2. Current cultural affairs
Last update: September, 2018
With the Serbian Progressive Party growing as the most powerful political option in 2014, many important changes occurred in the field of cultural policy. We can observe both some new developments as well as many latent trends from the previous Governments becoming explicit. Now, with the process of making and publicly discussing the long-term cultural policy planning document, as well as the ongoing synchronization of national laws with the ones of the EU, much of Serbia’s cultural policy plans and priorities have become more explicit in the recent years. Adding the fact that the current Prime Minister Ana Brnabić has been claiming culture, education and creative industries as one of the foundations of her policy of recovering Serbia’s economy and society, one could say that it is clearer than before where the Government is heading with its cultural policy.
Ideologically, it is a combination of economic liberalism and cultural conservativism, aiming at the same time to boost the stagnating economy in neoliberal fashion, while promoting national unity and proudness through the cultural department. Binding the two are the anti-democratic policy instruments, a lack of transparency and populist discourses of inner greatness and external threats.
On the nationalist front, the Ministry together with the Government has made big, bold steps in fortifying institutional grand culture. After its main galleries were closed for audience for 15 years (due to political inefficiency, scandals, economic crisis and disregard to culture), the National Museum reopened with a fanfare on the 28th of June 2018. The date has been selected conspicuously – it is a national holiday commemorating the Kosovo battle of 1389, often used to show the simultaneously victimhood and heroism of the Serbian nation as being always under the threat of big global forces. With an opening ceremony of unprecedented glamour and undisclosed worth, the Government has sent a clear message that the Temple of Culture will serve to glorify national greatness and unity against all odds. At the opening ceremony, the Minister of Culture stated that the opening of the museum represents an “historical and cultural injustice undone”. For weeks on end, a spectacular sight of thousands of citizens queuing to enter the museum served well to obscure the fact that the exhibitions that are shown, in terms of collection and interpretation, are the same old exhibitions from 2003. The exhibitions are lacking any kind of contemporary mediation technologies, inspiring and accessible interpretation techniques or inviting educational programmes. Although the National Museum is the most glaring example, the Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Gallery of Matica Srpska and other big museums have also reopened or are awaiting refurbishment under the same Government. However, the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Belgrade had succeeded in preserving its Yugoslav heritage by symbolically presenting the first selected painting in the permanent exhibition: Nadežda Petrović’s “The Funeral in Sićevo” that was created during international art residency for South Slavic artists in Sićevo (South Serbia). This art residency was the first politically motivated art residency in the world that since 1905 was inviting artists from Austro-Hungarian empire (Slovenes and Croats), Ottoman empire, Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria. The Museum of Contemporary Arts in Belgrade, as the only museum of this kind in former Yugoslavia, had created an extensive collection of the work of arts coming from the whole territory of Yugoslavia since its opening in 1965.
The grandiose and the heroic are the desired attributes of the Serbian culture that are also present in the National strategy of cultural development, which claims that the “Kosovo oath” – in which Serbian leaders of the Middle Ages have sacrificed the earthly Serbian Kingdom to gain the Kingdom of Heaven and become martyrs – stands as a continuous dimension of Serbian culture. Although they awkwardly and contradictorily stand next to the “Enlighted-European” and “Democratic” dimension in the text, such openly ethno-centric and religious proclamations have not been part of the official and explicit cultural policy previously.
However, such proclamations are not only discursive. The distinction between Serbian culture and the rest has been strengthened through various policy documents and measures. The Ministry has increased funds and opened new funding schemes for the Serbian diaspora, the promotion of Serbian national heritage abroad and projects of the Serbian Orthodox church. Most notoriously, the Ministry has been very active in advocating for a new legislative that would increase and promote the use of Serbian Cyrillic script. This has been an ongoing debate for decades now.
While analysing the present state of the arts in this domain, the Ministry underlined the necessity to implement measures to protect the Cyrillic alphabet and the Serbian language in the Strategy (see chapter 1.1). The action “Nurture the Serbian language” was introduced and suggestions to change the Law regarding the alphabet should be presented to public debate soon. The Strategy proclaims the Serbian literary language as the communication language of the population of Serbia that is using different dialects and that it should represent one of the key cohesive factors in society. At the same time, the Strategy proclaims a necessity to the Republic of Serbia to confirm use of all languages and cultures that are spoken by different nations living in Serbia. However, the Strategy underlines that in contemporary global communication the Serbian language and Cyrillic alphabet in public space are suppressed, thus new measures are needed like supporting comprehensive project of the Dictionary of Serbian language (Serbian academy of science and arts) as well as numerous other projects of handy dictionaries (one volume dictionaries), syntax and spelling handbooks (see chapter 2.5.4).
In parallel to these events, the Government, more than the Ministry of Culture itself, has reignited its interest in creative industries. In a series of moves reminiscent of Tony Blair’s creative policy of the nineties: the Prime Minister has founded a special Council for Creative Industries, engaged a consultant from the United Kingdom for advising on creative industries policy, organised a high-profile conference to promote its new creative policies and issued a series of statements which relate Serbia’s future with the development of creative industries. There are many facts that explain such orientation. Over the last years, Serbia’s IT, design and gaming industries have boomed. In an economy defined by high unemployment, the wider IT sector is continuously facing the shortage of employees, despite the fact that studying and learning to code has become one of the most popular educational choices, understood as the only progressive and future-proof profession by many. Many local companies have become global leaders in their market niches (like gaming giants Nordeus, Cofa Games and Eipix or smart grid company DMS) and net export of IT goods have become one of three best export branches (next to agriculture).
Such policies have been opposed by many. The independent arts scene, which has been a stronghold for oppositional politics for decades, has opposed the right-wing direction of the Ministry and the Government and the fact that many measures and procedures are lacking transparency. As a result, the Ministry has cancelled cooperation with the Association of Independent Arts Scene of Serbia and decreased funding for its members on open calls.
However, private actors have also criticized some government measures. Weeks after the Prime Minister announced support for strengthening creative industries, news broke out that the Government subsidized German IT giant Continental with 9,5 million EUR to employ local IT staff in Novi Sad (a city with the highest per capita IT exports which is already lacking staff). It was a breaking point for the local IT industry and they understood it as a support to unfair competition and giving clear advantage to foreign companies, thus doubting the intentions of the Government.
