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Amendments to the Act Regulating the Realisation of the Public Interest in the Field of Culture in 2013 relate to self-employment, responsibilities of municipalities and easier regulation of co-financing projects.

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

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

The National Programme for Culture 2014-2017 has been adopted after a broad and effective public debate encompassing a number of presentations, discussions and thematic sessions. The responses to the document have been very broad and are summarised in a document by the ministry of over 150 pages. The main priorities of the document are as follows:

Books: the main measures are to increase sales for books and their accessibility, digitalisation, strengthening of the reading culture and networking. The main measure is the so-called fixed-book price which will be coded in law for the first time in Slovenia. Also a focus on international promotion is included, including the presentation of Slovenia as a main guest at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Film and audio-visual works: measures to address the lack of a coherent vision, insufficient public support and human resource issues are planned. Increasing audiences for quality Slovenian, European and Third World cinematographic and audio-visual works is important as well as developing the market for films.

Performing Arts: establishing a quality and efficient environment for top quality production and transmission in the performing arts, raising their reputation and greater access to public cultural goods is being foreseen as desired effects of measures in the performing arts.

Music: In the field of musical art, measures are envisaged to establish the conditions for superior Slovenian music and ballet productions, which will be recognised by domestic and foreign audiences. The volume of music audiences has to increase, in a manner ensuring the territorial dispersed and continuous availability of high-quality and diverse content. Particular attention will be paid to the enforcement of the cultural areas of artistic development in the field of copyright law, and the music market, where the integration of all four pillars (music production, concert mediation, promotion and distribution) can achieve better conditions for the quality and competitiveness of Slovenian musical creativity.

Visual Arts: measures in the field of visual arts are aimed at improving the working conditions for visual artists, providing diversity and accessibility; promotion of modern methods of presentation of visual arts and the involvement of larger audiences in the programmes and projects; the creation of the art market, with special attention to education of audiences, patrons and collectors of art; revitalisation of traditional crafts and skills in the conditions of modern production; and promoting the mobility of visual artists in the international arena (particularly through more effective representation of Slovenia in the central arena of the Venice Biennale and Biennale of Architecture).

Intermedia Arts: In the field of intermedia art more emphasis on introducing young artists, shaping and delivering new audiences, providing modern conditions of production of world-class, internationally comparable results and increasing the general availability of intermedia events at reference locations at home and abroad, and the integration of science and industry are envisaged.

Amateur Arts: In the field of amateur cultural activities, the key measures are aimed at the preservation of the volume and improving the quality and visibility of production; ensuring the conditions for the implementation of cooperation projects of recognizable Slovenian cultural associations and Slovenian artists with similar organisations in neighbouring countries; and the strengthening of the common Slovenian cultural space in the world with cultural information points in neighbouring countries; and the implementation of amateur culture as an important factor in the formation of a creative society through inter-departmental development projects and digitalisation (digitising choral units, units in the field of instrumental music and other music areas).

Media: In the field of media, measures are geared towards raising the readership of the general-news periodicals, newspapers and magazines, to raise the quality and increase the volume of high-quality media content in the areas of arts and culture, elementary education, higher education, health, science, environment protection, etc. In terms of media development there is a planned re-examination of the role and scope of public service broadcasting in Slovenia; enhancing quality broadcasting radio and television programmes that are of public interest; and to re- establish the status, role, importance and funding of radio and television programmes of special interest; raising media literacy and preparing the public for more complex media news; improving the social status of those self-employed and young journalists; and aiding in the creation of new forms of media ownership / management models (e.g. social entrepreneurship). A key goal in the field is also the placement of Slovenia among the top twenty countries in the Press Freedom Index by 2017.

Architecture: The measures in this field are aimed at establishing active inter-ministerial mechanisms that will respond to today's challenges of the Slovenian territory with sustainable development of cities, i.e. a creative, integrated approach, in which culture, the economy, the environment and social aspects play an equivalent role. Therefore, the aim is to reach a comprehensive architectural policy at government level by 2016.

