In the communist times, artists were considered a privileged group. A large network of holiday resorts and artists’ residences served the members of the official professional associations. Their professions were held in official esteem and the system promoted the work of the most eminent. Many of today’s awards and fellowship grants originate from the communist era. Dissidents and those whom the power kept alien to the communist conception of culture were excluded from such favours.
The current NER System of National Cooperation has returned to placing special emphasis on individuals. The number of artists and cultural professionals who are entitled to lifelong annual annuities above the age of 65 is well above a thousand, and those having reached this age threshold and drawing the monthly annuities total a few hundred people at any time. The various groups and their annuities are listed in chapter 4.1.3.
In addition to the above-mentioned provisions for older artists and the impressive array of public art fellowships, the recently established Térey Grants offer existential backing to 45 middle-aged writers (see chapter 7.2.3).
These signals of the recognition of the role of artists in society are in contrast to the modest conditions and indeed precarity of the greater number of employees in cultural institutions and the artists with self-employed status. Beyond financial hardships, most of the independent art groups complain about signs of demonstrative neglect on the part of the cultural administration of the state.