Apart from these main policy streams, other significant events in the field of culture occurred. One of the biggest developments in the field of culture in past 5 years is related to the city of Novi Sad becoming a European Capital of Culture in 2021. After years of preparation and advocating for the Europeanisation of cultural policies, the city has been awarded the title along with a series of commitments. Watched by the evaluation committee from Brussels, the city administration had to make its decision making more transparent, participatory and democratic, culminating with the set of participatory policy-making instruments such as the Forum for culture – an open debate format between city officials and cultural actors. At the same time, the city wanted to maintain its policy and prevent any serious disruption of the political order. These contradictory trends continued during the preparation of the title year, which is imbued by on the one hand, democratic and participatory events that outpace any other city administration in Serbia by a wide margin and on the other, top-down measures and spectacle events. These tensions have fuelled many heated debates – online (on social media) and offline. The case of NS2021 is an experiment in actual cultural democracy that might influence broader cultural policy to some extent (see more in Tomka & Kisić 2018).
There has also been an increased interest in audience development and cultural participation. There are more and more voices arguing for the wider access to cultural institutions. Workshops and conferences on audience development, collaboration of museums and theatres with schools and similar have become more common (by KC Grad in 2015, Nova Iskra and Creative Europe Desk in 2017, Museum association of Serbia in 2017 and Baza art in 2018 and many more). Numerous publications followed: a research on festival goers by the Institute for cultural development (Jokić, Mrđa, 2014); a collection of good practices in audience development by Creative Europe Desk (Mihaljinac & Tadić, 2015); a research on audience development efforts of the civil cultural scene by the Association of Independent Arts Scene (Tomka, Dodovski, Vezić, 2016); and special research on the participation of children by Foundation Point (Tomka, Matić, 2017). Finally, the Foundation NS2021 European Capital of Culture has organized the “Audience in Focus” programme involving training followed by a special call for projects aimed at audience development for cultural institutions, which represents the largest policy effort in audience development so far. Although audience development is an undisputed policy direction, there is still a lack of real systemic devotion in analysing, evaluating, awarding and supporting structural changes in cultural participation.
The Swiss agency for the development and cooperation with Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and University in Fribourg had suggested to the Serbian government that its Secretariat for public policies could help in developing evidence based public policies by linking researchers with information needed from different ministries. Thus, several calls for research projects had been announced in different disciplines according to the needs of public authorities. In the domain of culture, the Ministry asked for research about the models of local (city) cultural policies, wanting to increase the level of cultural participation of the population. The Institute for theatre, film, radio and television of the Faculty of Drama Arts and the Institute for cultural development had submitted the proposal that was accepted, which included researching cultural policies and practices in fifteen major Serbian cities (Subotica, Sombor, Zrenjanin, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Užice, Kraljevo, Čačak, Kruševac, Niš, Leskovac, Pančevo, Smederevo, Vranje and Zaječar). The research successfully raised the level of local debates about culture and cultural policies as the dominant method was focus group debate (at least two in each city): a) with cultural professionals from public institutions and authorities, b) with civil society and media representatives. After the research, serial presentations were held in the Ministry of Culture but also in respective cities.
The major criticism of cultural professionals and civil society relates to the lack of funds for substantial investments in cultural infrastructure, but even more to the lack of democratic procedures in organizing the distribution of public funds. In most of the cities there is a cultural committee that proposesto the city council on how to distribute programme funds. Usually, the chair of the committee is the person in charge of culture within city government and other members are nominated by city council without transparency on who was selected and why. Criteria are rarely defined, even for grant distribution. Public calls come too late and cultural managers and artists cannot organize any event in the first half of a year. Together with the fact that there is no possibility for multiple year funding, this shows an essential need for Serbian cultural policies on all levels: to introduce an open method of consultation, but to implement and change work methods that are obviously having negative effects for the sector.
This information will be published as soon as possible.
This information will be published as soon as possible.
Last update: September, 2018
Since early 2000s, digitalisation has been a policy priority for the national Ministry after the realisation that Serbia didn’t keep up with the pace of the rest of Europe during the nineties. A national centre for digitalisation has been founded together with many national and international projects. These efforts increased further in recent years. In 2014, the Ministry opened a special department for the coordination of digitalisation efforts of many cultural institutions and joined an international platform for digitalization under the support of the Council of Europe in order to create conditions for the dispersed digitalisation efforts in Serbia to be more coherent and effective. In 2016, an expert commission has been set up within the Ministry devoted to foster digitalisation efforts. The Minister has also appointed his deputy for the “development of digital research infrastructure in the field of arts and culture”, who has the task of coordinating the myriad of efforts across institutions and departments who deal with digitalisation.
In September 2017, the Ministry published a guidebook for the digitalisation of arts and heritage including the terminology and the description of main processes, technologies and procedures. In the same year, the Ministry has signed a Memorandum of cooperation with the national mobile operator Telekom and the Mathematical institute of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts which foresees the creation of a central database with mobile application access to it, as well as a central space devoted to recording and the digitising of movable cultural heritage objects. The Ministry also supported numerous conferences, workshops and gatherings for cultural workers, including the Regional Symposium on Digitalisation of Film and Television Archives (in 2017 and 2018) and an International workshop on digitalisation of cultural heritage in 2018.
Special calls for projects on the digitalization of cultural heritage are now published yearly. In 2018, 61 projects were supported by various holders including individual artists, civil society organisations, public cultural and educational institutions and churches. In total, 41million RSD (app. 350.000 EUR) was awarded with individual projects receiving 4 to 10 thousand EUR. Compared to other calls for projects, this shows a serious commitment of the Ministry to foster digitalisation efforts.
Some municipalities have joined this trend: the city of Svilajnac helped the Natural centre of Serbia that was founded there ten years ago to digitalise its fund and prepare multimedia presentation (data base, interface and web presentation for public use).
Many other actors have also played an important role in the digitalisation process, with many museums, Institutes for protection and University departments taking part. In Novi Sad, a devoted platform has been created (bbns.rs) to present local cultural heritage. However, there is a campaign to unite various projects into a single centralised platform.
