The new National Council for Culture has drawn up a list of policy priorities.
2.1 Main features of the current cultural policy model
The Serbian model of government is different from the models adopted by the different countries of Eastern Europe due to its legacy of self-government. In this system, there was relative freedom for art production and the majority of cultural institutions were owned by the cities. Since 1980, artists have been given the possibility to organise themselves in groups and to produce and market their own work.
It should be taken into account that the present system of institutions, arts groups and even artists had been created and developed throughout the ex-Yugoslavian territory, especially in the City of Belgrade. With the collapse of the ex-Yugoslavia, cultural productions (e.g. films, books, journals, festivals, etc.) lost their audiences, readers and markets. The cultural infrastructure that followed was, hence, too large to survive and demanded (in %) more and more public funds. This was one of the main reasons why there were few protests when the government resumed control of socially owned (self-governed) cultural institutions during the 1990s. Instead, it was considered a step to at least guarantee the survival of existing cultural institutions.
The current cultural policy model has changed slightly: key competence for cultural policy-making and funding is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and new procedures were introduced in Serbia in 2001.
Open competitions to fund projects have been set up in 13 areas:
The following is a list of criteria used to evaluate project applications: high artistic quality, protection of intangible cultural heritage, new artistic forms, cultural decentralisation, promotion of national minorities' art, children's creativity.Starting from 2006, the competition is held once per year instead of three times a year.
Project competitions in the media field are held once a year. Calls for projects have also been launched to support the Serbian language media projects in neighbouring countries.
By the end of 2006, open competitions to fund projects had been set up in areas of archiving, museum networking, as well as heritage research.
Decision-making processes for these open competitions had been transferred to independent commissions. That is why the current cultural policy model is described as a combined etatist-democratic model. There are many different commissions and juries for different competitions in the field of culture and media. In 2011 the following competitions were held in the field of media:
It is important to underline that since May 2007, NGO's are again treated equally in comparison to public institutions regarding competitions or requests for grants. However, some priority is still given to the public sector institutions, especially due to the present economic crisis and reduction of public funds.
A National Council for Culture was set up on 25 May 2011 and is meeting regularly once a month since that time. Although, according to the Law (see chapter 5.2), it has a duty to approve the National strategy for cultural development, and although a Strategic working group had prepared a document in 2010, due to the changes of ministers, this document never reached public debate or the National Council. However, the Council is preparing its own set of priorities, which it hopes will be approved on 4 December 2012. Priorities are: reinforcing the institutional system and its professional standards (including a return to functioning of closed institutions waiting for renovation), audience development, digitalisation of public "memories", development of inter-sectorial relations (especially involving business in cultural financing), etc.
The work of the Council is public and open, thus a website was created to enable direct communication of the Council with other cultural actors.
The programme of the Council for 2012-13 includes the following tasks: drafting amendments to the Law on Culture to aid its implementation; discussing cultural policy models and priorities; discussing the draft Strategy for Cultural development and making new suggestions and comments; creating a public call for artists and professionals (February 2013) seeking to acquire a status of excellence (new institute forseen with Law on Culture). For more information see: http://www.nsk.gov.rs/dokumenta.php