Both public and private cultural consumption as well as cultural participation are not continuously monitored nor systematically promoted by the Ministry of Culture and Media or local communities. In most cases cultural organisations themselves promote their programmes and invest in reaching an ever wider audience. There are very few surveys and statistical information or analysis that could result in designing polices to link participation in cultural life to the broader issues of citizen participation. The absence of this kind of information affects the quality of decision-making, especially aimed at decreasing the existing disproportions in the level of cultural development throughout Croatia. However, selected research data indicates a strong correlation between both indexes of cultural consumption and several indicators of socioeconomic status, education level, gender and residential status in Croatia (Tonković et al. 2017). Research shows that there are significant differences in various Croatian regions: the wider Zagreb metropolitan area, Rijeka and Gorski Kotar are the only regions with an above average cultural consumption index. Thus, cultural consumption is strongly related to the overall development of an area (Tonković et al. 2017).This has also been corroborated in the research on cultural capital and cultural taste of Croatian youth in the cities on the Adriatic coast (Tonković et al 2020). It also has to be added that in Croatia, policies regarding access to culture remain mostly implicit and revolve around traditional models connected to instruments dating back to socialism; while on the other selected cultural organisations develop instruments for fostering it where European projects have an influence (Primorac et al 2017).
There are no strategies on the national level or on local levels in relation to cultural participation and consumption, but there are several programmes that are oriented towards enhancing cultural participation. One example started in 2012, when the Ministry of Culture, in association with the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, started a pilot programme “Backpack (full) of Culture / Ruksak (pun) kulture”, with the aim of bringing artists and cultural events directly to kindergartens, primary and high schools. The pilot programme was successful, and in October 2013 the Ministry of Culture issued a public call for expression of interest for artists, arts organisations and cultural NGOs to participate in this programme. The Ministry of Culture and Media provides financing for the selected programmes, while the Ministry of Science and Education was responsible for providing the network of schools that hosted the selected programmes. The Programme was oriented to children and youth from 3-18 years of age, while the artistic range of the programmes was diverse – from performing arts, fine arts, film, cultural heritage to literature, and in particular programmes oriented to the promotion of reading. In 2019 the number of submitted and accepted applications rose (184 and 66 respectively), and 6 369 children participated in the programme. Thus, the implementation of the programme resulted in a high number of quality artistic programmes distributed to a large number of pupils and students throughout Croatia, contributing to the decentralisation of culture and providing better access to culture for children and youth. Additionally, in 2018, a special pilot programme for the islands called ‘The Island Backpack’ was created that resulted in the execution of 43 programmes and workshops on a number of Croatian islands where more than 600 children participated. Another programme of note that was developed as a pilot project in 2017 is The Programme of Audience Development, which was implemented through a public call for funding of projects and programmes oriented to audience development in different fields of culture and the arts. In 2019, 365 applications were submitted and seventy-eight programmes in different fields have been approved with a total funding of approx. 266 666 EUR. In addition, The National Strategy for Promotion of Reading is been implemented (see chapter 3.5.2) to focus on better access to books, development of reading and literacy activities etc. In 2019 the network of mobile libraries ‘Bibliobus’ celebrated fifty years in operation in the Republic of Croatia. This led to establishing the 9th of June as a Day of Croatian Bibliobuses in order to highlight the importance that mobile libraries have for the cultural life throughout the country as many towns still do not have local libraries. 12 counties do not yet have bibliobuses and mobile libraries currently provide services in only 9 counties and a number of these bibliobuses need to be renewed or replaced due to wear-and-tear.
Enhancing cultural participation in audiovisual activities is provided by the National Audiovisual Programme for digitalisation of cinemas throughout Croatia (see chapter 2.4). An additional feature of the measure was the establishment of the new Croatian Network of Independent Cinemas – ‘Kino mreža’ in 2014, which has grown to more than fifty members. However,the number of specialised cinematéques is minimal – ‘Kino “Tuškanac”’ and Kino “Kinoteka” in Zagreb, Kinoteka “Zlatnavrata” in Split and Art kino Croatia offer film programmes with special focus on audiovisual heritage. The first cinema specialised for documentary films in the region of South-eastern Europe opened in Zagreb in June 2009 – Dokukino, but currently it is based only as a programme in various different venues. New programmes in this area are being developed through funding from the EU programmes that encourage cultural participation of older populations and youth (see chapter 2.6).
Special categories of the population (school children, people with disabilities and senior citizens) pay only 50% of the full ticket price for some events. Rebates for university students are also available from selected theatres, museums, etc. There are also reduced cards or tickets available such as the “Zagreb ticket” or “Dubrovnik card” which can be used to buy cheaper tickets for various cultural events, but which are primarily oriented towards tourists. Other cities in Croatia are introducing different incentives in order to increase participation.