More budget funds for culture, but NGOs complain about cut for self-employed

Ljubljana – The parliamentary Culture Committee discussed on Monday a draft supplementary budget for 2022 and a draft budget for 2023, both of which raise funds for culture. The supplementary budget brings EUR 238 million, up EUR 8.4 million from the 2022 budget passed late last year, while the draft budget for 2023 brings culture a record EUR 244 million.

Breaking down the outlays, Culture Ministry State Secretary Ignacija Fridl Jarc said there would be more funds for audiovisual media, publishing, media, development of infrastructure for persons with sensory impairment, promotion and development of Slovenian language, and for contributions for religious workers.

There will also be more funds for investment in public culture infrastructure, and almost EUR 13 million in cohesion funds, part of which will go to Slovenia’s promotion at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2023.

In 2023, the culture sector will have EUR 6 million more compared to what is planned for 2022 for a record EUR 244 million, said Fridl Jarc.

Tadej Meserko, a member of the Asociacija NGO, which advocates the interests of self-employed culture workers and culture NGOs, highlighted a sharp drop in funds for “encouraging cultural creativity”, which is the source of funds for most NGOs in the culture sector.

The 2022 funds have been almost halved, from EUR 6.4 million envisaged in the 2022 budget passed last year to EUR 3.6 million in the draft supplementary budget.

In a letter addressed to the government, the Culture Ministry and the National Assembly last week, Asociacija said the cut “means a drop to one of the lowest levels of funding in the last 20 years”.

Asociacija sees the cut as the latest in a series of actions by the current government which are directed against culture NGOs.

The NGO says this is in complete contradiction with European values and trends as well as with the national strategy of development of the non-governmental sector.

Several centre-left opposition MPs expressed opposition to the cut for the non-governmental segment of culture in today’s debate.

But the state secretary said the funds for the non-governmental sector were featured in many other “budget items”, and if all were added, it became clear they were not being cut.

MP Violeta Tomić from the Left meanwhile pointed to the need to introduce a special “budget item” for self-employed culture workers.

Primož Siter, an MP for the Left, highlighted the committee’s resolution under which funds for film should gradually rise to EUR 11 million by 2022.

Fridl Jarc said the film funds were not just funds for the Slovenian Film Centre, but also for the Slovenian Cinematheque, the film studio Viba Film, etc. So if we add all these together, “we are already close to the desired result,” she said.

The state secretary also said the funds for the planned renovation of SNG Drama Ljubljana, the country’s leading national theatre, would come from the national recovery and resilience plan, meaning the renovation would be partly financed by EU funds.