Last update: September, 2018
Until 2008, there were no government programmes to support trans-national intercultural dialogue, nor any specific government support for the trans-national activities of young people. From 2008 on, there were some small steps by the Ministry of Culture towards the goal of implementation of intercultural dialogue.
The White Paper on Intercultural dialogue of the Council of Europe has been translated and published into the Serbian language. Regarding implementation of the White Paper on Intercultural dialogue, the Ministry worked together with the Working Group for Promoting Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue made up of well-known artists and experts in the field of intercultural dialogue. Through a public call, leading institutions, organisations and individuals were invited to take part in mapping and affirmation of projects and processes of intercultural dialogue in Serbia. The chosen programmes (10 were selected) affirmed the priorities of European cultural policies in the current Serbian cultural and artistic productions and activities. The programme continues through the permanent activity of the Cultural Centre Rex in Belgrade (http://rexold.b92.net/ikd/node/9).
This highly successful programme, a basically arm’s-length model, was an important sign that decentralisation of decision-making is possible. Despite that, the following year programme was discontinued and initiated long-term plans were cancelled.
A small number of programmes promote talented young people to travel abroad, such as: travel grants for young musicians organised by the Ministry of Culture in 2007 (approx. 6 250 EUR) and a similar Music Talent Fund of the City of Belgrade (40 000 EUR per year), or specific Austrian Embassy mobility grants, awarded to 200 of the best students, to travel within the EU (summer 2006), but there is no policy on promoting language or cross-cultural training.
NGOs are the most active in this field, such as the European Movement and European House, students unions and associations (AEGEE, AISEC…), and activist NGOs such as Stalkers (sociology students) and later Youth Initiative for Human Rights, which organised public dialogue between youth from Pristina and Belgrade at the Belgrade Cultural Centre "Grad" on 27 October 2010. It was broadcasted on B92 Info Channel, and is now accessible on Internet (see: http://www.b92.net/kultura). The festival “Mirdita, dobar dan!”, held in Belgrade every June since 2014, introduces the Belgrade public to the cultural scene of Kosovo, as a cultural contribution of the general aspirations of permanent peace establishment and normalization of relationships between Serbia and Kosovo. The organisers are the Youth Initiatives for human rights and the Civic Initiatives from Belgrade, and Integra NGO from Pristina. The festival still causes a lot of debate and conflict within the nationalist circles of Belgrade. In 2018, the customs police took three Eliza Hoxha’s photographs considered politically provocative to be exhibited in Belgrade. But the artist was let in to participate at the Mirdita festival with her other works.
The University of Arts in Belgrade has regular summer schools and conferences, where partners from neighbouring countries participate in debates and dialogues. The Centre for Cultural De-contamination has organised many open debates and major programmes (in the serials named Delegated Public Space, Testimony, Risk, etc.) linked to controversial social and political issues, rediscovering the truth about the latest wars, war crimes etc. Transitional Justice was one of the most important programmes in this respect, involving academics and students of media and journalism from Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia.
A Seminar on Intercultural dialogue and Cinema was organised within the framework of the Serbian Presidency at the Central European Initiative in Belgrade held from 3-4 October 2011. The overall aim of the meeting was to bring together film experts from the region and outside experts in cinematographic policy to share good practices. It charted the perspectives and development of intercultural dialogue on various levels - from co-production, regional associations and their work to theoretical and academic debates, including the national and regional developmental strategy and cultural policy. Two panels discussed the topic of intercultural mapping in this region, and premises for further development of film art, especially in light of intensifying cooperation and intercultural dialogue. Important impetus for intercultural projects, especially inter-ethnic and cross-border cooperation, were IPA CBC programmes that Serbia signed with five bordering nation states (Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania). Through the people to people component, many organisations, particularly in smaller towns and municipalities, got the chance to produce large projects (festivals, summer camps, concerts, workshops…), to collaborate internationally and to raise their capacities.
Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes
The main barrier to intercultural dialogue comes both from the mainstream cultural trend, as well as from the minority groups. Promoting Serbian culture as the unifying force of Serbian ethnic unity, the Ministry and the main cultural institutions are hostile to the idea of challenging and undermining fixed identities or overlapping with others – in fact, they are precisely doing the opposite. At the same time, national minorities are often employing self-ghettoization strategies to prevent conflicts but also to fence off resources within their own communities. Hence, they are also not interested in cross-cultural and trans-cultural dimensions, since there is a fear of losing the identity. As a result, despite the adoption of the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue of the Council of Europe in 2007, the Ministry has not been active in supporting it, especially in the last 5 years.
As with many progressive issues, the civil society has contributed to the issue mainly: the NGO theatres, such as Dah Theatre or the Centre for Cultural Decontamination, Cultural Centre Rex, developed a lot of real intercultural dialogue programmes and projects, from inclusive theatre performances to exhibition projects reviving the life of lost neighbours (the Jewish community in Belgrade) or ignored neighbours (the Roma community), as well as raising awareness and including immigrant communities (refugees from Croatia and Bosnia), some of which have been awarded and become a standard for intercultural projects (e.g. In/Visible City – performed on "bus 26" by Dah theatre). However, with the international funders moving their attention away from dialogue with the creative industries, entrepreneurism, resilience and other issues, CSOs have also decreased their engagement (one obvious and important exclusion are the projects with migrants in 2015 and 2016 – see 2.7).
In the cultural industries, the issue of intercultural conflict, differences etc. have been addressed often, as it has "dramatic" but also "cathartic" aspects. However, it very rarely succeeded in having high artistic results, with the exception of the movies of Goran Paskaljević, Emir Kusturica, Srđan Dragojević and Srđan Karanović (opening up the issues of intercultural dialogue between Serbian and Albanian, Roma or specific social non-integrated groups like the LGBT community). Otherwise, in popular movies, TV serials (24 Hour Marriage and Mixed Marriage on TV Pink), rock and folk music – in both dramatic and humorous ways, the stereotypes, prejudices and different options are presented without clear critical sensitivity.
