The main body of legislation pertaining to allocation of public funds in general consists of the Law no. 500/2002 on Public Finances, Law no. 273/2006 on Local Public Finances and the annual laws on the state budget.
Public funds are allocated via budgetary laws to each ministry, whose budget comprises, in addition to its own operational budget, the budgetary allocations for all subordinated institutions.
Currently, the Ministry of Culture has 44 cultural public institutions under its direct subordination, as well as 42 decentralised services of the Ministry and 4 commercial entities supervised/monitored by the Ministry. The budget of the Ministry of Culture also comprises budgetary allocations for various cultural programmes for which grants can be obtained by different cultural operators on the basis of the cultural priorities decided by the Ministry.
A number of specialised institutions subordinated to the ministry have statutory powers to launch financing programs and to open calls for application to these grants: National Centre for Cinema, National Cultural Fund Administration, National Heritage Institute and National Dance Centre. Each of these institutions has special regulations determining the scope of their activity and, in the case of first two, their budget is made up from various contributions from economic operators and not from transfers from the State budget. All state aid and grants schemes administered by the above institutions follow an open procedure based on transparent rules, competition of projects and peer review evaluation.
The financial sources of the National Cinema Fund and its destinations are regulated by E.G.O. No. 39/2005, amended and modified. The National Centre for Cinema administers the National Cinema Fund in compliance with a number of state-aid schemes to support film production and setup of film festivals in Romania and with de minimis state aid schemes such as: support for cinema education, setup of cultural cinematographic events and publishing of specialised materials, art cinema, film distribution and exploitation, participation to festivals.
The operations of the National Cultural Fund Administration are regulated by E.G.O. No. 51/11.08.1998 amended and modified. It should be highlighted that one of the major sources of the Fund is a quota of 2% of the proceeds of the National Lottery, which has lately amounted to 90% of the total budget of the fund. The funding priorities are decided upon by the board of the Fund (Board of Directors of the National Cultural Fund) which also decides on the distribution of each session’s budget among the thematic areas. It is mandatory that at least two financing sessions per year be organised. The organization of these sessions must abide by the following rules: transparency, equal access and non-discrimination and peer review. Peer review by evaluation committees composed of at least three independent experts is considered a guarantee of a transparent and non-biased allocation of grants. Recently, via E.G.O. No. 76/2018 it was decided that each evaluation committee should comprise a member designated by the Ministry of Culture and National Identity.
The operations and activities of the National Heritage Institute are regulated by Law No. 329/2009 and G.D. No. 523/2011, both subsequently modified. One of the major activities of the Institute is to manage the funds allocated for research, restoration, protection of historical monuments through the National Program of Restoration of Historical Monuments. The funds dedicated to this program come mainly from the state budget through the budget of the Ministry of Culture. The institute is also entrusted with the collection and management of the “historical monuments stamp” (“timbrul monumentelor istorice”), instituted by Law No. 422/2001, which is used for loan funding of emergency intervention works on historical monuments.
The National Dance Centre has its activity regulated by G.D. No. 1123/2004, and its operations are mainly funded via budgetary allocations and own revenues. This institution supports programs and projects of independent professionals and entities with a view to developing choreographic culture, research, experiment and innovation in contemporary dance.
Another national / state level institution active in the field of culture and cultural diplomacy is the Romanian Cultural Institute, established on the basis of Law No. 356/2003 as an autonomous administrative authority operating under Parliamentary control (however, the Cultural Institutes set up in other countries by the Romanian Cultural Institute are administratively subordinated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The institute is funded through budgetary allocation from the state budget. Over the years, the institute has developed a number of grant schemes and funding programs focusing on developing intercultural dialogue and on the promotion of Romanian culture in other cultural areas.
At the local level the allocation of public funds is very similar to what was described above. Public cultural institutions are subordinated either to County Councils or to Local (municipal or communal) Councils. In each case their budget is decided upon by the relevant Local Council and the execution of the overall local budget is entrusted to the Mayor Elect or to the president of the County Council. The two above mentioned categories of funding for public institutions can be found at this level.
It should be noted that, traditionally, in Romania, the current and capital expenditures of libraries are funded from the relevant state or local budget, whereas the expenditures of museums and performing arts institutions are funded from allocations from the relevant budget, as well as from their own revenues.
G.O. no. 51/1998 in its revised form places an obligation on all local authorities, irrespective of their level (county, municipal or communal), to set up a system of financing cultural programs, projects or activities similar to that established for the National Cultural Fund Administration. These authorities have total control on deciding the amount of the budgetary allocation with this destination; however the legal provisions mandate that an amount of 2% to 8% of this allocation should be assigned for “emergency financing”. The general rules of open calls – at least one session per year, transparency, equality of access and peer review – have to be implemented effectively by each authority. Although major municipalities and most counties have implemented this system, the same cannot be said for all smaller local authorities. There is no national monitoring or reporting institutions on this topic, which is currently on the agenda of the National Institute for Cultural Research and Training for the next two years.