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Serbia/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.2 Overall description of the system

The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia has overall responsibility for culture, which it partly shares with the Secretary for Culture in the autonomous province of Vojvodina. This sharing of responsibility was carried out on the basis of the "Omnibus Law" passed in February 2002 and in line with the general policy of decentralisation.

The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for arts education, arts management training, youth and student cultural activities and institutions, while the Science department is financing research in the field of humanities and social sciences.

Ministry of Culture and Information (later in the text Ministry of Culture) is the main body responsible for: policies and strategies for cultural development, support for 40 cultural institutions of national importance, legal issues in the field of culture, protection of the cultural heritage, and regulating and preparation of the laws relevant to the media space.

National Council for Culture members are selected from respected artists and cultural managers for a five-year period. The Council has 19 members, confirmed by the National Assembly: 4 are suggested by government, 4 from public cultural institutions covering dominant areas: heritage, performing arts, librarianship and cultural development; 4 members representing art associations (literature and translation; visual arts; music; drama); 1 member representing other cultural associations; 2 members from the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2 members from the University of Arts and 2 members suggested by councils of national minorities.

The role of the Council is to analyse and give opinions on the state of the arts in Serbian culture, to give suggestions about cultural development, participate in the creation of a national strategy of cultural development, and assess its implementation, etc.

The Provincial Secretariat for Culture and Public Information of Vojvodinais responsible for specific issues of cultural policy in its territory due to the special needs and multi-ethnic structure of this province. It is responsible for the major provincial cultural institutions since the Omnibus Law of 2002. The Law on Culture (2010) had confirmed its authority and since 2011 the complete financing for culture comes from the budget of Vojvodina (previously, the Ministry of Culture every year had transferred money to the Provincial Secretariat).

In July 2012, the Constitutional Court produced questions on 22 paragraphs about the responsibilities of the region of Vojvodina, like the use of the word CAPITAL city for Novi Sad, or possibility to open up its delegation in Brussels. Recently, in October 2012, several paragraphs in Law about the transfer of responsibilities to the region of Vojvodina were also put in question (abolished), regarding the use of the official language on the territory of Vojvodina and especially paragraph 64 which regulates research and science policy. Denying those rights, the existence of the Academy of Arts and Sciences of Vojvodina is put into question, as well as co-financing of the research projects. If the decision of Constitutional court would be consequently implemented, even the existence of University of Novi Sad as a research institution could be put into question, as its founder is the Regional Assembly.

Article 64 research projects linked to minority issues (the key organisation is the department for minority languages of Novi Sad university) are also endangered, but now areas where the Province could have authority, such as culture and agriculture, would incorporate research activities in those domains, so at least research in the humanities (together with research linked to biology, agriculture etc.) will have the possibility of receiving money from regional funds.

National Councils of Ethnic Minorities were created since 2004 and have, among other responsibilities, the duty to conceptualise and develop a cultural policy and strategy specific for each minority.

City Councils, created according to the Law of 2007, which gave the status of "city" to municipalities with more than 100 000 inhabitants, representing economic, geographic and cultural centres of the wider region. This status created 24 cities but only 4 have important cultural functions: Belgrade, Nis, Kragujevac, and Novi Sad. Those cities are key partners in developing cultural policy and facilitating participation in cultural life including maintaining a diversified network of cultural institutions such as: theatres, libraries, museums and taking care of free-lance artists. The City Council of Belgrade has founded some of the most important international festivals (e.g. BITEF, FEST, and BEMUS) and cultural institutions which are often of importance for the whole Serbian territory, e.g. the Theatre Museum.

Municipalities (local self-governments) are developing local cultural policies to stimulate participation in cultural life, amateur activities and local cultural institutions and civil initiatives. In Serbia, there are 165 municipalities (out of whom 22 are municipalities under the authority of the cities of Belgrade and Nis), which usually consist of a city with 10 to 15 neighbouring villages (plus, there are several municipalities in Kosovo which rely on funds from Serbia for cultural and other activities, heritage protection, etc. such as Velika Hoča, Gračanica, KosovskaMitrovica and Leposavić).

Chapter published: 14-08-2015

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