3. Cultural and creative sectors
Last update: September, 2021
There are approximately 11 200 buildings registered as part of the immovable cultural heritage (4 260 archaeological sites; 1 726 churches and monasteries with over 150 000 square metres of mural fresco paintings; etc.) and 500 000 museum pieces. Institutional responsibility for cultural heritage (by types) rests with the institutes for the protection of cultural monuments (immovable cultural heritage) and museums, libraries and the national cinématheque (moveable cultural heritage). The process of revalorisation of the cultural heritage is in process for several years.
The first institution for protection of cultural heritage was founded in 1949 in Skopje as a central institute for protection of cultural monuments and natural rarities (today known as the National Conservation Centre).
Until 2004 there were 7 institutes (together with public museums, as one legal entity) responsible for the protection of immovable cultural heritage (1 national and 6 with regional scope), including conservation and restoration. These institutes were legally obliged to register the monuments designated as cultural heritage. As a result of their work, 11 200 immovable objects from different periods have been recorded. The period of time required to complete the validation process is quite slow in comparison to the speed at which objects are recorded (proportion 10:1). In the period 1991-1997 the share of the protection of the immovable cultural heritage in the total budget for culture ranged from 8 to 13%. In contrast to this, in the period until 1991, the percentage of protection funds used to be as much as 35%. However, as the Minister of Culture recently has stated, only 17.5% of the immovable heritage have been revalorised.
There are 3 national parks: Galichica (since 1958), Mavrovo (1949) and Pelister (1948).
In 2004, the Ministry of Culture established a Directorate for Protection of Cultural Heritage Office (DPCH) as a constituent part of the Ministry (with 66 employees), operating as a legal entity.
Organisational structure DPCH:
Table 3: DPCH – 2016 - 2018 budget
|Cultural Heritage Protection Office||2016||2017||2018|
|Salaries, goods, services, transfers, capital expenses||45 552 000||48 066 000||49 550 000|
|Activities||155 587 000||149 294 000||133 200 000|
|Total in MKD||201 139 000||197 306 000||191 550 000|
|Total in EUR||3 297 360||3 234 524||3 140 163|
Source: Ministry of Finance, Budget 2016/17/18
Cultural heritage protection and archaeological excavations have been the government's top priority from 2006 onwards. The budget for archaeological excavations, especially in 2006-2009, tripled compared to the years before, but is declining since then.
There is special legislation on the protection of archival material and its handling, librarianship, and the preservation of films and film material of historic, artistic and other cultural significance.
In July 2013, the director of the DPCH and the chief inspector for protection of cultural heritage were arrested as part of the so called "Falanga 2" process for issuing permits for illegal archaeological excavations and facilitating illicit trafficking. In June 2014 the director was sentenced to three years in prison, and the chief inspector to five years.
In 2013, the DPCH established a National Information System for Cultural Heritage. This portal provided an overview of the North Macedonian immovable, movable and intangible cultural heritage. Its purpose was to present data on heritage to the general public.
In 2017, the National Council for Cultural Heritage was constituted within the Ministry of Culture. It consists of 11 members and the president of the Council is the Minister of Culture.
Several burning major issues for cultural heritage policies have been present for years:
- new strategy for protection of cultural heritage and a new law on protection of the cultural heritage;
- new law on protection of cultural heritage;
- revision of the National Registry of Cultural Heritage (especially for the illegal entries made during the notorious project “Skopje 2014”);
- revalorisation of the cultural heritage;
- addressing illegal archaeological excavations and illicit trafficking of cultural heritage, etc.
These issues, and many more, were also underlined in the Analysis prepared by the Working group for the protection of cultural heritage in 2017/2018 but none of it has been put into practice.
A draft of a new National Strategy for Protection of Cultural Heritage (2021-2025) is under public debate.
For the first time, in the 2021 budget for protection of cultural heritage there is a fund for protection of cultural heritage in danger.
Museums are mainly responsible for the protection of moveable cultural heritage. To a certain extent, the National and University Library (for medieval manuscripts) and the National Cinématheque (for films) also play a role.
