The Slovenia Times

No resolution on funding of culture NGOs adopted


Ljubljana - The parliamentary Culture Committee debated on Thursday funding of NGOs in the culture sector only to end the session, which was requested by the opposition Democrats (SDS) amid a recent Fotopub sexual abuse scandal, without adopting any resolutions the party had put forward.

The SDS wanted the MPs to urge the Culture Ministry to prepare an analysis of which NGOs received public funds in 2012-2021 and whether they used them prudently.

SDS MP Alenka Jeraj said the ministry had provided EUR 55 million to culture NGOs in the last decade, much more than the 20 million the state allocated to care homes.

She believes the ministry does not exercise sufficient oversight over these funds, and asked its representatives whether any audits had been carried out.

Jeraj listed among the cases of wasteful allocation of funds Fotopub, a gallery managed by Dušan Smodej that is at the centre of alleged sexual abuse of young women, and pointed out that the gallery had failed to submit reports on its operations.

The MP also pointed to the Centre for Slovenian Literature, which published a poetry collection offensive to the SDS, and the Mladinsko Theatre for using a torn Slovenian flag in one of its productions.

Jeraj said the reason for calling the committee's session was the party's desire to highlight that the funding of NGOs might not be in line with all the strategies and guidelines that the state had set itself in the field of culture.

Culture Minister Asta Vrečko explained that such analysis had not been carried out under any of the ministers so far, but she had set up a directorate for development of culture policies at the ministry to also deal with such matters.

She said that Fotopub had received funds as part of the 2017-2021 call for public funding and had not yet produced the final report despite being urged to do so.

"If it fails to meet these obligations, the NGO will no longer have a chance to apply for funds in future calls," she said.

Vrečko noted NGOs in culture having been often a target of smearing in recent years, which is in her view offensive to culture workers.

She does not consider the Culture Committee to be the right place to discuss sexual harassment, although its existence in society and culture cannot be denied.

Tjaša Pureber, acting head of the new directorate, said systemic measures were needed to ensure that abuses do not continue. She also noted that no document so far had mentioned ensuring a safe working environment.


More from Culture