In Vojvodina, intercultural projects have been somewhat more present, due to the history of multicultural policies and programmes. A project titled the "Promotion of Multiculturalism and Tolerance in Vojvodina" was organised by the Provincial Government, with the main objectives of contributing to promoting the idea of an open democratic society and raising awareness of multilingualism and multiculturalism in Vojvodina and representing them as values of common interest. The main characteristic of this programme was that it involved several Provincial Secretariats and many partners, ranging from research centres and libraries to schools and media. One of the popular parts of the programme was the quiz for pupils in which they learned and presented their intercultural knowledge while competing for prizes. For that occasion, a publication “How much do we know each other” was produced and disseminated. The project covered the organisation and realisation of many sub-projects that promote and produce intercultural dialogue in different areas. It also contributed to specific approaches.
In 2016, intercultural dialogue has been adopted as one of Novi Sad’s main policies in its Strategy for cultural development 2016-2026, as well as one of the main pillars of city’s candidature for the European Capital of Culture. The city’s calls for projects now regularly involve intercultural dialogue as a priority. With the theme of building bridges, Novi Sad has highlighted various relations that need to be established and dialogues that need to be supported – e.g. centre vs. periphery, Serbia vs. EU, professionals vs. amateurs. However, there have been no special calls for intercultural projects, nor has there been an increased presence of such projects.
Last update: September, 2018
Intercultural education in Serbia is not part of the general school curricula, unless one considers the possibility to learn the "language of the community" (which remained in the system from the socialist government's educational policy of the 1970s and means to learn one of the languages of ethnic minorities, i.e. giving the possibility to Serbian children living in cities with e.g. Hungarian or Slovak populations, to learn these languages). Education about world cultures, religions and traditions is integrated within the curricula, as part of history, geography and literary studies, as well as in music and visual arts. Art and music schools have introduced, into the general curriculum, artistic experiences from different parts of the world; literature classes have readings from the texts belonging to the writers of national cultural minorities'.
In 2003, the Ministry of Education, under political pressure to introduce religious education in primary schools, made a compromise to introduce together religious education and civic education. Within civic education, teachers are encouraged to use arts and culture in teaching about human rights, citizens' rights and responsibilities, understanding of different world religions, etc.
The only MA in intercultural mediation within the cultural management discipline was launched in 2002 at the University of Arts in Belgrade (UNESCO Chair).
Last update: September, 2018
The Law on Broadcasting was adopted in July 2002. It was amended two times (the first time in August 2004 and the second time in August 2005). This Law recognizes two public national and two regional TV channels, which are obliged to produce and broadcast programmes regarding cultural history and identity, as well as art productions. It was mandatory that the network of public / local radio and TV stations be privatised over the period of the next three years to comply and harmonise with European standards. To prevent the direct commercialisation of programmes, the Law stipulated a public obligation for each TV and radio station to produce its own programmes in order to protect national culture and to foster employment of local artists and media professionals. There were a lot of controversies during the competitions for frequencies.
Public broadcasting was and still is a major producer of cultural programmes, such as drama and TV films, educational programmes, documentaries, etc., both independently and in co-operation with film production companies.
The privatisation of local public media is still an on-going process. From 2005-2008, 24 local media (owned by local authorities) were sold and 38 other local media organisations were in the process of privatisation. This process enhanced the "tabloidisation"of the media further, chasing ratings and commercial success.
Anti-trust measures to prevent media concentration are issued by the Law on Broadcasting. The Law limits foreign media ownership up to a maximum of 49% in the overall founding capital of a media company. It also regulates cross-ownership and media concentration depending on broadcasting coverage. Media concentration is prohibited for a broadcaster with national coverage which:
- has more than 5% of the ownership in another broadcasting company with a national license;
- broadcasts more than one television and radio programme in the same area;
- has more than 5% of the ownership in a daily newspaper company which publishes newspapers with a circulation of more than 30 000 copies, and vice versa;
- has more than 5% of the ownership in a news agency, and vice versa; and
- simultaneously publishes a daily newspaper with a circulation of more than 30 000 copies.
Media concentration is prohibited for a broadcaster with local and regional coverage which:
- has more than 30% of the ownership in another local and regional broadcasting company in the same area; and
- simultaneously publishes a local daily newspaper in the same or neighbouring area.
The Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance was approved in November 2004 (and improved in 2009 and 2010). Its aim is to enable both journalists and citizens to have easy access to relevant information. The outcome of the first phase of the law's implementation was far from satisfactory. There were a lot of problems with supervision of the compliance with the law. Since then, the situation has changed, and although a lot of requests for information are not always welcomed by public institutions, government bodies, or public organisations, improvement is visible. During 2008, there were 55 850 requests for information from public bodies, which is six times more than in 2007. Out of that number, 71% of requests were from citizens and NGO's, 22% were from the representatives of the media and 7% were from public institutions and political parties.
The majority of print media companies have been privatised over the past three or four years. The available statistical data on the number of newspapers shows nearly the same level today as in 1989. However, the data on circulation / copies shows a huge decrease of more than 50% in comparison to figures for 1989.
A certain number of radio stations, TV stations and newspapers are being broadcast and published in all languages of the ethnic communities in Serbia, which represents a solid base for further development and improvement of their activities.
The Ministry of Culture and Information publishes an annual call for media projects.
On public radio and television there are numerous programmes and channels devoted to arts and culture. Belgrade’s second and third radio channel are wholly devoted to arts and culture, while the second channel of the Serbian public television is mostly devoted to cultural programming (with exceptions for the days when there are direct transmissions of parliamentary sessions). The first and the most popular television channel has “Cultural News” every evening around 11 p.m. and “Cultural Centre”, a weekly magazine devoted to culture on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Numerous programmes are devoted to film, music and other different artistic expressions from “Bunt” (devoted to rock music) to “Big illusion” (devoted to film). During the daily news at 7.30 p.m., at least one item is cultural. Traditionally, the first channel also hosts daily chronic of the most important festivals (FEST, BITEF, etc.), usually late in the night after “Cultural News” and “Sport News”. The third channel, the so called digital channel of public television, is advertised as “24-hour-culture”. “Trezor”, a new digital channel, is devoted to television’s past, but also produces new debates and documentaries around television heritage.
In last three years, public television has produced and co-produced numerous feature programmes, TV films and serials. The serial “Nemanjići” is devoted to the founding of the Serbian medieval kingdom and its 800 year. It was a huge production that engaged 218 actors and around 2700 extras as well as numerous film and technical staff. However, the serial sparked discussions
as the script tried to use contemporary vocabulary while the audience expected medieval Serbian language. Nevertheless, the exhibitions of costumes and props from the serial gained popularity and interest in the shootings locations grows.
