The Slovenia Times

Parties in favour of more funds for arts and culture


Many refer to 2009 as the benchmark year, with the ministry's budget topping EUR 214m, whereas the opposition Democrats (SDS) would be happy with slightly over EUR 178m from 2008.

The non-parliamentary Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) says culture lacks some EUR 40m to get to the 2009 level, so given the inflation, the cultural budget should amount to around 2% of GDP, a figure those working in arts and culture have been calling for.

The senior coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) would gradually raise the ministry's budget to top EUR 200m at the end of the next government's term, which it says is roughly 0.5% of GDP.

The fellow coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) promotes a gradual rise to 1.5% of GDP for culture, but believes the sector should also be encouraged to more efficiently draw funds from other sources.

In their manifestos several parties call for culture to be given more prominence in government polices and society in general.

This is also reflected in the titles of chapters on culture in parties' manifestos; the junior coalition Social Democrats (SD) for instance write about "Fresh Impetus for Culture".

They believe culture "should again be put in the centre of the public interest", while DeSUS, whose Tone Peršak is culture minister, sees it as "a key trademark of Slovenia's".

Meanwhile, the SDS, which tops opinion polls ahead of the LMŠ, believes culture is not just a matter of identity but also "the foundation of economic wealth".

The LMŠ says culture should be understood as "a field of social innovation" and given more prominence in government policies.

Thus most of the parties, just like many stakeholders in culture, believe Slovenian culture should be reorganised, and hence financed in a different manner.

Currently, national cultural institutions such as museums, theatres and galleries with their artist and non-artist employees are funded from the ministry's budget.

However, many self-employed artists or free-lancers are actually precarious workers, which many stakeholders agree is one of the more burning problems.

While some parties, for instance the LMŠ, give no solution to what is termed "the cultural model", others, such as the SD, SDS, SMC and the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) would amend legislation to bring change.

Among the fields the parties would focus on if in government is lower taxation of books; film, which should get more funds; and heritage, which many believe should be better integrated into tourism.

Books are currently subject to 9.5% tax, the lower of the two VAT rates, but the Left and DeSUS advocate zero rate, while the SDS would lower it to 5%.

As for NGOs and the self-employed, there is a consensus change is needed, yet only the NSi, Left and SDS give concrete solutions, including more funds for the artists' social status.

The SDS would also consider a special law to enable the self-employed and private cultural institutions which are in the public interest to set up a cooperative which would be co-funded by the state.

Interestingly, the non-parliamentary Pirate Party would promote culture by giving those who turn 18 a one-year ticket to visit cultural institutions.


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