Table 4: Museums in Macedonia, 2018
Source: Ministry of Culture
There is no official museum policy document yet, but the key issues and priorities have been stated in the National Strategy for Cultural Development 2018-2022:
- necessary changes to the Law on Museums,
- review of the status (national and local) of museums and decentralisation of the museum network,
- analysis of the space conditions in the major museums,
- analysis of the permanent displays, etc.
However, so far nothing has been put into practice.
There is no national museum association or formal network, but some of the museums are members of ICOM.
It is important to underline that in the period 2008-2014 several new museums have been opened: Museum on Water in Ohrid, Memorial House of Mother Theresa, Museum of Macedonian Struggle (both in Skopje) and the Memorial House of Tose Proevski in Krusevo, etc. However, there had been a lot of public argument surrounding the work of these museums. Contrary to the Law on Museums, all the work, even on the permanent displays in the museums, had been carried out by the Ministry of Culture, without appointing any managing or professional staff in the museums. On the other hand, some of the museums are controversial in form, especially the Memorial House of Tose Proeski (pop star recently deceased), or the Memorial House of Mother Theresa.
Last update: September, 2021
Until 1992, the municipalities (the local government) acted as founders of the public libraries (32). The government established the National Library as a public institution in 1945 and financed it completely. In the period of transition all public libraries were completely financed from the Budget of the Ministry of Culture.
In order to successfully cover the city area, the Skopje City Library "Miladinovci Brothers" still uses the so called "library-bus" - a specialised van that brings books to most distant villages in the area. This "library-bus" now has 1 500 registered users (mostly children) who pay a symbolic membership fee of 50 MKD (0.90 cents) per year.
In 2008, the Ministry of Culture announced a new measure to improve the book funds for libraries: every publisher is obliged to give (without any compensation) to the National and University Library 110 copies of the books that were supported by the Ministry of Culture. Most of the publishers were surprised by this measure, saying that it will decrease the financial help that they get from the state. It is estimated that this new measure will provide around 30 000 new books per year for the libraries.
In 2009, a new wing, measuring 15 000 sqm, was opened at the National and University Library at a cost of 86 million MKD (1.5 million EUR).
As a result of good co-operation between the Macedonian National Library in Skopje and the "Yunuz Emre" Institute from Ankara (Turkey) in the project "Reconstruction of the Balkan cultural heritage", 3 544 manuscripts and 1 000 fragmented pages (in total of 900 000 pages) in Arabic, Turkish and Persian language were digitalised in 2013. In the second phase of the project an electronic and a printed catalogue will be published.
Table 5: Basic data on libraries by type, 2019
|National||Tertiary educational institutions||Specialised||Other non-specialised||Libraries - national institutions||Public libraries|
|Number of libraries||1||67||47||3||5||52|
|Capacity of seats||254||2 234||188||56||40||784|
(number of copies)
|1 151 552||1 022 473||286 390||31 290||310 913||1 280 798|
Source: State Statistic Office: News Release No. 18.104.22.168 / 2020
Last update: September, 2021
According to the State Statistical Office data, in the 2016/2017 season, compared to 2015/2016, the number of performances at professional theatres increased by 10.3%, while attendance increased by 2.1%. The average attendance per performance was 185.
In the period 2016/2017, compared to 2015/2016, the number of performances at professional youth and children's theatres decreased by 4.8%, while attendance decreased by 7.1%.
In amateur theatres, for the same period, the number of performances decreased by 16.1%, and the number of visitors decreased by 23.2%.
In 2016/2017, in comparison with 2015/2016, the number of concerts and attendance at the Philharmonic Orchestra decreased.
Table 6: Theatres in Macedonia, by type, 2019/2020
|Professional||15||743||1 235||180 507|
|Prof. children||2||128||44||15 638|
|Total||21||890||1 279||199 357|
Source: State Statistical Office, News Release No. 22.214.171.124 / 2020
* Active members
The two leading musical institutions are the Philharmonic Orchestra and the Macedonian Opera and Ballet (both in Skopje). Their main objective is to present works from world music literature from various stylistic periods and promotion of works by local composers. Apart from these, several chamber ensembles are active, as well as many individual musicians.