Cultural heritage: The key objectives in this field are an active and attractive network of Slovenian museums, galleries and institutions, the creation of destinations, products and services of cultural tourism for greater visibility of cultural heritage and contribution to economic development and the increasing role of cultural heritage of Slovenia in the international arena.

Libraries and archives: Priority in the field of librarianship is to optimise the conditions for the realisation of the development potential of both national as well as public libraries, which will be achieved by updating the sectoral legislation, the development of professional guidelines and improving the spatial and technical conditions for their operation. A key objective in the field of archives is the higher level of protection and accessibility of archives and creating an environment and services for the storage of electronic archives.

Slovenian language: Measures are aimed at developing quality artistic and cultural creativity in the Slovenian language, developing language skills for all groups of speakers with the aim of raising the level of reading literacy and the spoken language and promotion of the Slovenian language in the public domain. The main measures in this field were elaborated in the Resolution on the National Programme for Language Policy 2014-2018.

Education in arts and culture: The priority in this field is the development of a system of arts and cultural education, which can be systematically implemented in the long term and will be based on the quality of cultural production. The development of quality, diverse and affordable supply of arts and cultural education in all fields of culture is important for different target groups; implementation of arts and cultural education as a lifelong dimension with an emphasis on the preparation of programmes that include older people (involving organisations for the elderly in collaboration with cultural institutions); as well as providing for intergenerational interaction in various fields of culture; professional training in the field of arts and cultural education for practitioners in culture and education; and the development and promotion of a reading culture.

Cultural rights: The main objectives in this field include a higher level of protection of cultural rights in the context of declared human rights; a higher level of sectoral and regional cultural integration of minorities; and diverse cultural activities of multiple members of vulnerable groups.

Cultural and creative industries: Important measures in the field of cultural industries are already included in other chapters so that the main objective is focused on increasing the market for cultural industries and a growing international recognition of Slovenian cultural industries. For the development of creative industries on the other hand a number of measures are envisaged such as priority support to projects involving creative industries in traditional industries; linking stakeholders in the development of creative industries (projects, transfer of good practices); introducing design management in public sector institutions; applying the rule "instead of exhaustible natural resources to exploit unlimited intellectual resources" and so on.

Digitalisation: The section on digitalisation, in addition to the digitalisation of collections and their safe and permanent storage, also provides for the provision of (Web) accessibility of digital cultural content, paying particular attention to the content tailored to young people and cultural minorities and other vulnerable groups.

International cooperation: Measures in this field aim at improving opportunities for greater international mobility of Slovenian artists with thematic presentations to target certain strategic geographical areas and residencies abroad and the promotion of Slovenian creativity and culture. Crucial in relation to international cooperation will also continue to be positive visibility and the extent and quality of the reach of presentation of Slovenian culture to foreign audiences as an important element of public diplomacy of the Republic of Slovenia.

Labour market in the arts: In the labour market for culture the planned measures are envisaged to involve all cultural producers (self-employed, non-governmental organisations, public and private sector). They point to the need for institutional arrangements in this area; the need to build support agencies or similar institutions that will focus on information, mediating and a supporting role (consulting and servicing in the field of tax and legal issues, copyright, training and job brokerage, and information provision between stakeholders in the field of culture). Such institutional support is a prerequisite for implementation of all planned objectives and measures that seek to create partnerships between all "four pillars" of the producers in culture.

EU structural funds: Assets of the European cohesion policy 2014-2020 are planned to be one of the key sources for the achievement of the objectives of the national programme. Depending on the financial perspective, which expires in 2013, more focus will be placed on investment projects, on projects that have an impact on the competitiveness, economic growth and an increase in the number of employees and human resource development. It is therefore crucial to secure the needed funds for ambitious projects of the National Programme for Culture 2014-2017 in the documents for the New Financial Perspective 2014-2020 (partnership agreement; operational programme; strategy of smart specialisation).

