7.1 Cultural infrastructure: tendencies & strategies
One of the steps taken since independence has been decentralisation of the cultural sphere, which was realised in 1995, just after the adoption of the Constitution. With the establishment of the new structure of regional governance and local self-governance, cultural organisations were passed to the jurisdiction of the community and regional governing bodies.
Strategically, this administrative decentralisation gave an opportunity to separate the role and place of the different authority levels in the cultural sphere. However, the policy carried out by the authorised body on culture (the Ministry of Culture), and financing, were not directed to the recovery of cultural life in the Marzes (regions) and communities. As a result of the policy decentralisation, financing of cultural institutions under the jurisdiction of the Marzes and communities decreased. Organisations located in the remote, border, high mountainous communities are also in need of methodical and professional information and advice.
The processes of governance of decentralisation in the cultural sphere caused several problems. In the relations between the Ministry of Culture and the marz administration (the Yerevan city administration) the main issues are:
Funds provided from the state budget to the organisation of cultural activities in Marzes in 2009-2011 increased by more than 14%. In 2009 the approximate amount of budget allocations to cultural infrastructures and programmes in the regions was 2 446 542 AMD, while in 2011 it was 2 799 899 AMD. Despite some decentralisation trends demonstrated in recent years, the financial subsidies to regions still remain insufficient.
Privatisation of cultural organisations has not become a source for attracting investment. Thus, among 70 cinemas functioning before gaining independence (out of which 50 operated in the Marzes), only 3 of them are functioning currently - 2 in Yerevan and 1 in Gyumri. As a result, serious obstacles in the process of distribution and development of cinematography have emerged. Similar problems arose after the privatisation of the bookselling network that existed previously. Before privatisation, the network included 38 bookshops in Yerevan and 10 units of 33 bookshops in the Marzes. At present, 7 private bookshops operate in Yerevan, and 3 in the Marzes (one in Hrazdan, Gyumri and Vanadzor). The study reveals that cultural organisations are in poor condition in the Marzes: 44.7% of buildings are in a satisfactory condition, 43.8% are in an unsatisfactory condition, while 11.5% are unusable. As regards repair, 60.3% of the buildings need capital repair, 27.8% need running repairs and 11.9% do not require repairs. On examination, it has been revealed that 5.3% of the cultural organisations don't function now and 8.7% of them are located in other buildings, in particular in the village administration buildings because of a lack of suitable alternatives. On the other hand, since 2003, programmes on the capital repair of the cultural houses were implemented with state funds.