Cultural policy priorities are outlined in the national programme: “Development and Protection of Culture and the Arts in the Republic of Moldova, 1997-1998” (extended to 2000-2005). Among the programme’s short-term and long-term goals are:
- to develop an ethical framework for the rule of law which respects freedom of creation and thought, promoting a sense of citizenship and patriotism;
- to ensure appropriate conditions for the development and perpetuation of the creative potential in society; and
- to preserve national and ethnic cultural traditions.
Until 2001, former governments adopted a “short-term solution” strategy when implementing state policy in the field of culture. Thus, the main strategy of the Ministry of Culture during this period was to avoid any arbitrary reductions in activity and to protect the cultural institutions and networks from the worsening effects of the economic crisis and the consequent severity of cuts in state expenditure.
In April 2004, the Moldovan government excluded a very important cultural chapter from the new “Long-term Strategy for Economic Development and Poverty Alleviation”, which could have provided new, more adequate policies and models for the revitalisation and promotion of national arts and culture.In this regard, culture was excluded from the national development strategies.
Over the years, culture has remained a sphere which has not been given proper attention in the Republic of Moldova. The culture sphere was omitted completely or it benefited from only marginal attention in the strategic documents such as: Strategy for Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction (2004-2006), National Development Strategy for the period 2008–2011, “Re-launching Moldova”, and “Moldova 2020”. Culture in the Republic of Moldova is perceived as a domain consuming public resources, not as a fundamental field that contributes to the progress of the state.
In the governing programmes (2005-2014) culture was mentioned with different levels of detail, but nevertheless was not seen as a development priority. During this period, there were five Government Programmes, namely:
- Activity Programme of the Government of the Republic of Moldova for the period 2005-2009 “Country Modernisation –Welfare of the People”;
- Activity Programme of the Government of the Republic of Moldova for the period 2008-2009 “Progress and Integration”;
- Activity Programme of the Government of the Republic of Moldova: “European Integration: Liberty, Democracy, Welfare” for the period 2009-2013;
- Activity Programme of the Government of the Republic of Moldova: “European Integration: Liberty, Democracy, Welfare” for the period 2011-2014;
- Activity Programme of the Government of the Republic of Moldova “European Integration: Liberty, Democracy, Welfare” 2013-2014.
The main governing objectives in the cultural sphere established in the activity programme of the Government of the Republic of Moldova: “European Integration: Liberty, Democracy, Welfare” 2013-2014 are the following:
- Development of contemporary art as a tool for promotion and affirmation of the national culture both on the national and international arena.
- Re-establishing of cultural activity and infrastructure, especially in the rural zones.
- Financing of cultural activities according to the established priorities and being project based.
- Promotion of culture as a primary factor of preserving and developing national identity.
- Promotion of the national cultural values as a part of the European cultural heritage.
In general, it is possible to affirm that regarding the culture sphere these Programmes had general objectives that migrated from one document into another without essential modifications, while many of the priority actions remained as statements without having clear endings, incluing: ensuring rehabilitation and maintenance of cultural and historical objects based on public-private partnerships; digitisation of cultural heritage of the Republic of Moldova; modernisation and diversification of services offered by the cultural institutions; development; reforming the financing system of culture by ensuring transparency in the development, management and distribution of the culture budget, etc.
These objectives do not express the final and impact results, being geared to achieving results that do not assure enhancing performances in the cultural sphere, which increases the risk for non-transparent and inefficient use of funds.
The key document on which the Ministry of Culture bases the implementation of the Government Programme is the Strategic Development Programme (SDP) for 2012-2014. The SDP is approved on the Ministry College meeting; it is a strategic planning document for the authority activity and is the successor to the Institutional Development Plan.
The document “National Strategy for the Development of Culture of the Republic of Moldova / Culture 2020” was completed in 2014 and approved by Government Decision No. 271 of 9 April 2014. This document is innovative in that a systematic analysis of the cultural sphere of the Republic of Moldova is available for the first time, from which general directions and objectives of the culture development for the medium and long term were identified.
The mission of the Strategy is to provide the cultural sphere with a coherent, efficient and pragmatic policy framework, based on the priorities defined in the document. The strategy took into account the needs of the sector and human capital required; it has a flexible vision that will allow different levels of development for each field. According to the strategy vision, by 31 December 2020, the Republic of Moldova will have a consolidated, independent and creative cultural sector, and a protected cultural heritage, which is integrated into national and regional policies, including sustainable development activities: educational, social, economic, tourism and the environment.
The aim of the Strategy is to ensure a viable cultural environment by creating an appropriate public policy framework, the formation of a functional system of preserving and valuing cultural heritage, promotion of creativity, development of cultural industries, enhancing cultural management efficiency, enhancing citizens’ quality of life, and developing a spirit of tolerance and social cohesion. Currently the National Strategy for the Development of Culture of the Republic of Moldova / Culture 2020 is the main policy document in the cultural sphere in the Republic of Moldova.
In order to implement the government programmes, during the years 2013-2014 the Ministry of Culture initiated changes in a number of legislative and regulatory acts: Museums Law No. 1596-XV as of 27.12.2002, the Law on Historical Monuments, the Law on Libraries, the Law on theatres, circuses and concert organisations, etc. (author: what is the purpose of these changes?) On 03 July 2014 the Law on Cinematography was also approved. The following acts were also developed and approved: one Decision of the Parliament; twenty normative, organisational and financial Government Decisions; five normative acts approved by the Minister’s order, which govern activities on archaeological heritage, museums and on immovable and intangible heritage.
Also, over the years a number of sectoral strategic planning documents have been developed such as: the National Programme of informatisation of the cultural sphere for the period 2012-2020; Public policy proposal “Improving the management of concert and theatre institutions”; Public policy proposal “Enhancing the activity efficiency of museums”; Strategy for development of vocational-technical education for the years 2013-2020; Medium-term budgetary framework (2012-2014).
For example, the National Strategy on the Information Society E-Moldova, 2005-2015, approved by the government on 25 March 2005, contains a chapter on E-Culture dealing with new forms of promoting culture through electronic media. Later on, the National Programme on Informatisation of the cultural sector for 2012-2020 was launched, which envisages “creating infrastructure and cultural informational space necessary for the provision of electronic services in the field of culture” through (I) implementation of e-government in the central office of the Ministry of Culture and its subordinated institutions, (II) digitisation of cultural heritage at the rate of 75%, (III) ensuring digitisation of books in public libraries, (IV) creating online public cultural services, and (V) creating web pages for cultural institutions. During recent years, resources to achieve the objectives of the Programme on Information were not allocated, thus digitisation of museum pieces and books were being carried out using the resources of the subordinate institutions. Due to a lack of funding, the objectives set out in these programmes were not achieved.
The state Programme on the development of the regions, 2005-2015 entitled “Moldovan Village” includes tasks such as: protection of the local cultural heritage; promotion of cultural policies on Youth; restoration and development of the regional Houses of Culture, libraries and museums; and implementation of some European models of development of rural localities.
Cultural development policies for cultural sphere management have not been adapted to the new conditions of the market economy and have been poorly integrated into the policies of other sectors and fields of development, such as: the economy, education, the environment, youth and sport, social assistance, etc. As a consequence, the cultural sphere is not listed among the priorities of the government programmes, nor among the public policy documents, while financial resources allocated to culture, measured as a share of GDP or total expenditure from the national public budget are insufficient to meet the challenges of this sector. Inadequate funding and inefficient and opaque use of resources allocated to culture make achievement of the objectives of the National Strategy for the Development of Culture of the Republic of Moldova / Culture 2020 practically impossible, while many problems faced by the sector will remain unsolved.