The fact that professional artists’ associations are legally treated similarly to all other associations (i.e. of art amateurs) has created a lot of tension between public authorities and those associations. They have lost all the privileges they once had during socialist times and have, upon occasion, even been expelled from their premises (because they happened to be located in buildings which were legally owned by some other organisation or private person, a fact not challenged before). The main responsibility of the associations has also been transferred to the provincial and local level of governance, with the exclusion of national associations.
According to 2018 report by the Ministry, there are 31 recognised artist associations in Serbia. They are entitled to apply to a special call for support by the Ministry. In 2018, the Ministry has granted 42.436.732 RSD to 26 associations (ca. 360.000 EUR) for their operational expenses and programmes.
A new and completely different legislative logic is needed to differentiate between professional associations (which act more as trade unions for freelance artists), groups of amateurs and NGOs working on policy issues.
In general, transformation from state association of artists to associations as non-governmental organisations provoked a lot of controversies and negative reactions among the artistic community, who felt rejected by the state. In 2018, 31 associations and unions were recognised as being representative, after the open call of the Ministry of Culture in 2011.