The concert life is mainly concentrated in Skopje (as the capital city), whereas in the other towns it is occasional, depending on the conditions and possibilities to stage concerts, the interest and the tradition of the performing arts practice. Concerts in smaller towns are chamber concerts almost without exception.
The Ministry of Culture also supports the programme activities of the professional folk dance groups that foster vocal, dance and vocal-instrumental folklore tradition.
In 2017, the new building for the Macedonian Philharmonic was finally opened.
Table 7: Macedonian Philharmonic, 2016 - 2020
Source: State Statistical Office, News Release No. 126.96.36.199/2020
There are no specific regulations for the performing arts as a separate field. But during the debates on the new National Strategy for Cultural Development 2018-2022, the Syndicate of the Cultural Workers (SKW) initiated a proposal to the Ministry of Culture to evaluate the need for a separate law on the performing arts. A working group was established and the proposal is now in a process of evaluation.
In 2013 the Ministry of Culture prepared and the Parliament adopted the Law on the Support of the Domestic Music Production which was strongly opposed by experts and the opposition. The Law aimed to support and promote domestic music production – mainly pop and folk music – for a period of ten years, to a total value of 5 million EUR. By means of yearly competition the creation of 200 new compositions (150 in the area of pop music and 50 in folk music and children's songs) were supposed to be financed. Compositions were selected in several categories: "talent", "renowned singer" "outstanding performer", "top performer", "songs that promote family values in society and families with many children" and "compositions that promote the history of Macedonia", and were financed with 3 000 EUR (1 500 EUR for the composition and production, and 1 500 EUR for a video clip). The "Children's song" were financed with 400 EUR (for the composition and production). The "Stars" category was financed with 4 500 EUR (3 000 EUR for composition and production, and 1 500 EUR for a video clip). Macedonian Radio and Television as a Public Broadcaster was authorised to carry out all of the work (announce a public call, choose members of the Commission, recordings etc.).
Due to a new cultural policy in this sector the Ministry of Culture annulled this Law in 2018.
Last update: September, 2021
One of the main characteristics in the visual arts in North Macedonia in the last years is artistic diversity, ranging from "traditional" painting and sculpture to contemporary works using video, installations, performances, computer art and alternative forms of expression.
There is a relatively well-developed network of museums and galleries that, in one way or another, deal with visual arts. However, only 3 institutions are entirely and professionally dedicated to studying and representing the visual arts: the National Gallery of Macedonia, the Museum of Contemporary Arts (both in Skopje) and the National Gallery in Tetovo. The work of other institutions is important too but the visual arts are not their only field of interest. Although not entirely dedicated to visual arts, it is part of the overall programme of activities of e.g. the Museum of the City of Skopje, the Cultural Information Centre in Skopje, the Art Gallery in Bitola (as part of the Bitola Museum), the Art Gallery in Strumica (as part of the Cultural Center) etc.
Fine art gatherings are organised once a year (approximately for 15 or 20 days) in artist colonies, too. Invited artists (local and foreign) attend and create works that afterwards become part of the colony collection. They are significant actors in the production and, especially, the popularisation of the visual arts. It should be pointed out that some of these colonies and especially the older ones (Prilep, Strumica and Resen) possess great and important collections of local and international art.
According to the data of the State Statistical Office (No. 188.8.131.52), there were 314 organised fine art exhibitions in 2020, which represents a decrease of 41.7% compared with 2019. The number of artists-participants at the exhibitions in the same period declined by 44.1%, while attendance fell by 76.3%. In 2020, there were 18 organised fine art colonies, and the number of participants decreased by 32.3% compared with 2019
There are no special regulations for visual arts.
Last update: September, 2021
There is no overall legal framework to specifically promote and develop the cultural and creative industries. The legal provisions that affect cultural industries refer to specific cultural sectors (book production, music, audiovisual products, etc.) and to economic sectors, e.g., micro and small-medium sized enterprises, activities.
