The cultural market in Serbia was ruined during the 1990s due to the dissolution of the country, huge inflation rates and decreasing standards of quality of life. The fall of Yugoslavia also meant that audience numbers for cultural industries decreased. For example, potential viewers for popular movies decreased from 24 million in 1989 (in Yugoslavia as a whole) to 4.6 million in 2000. As the purchasing power of the population decreased, so did the number of buyers of cultural or artistic goods and services.
The Poverty Index in 1995 was 28.9%, in 2000 it was 36.5%, while in 2002 it was 14.5%. Again, in 2012 index reached the 24,6%, and 25,5% in 2016 meaning that almost 2 million inhabitants live at the risk of poverty. With such an index, Serbia has a high rank on the list of poorest European countries.
At the end of the 1980s, individual expenditure on cultural goods and services represented 80% of the total expenditure for culture. This, in itself, shows how large the art audience was and how strong and diversified their needs, practices and habits were to participate in cultural life. In 1993-1994, due to huge inflation (100% daily), the price of an art work, a film or a theatre ticket, became insignificant – both for users and for institutions. The subscription system collapsed – both for tickets to events such as the opera or subscriptions to reviews and journals. Audience development and marketing became senseless. Step by step, the cultural market starts to recover: art collectors are reappearing; online book sales and chain bookshops help the publishing industry to survive; cinemas are opening in shopping malls and the number of private theatres and venues is also growing.
Table 14: Audience and user figures, 2013-2016
|Sector||Number of visitors|
Source: Office for Statistics, Serbia and Office for Statistics, Belgrade.
The Institute for Statistics and the Institute for the Research of Cultural Development have initiated a new research stream in 2014 with changed methodology (the first analysis is of 2013). According to the new methodology (in table 14) visitors of the most common cultural venues and institutions are rising slow and steady (except galleries). Cultural participation research shows that Serbian citizens are still used to visiting cultural venues and reading at home. Compared to other countries, the citizens of Serbia are near the EU average in most types of public cultural participation. This shows that despite hard living conditions, many people in Serbia still enjoy the cultural offerings.
Table 15. Cultural practices of citizens of Serbia
|Activity||Serbia 2005||Serbia 2010||Serbia 2015||EU 2013|
|Going to ballet and opera||4,6%||4,5%||5%||18%|
|Going to cinema||47,5%||34%||53%||52%|
|Visiting museums and galleries||25,7%||36%||40%||37%|
|Going to a concert||37,8%||n.a.||49%||35%|
|Reading at home||54,4%||63%||61%||68%|
Sources: Cvetičanin (2006), Cvetičanin, Milankov (2011), Opačić, Subašić (2016)
Other research also highlights some trends and differences within audiences (Cvetičanin, Milankov, 2011; Opačić, Subašić, 2016). It has become a norm that women are more prone to cultural activities than men. The urban population visits more cultural events and has more affinity towards culture than the rural population. Finally, education also plays an important role in determining someone’s cultural taste: those who have been in school longer, are more appreciative of what cultural institutions offer.