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Albania/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.3 Associations of citizens, advocacy groups, NGOs and advisory panels

There are no associations of citizens or advocacy groups dealing with cultural issues. Cultural NGOs are, as a rule, small non-profit entities run by individuals. The average Albanian citizen unfortunately is still highly individualistic and reluctant to all collective organisations. A few exceptions simply prove the rule. Another reason for that is policy and decision-makers' stubbornness and the lack of a lobbying tradition.

Under Communism, there was the League of Artists and Writers (LAW), a huge organisation gathering every individual working in the arts. The League published a weekly paper, a bi-monthly literary magazine, a quarterly arts magazine, series of books and had considerable assets and subsidies. In the early 1990's, financial support fell drastically and the League faced a severe financial crisis. Some artists proposed that the League be changed into an umbrella organisation for the new artist unions and associations that were being established. Unfortunately that did not happen. In a pure totalitarian attitude, fellow members contributed to fragmentation and exclusion. When film artists formed their association, they were expelled from the League and the same happened with musicians and visual artists. Finally, writers could claim the League belonged to them only and changed its name into the League of Artists. But it didn't stop there. Supporters of those who did not make it to win the League elections in 1996 established an alternative organisation namely the League of Anti-communist Writers, implying that the League had remained a communist organisation. Indeed, the fight was for the control of the League's capital and financial resources. The battle went on for almost a decade, through protests, petitions, lawsuits and court decisions. The League lost its support and eventually was "captured" by the "anti-communists" in 2005. A year later, the government decided to take back the building that had served as the Leagues historic site and cut off all financing. This time there was nobody to stand up for the League. The building became the new site of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the League was dissolved.

A pure exception is the case of the film industry. The Law on Cinema of 1996 required for the then sole Association of Film Artists to have the exclusive right of selecting members of all National Film Centre boards. In 2005, two alternative associations were formed and all three joined efforts to lobby and eventually succeeded in amending the Law allowing for all associations to share this right. As a result, now there are six associations and they all share the same right, through a joint assembly.

Chapter published: 18-01-2011

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