Although there are seventeen programmes at different Serbian universities devoted to journalism, there is no specific education for cultural journalism. Art critics and cultural journalists often have an educational background in in dramaturgy, philology, art history, film or media Major journals and TV channels with national frequency have competent journalists covering specific areas.
There is no official censorship (as article 50 of the Constitution defines freedom of the media), but acts of auto-censorship are numerous both on public and commercial television as well as in the press.
Despite a legal framework that guarantees freedom of the press and the 2012 decriminalization of defamation, media freedom is undermined by: the threat of lawsuits or criminal charges against journalists under other legislation; the lack of transparency in media ownership; editorial pressure from politicians and politically connected media owners; and high rates of self-censorship. The state and the ruling party exercise influence on private media in part through advertising contracts and other indirect subsidies. While many outlets take a pro-government line or avoid criticism of the leadership, some continue to produce independent coverage.
A number of critical journalists and outlets faced smear campaigns, punitive tax inspections, and other forms of pressure in 2017, and the local weekly newspaper from Vranje (Vranjske) closed in September, citing harassment from local officials and criminals. There were 92 attacks against journalists during this year, the highest total recorded by the NUNS since 2008. They included physical assaults, though most incidents involved aggressive rhetoric and other forms of pressure or intimidation. (Freedom House report, https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2018/serbia). There are other examples of media intimidation. In November 2016, Interior Minister Nebojša Stefanović filed a defamation case against the weekly magazine NIN on an article they published which accused him of being responsible for illegal demolitions in Belgrade’s Savamala district, where a controversial urban regeneration project is planned. The court rendered judgment that the NIN has to pay a fine, thus giving an example that critical words against the government will not be tolerated.
The exhibition "Uncensored Lies", prepared by the ruling party’s press service, was held in the Progres Gallery in July 2016. As the organisers claimed, the reason for this exhibition was the current situation in which journalists are convulsively try to present the president Vučić as a censor. The exhibition served as a threat to all those who made caricatures with the image of the president or voiced criticism in the press. It also was “a lesson” to media owners on what not to publish. Soon, the daily journal Politika dismissed its caricaturist Dušan Petričić in September 2016 as he declined to obey the demand not to draw the president.
Most of the press uncritically support the president and its ruling party, turning towards tabloidization and spectacularisation, which in turn raises its number of copies. Another problem is that there are no licensing requirements for journalists. Thus, a lot of unethical acts might be found within commercial press. In March 2018, the pro-government Informer ran an article containing details from independent reporter Stevan Dojčinović’s unpublished investigation, prompting some local media advocates to express concern about possible government surveillance of journalists).
Only few media are independent and critical,but they never get public funds after calls and rarely get advertisements, thus are on the edge of financial sustainability. Local press and media are in the most difficult condition as financial tax inspections are often controlling their work and local authorities do not give them any funds for projects (i.e. Južne vesti, the most read portal in South Serbia, has been under scrutiny five times and can get advertisers rarely as they are politically pressured not to advertise there).
Last update: September, 2018
In the Republic of Serbia, the Serbian language and Cyrillic alphabet are in official use (Law on official use of languages and alphabets: Sl. glasnik RS, no. 45/91, 53/93, 67/93, 48/94, 101/2005, 30/2010, 47/2018 and 48/2018). The Latin script is used in municipalities having a considerable population belonging to people whose primary script is Latin, in line with their tradition.
In those areas where significant numbers of ethnic minorities live, the minority languages are in official use concurrently with the Serbian language. After World War II, ethnic minorities gained the right to the official use of their languages.
In AP Vojvodina, 20 municipalities use an ethnic minority language in addition to Serbian. 11 municipalities recognise two ethnic minority languages, and five municipalities and the city of Novi Sad use three ethnic minority languages in addition to Serbian.
Still, cultural practices are equalising the use of both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabet; Cyrillic is predominant in official communication, while Latin is predominant in the marketplace and in business communication (billboards, shop windows, etc.).
The media (press) is published in both alphabets, according to their marketing strategies or tradition (Politika (Cyrillic) – Danas (Latin), NIN (Cyrillic) – Vreme (Latin), etc.).
This plurality started to be seriously questioned as cultural policy perceives the split of what used to be Serbo-Croat language and the present constitution of Croat, Bosnian and Bosniak, and Montenegrin as specific languages that represent a threat for Serbian language (numerous chairs for Serbian language within Slavic departments had been replaced by one of the other three). The extensive use of the Latin alphabet in the cultural space of Serbia made it unclear that these books are part of Serbian culture (in numerous libraries abroad all books printed in Latin alphabet had been classified as written in Croatian). At the same time, numerous intellectuals from the region have gathered to create a Declaration about a common language without name. Until now (September 2018), around 9100 people have signed the Declaration. In the whole region of Serbia, language was considered as Serbo-Croat while the idea of two distinctive languages was already promoted in Croatia since 1967. The split from Yugoslavia in 1991 reinforced those tendencies and each of the new constituted states named their language by the ethnic majority of its inhabitants. The cultural community in Serbia opposed “serbianisation” of the language (especially criticized was an attempt to introduce dialect spoken in Serbia as the only official dialect to distinguish of both Croats and Bosnians in the Republic of Srpska). In other republics this nationalisation of language had been meticulously implemented (in Montenegro three new letters had been introduced; in Croatia numerous dictionaries had been published to point out words labelled as Serbism’s; in Bosnia and Herzegovina the language policy reintroduced numerous Turkism’s, etc.)
As the Latin alphabet continued to prevail in
public communication, due to tradition from socialist period but also
due to market reasons, numerous organisations evaluated that Cyrillic
alphabet is under threat in its public use and that the Law on official
use is not sufficient enough.
