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Slovakia/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

The perception of cultural policy and the need for its definition and elaboration have gradually changed in the course of the last decade - from partial and operative resolutions (early 1990s), through a stressing of the national dimension of culture and the interventionist model of cultural policy associated with this, at the time of the establishment of the Slovak Republic (1993 - 1998), through the decentralisation of the state administration, public finances and cultural institutions (1998 - 2002), until the seeking of a definition, new contents and instruments of cultural policy, from the year 2002 to the present.

The main documents in the process of defining the principles and instruments of the cultural policy of the Slovak Republic were the National Report on SR Cultural Policy (2003) and the State Cultural Policy Strategy (2004).

Cultural policy in Slovakia is understood as the creation of an environment in which the processes of creation, diffusion (accessibility) and preservation of cultural values are undertaken. The participation of the state and lower sections of the state administration in the creation of this environment (in the realisation of cultural policy) is imperative, and in many aspects decisive. It is not, however, determinative - especially as regards cultural contents.

The basic areas of the current cultural policy of the Slovak Republic are the conservation of cultural heritage, support for art and artistic creation, and the development of the media environment. A separate area is the culture of national minorities. The main lines of the state cultural policy are the presentation of Slovak culture and artistic creation abroad, and support for the culture of Slovaks living abroad. A special part of cultural policy is the relation of the state to the Churches and religious communities.

A basic goal of cultural policy in Slovakia is to change the relation of the society and the individual to culture - also in the sense of a Council of Europe document (In from the Margins). Incorporating this change, through the tools of cultural policy, along with the preservation and development of cultural heterogeneity, is perceived in the political and professional community as an act in the public interest.

Connected to this, the main priorities of cultural policy have been progressively formed in political decisions and in specialist discussions as follows:

  • a guarantee of the ideological neutrality of state activity in the area of culture;
  • a guarantee of freedom of expression and artistic creation for all, and the creation of real conditions for its implementation;
  • increasing the accessibility of culture and the opportunities for the individual to participate in cultural life, to engage in their own creative activities, and to have access to cultural values;
  • support for national culture and the cultures of national minorities and ethnic groups in their diversity, with emphasis on quality and equality of opportunities;
  • transformation of cultural institutions in the public sector - their activity, legal form, administration and financing;
  • support and development of cooperation of public, non-profit and public sectors in the area of culture and the culture industries;
  • creation of an environment and securing of conditions for the continuous existence and development of the culture industries;
  • securing the protection and accessibility of the cultural heritage, its systematic digitalisation, and information on the culture infrastructure;
  • support for education in the area of culture and art, the teaching of professions in the culture industry;
  • support for international cultural exchanges on the territory of Slovakia, and the effective presentation of Slovakia abroad;
  • creation of conditions for the effective conjunction of culture to the processes of development of tourism and tourist services; and
  • support for the development and validation of the Slovak language under the new conditions of Slovakia's membership in the European Union.

Public debates on cultural policy issues and priorities in recent years are mostly focused on financing schemes and models for cultural activities and institutions. Concerning this subject there are most frequent questions of "multi-sources" financing system for culture (real possibilities and legal incentives of private investments and sponsorship).

Financing and control system, mission, legal status, programming questions and main goals of public service broadcasters (Slovak Radio, Slovak Television) are permanent topics of public debates since 1990.

In public debates experts often underline a need for an official and detailed document on cultural policy which could be a basic platform for a better coordination of particular policy activities on all levels of public administration (national, regional, local).

Chapter published: 15-01-2008

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