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Serbia/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.4 Direct professional co-operation

All major national institutions in Serbia have many cooperation protocols and agreements signed.

The policy focus, since 2001, was on joining the European and regional professional / sectorial networks and associations, to develop international cooperation and exchange, while, at the same time, singular links are established among relevant institutions.

The Ministry of Culture participates actively in the organisation and coordination of European Heritage Days. Every year, it is directly involved in the organisation of the central celebration on the national level and Belgrade and Serbia were the hosts of the 2007 Launching Ceremony of the European Heritage Days. This event is used in the context of decentralisation, as one of the priorities of the Ministry (in 2009. the focus was on the multicultural city of Prijepolje).

The National Museum in Belgrade has more than ten cooperation protocols with major European museums regarding the exchange of exhibitions and the exchange of curators. Within this scope of cooperation, several major projects have been realised, such as In touch with antics - with the Louvre (2006) or the exhibition of the European art collection of Belgrade National Museum in The Hague (2005). Also, the National Museum is active within ICOM and ICCROM, having signed a cooperation agreement with the latter. Because the doors of the museum have been closed to audiences since reconstruction started in 2001, most of the productive activity of the museum is international cooperation - exhibitions abroad and exchanges of art works.

The Museum of Contemporary Arts, as one of the oldest museums of its kind in Europe, cooperates widely and extensively with similar key institutions abroad, resulting in many important exhibitions like Museum Stedelijk Amsterdam at Usce (curated by Serbian curator B. Dimitrijevic, which represents a precedent in the museum's policy). Along this line, the Museum also organised an exhibition of British Contemporary Arts, curated by three Serbian curators. Important links exist with MACRO, Roma, etc. Major regional and international exhibitions had been organised since 2001, such as the cross-referencing project Conversations in 2001 (when curators and artists from different countries of the region created projects in dialogue with each other), or the Last East-European exhibition in 2004 linking curators and artists from the region.

In the field of theatre, Yugoslav Drama theatre has the most extensive international cooperation. It was member of the Convention Theatrale Europeene, and now is a member of Theatres de l'Union de l'Europe, and recently, NETA (New European Theatre Action), launched by 11 theatres in Balkan countries.

BITEF Theatre is part of ENPARTS (European Network of Performing Arts), working together with La Biennale di Venezia, Dance Umbrella, Berliner Festspiele and other partners in creating experimental co-production theatre, dance and music projects, supported by the European Commission.

The Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad (a central theatre institution of the autonomous province of Vojvodina) has signed agreements on cooperation with theatres and theatre institutions in Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Slovakia, Romania and Switzerland. This kind of co-operation includes: co-productions, exchanges of artistic experience, know-how transfers, exchange of performances etc.

The Belgrade Music Festival BEMUS has been accepted into the European Festivals Association, among 100 of the most prestigious music and theatre festivals in Europe. The Belgrade Youth Centre is active within IETM, as well as several other NGO theatres. Serbian NGOs are the most connected and active in the European and world network, such as Dah Theatre, which is a member of the Magdalena network, or Remont, which has actively participated in the creation of several Balkan networks (BAN, SEECAN, etc.).

In the field of librarianship, professional cooperation has been established within IFLA and Eblida, and more than 50 bilateral agreements of cooperation have been signed between the National Library of Serbia and the most relevant European and world national libraries. The National Library is a co-founder of the TEL project (The European Library) – a Catalogue of European National Libraries and Digital Collection of European Literary Heritage (since 2005). The National Library joined The World Digital Library in April 2008.

Continuous professional development is organised through study visits and peer exchange within CALIMERA – Cultural applications: Local Institutions Mediating Electronic Resources project for a network of city libraries of Belgrade (knowledge transfer and exchange of experiences). The Calimera project is part of the IST programme of the EU Commission, including all the countries of the Western Balkans, led by Slovenia as the coordinator. One example of a project carried out within Calimera is the Serbian Children's Digital Library, with 120 books, contributing towards the overall aim to have 10 000 books in 100 languages within a world network.

Cinematography, since 2000, has been developed relying a lot on co-productions – so that nearly half of the production has international, mostly regional co-producers. At the same time, the Film Centre of Serbia had granted subsidies for 4 co-production projects from Southeast European countries. A few film projects succeeded in obtaining EURIMAGES grants, and a few obtained funding for scenario development (from the Paul Nipkow Fund Berlin, Southeast European Fund, etc.).

Among cultural institutions in different Serbian cities, museums and theatres are the most active in international cultural cooperation. One example of this co-operation is the City Museum in Sombor and their Protocol on cooperation with Bács-Kiskun Megyei Múzeumi from Kecskemet, Hungary, signed on 4 May 2005; mostly the programme relates to exchange of exhibitions - visual arts, research of transborder archeological sites, and knowledge transfer (study visits and exchange of curators). The collaboration of the National Theatre in Užice with La Biennale di Venezia is a good but rare example of international cooperation at a high level from outside of Belgrade and Novi Sad.The Serbian State Archive signed an agreement of Cooperation with the State Archive of Slovenia, while a Protocol on cooperation has been signed between the Historical Archive in Požarevac and the Archive in Ptuj.

Additional resources:

Mobility trends and case studies

Examples of mobility schemes for artists and cultural professionals in Serbia


Chapter published: 24-01-2013

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              Council of Europe/ERICarts, "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 15th edition", 2014 | ISSN 2222-7334