COVID-19 has laid bare how cultural policy systems function in countries around the world and raises question of their effectiveness, their inclusivity and the economic and social value of culture in Europe. While the Compendium of Cultural Policies & Trends monitors the current measures being taken, asking what these measures mean in the long term and how they may influence or change structural policy systems, is an equally important task. What are the (research) questions we should be asking and how can we ensure the presence and value of culture in society as a whole? In the Compendium’s interview series, we examine the different dimensions of the role of artists, policy makers and the effects of COVID-19 on arts and culture in Europe.
Interview #1: Mark Banks (United Kingdom)
In his article The work of culture and C-19 for the European Journal of Cultural Studies, Professor Mark Banks (outgoing Director of the CAMEo Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies, University of Leicester) gives us parameters and a starting point from which to answer these larger questions. The Compendium spoke with Professor Banks about the potential opportunities for the cultural sector, the value of culture beyond economy and online cultural consumption: “Protecting local arts ecologies is going to be vital. Only then can we hope to rebuild the wider vibrancy of the public arts and culture that we are currently so keenly missing.”
Interview #2: Zlatko Teodosievski (North Macedonia)
The Compendium interviewed its expert author Zlatko Teodosievski (senior curator at the National Art Gallery in Skopje) about the cultural crises of North Macedonia and the effects COVID-19 has had on the politically centralised system. We especially focused on the potential of artistic and cultural advocacy in influencing policies — why is this important and what parameters are needed for cultural and artistic voices to be heard in decision making processes? “I hope that this will be a kind of turning point for the government and the political elites, that they will start accepting culture not as something that only costs money but as a sustainable factor.”
Interview #3: Péter Inkei (Hungary)
Compendium expert author Péter Inkei (director of the Budapest Observatory) reflects on culture during COVID-19 in the increasingly authoritarian regime of Hungary. We discussed the social and economic value of culture, and the effect of the crises on Hungary’s cultural field and policy making. “It took some time to learn that the government of Hungary went along with the spartan economic policy which – although I dislike the phrase – could best be called neoliberal.”