One of the burning public dilemmas in the field of culture during the period 2002-2010 was whether there was a cultural market in the country, and whether culture could exist under market conditions. One of the arguments on the deficit of a private market for culture is the small size of the territory and the low average income in the country, as well as the small language market (for example in the field of publishing). Together they limit the conditions required to develop a fully functioning cultural industry.
Initial mapping of the creative industries in Macedonia was done between 2006 and 2009, and again in 2012 in cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and the British Council. However, these initiatives were far from any real practice. For example, the British Council and the Ministry of Culture have "... expected 180 000 creative businesses to be opened in 2013 generating 150 000 new jobs" (https://creativeconomy.britishcouncil.org/blog/13/03/22/creative-industries-development-macedonia/). This was unrealistic because it would mean employing almost half of unemployed people in Macedonia. Of course, none of this happened. On the other hand, the open competitions for cultural industries projects in 2013 and 2014 showed that there was still a big misunderstanding about the real meaning of the cultural industries: a lot of the projects came from the national and local institutions; most of the others had nothing to do with culture or industry, etc. Some of the financed projects as cultural creative industry projects ("Creative catering", "Food Festival", Music instruments made of everyday rubbish", "Producing almond milk and cheese products", educational workshops etc.) showed a complete lack of understanding of the essence and the role of cultural industries.
The National Strategy for Cultural Development 2018-2022 foresees a new mapping of the potential resources for creative and cultural industries on a national, local and urban level along with an integrated strategy for the development of creative and cultural industries and its inclusion in the cultural politics on national and local levels. So far nothing has been put into practice.
Last update: September, 2021
After the privatisation of the state-owned publishing houses (12) in 1995, the period of transition saw the appearance of many new publishers. The number of entities registered for publishing activities reached 250-300. The financial resources that were allocated for publishing increased both in the official language and in the languages of the minorities: Albanian, Turkish, Vlach etc.
Government support is accomplished through the traditional forms of annual open competitions for financing of publishing projects. The Ministry of Culture continually allocates financial resources for the stimulation of literary creative work. These resources are intended to support authors (paying authors’ fees, literary awards) and publishers (preparation and printing expenses).
In the period 2008-2015, the Ministry of Culture and the former government supported publishing hundreds of thousands of books in several so called capital editions ("Macedonian literature through the centuries", with 130 volumes, that cost 24 million MKD / 400 000 EUR; "100 Nobel prize winners in the Macedonian language", which cost approximately 500 000 EUR; "The stars of world literature"; "130 volumes of Macedonian literature in the English language", etc.). However, the new Government (2017) discovered that the funds were spent while the books stayed in the basements of several cultural institutions and never reached the potential users (libraries, school, universities, etc.).
Table 8: Published books and press (2017-2019)
|Press (newspapers and magazines)||29||25||27|
Source: State Statistics Office, Mak Stat 2020
One of the most relevant issues throughout the last decade was media freedom, freedom of speech and decriminalisation of slander. According to the Ministry of Justice, 296 journalists were accused and prosecuted in the period 2014-2017 for slandering government officials or other holders of public office. Most of them were cancelled but 9 journalists were convicted and had to pay fines of 5-32 000 EUR (in each case). At the same time, some of the so called pro-government media accused several journalists of giving negative information to "Freedom House" about the media situation in the country.
According to the Reporters without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, in 2013 Macedonia was ranked in 116th place out of 176 countries, a drop of 22 positions compared to the previous year. According to Reporters without Borders, the reasons for the deterioration of media freedom in Macedonia lies in judicial harassment based on often inappropriate legislation, the lack of access to public data, physical and psychological violence against those who work in news and information, official and private advertising markets used as a tool, and the grey economy's hold over vital parts of the media. Macedonia was positioned on 109th place on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index. It was a slight improvement and the Rapporteur explained that “The fall of the Gruevski “regime” has led to a slight reduction in government control of the media but it is still too soon to be sure of the government’s intention to engineer a lasting improvement in the situation” (https://rsf.org/en/republic-macedonia). There has been no significant change in the economic situation of journalists, who are usually poorly paid and have no, or little, job security.
