8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs
Rural Cultural Houses had a significant role in community development when they first appeared in the 1930s, but during the communist regime they became an instrument for political propaganda. After 1989, the position regarding rural Cultural Houses gradually deteriorated: many buildings have been transformed into pubs or shops, or mostly used for weddings. It is estimated that, from an original number of 2 700 Cultural Houses, only 1 000 were functioning in 2005. Cultural Houses are subsidised by local councils and are accountable to the Mayor and the local council. Cultural Houses are in the process of becoming legal entities (i.e. separate from local councils). The Local Councils pay the salary of the Culture Animator (the manager of the institution) and infrastructure costs, but only rarely fund cultural programmes. The wealthiest local communities, however, do fund cultural activities. Data gathered through a Survey of Cultural Consumption, carried out in November 2005, indicates modest activity in the Rural Cultural Houses, as well as the existence of substantial differences between various regions of Romania. The analysis was carried out on two dimensions: the visibility of the Cultural Houses at community level and the preferences indicated by respondents for each type of cultural activity. Respondents indicated that Cultural Houses formed a necessary part of the community.
During 2006, the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs conducted research in various villages from each region, in order to evaluate the usage, financing and administration of Cultural Houses. Depending on infrastructure, institutional matters, compliance with legislation in the field and the activities carried out, four types of community houses were identified: invisible, ordinary, emblematic and extraordinary. In most of the counties there were no official records of community houses, a condition tolerated by the local authorities. One of the particularities that came out was related to the lack of coherent local cultural policies. Moreover, the results of the study underlined that public investments for training professionals in human resources were very low and it appeared that there were no formal administrative sets of rules. From the point of view of infrastructure, the community houses are used for local parties, rented for weddings, commemorations and baptisms. In what regards the budget, there is no financing from the local authorities for such community houses (see also: http://www.culturadata.ro/Cercetari%20finalizateEN.html).
In 2007, The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (MoCNH) initiated a programme of rehabilitating and modernising the cultural houses, having the financial support from the European funds. The objective was not just to rehabilitate the buildings, but also to capitalise these spaces for cultural purposes and to provide the inhabitants of rural areas with a framework for cultural participation.
In 2009, one of the attempts at capitalising on the cultural houses, supported by MoCNH, was the project "Turneul la Å£arÄƒ" ("Countryside tour" http://www.turneulatara.blogspot.com/), a "Generosity Offense" initiative in partnership with Theatre and Cinematographic Art University I.L. Caragiale Bucharest and the Romanian Cultural Fund's Administration. Its objective was mainly to facilitate access to culture for youth from rural areas through community art and active retrocession (especially cultural- educational events).