Culture sector hopeful of change under new govt

Ljubljana – Arts and culture NGOs called on Tuesday for the restoration of the reputation of the culture ecosystem as a whole after it was undermined by the outgoing government, and for support of NGOs and freelance culture workers. The head of the National Council for Culture expects an action plan with clear culture-policy goals.

Putting forward its expectations in the face of the pending change in power, the Asociacija group of arts and culture NGOs and freelancers said it wants the new government to secure stability, development and professionalisation, as well as improve the social situation of self-employed culture workers.

Asociacija told the STA the culture ecosystem needed to be built thoughtfully, in a sustainable fashion and “returned to the centre of people’s lives”.

It said it was necessary to immediately address and fix “the inappropriate attitude toward nongovernmental culture – NGOs and the self-employed, which has permeated almost all areas of the Culture Ministry’s activities”.

The issues highlighted include “the problematic attitude in the adopted resolution on the National Programme for Culture”, the damage and injustices seen in funding for creativity and media content, non-transparent appointments of commissions, and the undermining of NGOs’ access to infrastructure and of status requests by freelances.

The NGOs feel that the results of the election could herald a change for the better, with the parties forming the new government having shown some understanding of the issues at hand at the only election campaign debate dedicated to the culture sector.

The head of the National Council for Culture Uršula Cetinski expects the new culture minister to draw up a four-year action plan with clear cultural policy objectives and submit it for public debate within 100 days of taking office.

The adoption of important laws, such as the act on museums and performing arts, could solve many problems, said Cetinski, who also called for a reform of the law on the implementation of public interest in culture.

The boss of Slovenia’s pre-eminent arts centre Cankarjev Dom moreover pointed to a host of projects that should be seen as a priority directly by the prime minister, among them the construction of the new national library, “the brain of the country and the nation, which we have been building since 1989 and spent EUR 29.3 million on until 2007”.

The restoration of Ljubljana Drama Theatre and the securing of proper premises for the Museum of Natural History should not be delayed either, according to Cetinski.

She is not sure the Culture Ministry should remain in charge of the media segment, noting that “in Europe, some countries are resolving the complex and rapidly changing media landscape under the auspices of economy ministries, which supposedly allows for greater ideological neutrality”.

“The Culture Ministry, of course, participates in the financing of deficit content. Perhaps a shift in this segment would give the ministry more space to deal with art that is of particular importance,” Cetinski argued.