Last update: September, 2021
Film production has undergone fundamental transformations since 1991 which has resulted in the reorganisation and financing of films. After the establishment of the first private production house in 1989, the number of producers grew to over 100 firms. However, reality indicates that this unexpected and highly illogical increase in the number of production firms was not motivated by a willingness to promote film production. Quite the opposite, the motivation was to have an opportunity to access public money. Nonetheless, some production firms have initiated a new model of co-productions and search for new co-financers from within the country and abroad.
According to the Government's Decision on the Network of National Institutions in the Field of Culture (December 2003), the only state producer, “Vardar Film”, was reorganised as a professional film centre.
In 1954, there were 77 movie theatres located throughout the country, 86 in 1972 and since 1980 the number has continually decreased. Today, movies are screened in 21 film theatres and 41 cultural centres. In 2003, 704 films were shown, of which 22 were Macedonian, 674 were foreign and 8 were co-productions. The number of visitors was 277 211. Almost 95% of foreign movies originate from the USA, whereas the number of movies from European and other countries is significantly low.
In 1960, the capital Skopje had 17 cinemas, which has reduced to only two today. In 2006, 3 cinemas were closed. The total number of cinemas in Macedonia in 2007 was 16, with 6 686 seats. 426 films were shown at 3 834 cinema performances, with 130 546 visitors. According to the latest data, in 2017 there were 14 cinemas, in 2018 also 14, and in 2019 there were 15 cinemas.
In May 2006, the Law on the Film Fund was adopted by the Parliament. This was actually the first attempt to create a fund for financing culture as a kind of “arms-length” body of the Ministry of Culture. Twice a year (May and September) the Film Fund announces a public competition for funding film projects of national interest. Only registered film producers can apply for the competition. A minimum of 75% of the budget should be spent locally. The Film Fund should mostly finance films that can return some of the invested money. The Film Fund should also establish contacts with international producers and distributors and assist in the promotion and marketing of films etc.
In 2020, the Film Agency financed the organisation of 22 film festivals / manifestations and production of 4 feature films with a majority share, 6 feature films with a minority share, 4 debut feature films with a majority share, 13 short films with a majority share, 8 documentary films and 2 short animated film with a majority share.
The Law on Film (2013) provided better conditions for private sector investment (domestic and foreign) in the film industry. It foresaw the return of 20% of the invested private funds after the film is finished. The law also increased the amount of the participating funds for a film from 500 000 to 1 million EUR. According to this law the existing Film Fund changed into the Agency for Film, with a Managing Board and Film Council. The law came to power on 1 January 2014. In 2018, changes to the Law on Film were initiated.
Instead of the old Law on the Founding of the Cinemateque of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia (1974), a new Law on Audio-visual Goods was passed in 2008. The law regulates the basic conditions and working methods of a cinema, types of cinemateques and its set up, technical components, professional staff and other questions of interest. According to this Law, a cinemateque can be public (national or local) and private. The Minister of Culture decides whether these conditions are met.
In 2018, for the first time after the fall of communism, the Minister of Culture Ademi and the Director of the Film Agency Tozija tried to forbid public screening of the feature film “Mocking of Christ” by Jani Bojadzi on the grounds of a lack of artistic value and offensiveness towards the Albanian soldiers of 2001. At that time the film had already won a prize at the Montreal Film Festival and had its premiere in Skopje. On behalf of the Ministry of Culture the Public Prosecution Office even submitted a case to the court. However, after a few days, the case was withdrawn.
The beginning of video production in North Macedonia (as an independent art form) is closely connected with Macedonian Television. Starting in 1985, it produced over 20 videos (financed by the Programme for Culture and Arts) and 2 experimental video films. The experimental video film “The Judge” by the artist Zaneta Vangeli was selected for the Venice Film Festival 2001.
Last update: September, 2021
There are no specific policies that now promote music creative services in North Macedonia (see also chapter 3.3.)
Last update: September, 2021
There are no specific policies that promote design and creative services in North Macedonia.
Last update: September, 2021
Please find the available information on this subject in 3.5.1