Memo October 2017


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

Is there a climate change after all?

Barometer reloaded

  1. Government budget reflects low priority for culture
  2. Marginal place of the arts in school curricula
  3. Education does not prepare for contemporary culture
  4. Cultural policies lack relevance to fundamental issues of society
  5. Unequal access to culture across the country

This was the top of the list of problematic factors exposed by our cultural climate barometer in 2014 and 2015. The report of course revealed meaningful differences between west and east, and along other geopolitical divisions, as well as between professional groups.

Please, join the Cultural Climate Barometer 2017 to learn about the current conditions of culture in various parts of Europe. Is Diminishing resources for local (municipal) culture still the issue that distinguishes most between eastern and western countries? And whether the following are the most positive features like two-three years ago – where they prevail?

  1. Cultural life is not overwhelmed by commercial forces
  2. Limited direct political influence into cultural matters
  3. Impressive professional level of cultural managers

You will learn the answers before the end of 2017.

Film festivals in thousands

Internet knows about 6000 film festivals across the world. The International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations, FIAPF acts as a global regulator among them. As of 2017, FIAPF provided accreditation to 17 feature film festivals worldwide, the majority in Europe: Berlin, Cannes, San Sebastian, Venice, Vienna, Locarno, Karlovy VaryTallinnWarsawMoscow, Mar Del Plata, Montreal, Toronto, Cairo, Goa, Shanghai, Tokyo.

East-central Europe is well represented also on the FIAPF list of 26 accredited specialised film festivals ranging from fantasy to children’s films: ClujKyivMinskSarajevoSofianext to ten more from western Europe, two from Turkey and eleven from the rest of the world. Only five documentary and short film festivals are accredited by FIAPF in 2017 (including Kraków).

What about America? In film, the USA is a separate empire, with the Oscar as the main currency. FilmFreeway records the 41 festivals that qualify for the Oscars. This list includes short and documentary film festivals and seven events in Europe, yet none of the 41 figure among the 48 accredited by FIAPF.

For more, visit Filmfestivals, “the social network for film and festival professionals”.

Winners and losers

The Creative Europe programme cares about film festivals, too. This year 3.2 billion euro was spent on 65 events. Among the 181 losers French, Polish, Serbian and especially Italian festivals are in largest numbers. While the Baltic balance is four applications – four grants.

A shortlist of three

Just like last November, members of the European Parliament will vote for the Lux Prize Winner from the three films selected by a panel in summer. The Process remains the same, otherwise the programme has grown in complexity


Two more portals

This time BO took a look at the cultural ministry websites of Romania and Ireland.



The standard information is displayed in great abundance and in most cases in very user friendly manner (e.g. relevant laws). What in our eyes particularly distinguishes the Romanian portal from its peers are two things:

  • Strong prominence is given to the European Union
  • The amount of reporting and evaluation is beyond imagination

As to the former, openness to the outer world is well exemplified by the current news about a national conference of cultural managers held in conjunction with Encatc.

While some of the many formalised evaluative reports are rather sterile for the outsider, the annual and multiannual reports of the institutions are full of information. One feels special thrill at reading the records of selecting and assessing senior managers, years back. (Like in gymnastics and figure skating, top score is rarely given. Nevertheless theatre legend and former minister Ion Caramitru was bestowed full 10.00-s.)  

An interesting read is the farewell report of former minister Corina Şuteu.


BO finds this website particularly good looking. The nice look is also combined with easy handling. In this vain, the current strategy is clear and reasonable, finances are digestible (no faint pictures of the balance sheet with alternating portrait and landscape pages). The reports on the Arts Council, the Heritage Council, as well as the national City of Culture (Limerick) are informative for those interested in these institutions.

While there is little reference to the EU, Brexit receives special treatment as one of four special initiatives.

Another distinctive feature is the chapter on the Irish language, Gaeltacht. Among others, this sphere of the minister’s responsibility includes the care about the demographics of a handful of islands.

Barometer shortcut

Those who prefer instant solutions, may express their opinion on the climate of culture by returning this memo after they marked their choices below.

Cultural Climate Barometer 2017

What are the most problematic factors for culture in your country? MARK FIVE (underline only five), please:

o    Absence of clear goals and transparent planning

o    Contemporary creation gets too little priority

o    Cultural policies lack relevance to fundamental issues of society

o    Declining private contributions (sponsorship, philanthropy)

o    Deteriorating financial position of the public

o    Diminishing resources for local (municipal) culture

o    Education does not prepare for contemporary culture

o    Excessive political influence in cultural matters

o    Exodus of cultural talent from the country

o    Failures in engaging excluded social groups to culture

o    Favouritism and biases in the distribution of public grants

o    Financing mainstream institutions dominates government budgets

o    Government budget reflects low priority for culture

o    Hegemonic influence of commercialism

o    Indifference of the political and economic elite

o    Ineffective incentives for private sponsorship and philanthropy

o    Inefficient coordination with other sectors

o    Lack of visionary leadership

o    Low professional level of cultural managers

o    Marginal place of the arts in school curricula

o    Outmoded structure of cultural institutions

o    Public's one sided preference for easy entertainment

o    Too little promotion of culture in the media

o    Too much emphasis on culture’s impact on the economy

o    Unequal access to culture across the country

o    Vanity projects absorb too much money

o    Weak culture ministry

Could you name further problematic factors? .......

Your country: ........

Your primary background (please, underline one):  music – theatre, danse, opera or other performing art  –  visual arts  –  built heritage  – heritage (collections)  –   library – literature  –  media  –  film  –  research  – education – administration  –  other (cultural animation, management, observation etc.): ...

You can go on and express yourself on the brighter side. What are the most positive factors that affect culture in your country? MARK FIVE, please.

o    Balanced subsidies between mainstream institutions and new or small-scale initiatives

o    Conscious efforts at equalising access to culture across the country

o    Contemporary creation is in focus

o    Cultural life is not overwhelmed by commercial forces

o    Cultural policies respond to fundamental issues of society

o    Culture is amply promoted in the media

o    Education prepares successfully for contemporary culture

o    Effective incentives generate private contributions (sponsorship, philanthropy)

o    Efficient coordination mechanisms exist between culture and other policy fields

o    Fair procedures in the distribution of public grants

o    Government budget reflects priority for culture

o    Impressive professional level of cultural managers

o    In school curricula the arts are given an important place

o    Level of private contribution (sponsorship, philanthropy) is stable and important

o    Limited direct political influence into cultural matters

o    Limited instances of vanity projects that absorb huge sums of money

o    Local (municipal) culture receives necessary resources

o    Policies reflect visionary leadership

o    Political and economic elite demonstrates appreciation for culture

o    Proper attention is given to culture's impact on the economy

o    Public's attention is balanced between entertainment and deeper cultural challenges

o    Stable financial situation of the public

o    Strong and influential culture ministry

o    Structure of cultural institutions has been adapted to today's needs

o    Successes in the inclusion of disadvantaged social groups into culture

o    The country attracts cultural talent from abroad

o    Transparent procedures in policy decisions and planning

Could you name further positive factors? .......

Thank you!