In Slovenia, there is only one national award in the field of culture (Prešernova nagrada). It is given by the Administrative Board of the Prešeren Foundation. Members of the Board are appointed by the Parliament and are artists, creators of cultural life and / or scientists from all major fields of culture (15 members in total). Every year, a maximum of 2 national awards for outstanding achievements or lifework are given. The Prešeren Foundation also awards up to 6 prizes for important artistic achievements.
The selection of award winners and their works has always been of utmost importance for the formation of the field of art, for understanding the role of culture in different political systems (socialism, self- management, democracy) and for determining the proportion of power between politics and classes of artists and among classes of artists themselves. The national award ceremony is held on the eve of the National Day of Culture, which is celebrated as a public holiday. The convergence of these two events bestows a particular significance to the award and together they represent an annual ritual. The ceremonial parade of award winners is not only festive but also celebrates the existence and recognition of Slovenian cultural identity and promotes an understanding of common values.
In addition to the national award for culture there are around 70 other prizes awarded in the field of culture in Slovenia. The prizes pursue a balance between the exposure of an artists’ body of lifework and the recognition of an individual work of art which is meant to be an incentive for more artistic achievements. The Ministry has a special budget line devoted to awards and social rights which in 2013 amounted to 5 763 012 EUR. Commonly, the share of awards in this sum is about 2.5-7.5%, which in 2013 amounted to 139 527 EUR. The national award accounts for half of the total financial value of all prizes. The biggest number of awards is given in the field of publishing and performing arts, namely in the field of theatre. This reflects the meaning of “language” in the national consciousness. Professional associations of artists give the largest number of prizes. The reason why the number of prizes increased in the 1990s is due to the opening of public institutions to new audiences, the need for greater visibility and the presentation of a diversity of productions (all of which is financed from tax payer money).
Professional associations manifest their presence and express their competence to claim what is the best in individual fields through awards. Through public institutions they organise festivals and meetings through which they promote their work and the prominence of their products.
The awards given by public foundations help them to invigorate their position as stakeholders of cultural policy and at the same time as designators of criteria of excellence in their fields. In this regard, public foundations compete with professional associations. However, the difference is that the prizes awarded by the two public foundations in the field of culture (Slovenian Film Fund and Republic of Slovenia Public Fund for Cultural Activities – JSKD) are not financial, while professional associations are making an effort to add a financial component to their awards. Public foundations therefore envisage the meaning and significance of their awards as recognition of their own importance. On the contrary, professional associations are already aware of the problems of artists and thus try to give financial awards. The state helps them in doing so by providing funds from the state budget up to 70% of all financial awards. With one exception, all prizes that are publicly funded originate from the former political system, leading us to conclude that the politics of the time considered culture as an outward affirmation of society and its organisation.
In 2004, the Ministry gave national public institutions involved in music the possibility to offer residencies. Young artists were thus given the opportunity to gain their first experiences of working in public institutions which would otherwise, because of a fairly restrictive employment policy, have been impossible for them. This was received enthusiastically by music institutions, which made full use of the possibility.
More recently, the Ministry of Culture has been providing funds for participation in residences, within the general public call for project funding in arts (performing arts, music, visual arts, intermedia arts) and literature. There are already four state sponsored art studios abroad, in New York, Berlin, London and Vienna. The intention of this scheme, which was worth 100 000 EUR in 2013, is to enable promising individuals from the performing arts, visual arts, architecture, design, literature, music, media arts and audio-visual culture, journalism and media criticism, to spend time working in international cultural centres, by covering rent, other expenses (for a period of 3 months) and related travelling costs.
Another mechanism to support individual artists is the presentation of Slovenian contemporary visual arts at international arts fairs, aiming at stimulation, promotion and international recognition of top-level Slovenian visual artists such as Arco Madrid, Artefiera Bologna, Art Brussels, Vienna fair, Art Basel in Volta Basel, Frieze Art Fair London, Fiac Paris, Artissima Torino, Paris Photo and Art Forum Berlin. The same measure is taken for literature, through presentation at international book fairs in Frankfurt, Leipzig and Bologna. The overall budget for this purpose is around 90 000 EUR, with an individual limit of 18 000 EUR, under the condition that the public funds don’t exceed 70%. The criteria for selection are quality; inclusion of younger artists; creativity and innovation; Slovene visibility; official invitation of event organiser; and criteria for exclusion of double public funding.
In the last few years, a pronounced attention to financial measures addressed to individual artists can be noted, yet with little visible success. So-called working scholarships have gained impetus at the end of previous decade in different fields such as literature, visual arts, multimedia and music, with more than 250 000 EUR provided in 2007. Yet, in 2014, only 72 000 EUR was provided for working scholarships to only 9 authors: 4 in the field of visual arts and 5 in the field of music. In 2013, the minister Uroš Grilc introduced a new measure, so-called “pocket-money” as a form of direct grant to individual, self-employed artists, intended to raise their financial status. Another important budget line is dedicated to scholarships for students of different artistic disciplines on both levels, undergraduate and postgraduate. In 2009, 56 such scholarships have been provided by the Ministry of Culture. In 2010/2011, the average monthly scholarship amounted to 325 EUR for home studies and 651 EUR for studies abroad.
The amount of financial support for scholarships and school fees provided by the Ministry of Culture, in 2011, was 836 000 EUR. The scholarships and school fees were provided for students in different fields of art and audio-visual culture, post-graduate study abroad and education for cultural professions in multimedia cultures, as art critics, in restoration, for translators of classic works of literature and humanism. Support for under-graduate studies abroad are only financed when there is no similar under-graduate programme in Slovenia.
Another scheme to support individual artists that was debated in past years was the Percent for Art Scheme. A group of researchers under organisational cover of the Slovenian Sculpture Association presented two pieces of research and an elaborated legal proposal for introduction of a Percent for Art Scheme in Slovenia, which stipulates that 1.25% of funds from any new public infrastructure investment would be invested in artworks in or around the constructed building. The legal proposal was adjusted and prepared for parliamentary discussion in 2011 by different sectors of the Ministry, yet the proposal is still awaiting political support and remains one of (several) proposals “in the drawers of the Ministry’s chambers”.