europe programme from 2018.

From page 15 in the outcome text of the 3541st meeting you can check the topics that the ministers discussed in the field of culture. One of the themes is a short Italian proposal with the intriguing title Mobility in culture. (A topic that will certainly be in the focus of next week’s intensive bunker gathering.)

You can watch two-minute interviews with – among others – the ministers of Croatia, Estonia and Slovakia. BO finds symptomatic which two countries were not represented with ministers, not even with state secretaries, at the meeting: Hungary and Poland.