There are several important points that indicate the relationship between culture and civil society in North Macedonia. For example, there is a strong connection between the development of culture and the “socialistic” tradition of amateur arts and folk culture. The infrastructure of cultural and educational centres has also a long tradition throughout the country and, of course, there is the changing role that civil society organisations in contemporary arts and culture have and their impact on the whole society, etc.
The primary mission of cultural houses and cultural centres is to conduct activities in the field of culture and to facilitate cultural life on the local level. In addition to professional programmes, amateurism is a special target of these institutions, through the establishment of amateur clubs in the field of music, theatre, film, literature, folklore, fine arts, etc. Some of these cultural houses did function on a satisfactory level, performing continuous and varied activities, while there were some whose existence was noticeable only in the payrolls of the Ministry of Culture. Until the 1990s, there were around 50 cultural houses located throughout the country. However, today it is obvious that central and local governments often underestimate the role of these cultural segments in society.
The Cinema Union was comprised of 19 amateur film clubs from several towns. Since 1996, it has been a legitimate member of the International Union of Amateur Film headquartered in the Netherlands. During the period 1956 and 2000, it was estimated that 1 353 amateur films were made in the country. According to the latest data the number of amateur theatres is decreasing (from 9 in 2015 to 4 in 2019). Until December 2000, 15 amateur clubs were designated with the status of national cultural institution which meant that the Ministry of Culture provided salaries for approximately thirty employees. Since the beginning of 2001, these clubs have been receiving funds only for programme activities.
Civil society and the cultural NGO’s were an important component in the citizens’ protest against the regime during the former government (2006-2017).