Since 1991, the Law on language and alphabet makes a distinction between official, public and private use of language and alphabet. Serbian language and Cyrillic alphabet are obligatory in the official use (by government offices, public institutions, etc.). Until now, the public use of language was not regulated and thus many companies, shops, even private universities use English names or Serbian names written in the Latin alphabet. Most of the printed media (journals and books) are in Latin alphabet due to a necessity to raise readership also outside of the borders of Serbia. The nationalist circles are raising issues of Latin script predominance in public space using the fact that it was violently introduced hundred years ago during the WWI occupation by the Austro-Hungarian government. In between the two wars, the territory of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia used both alphabets according to the traditional division. After the WWII, the Latin alphabet was entering together with the processes of modernisation in public space, even in the so called Cyrillic territories of Yugoslavia (film and TV titles, book publishing, journals, fashion industry, design, etc.).
Demands for the protection of the Cyrillic alphabet are more and more vocal, concerning the official and the public use of Cyrillic script. However, although there is a demand for punitive measures, during public debates the Ministry is speaking only about stimulations regarding public use. The Strategy (chapter 1.1) is foreseeing the following measures: 1) detaxation of companies that publish periodicals in Cyrillic alphabet and detaxation of private book publishers for Cyrillic books (two state publishers are already publishing only in Cyrillic); 2) criteria for buying books for public libraries will give advantage to literature printed in Cyrillic; 3) public financing of translated literature would prioritise Cyrillic editions and editions with a Serbian language redactor; 4) detaxation should stimulate film distributors to screen movies with Cyrillic subtitles; 5) creation of a normative framework for the regulated use of Serbian language in public communication; 6) the Law on media should regulate that minimum 50% of subtitled programmes should be in Cyrillic alphabet on private television channels; 7) the mobile operators should be obliged to enable equal use of Cyrillic on mobile platforms; 8) cultural manifestations and festivals that are financed by the Ministry of Culture and Information have to use Cyrillic logo as well; 9) recommending corporations to use Cyrillic logos in exchange for certain benefits.
The new law is scheduled for the end of 2018 and it remains to be seen how forceful the implementation will be in a country in which most of the public communication is in Latin (see also 1.1 and 2.1).
Throughout the country, local authorities are also reinforcing this policy. In 2017, the National Museum in Pančevo organised the exhibition “I write, read and think Serbian”, which is now ready to tour (Foundation Tekelijanum Budapest) andlibraries in Niš, Čačak, Zaječar, and many other cities were included in the action “Nurture Serbian language”. It is not surprising that the 85th Vukov sabor (Gatherings to honor Vuk Karadžić, reformer of Serbian language) is held under the slogan: „Očuvajmo jezik sačuvajmo zemlju“ (Preserve the language preserve the country) thus linking language with patriotism and (mis)using populist xenophobic feelings that the country is under threat.
Last update: September, 2018
Gender plays a minor role in cultural policy debates. There is no special programme by the Government or any other level of governance that supports female employment or career advancement. Still, the representation of women in cultural field as a whole is very high. Following World War II, women played and continue to play a leading role in the cultural field. The problem can be seen at another level: while women represent the majority of employees in the cultural sector, very few managerial positions are held by women in Serbia. In many museums across the country, women occupy a leading role, although less than half. In many municipalities in Serbia, the position of City Secretary for Culture, (or City Officer for Cultural, Educational & Social affairs – in smaller municipalities), is held by women. At the same time, on a broader scale, decision-making positions in culture are seen as weak and not so relevant having in mind small budgets and power. Thus, they are often easily left to women to show equality.
According to a 2017 research by the Institute for Cultural development (Milanović, Subašić, Opačić, 2017), in all of Serbia’s public cultural institutions there are 10.726 employees, out of which 58.9% is female. In state-owned institutions 56.6% (out of 2.289) is female; in provincial institutions of total 985 employees 53.6% is female, while women represent 60.2% of workforce in municipal institutions (out of 7.452). By the type of institutions: with 77,5% women are most prevalent in libraries ; 61.1% in galleries; 61% in conservation institutes; 60.1% in archives; 59,5% in museums; and males only dominate the workforce in theatres with 47.1% female employees.
However, when it comes to leadership roles, women directors only dominate in libraries and galleries (63,7% and 61,9% respectively), while in all other types of institutions men are usually managing – with theatres as low as 25,6%). Finally, the bigger the institution is, the less women are prone to be managers. In republican and provincial institutions women are managing less than one third of institutions (32,5% and 29,4% respectively) while 47% of municipal institutions have female directors.
When it comes to other cultural fields, there are particular genres and niches that are particularly problematic from the gender equality standpoint – like rock, punk and heavy metal music, theatre, film and television directing, post production, sound recording and editing etc. There have been particular efforts to address these genre specific inequalities. One of the awarded efforts is “Rock camp for girls” by the organisation Femix, which also researched the participation of women in rock and pop music (Nikolić, 2016). Several mentorship projects have been addressing female collaboration and support. In the field of museums, Balkan Museum Network has run a support programme WILD (Women’s International Leadership Development) for female leaders of cultural institutions.
This information will be published as soon as possible.
Last update: September, 2018
There are more than 20 registered national and ethnic communities in Serbia. Some of these groups are territorially concentrated in certain areas, such as the Hungarians living in Vojvodina and the Bosniaks living in Sandžak. Other groups are more dispersed throughout the country such as the Roma, Haskalis / Egyptians, Tsintsars and Slovenes.
Table 2: Ethnic structure of population in Serbia, 2011, 2002
|Total (2011)||Total (2002)|
|TOTAL||7 186 862||100.0||7 498 001||100.00|
|Serbs||5 988 150||83.32||6 212 838||82.86|
|Montenegrins||38 527||0.54||69 049||0.92|
|Yugoslavs||23 303||0.32||80 721||1.08|
|Albanians||5 809||0.08||61 647||0.82|
|Bosniaks||145 278||2.02||136 087||1.82|
|Bulgarians||18 543||0.26||20 497||0.27|
|Bunjevtsi||16 706||0.23||20 012||0.27|
|Vlachs||35 330||0.49||40 054||0.53|
|Gorani||7 767||0.11||4 581||0.06|
|Hungarians||253 899||3.53||293 299||3.91|
|Macedonians||22 755||0.32||25 847||0.35|
|Muslims||22 301||0.31||19 503||0.26|
|Germans||4 064||0.06||3 901||0.05|
|Roma||147 604||2.05||108 193||1.44|
|Romanians||29 332||0.41||34 576||0.46|
|Russians||3 247||0.05||2 588||0.03|
|Ruthenians||14 246||0.20||15 905||0.21|
|Slovaks||52 750||0.73||59 021||0.79|
|Slovenians||4 033||0.06||5 104||0.07|
|Ukrainians||4 903||0.07||5 354||0.07|
|Croats||57 900||0.81||70 602||0.94|
|Regional affiliation||30 771||0.43|
|Other||17 558||0.24||112 156||2.05|
Source: Office for Statistics, the Republic of Serbia, 2011
The Law on the Protection of the Rights and Freedoms of National Minorities regulates the ways in which the rights of people belonging to ethnic minorities are implemented. The law represents an additional resource to the constitutional law, which stipulates the rights of preservation, development and expression of ethnic, linguistic or other rights relevant to ethnic minorities (Article 11 of the Constitution) such as:
- the right of national affiliation;
- the right to co-operate with co-nationals in the country and abroad;
- the right to use one's native language;
- the right to use national symbols; and
- all the other rights and solutions which protect the specificity of national minorities in the areas of special interest to them.
