In Serbia, following decades of socialist cultural policies, cultural production is still mostly understood as a public good. Hence, for-profit private organisations in culture are very rare (only some fine arts galleries and music and video production houses). Most of culture is produced by civil and public organisations. When it comes to the collaboration between these, it had its ups and downs. Following the period of large tensions between the public and civil art sectors during the 1990s, after 2000, as part of the new hopes for the democratisation of the country, some of the key players of the civil sector moved to the public sector. However, many have left institutions and the tensions between the two subsystems are growing again. In 2011, participants from 59 organisations from the civil sector adopted a Declaration dealing with the development of the independent cultural sector and set up the Association of Independent Cultural Scene (currently 74 members). Soon after, the Ministry of Culture and the independent cultural scene in Serbia signed a Protocol on cooperation in January 2011, on the basis of which the non-institutional actors of cultural policy (initiatives / organisations belonging to the independent cultural scene in Serbia) are to be involved as equal partners in the achievement of general interest in culture and creating cultural policy in the country. The Protocol has been cancelled in 2013, however the cooperation continued (for more see 8.4.2). Judging by the recent planning documents and commentary from the Ministry, most efforts of the Government are going towards the strengthening of the public cultural sector.
When it comes to the public sector, it is very dependent on state funding, which means at the one hand stability and security, but on the other lack of autonomy. As reported by Cvetičanin (2018), national cultural institutions get more than 90% of the funding from the Ministry. Based on the available data, examples from Novi Sad and Niš show that local cultural institutions get anywhere from 80% to 95% of the funding needed for their functioning from the city/municipal budget, while they obtain 5% to 20% of their funding from other sources (own income, sponsorships, donations, projects). At the same time, 50% of their expenses cover full-time employees’ salaries, which opens a question of whether they have the capacity to invest in programing and exhibitions.
Table 12 – The budget of national cultural institutions 2015 – 2018
Number of public cultural institutions in cities (chart 1) and number of employees in public cultural institutions in cities (chart 2)
The city’s cultural infrastructure mostly corresponds to those inherited from socialist system. As there were no possibilities for preservation and reconstruction during the transition period, city authorities today are facing difficulties in restoring and modernising cultural venues. Another problem relates to the restitution laws. In last two years, numerous previously nationalised properties have been returned to their private owners. Many of those buildings hosted cultural institutions (Gallery of Graphic Art, Rex in Belgrade; Cinema Vojvodina and Gallery in Pančevo; Gallery Smederevo; etc.) and now local authorities have to find new premises for these institutions.
The cultural private sector exists in publishing, design, gaming, film production and other related industries which can be connected to the term creative industries. Although they are profit based, some of their activities are not only commercial, and therefore they are also partially subsidised through the public sector and international foundations. More and more private theatres are opened, but mostly in big cities.
 The Strategy of Cultural Development of the City Niš 2012 – 2015, Niš, the City of Niš and The Strategy of Cultural Development of the City of Novi Sad 2016-2026 (“Official Gazette of the City of Novi Sad”, no. 53/2016).