8.4.3 Associations of citizens, advocacy groups, NGOs and advisory panels
In 2010, an NGO non-formal network was set up as a kind of advocacy group for improving the position of non-governmental organisations in the cultural sector. The NGO network was set up within the project "Non-institutional actors of cultural policy in Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia" and was financed by the European Cultural Foundation. The aim of the project is to examine the capacity of key actors of cultural policy outside of the system of public institutions as well as to assess the strength of the independent cultural scene in Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. This project establishes networking of non-institutional actors of cultural policy at national and regional levels with the aim of exchanging cultural programmes, improving the capacity of the independent scene, applying in partnership for international competitions and increasing influence on the decision-making process of cultural policy at local, regional and national level. The independent cultural scene in Serbia (as part of the NGO network) announced, on 5 November, a declaration inviting the authorities (Ministry of Culture, Belgrade City secretariat for culture, etc.) to dialogue on many issues. The Declaration was signed by 59 Serbian organisations in the field of culture and marks the start of their joint activities to strengthen cooperation and protection of their interests, public interest and promoting cultural life in Serbia. The independent cultural scene involves 2 500 artists and cultural managers and each year produces between 1 200 and 1 500 programmes (exhibitions, concerts, performances, theatre productions, panel discussions). The Declaration suggests several proposals for improvement of the cultural policy and cultural life in Serbia: such as including independent sector representatives in policy-making bodies (at national, provincial and local levels), establishing special open competitions for projects of the independent cultural scene, establishing a Ministry of Culture competition for multi-year operating grants for covering overhead costs of the independent organisations, as well as providing (for the purpose of decentralisation of cultural policy), specific budget lines for development of quality programmes in the field of contemporary, innovative art in smaller towns across Serbia which would be co-financed by local government.