Unique features of this law are provisions aimed at the effective participation of ethnic minorities in decision-making on issues of relevance in government and in administrative matters. The main instrument of their representation and participation are the national councils of national minorities. The following minorities have established their National Council: Albanians, Ashkalis, Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Bunjevacs, Vlachs, Macedonians, Hungarians, Germans, Slovaks, Slovenians, Croats, Ukrainians, Romanians, Ruthenians (Rusyns), Roma, Checks, Greeks, Egyptians, Montenegrins and Jews. National councils representing ethnic minorities are partners and consultative bodies of the government, and their members participate in decision-making on questions of importance to them.
Having acquired autonomy in decision-making, National Councils representing different minorities provide the largest proportion of funds for culture, festivities and events. There is no coherent cultural policy, nor instruments to foster links between the cultures of the minorities and the culture of the majority. Nevertheless, the festivals of ethnic cultures are supported by the Ministry of Culture and Information, as well as the Provincial Secretariat for Education and Culture of Vojvodina (as events with high levels of visibility). One example of this type of activity is the holding of regular festivals of amateur theatre companies by the Ethnic Slovaks. The "Winter Meetings of Slovak Scientists" are devoted to the fostering and promotion of Slovak literature, while the festival "Na Jarmoku" celebrates Slovak arts and crafts.
When it comes to cultural life, apart from the financing of national councils which often have their own calls for projects or give a grant in some other way, the Ministry of Culture supports a number of cultural projects and programmes by ethnic communities from all over Serbia, as part of a special call for projects. Municipalities and the province of Vojvodina have developed their own special programmes for ethnic communities within their territories.
In spite of this important step forward, it must be said that more is being done for the Roma people by artists and activists from the civil sector. This was the case when the City of Belgrade authorities put a fence around the Roma people living around Belville (a sports village for the Belgrade Universiade 2009), to hide them away from the participants of this large sporting event, and dismantled some of their camps. Artists and civil rights activists were there as a corrective factor, supporting the Roma people and campaigning for them to be treated equally to all other citizens. The Roma Museum was opened in October 2009 in Belgrade, as an initiative of the Roma Community Centre, which has a small space of 70 m2.
Within the annual Action plan for the application of the Strategy for social inclusion of Roma in Republic of Serbia 2016-2027 (adopted on 7th June 2017 for the period 2016/17), several aims that are relevant for cultural participation have been foreseen: development of a legal framework guaranteeing social and cultural rights for Roma with recommendations to local authorities; preservation of the Roma cultural identity (with measures related to the engagement of professional educators that are competent in Roma language and culture in schools and introduction of the elective subject “Roma language with elements of culture” in a number of schools); preventing discrimination in all types of public institutions (measures relate to the inclusion of positive content in school text books of different subjects); stipulate research devoted to language, culture and identity of Roma people; endorse publishing in Roma language; raise the cultural standard of the Roma population with specific measure to open Roma cultural centres in communities and settlements with at least 300 Roma. Unfortunately, for many of those measures financial means are declared as: “apply for donations” or “unknown sources in this moment”.
Last update: September, 2018
If we adopt a Council of Europe definition of social cohesion as “the capacity of a society to ensure the welfare of all its members, minimising disparities and avoiding polarization”, we can say that social cohesion has not been acknowledged as part of the cultural policy issue in Serbia yet. With the recent shift towards strengthening national identity, many identity policies are directed at the social cohesion of Serbian ethnic group, in fact reinforcing social boundaries.
Where there is thinking on marginalised groups within the official governmental system, it is the social policy that is tackling specific needs of migrants, refugees, minorities, etc. However, within social policy, it is very rare (only as an exception through the help of foreign donors), that art and culture are used.
However, in several museums and cultural centres there are programmes and projects that are inclusive regarding groups with different handicaps. The Museum of Yugoslavia has developed special programmes for associations of persons with hearing and speech impairments, educating their members to be guides/translators in sign language. At the same time, they trained its curators for understanding the needs of people with hearing and speech impairments. Newly built venues (cinemas, museums, etc.) are planned to host persons with physical handicaps. Sporadically, there are also programmes and projects for the visually impaired (Faculty of Music, Workshop of Integration, etc.) and for children and young people with autism. Since 2014, the Theatre at Terazije enables children and youth with autism to perform together with professional dancers and musicians in the inclusive musical “Enchanting travel”. That also raised awareness of the local community that autism does not prevent communication and participation in cultural life. The project continued with a group: the vocal-instrumental ensemble “Nebograd” (Skycity) that creates their own music (text written on computer by a child who does not speak and performed by autistic children that master different performing skills). For New Year’s Eve 2018, they performed together with the Children Philharmonic Ensemble at the Sava Centre under conductor Ljubiša Jovanović. Although it seems that all these efforts are sporadic and linked to personal enthusiasm, it has to be underlined that public cultural institutions are offering their venues as support (i.e. Yugoslav Drama Theatre for performances of children with Down syndrome; Theatre at Terazije and Sava Centre for children with autism, etc.)
