Amateur arts and folk culture
Amateur arts have a specific tradition in Slovenia, especially as an important source of national cultural identity with a special role in social processes, because of its specific social function.
In the last 10 years, the position of amateur arts in Slovenia has not changed much. They are still defined as organised forms of free-time mass cultural activities, which contain cultural and social dimensions.
In the domain of culture, amateur arts are extremely diverse in essence: they are close to traditional folk culture in some milieus, aspiring to top forms of professional culture, or remaining as an expressive part of contemporary subculture.
Amateur arts also provide access to culture which is not determined by the social status of an individual or by the specific circumstances of an individual, such as disability, or by regional factors.
An important function of amateur arts is promotion of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, creative pluralism and cultural goods. A large number of creative works, regardless of their genre, audience, aesthetic taste, ideology or ethnic content is characteristic of such activities and are also aimed at involving vulnerable people in social life.
The presence, activities, knowledge and experience of amateur / voluntary arts organisations are important factors in the complex provision of cultural goods and public awareness of the importance of top quality artistic events and quality of cultural life in general.
Amateur arts as social activities therefore contribute to social cohesion in the sense of:
- a possibility for social involvement of marginalised social groups;
- a way of improving relationships inside specific social groups;
- a psychotherapeutic category as an instrument for psychogenic effects, psychophysical prevention and maintenance of psychological stability;
- discovering new personal potentials and ways of acting; and
- entrance into new social relationships and improvement of the existing ones.
Because of both qualities, cultural and social, amateur arts in Slovenia were always strongly, directly or indirectly supported by the government on the state or local level. Slovenian independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 brought about a new system of local government that rocked the foundations of the funding for amateur culture which was tied to the network of 68 local communities (now 210 local communities). A lack of consensus among them endangered the organisational and financial structure of amateur culture.
In 1996, the government established the Fund for Amateur Cultural Activities (since 2000, the Public Fund for Cultural Activities – JSKD) to prevent the collapse of an expert and financial framework supporting the work of cultural societies. With this fund, the government started to take direct responsibility for civil society institutions. The JSKD is obliged to support amateur cultural societies and their unions. It also acts as a cultural intermediary, performs organisational and administrative services in the field of culture for local communities and is a vehicle of cultural policy in many places. The JSKD has expert and administrative personnel at its headquarters in Ljubljana and 59 local offices in all major urban centres in Slovenia. The Fund also organises reviews and promotional events on the local, regional, and national level for all arts fields (music, theatre and puppet theatre, folklore, film, dance, fine arts, literature, and intermedia projects), thus allowing interactive comparison and evaluation of achievements and can be said to stimulate innovation and creativity.
The JSKD makes annual calls for financing of projects and programmes and provides small investments and equipment for cultural groups and youth culture centres and societies. In addition, almost every local community is supporting the “everyday life” of cultural groups and societies on their territory with rooms and financing.
Data from 2013 shows that there are approximately 4 900 groups of amateur arts; most of them are choirs (about 1 900), theatre and puppet groups (630), folklore dance groups (715), contemporary dance groups (229), fine arts groups (338), literature groups (184), and film related groups (71) etc. There are about 100 000 individuals involved in amateur arts activities. They organised 16 000 cultural events for almost 2 million spectators in 2013. The importance of amateur culture in the Slovenian cultural landscape is reflected in the fact that this is one of those fields that has been included since 1998 in the Provision of Funds for Certain Vital Cultural Programmes of the Republic of Slovenia Act (see also chapter 4.2.1). In the period from 2004 to 2007, around 5% of these funds per year went to amateur culture.
The most prominent activities are choral singing (http://www.rapportbalalandras.free.fr), folklore dancing and wind orchestras, but also all other activities are of high quality.
In the last few years, intercultural dialogue was one of the main topics of the JSKD programmes, especially providing financial and organisational help to ethnic minorities, their cultural groups and associations.
On the international level, JSKD is a member of the AMATEO – the European Network for Active Participation in Cultural Activities (http://www.amateo.info). The Network, with the goal of connecting socio cultural or amateur art organisations working on the national level in all European countries (47), was launched at a conference in Ljubljana (26 organisations from 12 countries were represented), in June 2008. The Network is registered in Ghent, Belgium, with the secretariat in Ljubljana.
In 2013 and 2014, the JSKD expanded its activity with two larger scale projects: the cultural centre Kult 3 000 (in Ljubljana)intended as an information and cultural gathering centre and the Week of Amateur Arts, intended as a short festival of Slovenian amateur arts, firstly organised in 2014. Apart from these activities, JSKD is very active in the organisation of events and festivals (it organises over 2 400 events yearly); education; publishing; and cofinancing of the activities of Slovenian arts societies.
Apart from JSKD, another representative organisation of amateur arts in Slovenia is ZKDS – the Association of Cultural Societies of Slovenia which closely participates with JSKD.
Cultural houses and community cultural clubs
There are approximately 980 cultural centres in Slovenia located in smaller towns. They provide the main space for creation, socialising and concerts. They also provide shelter to amateur cultural associations especially in the fields of music and theatre. There are new cultural centres emerging which focus on contemporary creative forms and are particularly attractive for young people. These “youth cultural centres” encourage new innovative cultural practices and give young people access to modern technology. There are about 60 youth cultural centres in Slovenia which are located in bigger urban areas. Both the cultural centres and youth cultural centres are mainly owned by local communities, which finance their operations and maintenance.
The youth centres of Slovenia are organised in a Youth Network MaMa, an organisation of 43 members, being active particularly in the youth sphere and related sectors: culture, sports, social activities, environment, education etc.
The M3C Multimedia Centres Network of Slovenia gathers existing and emerging multimedia initiatives in all Slovene regions and encourages international cooperation. Its members enable free access to and encourage creative use of new technologies. They function as venues, events, and workshop (co)producers, and information points. In the year of 2010, the Ministry of Culture distributed 190 000 EUR among 17 Centres. However, the majority of funding during the previous financial perspective came from European funds.