The role of cultural agencies and institutes was extremely important in the first few years of re-opening Serbia to the world, bringing new types of issues within the cultural debate and helping institutional reform. However, only Pro Helvetia, through the Swiss Cultural Programme (SCP) in the West Balkans, was still supporting local and regional cultural activities (the local office in Serbia was closed December 2009), while all the other similar organisations just organise promotional programmes relating to their own culture, or are supporting their own agendas, regardless of real community needs (e.g. the British Council completely closed the library in Belgrade and almost lost its independence in supporting locally relevant projects; the French Cultural Centre severely reduced the budget for Serbia). As a result of the economic crisis, forecasts are even more pessimistic concerning support from the cultural agencies and foreign cultural centres. However, in 2017 the British Council realised a research regarding skills and competencies in the cultural sector as part of their worldwide mapping, aiming to define lacks and needs for the future capacity of building programmes.
The EUNIC Serbia Cluster (established in 2007) started to be active in developing joint collaborative programmes and today has fifteen members and associate members. Most activities relate to the European language day (26th September) and to conferences, workshops and gatherings of different professional cultural associations such as librarians, designers, curators, etc.
It can be said that instruments of international cultural cooperation are not developed and used within certain strategies and programmes. There is no system to enable the long term commitment of public bodies, especially financial (guarantees for the programmes which have to happen in future), which prevents cultural managers from organising big international events or network meetings (although for major sport events, the government is ready to provide such guarantees).
Training is sporadically organised by foreign cultural centres and embassies, in the fields where those embassies decide, or according to NGO or cultural institution initiatives (no Ministry policy involved). This means that the American Embassy organises fundraising training, while Italy is bringing in experts for restoration and conservation, etc. The UNESCO Chair for Cultural Policy and Management at the University of Arts, Belgrade developed a joint Masters programme with two French universities (I.E.P. Grenoble and University Lyon II), and involving other European partners. Another joint Masters programmes has been developed at Serbian universities such as Masters in preventive protection and conservation, contributing to the development of heritage protection professionals.
It is very difficult to make an assessment of general trends in public financial support for international cultural co-operation, as there is no specific budget line or current statistical data, and as projects are supported by different public bodies and through “disciplinary” categories (so, it is not certain if they had an international component and if they got public financing for this component). However, the Ministry conducted research in 2016 about trends in financing of international cooperation for the period 2010-2015 (Dragićević Šešić et al., 2017: 337-399).
To support international cooperation, the Ministry has launched the programme for co-financing (scheme of allocated funds below, that indicates major foreign contributors to Serbian arts and culture scene).
|Competition for co-funding of projects in the fields of culture and art supported through international funds The open calls was first published in 2014. 53 applications were received out of which 28 were supported with the total amount of 14,527,253.15 RSD. Overview of allocated finances by international funds in 2014.|
|International Fund||Total allocated in RSD||№ of projects||%|
|1. Council of Europe-Eurimages||3,106,528.00||2||21.38|
|2. Culture 2007-2013||2,630,240.00||5||18.11|
|3. Creative Europe 2014-2020||2,013,034.00||6||13.86|
|4. Delegation of the EU (IPA)||1,785,571.00||3||12.29|
|5. Europe for Citizens||989,693.00||1||6.81|
|6. The seventh framework programme of the EU (FP 7)||650,000.00||1||4.47|
|7. European Cultural Foundation||615,560.00||1||4.24|
|8. Open Society Foundations||590,000.00||1||4.06|
|9. Balkans Arts and Culture Fund – BAC||486,745.00||2||3.35|
|10. Erasmus +||412,363.00||1||2.84|
|11. Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques–SACD||394,113.00||1||2.71|
|12. Central European Initiative||351,519.15||2||2.42|
|13. IPA programme of cross-border cooperation Romania-Serbia||351,887.00||1||2.42|
|14. International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance-IHRA||150,000.00||1||1.03|
|Total allocated funds||14,527,253.15 RSD||28||100|
Source: Cultural Diplomacy: Arts, Festivals & Geopolitics
Within the framework of cultural diplomacy, the Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society organised the promotion of cultural heritage and contemporary art in the multilateral organisations, such as the Council of Europe in Strasbourg (photo exhibition of Serbian landscapes, 2007; concert of Philharmonic Orchestra in Strasbourg, 2007), European Commission (exhibition of Fortresses on the Danube, 2010), UNESCO (exhibition of Fortresses on the Danube, 2011), European Parliament in Brussels (copies of frescoes 2010, paintings of M. P. Barilli, 2011) and, at the end of 2011, in the United Nations in Geneva, there was an exhibition dedicated to the Nobel prize winner, writer I. Andric. Besides traditional and fine art exhibitions, the Ministry of Culture initiates other forms of art promotion of Serbian culture (e.g. photo exhibition “Land of promises, Serbia”, or international concerts of eminent young musicians, etc.). Since 2017, the Ministry of Culture is organising a round table: Belgrade’s counterpoint. The aim of this gathering is to offer a debate platform for key world philosophers, artists and writers to discuss major contemporary issues. The topic of the debate in 2017 was “What can literature offer today?” (participants: Peter Handke, Frédéric Beigbeder, Zakhar Prilepin, Yu Hua, and Milovan Danojlić; the discussion was moderated by Vladan Vukosavljević (Minister of Culture and Information) and film director Emir Kusturica,). The topic of the second debate (June 2018) was “What about globalization in culture?” (participants: Zhang Kangkang, Gunnar Kvaran, Vladimir Pištalo, Yury Polyakov, Francisco López Sacha, and David Homel; Vladan Vukosavljević and Emir Kusturica).
The Serbian Cultural Centre in Paris is another platform for presenting Serbian culture abroad. Since 2014, there is an open call for non-institutional actors to apply for the right to present their works and projects in Paris. The Ministry is planning to create a network of Serbian cultural centres in Moscow, Beijing, Berlin, and later in Trieste. The Strategy of cultural development of the Republic of Serbia in the period 2017-2025 (page 111) foresees further widening of the network (including Brussels above all) and emphasises the necessity to plan and reinforce capacities of those centres (starting with the existing one in Paris).
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