3.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy
Since the merger of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture, there has been a decrease in the government's interest (and funding) in cultural activities in general. No significant efforts have been seen to establish co-operation between the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The latter has announced a major plan aimed at setting up a network of "Albanian Institutions" abroad, but to date this is only, and merely, a statement.
Unlike Albanian public institutions, foreign cultural agencies have been increasingly active in promoting their respective national and European cultural values in Albania. Especially, the Italian Institute and the Alliance Française have sponsored a wide range of activities, from translation and book publishing, to drama productions and live concerts. The Italian Institute is a promoter and major sponsor of "Allegretto Albania", a series of classical music concerts in major cities, while the Alliance Française organises the annual French Cultural Festival, a multi-disciplinary event.
A major actor in this field remains the Swiss Cultural Council - Pro Helvetia, which also supports projects with a national or regional profile. Recently, the British Council has been expanding its services, including library and home video rentals.
The major instruments used in international cultural relations are bi-lateral co-operation agreements. A good example in this matter is the 2002 agreement between Albania and Italy, which paved the way for two co-productions of feature films, the first ever with Albanian and Italian money.
Another agreement, between the Albanian and Italian ministries of education, has allowed many Albanian students to study arts and culture at Italian universities. In addition, opera and classical music institutions from Italy, France, Germany and Austria, have been offering training courses and internships for Albanian singers and musicians, thus helping many of them to start an international career abroad.
Due to a lack of interest in international cultural co-operation, the Albanian government provides no specific funding programmes for projects of this kind. However, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture provides limited and decreasing funding, benefiting events such as international drama and film festivals or classical music summer festivals.
Within the framework of regional cooperation, the Meeting of CEI Heads of Government held in Tirana on 23 November 2006 approved the Plan of Action for 2007-2009, which includes cultural cooperation. Since 1995, Albania is one of the members of this inter-regional initiative which aims to promote regional cooperation. The key elements of CEI cultural cooperation in the next years will be the development of projects related to intercultural dialogue and the preservation of cultural diversity in Central Europe, as well as the promotion of activities aiming at the conservation of cultural heritage, jointly with the transfer of know-how in cultural management. Additional activities aimed at advancing the ability of governments and civil society as a whole in the preparation, financing and implementation of cultural projects could be implemented especially in the following areas: support to cultural policies as a contribution to socio-economic development (cultural industries development; cultural tourism; sponsorship and donations to the arts) sponsoring cross-border cooperation in the field of arts, including the mobility of individuals and groups. Training programmes as well as seminars and workshops will be organised under the initiative of member countries with the aim of promoting various aspects of cultural dialogue, also aiming at the preservation of cultural diversity. Management of cultural institutions and the introduction of a modern administrative approach, including issues related to public subsidies, private sponsorship, ways and means of making culture especially attractive to the public, will be analysed in seminars and workshops organised by CEI member states, including Albania.