The Slovene Chairmanship of the Council of Ministers of Culture of South-East Europe (CoMoCoSEE) in 2013 worked towards enhancing the role of culture and cultural heritage for sustainable development in modern societies of the region, thus strengthening the relevance of this regional forum in Europe also beyond its borders. The CoMoCoSEE Brdo Declaration (9 April 2013), concluding the Slovene Chairmanship, particularly acknowledged the important role of cultural and arts education in fostering cultural awareness and expression, creativity and diversity, as well as contributing to human development, socio-cultural well-being and social cohesion, and stated the development of arts and cultural education as one of the priorities of our regional cooperation. On the occasion of the 2013 CoMoCoSEE ministerial meeting in Slovenia, an important travelling exhibition “Imagining the Balkans“uniquely bringing together national museums from the region in their common historic narrative was opened under UNESCO patronage. Furthermore, the strategy of regional cooperation for 2014-2015 adopted at the following CoMoCoSEE ministerial meeting in June 2014, Ohrid, Macedonia, listed specific priority areas: effective and sustainable management of cultural heritage; fighting the illicit trafficking of cultural property and promoting the restitution of illicitly trafficked exported or imported property; safeguarding intangible cultural heritage; fostering creativity and the diversity of cultural expressions; and development of cultural and arts education in the region.
The Slovenian Culture and Information Centre in Austria (SKICA), established in Vienna in 2011 as a unit of the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia, is the only cultural institution of the Republic of Slovenia abroad. It is a joint project of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture. The centre aims to integrate Slovene creativity in the field of arts and culture into the cultural milieu of the city of Vienna and beyond. SKICA aims to become a model for the future network of Slovene culture and information centres abroad. The SKICA page links to other pages on Slovenian culture at home and worldwide and functions as a gateway of information on Slovenia for foreigners.
Another permanent structure is the Forum of Slavic Cultures (FSC). It undertakes a diversity of projects intended to stimulate common research in culture and the arts; translation projects are also undertaken to establish and strengthen collaboration in linguistics and Slavic studies. They focus primarily on literature, linguistics, translation, ethnography, museology, folklore and archival studies, education, theatre and music. The FSC cooperates with more than 20 countries across the globe and is open to new partnerships. One long-term project of the Forum of Slavic Cultures is “100 Slavic Novels”, led by the Slovenian Writers Association, which is one of the oldest projects undertaken. Each of the Slavic countries involved selects 10 authors, whose novels will be translated into the other relevant Slavic languages and published in the respective countries. Other FSC projects are: international exhibition of Slavic Capitals in 2D; Craftattract Project focusing on the registration of traditional crafts and on their potential to attract cultural tourism; The Best of Slavic Heritage to stimulate and improve cooperation among the museums and galleries of the participating countries; Musical Bridges creating a network of young musicians which gives young Slavic musicians better mutual knowledge, greater recognisability, and easier access to the public.
The Ministry of Culture has annual or biennial calls for international presentations of art, to be presented at fairs and festivals. It also supports international events in Slovenia such as the Biennial of Graphic Arts, BIO, the Biennial of Industrial Design, the Forma Viva Open Air Sculpture Collection in Maribor, and the European Triennial of Slovene Small Sculpture. International platforms in the field of contemporary dance and theatre are also supported. Since 2003, the mobility of artists is supported through working stipends, competitions and awards, and residency schemes which are announced annually. One is open to creators to bid for short-term residencies in apartments owned by the Ministry in New York City, Berlin, London and, since 2011, also in Vienna. Another determines the operator of the Creative Europe Desk and the international cooperation portal Culture.si. Other calls are for the organisers / curators of the Venice Biennale and Venice Biennale of Architecture. The gallery space A+A, which was established in Madrid in the 1990s and ten years later transferred to Venice, was closed in 2014 due to other priorities.
The Division for International Cultural Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also responsible for umbrella agreements in the field of culture, education and science and their programmes. There are 47 international umbrella agreements on culture, education and science, currently signed by the Republic of Slovenia. The international umbrella agreements are generally enabling bilateral contacts in the field of scholarship exchanges, exchanges in the field of art and culture and introducing individuals to the languages and civilisations of other states. According to the new strategy, the umbrella agreements are relevant for cultural cooperation with countries where these kinds of documents still pave a way to better interaction with countries such as Russia, China and other non-European countries. The agreements will probably no longer be signed with EU member states; although neighbouring states are an exception.
The funds for supporting cultural cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been reduced in the last few years. International cultural cooperation is considered to be a part of the regular activities of cultural institutions and thus included in their regular public funding. This division makes it difficult to determine a total figure for expenditure in this field in Slovenia. According to the Table below given by the Ministry it is understood there have been budgetary reductions for culture in external relations.
Table 1: Budgetary allocations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cultural cooperation in EUR, 2011-2014
|Membership fees||40 521||32 404||30 608||32 417|
|International Cooperation||831 318||601 507||589 771||579 670|
|Forum of Slavic Cultures||153 000||122 400||122 400||114 793|
|Total||1 024 839||756 311||742 779||726 880|
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.