4.3 Other relevant issues and debates
The premises of all three arts academies (Academy of Fine Arts, Academy for Theatre, Radio, Film and Television and the Music Academy) are in catastrophic condition. A new location has been finally decided, but construction has not started yet. Another crucial project is the construction of a new National Library which has been on the agenda for decades.
Following the retreat of the Yugoslavian Army, the former barracks known as "Metelkova" were turned over to the cultural sector. Half of the property is owned by the city of Ljubljana and has been occupied by alternative cultural movements. The other part belongs to the state, which has been renovating the venues and its cultural infrastructure to house the Museum for Ethnography and some ministerial offices. The remaining space will be dedicated to the Centre for the Contemporary Arts, but in 2007 very lively discussions about the exhibition concept took place and have not finished yet. The Ministry of Culture underlined, on different occasions, that the Modern Gallery has impartially favoured certain artistic circles, which can only be overcome by establishment of exhibition grounds with broad access for all visual artists. The Modern Gallery argues that only technical management of the new venue would lead to de-professionalisation and voluntarism in this field. In the overall shortage of premises destined to contemporary arts, one of the most important infrastructural acquirements in the last period was the acquisition of theOld Power Plant in Ljubljana for the use of non-governmental organisations, especially in the performing arts sector.
The adoption of both the Media Act and RTV Act still troubles some parts of the public. The main issue driving public discussion is RTV's governing structure and related political influence. While the political coalition in power argued that the previous governance system was not transparent, enabling political forces to hide behind the fictive democratic curtain of civil society, the political opposition and the majority of public experts believe that this is a worrying development of returning public television into state television once again. The changes are twofold:
The clash between the two positions is so substantial that the political opposition insisted on a referendum about the new law, where it lost with 49% against 51%. In October 2006, the conflict required the first interpellation of the minister of culture ever: since he is ultimately responsible for the media in Slovenia, he was called by the opposition to defend his policy in front of the parliament. Unfortunately, this issue does not mean that culture is at the centre of the political agenda in Slovenia, but shows instead that centrality depends only on political weight; the media certainly has such political weight. The minister was successful on this occasion. Nevertheless the discussion about media legislation remains a main issue.
The most controversial cultural policy issue in 2007 concerns the situation of Slovenian film production and a vision for its future organisation.
The main problem identified by the Ministry of Culture is that Slovenian filmmakers / producers are unable to realise their projects within contractual liabilities with the Slovenian Film Fund because producers don't have enough funds. The Slovenian Film Fund, acting as a guarantor of the national cultural interest and legal use of public funds, increasingly has to rescue projects with extra funding on top of the resources that it has already provided. Otherwise, projects will not be completed and the Film Fund will loose its initial investment. In order to solve this problem in 2007, the Ministry halted regular annual film production and concentrated, on the one hand, on completion of all unfinished film projects (8 features films). On the other hand, the government is concentrating on the preparation of new legislation as it considers the existing law as the main obstacle for consolidation of the film industry in Slovenia. The main hypothesis of the ministry is that the Slovenian Film Fund is, as the chief financer of realisation and promotion, and increasingly distribution, completely alienated from the way and quality of film marketing as well as from film sales, so consequently there is no effective legal basis for at least a partial reimbursement of invested public resources.
The filmmakers cannot accept either the ministerial occupation of the Slovenian Film Fund by his own people (including the nomination of a director of the ministerial Directorate for Media as an acting director of the Fund in 2007) or the suspension of film production in 2007 that was legally adopted by former management. They also oppose the part of the draft Film Institute Law which foresees the fusion of the Slovenian Film Fund and the national technical film infrastructure (Viba film) into the same legal entity, under the direct influence of the Ministry.
2007 also saw public discussion on the draft National Programme for Culture 2008-2011. During the four month long public discussion of the new draft National Programme for Culture 2008-2011, which was prepared by the group of experts nominated by the minister, several criticisms were put forward: such as the lack of any situational analysis or research that would support the document; inconsistency regarding the relationship between culture and the economy; judgemental ambitions of cultural policy makers regarding the justification for public funds; ideological discussion around the new Centre for Contemporary Arts in Metelkova (see above); insufficient support for new models of production outside the public institutions; lack of structural funding for academic publishing houses... One of the most common reflections concerned the absence of concrete measures and related finances for the implementation of, again, very numerous and indefinite objectives. Some critics say that it functions as a camouflage for politics and cultural bureaucracy. The programme was adopted in July 2008 without the major changes due to the public debate.
One of public debates in 2008 refers to the Artservis (http://www.artservis.org/) which presents itself as "a web-based media and a vital information resource for arts and culture, based on a Creative Commons licence policy and free public access". Since 2001 Artservis has been collecting, organising and disseminating obtainable data and offering artists and cultural operators up-to-date information on funding sources, educational programmes and participation opportunities focused on art and culture. Artservis suffers from a lack of stable funding. On the other hand, the public / state funding is a dominant feature of cultural life in Slovenia. Thus, it is unusual that an organisation that is entirely dedicated to serve the cultural sector in an ever more complex and bureaucratic world could not get some structural funding from public authorities. The Ministry of culture expressed in newspapers its belief that the sources provided by the ministry, and modern information technology with all kinds of cultural portals and web sites, cover all the information needs and related technical assistance for the artistic community. However, some prominent cultural figures such as the director of the Modern Gallery, a writer and editor of a leading publishing house, a distinguished free lancer in the film sector, the driving force behind the most important multimedia centre etc. publicly expressed their appreciation of the role of Artservis. The only explanation lays in the dichotomy of the cultural sector in Slovenia: while old cultural structures, i.e. public cultural institutions, preserved their traditional dominant position, new ones that developed with the help of international foundations, starting with the Soros Open Society Fund, remain outsiders in the cultural system following the withdrawal of foreign funds. The situation couldn't normalise since the right wing political coalition took power in 2004, when the latent tension between the new authority - underlining patriotism and opposing the cultural relativism and progressive, critical and sometimes controversial contemporary artistic forms - started.