Ljubljana – Asta Vrečko announced that her priorities as culture minister would be a development-oriented and inclusive culture policy, an overhaul of media legislation and of the status of the self-employed, as well as systemic investment in culture. The parliamentary Culture Committee endorsed her bid in a 9:6 vote on Tuesday.
Vrečko, a 37-year-old with a PhD in art history, believes the culture sector is characterised by the absence of a systematic cultural policy and strategic reflection.
She will therefore make efforts to develop a sustainable system of public calls for applications, protect cultural heritage and promote culture at international level.
While culture is traditionally on the margins of political interest, it has been further affected by the epidemic and the outgoing government’s attitude over the last two years.
Vrečko, 37, thus announced a thorough review of the decisions taken by her predecessor in office and restoration of dialogue with all stakeholders.
She also urged an end to political staffing and to the conflict between NGOs in culture and the ministry.
The new team at the Culture Ministry will try to place culture back to the centre of society. Culture needs to be “restored to its former prestige and importance”.
The Left’s candidate said she will be guided by her party’s guidelines – decent pay, decent living and working conditions, and social and health security.
An important task will be evaluating the consequences of the epidemic, adopting a programme to avert them alongside measures to revitalise culture and art.
She also announced more innovative practices of cultural heritage protection to involve communities in the process of conservation and management.
As for the audiovisual sector, the nominee said that the entire film chain needs to be given stable conditions to operate.
Her team will moreover develop cultural and artistic education and promote more cultural and artistic content in the media.
It will work to decentralise culture, promoting cultural exchanges with the Slovenian ethnic minorities in neighbouring countries and with the Italian and Hungarian ethnic minorities in Slovenia.
Her team will also commit to establishing an inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders in culture to draft a new, modern National Culture Programme.
They will strengthen the co-financing of cultural programmes and projects with European funds.
While the outgoing minister tried to evict the NGOs renting out offices in Metelkova Street from the ministry, she intends to let them stay there.
In the field of media, the first priority will be to take urgent measures to curb the political subjugation of the media.
The second step will be a thorough overhaul of media legislation, by adopting a new media law and a new law on public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, she announced.
Some of the questions from MPs concerned the media, with Vrečko saying that RTV Slovenija is a national media outlet and she will propose legislative changes so that political parties are no longer present in its bodies. “This is the first step in addressing the media legislation.”
She is also against media ownership concentration, and stressed that capital and politics should not interfere in the independence of the media. The minister “is no editor, curator or director, but creates infrastructural conditions for media workers to work”.
The nominee said the building in which SNG Drama Ljubljana, the country’s No. 1 theatre, works is in a poor shape, so addressing this issue will be one of her priorities.
As for the Stadium in Bežigrad borough, designed by architect Jože Plečnik, she would like to keep it as a piece of heritage in public use.
One of the questions referred to the Museum of Independence, a new institution created by the outgoing government, but Vrečko thinks experts should be consulted to see what has changed, if anything, about the content since the period of Slovenia’s independence is already covered by some other museums.