Slovenia is a social and democratic republic with differentiated legislative, executive, and judicial powers. Its cultural system is a complete set of institutions (political and cultural), interest groups (such as political parties- currently seven of them are represented in parliament, trade unions, lobby groups- associations of artists of individual discipline), the relationships between those institutions and the political norms and rules that govern their functions (constitution, election law, general and cultural legislation). The Parliament is composed of the National Assembly that has legislative power and the National Council that represents interest groups of employers, employees, farmers, crafts and trades, artists and other independent professions, non-commercial fields and local interests. Since the final legislative power rests with the National Assembly, one of the more important roles is the creation of links with civil society, mostly professionals.
The National Assembly deals with culture in general through bills, national four year programmes for culture and annual state budgets. On a more concrete level, cultural matters are addressed through Parliamentary questions and motions forwarded by individual deputies and their groups to regulate individual issues or to adopt certain measures within the scope of the work of the government, a minister, or a government office.
Civil society and experts can participate in the formulation of cultural policies in four ways:
- through membership of the minister’s advisory bodies for different cultural fields;
- through the National Council for Culture;
- through the Cultural Chamber of Slovenia; and
- through participation in the governance structures of public institutions.
The National Council for Culture and the Slovene Cultural Chamber were established to include the voice of the public (mostly artists) in the new policy process. However, the Slovene Cultural Chamber exists more or less on paper, only without any distinguished role so far while the National Council for Culture (NCC), an independent body appointed by the National Assembly for a five year mandate, is supposed to demonstrate the right of the cultural sector to hold a dialogue with the public authorities on the highest level. The National Council for Culture:
- monitors and assesses the impact of cultural policy on cultural development;
- gives opinions on the national programme for culture and annual reports on the implementation thereof;
- discusses proposals of laws and other regulations in the field of culture and those that are related to it; and
- gives suggestions and proposals to public authorities while having a right to obtain a response within 60 days.
The administrative and technical support for the Council and funds for its operation are provided by the ministry.
The current Council was appointed in July 2014 with a five year mandate, just a few months before the new coalition came to power in September 2014. In the previous five year mandate, the Council held 31 meetings. In 2013 it had 6 regular meetings, one extraordinary and nine correspondence sessions, two meetings of the working group and two panel discussions in different cultural institutions. Its annual budget for 2013 was around 13 000 EUR but it only spent 7 500 EUR, mostly on operational costs and some minor commissions. No funds were spent in commissioning analysis or research. At its final session in the old composition, its president stated that after 15 years of his activities in the advisory bodies of the ministry and 9 different ministers, his conclusion is that policy decision-makers do not follow the initiatives and proposals of the bodies they create. However, the end of the mandate has not been accompanied by any analytical material.
There is also the National Council for Library Services envisaged in the Librarianship Act (2001), but at the level of government. The Council is a professional and consultation body that decides on professional matters in the field of library services as well as handles and gives opinions on all technical issues from the field of operation and development of libraries. Members of the Council are recognised experts for all types of libraries who are nominated by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia on proposals of different stakeholders (ministries, professional associations and the academic sphere).
The National Council for Library Services conducts the following tasks:
- adopts technical recommendations in this field;
- gives preliminary opinions on all regulations related to the library services;
- discusses technical baselines of the library services;
- discusses technical baselines for the operation of the National Mutual Bibliographic System, monitors the operation thereof and coordinates its development;
- gives opinions on development plans, annual work programmes and financial plans of the national library and library information service;
- discusses annual reports on the operation of the national library and library information service and reports to the relevant government ministries; and
- proposes initiatives and proposals from its field of work.
The Slovenian cultural policy model is regulated by the Act Regulating the Realisation of Public Interest in the Field of Culture (originally adopted in 1996 and revised in 2002 with the additional amendments over the years, the last in 2013). The title itself indicates that the model is based on the presumption of public interest for culture, the substance of which is defined in depth by sector specific legislation (see chapter 4.2) and national and local programmes for culture, while the Act itself defines the structures, mechanisms, procedures and rules for the articulation and implementation of this interest. The responsibility for public provision of cultural goods and services lies in the hands of state and local communities.
Harmonious cultural development across the whole country, known as polycentric cultural development, is a basic cultural policy orientation that has been in place for decades. All municipalities (210) are responsible for local cultural life but larger ones (25) have an additional obligation, as traditional cultural centres, to ensure the operation of those cultural institutions of broader importance. Until now, the state helped them by funding these institutions (40 – mainly theatres and museums) from the state budget, even though they are part of the municipal cultural infrastructure. In order to ensure common standards in the field of librarianship, museums, monument protection and archives, these fields are regulated as uniform public services. Thus municipalities (210) have legal responsibilities for local museums and all public libraries as public services, while monument protection and archives are primarily the responsibility of the state.
Local communities are independent self-government bodies. Therefore they can adopt their own rules and procedures to execute their responsibilities for culture. If they don’t use this discretion they have to follow mutatis mutandis, the provisions for state authorities. Until now this responsibility has been carried out in a reluctant manner out of the fear that without adequate local budgets and other prerogatives, local authorities cannot be trusted to take proper care of cultural institutions.
The formulation and implementation of cultural policies is an outcome of different procedures and interactions between the cultural administration, government, parliament, the arm’s length bodies, local governments (municipalities), cultural institutions, NGOs, individual artists and their associations.
The ministry formulates proposals for the government, which then submits draft laws to the parliamentary procedures. The main role is reserved for Parliamentary Committees comprised of deputies from all political parties of the Parliament. The field of culture used to be included in Parliamentary Committees for Education, Culture and Sport. These changes in legislative procedure substantially reduced the role of the Ministry of Culture in this process.
The Ministry fulfils its responsibility for cultural policy formulation and implementation through:
- preparation of proposals on sector specific laws and their implementation (including monitoring);
- co-operation with other ministries in the formulation of general legislation and sectoral policy strategies that have an impact on culture;
- coordination of drafting and implementing of the National Programme for Culture, the main strategic document;
- preparation of the annual report on implementation of the National Programme to the Parliament with an evaluation of results and proposals for necessary modifications;
- the provision of cultural services via national cultural institutions founded by the state;
- establishment of procedures and criteria for budget allocations to NGOs and individual cultural projects; and
- interventions to finance larger cultural institutions founded by the municipalities.
The Ministry executes all of the above tasks in the fields of the arts, heritage, the national library and public libraries, the culture of minorities in Slovenia and international cultural co-operation. It is also responsible for the media (audio-visual sector) and the press.
The Minister has expert commissions as his advisory bodies for individual fields or aspects of culture to assist in examining the most important issues related to the regulatory measures, organisation of the public service, distribution of public funds and awarding of various social rights
There are also two public agencies and one public
fund, which all function as arm’s length bodies distributing public
funds: the Slovenian Film Centre – public agency, Public Fund of the
Republic of Slovenia for Cultural Activities (dealing with amateur
culture) and the Slovenian Book Agency.
 To give an example here are the jurisdictions of local communities in the field of cultural heritage:
– To declare the monuments of local importance by legal decrees
– To decide on ways of protecting heritage by processes of spatial planning
– To prepare plans of protection and salvaging (including heritage)
– To allocate financial support for direct renovation measures to monuments and heritage (forming special endowments out of their budget)
– To manage cultural heritage in municipality ownership