The National Programme for Culture 2014-2017 document adopted in the autumn of 2013 is rather broad and indefinite and almost all novelties are based on successful gathering of EU funds. Although culture on a declaratory level still enjoys some special attention, the new social climate means that it is pushed to the margins of the political agenda-setting which was shown e.g. in the adoption of the documents for the European Union's New Financial Perspective 2014-2020. Despite early adoption of the National Programme for Culture 2014-2017 by the minister Grilc, there was insufficient attention paid to inclusion of culture in the documents for the new perspective and culture is explicitly mentioned in the documents only in few marginal places. All the efforts (and written proposals) by the NGO sector to secure a better position for culture and to include some necessary large-scale projects in the fields of intermedia arts, contemporary dance, performing arts, self-employed in culture, financing of culture and international promotion of Slovenian culture went unnoticed and were to date not included in the documents. Therefore a serious drawback to the gathering of EU funds can be the highly marginal position devoted to the field of culture in the strategic documents on national level mentioned above.

Another important focus of the new National Programme is the cultural market, i.e. the selling of artworks. Many measures in the Programme are addressed towards the higher scope of the market, yet what is meant by the market is nowhere explicitly defined and most of the measures appear to be connected mainly with raising the cultural supply. There have been almost no studies in Slovenia in the past years estimating the scope and the (real, empirically shown) problems of the Slovenian cultural market. Measures such as fixed-book pricing, which are explicitly guided to correct and not to stir the market (as was pointed in the public debate) are announced as market enhancing measures. In this light it seems a necessity to perform better empirically driven analyses of markets in culture in Slovenia to help such conceptual decisions get better connection to the reality.

Among the measures that were really implemented during the one year mandate of minister Grilc were:

  • The Law on Books, in practice it is identical to the fixed book price measure;
  • Amendments of the Act Regulating the Realisation of the Public Interest in the Field of Culture in 2013, bringing some important new regulations and measures: three measures in the field of self-employment in culture - "pocket money", free accountancy for the self-employed and the possibility of covering an illness period lasting shorter than 30 days (for all three measures, see the chapter on employment and the chapter on social security laws); there is an obligation on all city municipalities to have adopted local cultural programmes and all other municipalities to have either a local cultural programme or inclusion of longer term guidelines in the field of culture included in one of the other local development programmes; easier regulation of co-financing the projects which were accepted on European tenders; additional education for members of the councils (governing bodies) of public institutions.

Another important development in the area of cultural policy is the proposal to change the Act Regulating the Realisation of the Public Interest in the Field of Culture.This had started in 2009 under minister Širca with the forming of the expert group to "modernise the public sector in culture". The expert group produced the first materials and proposals for changes in the Slovenian public sector in culture, which were focused on three areas: organisational and managerial structure; financing and market activity; human resources and employment conditions. Her successor, minister Dr. Ĺ˝iga Turk, continued the process in 2012 but with a new task force partially composed of the same members but under the leadership of the state secretary. A written and completed proposal was presented in early spring 2013. The proposal was addressed again mainly towards the reform of the public sector in culture but since it encompassed also unpopular solutions that would diminish social security by subordinating all the working posts to the cultural programmes it has been viciously attacked by the representatives of the art scene and has been finally dropped. A new group was formed under the next minister, Dr. Uroš Grilc, in 2013 who announced the new cultural model. However, in his short mandate he succeeded in introducing some minor changes (see above) but did not have enough time for more broad and complete proposals with a thorough reworking of the act encompassing all the pillars of cultural sector (public sector, NGO's, self-employed and private companies). The new minister, Mag. Julijana Bizjak Mlakar, who took over the Ministry in September 2014 announced changes in the cultural policy system as one of her priorities and has at her disposal both the document produced by Minister Grilc as well as proposals originally made by Minister Turk and later significantly reworked and presented by the experts who wrote the original proposal.

Chapter published: 11-02-2015

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