The main actors involved in the social cohesion programmes and projects are NGOs and international donors. In this respect, we can cite several cases of good practices carried out in the last several years. Such projects have particularly been developed within the latest “migrant crisis” in which Serbia was an important passage for those travelling to EU. In comparison to other countries on the route (Bulgaria, Croatia and Hungary), Serbia has been praised as welcoming and friendly. However, when it comes to cultural and artistic activities, it was mainly independent organisation and artists who took the lead, except the Museum of Yugoslavia that hosted several and organised few programmes by themselves.
In recent years, since the migratory route through the Balkans has become more common among migrants and the borders more heavily policed, the transit through Serbia for migrants trying to reach the EU has become more difficult. The documentary “Welcome to Hotel Europe” by Sara Preradović shows the everyday life of migrants in the “jungle”, an informal station for migrants on the outskirts of Subotica, at the Serbian-Hungarian border, as they attempt to reach Europe. Their hopefulness, strength and solidarity helps them survive the life in hiding, the police repression and the cold winter. In the process of making the film, Sara built really close relations with migrants before filming.
NoBorderSerbia is a non-hierarchal self-organised network of people who share a freedom of movement perspective on migration issues in Serbia. To show at least a symbolic support to migrants, the NoBorderSerbia organised a small solidarity action called “Chai, not Borders”. Action involved distributing tea, info materials and donations to migrants who waited to continue their journey. During the action in 2015, the park in front of The Faculty of Economics (situated next to the main bus station) was re-shaped and defined by banners, posters and slogans which had clear messages against current migration policy of European countries.
The seminar “Human on the Road” was cultural centre REX's second debate dedicated to the public attitudes towards the institutional treatment of migrants passing through Serbia on their way to Western Europe. The seminar "Human on the Road 2" focused on issues related to negative phenomena in the Serbian public sphere (in spite of enormous efforts of public administration to organise hosting and passage), such as different forms of police repression towards migrants in Serbia. It also dealt with the analysis of structural reasons behind such practice, about the sensational tabloid media coverage that demonizes migrants and creates a climate of fear among the general public, as well as racist and discriminatory attitudes of some public services and many citizens. Contrary to the dominant narratives of migrants as illegals, victims of political regimes, criminals and objects of control and exploitation, the seminar discussed migration as a social movement.
Artist Zoran Naskovski continued his project "Mandala and the cross/farewell to arms” with the analysis of media representations of social processes in 2015, that resulted in a new installation: “Mandala and cross / blackness, refugees and economic gamble”. The research was based on archived daily papers and weeklies and a comparative analysis of crucial events depicted and presented. The archived printed media were: The Economist, The Financial Times, New York Times, Time, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Politika, etc.
Mikser is a good example of socially responsible, although a self-sustainable organisation. As soon as the number of migrants in Serbia and in Belgrade began to grow, they organised a series of actions to collect aid for them. The Belgrade community was mobilized to bring –in necessities, food and hygiene products, and Mikser House also urged people to voluntarily join and help this organisation in supporting migrants. After the first summer actions, they decided to launch official projects that will allow constant financial help and support to refugees and asylum seekers.
“Misplaced Women?” is an art project-workshop by Tanja Ostojić in which she and the project`s participants – artists, art students, cultural workers and activists – showed the everyday life activities that are characteristic for migrants, refugees and other persons forced to travel, extracting their bags and then returning all of its content. During the performance, which has been presented in the park in front of The Faculty of Economics in Belgrade, they were joined by individual refugees.
Mid-2013, Group 484 and associates started visiting centres for asylum seekers in various places in Serbia. They did not want to look at migrants as victims, but as brave people who had taken a big risk and decided to flee from war and misery. They met over coffee, food and dancing, and organised bazaars – the distribution of humanitarian aid looked like a festive fair. The resulting works have become part of an exhibition on the life and journey of asylum seekers and migrants: “The Border is Closed”, organised in cooperation with the Museum of African Art in Belgrade. The exhibition consisted of illustrated migrant maps representing life “in transit”, pillows and blankets decorated with messages and thoughts to the loved ones and other. In addition, there are stickers, badges, audio recordings of interviews with asylum seekers and the game “The Border is Closed”, conceived by migrants, after which the exhibition was named. The game resembles chess in which every player aims to carry his/her pieces across the board over the “border”, trying to avoid different obstacles along the way. Parts of the exhibition became an integral part of “We and the Others”, a seminar for high schoolteachers with educational material for a reflection on migration, discrimination, stereotypes.
Festival “WakEUp!” consisted of film and exhibition programmes and took place at several locations throughout Belgrade. Calling for solidarity and action, “WakEUp!” Festival was opened by graphic designer Mirko Ilić and playwright Biljana Srbljanović. They were participants of the 48-hour long public reading performance, where citizens of Belgrade read personal testimonies of refugees, as well as texts about exile and asylum seekers’ destinies throughout history. The public reading of refugee testimonies had been broadcasted live online, thus reaching far more people than the gallery space could host.
The reaction of the official institutional system to such initiatives is rarely welcoming. The same goes for projects that deal with internal others, like homeless people or Roma. For example: the NGO ApsArt has been working for years to build a bridge between prisoners and the community outside of the prison, creating possibilities for them to reintegrate into society through different art forms, as well as to show that the current penalty system is sometimes producing more damage. However, when prisoners started using theatre as their channel to explain their difficult living conditions, the Ministry of Internal Affairs closed their doors to ApsArt and similar initiatives.
This information will be published as soon as possible.
Last update: September, 2018
The main issue in cultural policy debates today is related to democracy and a lack of participative practices. In what way the Ministry and the government are selecting experts, juries and committees are not transparent and based on excellence, but mostly on loyalty to the governing parties. There is no transparency in the decision making process and the voice of civil society and artists, although vocal, cannot be heard by the majority of people due to a lack of free media. The attempts of civil society to delegate its members to the National Council for Culture and other bodies are usually manipulated. The government would accept delegates from fake NGOs (NGOs created to be able to participate in public calls and to take role in social dialogue "representing" civil society, while in reality they are representing the party in power) or make the process of selection last so long that the body disappears from the public scene – the case of the National Council for culture in 2018. See chapter 5 for more about the criticism regarding distribution of money to projects.
Since 2012, allocation of urban space to investors became an important issue, especially regarding the Belgrade waterfront that endangered and finally completely destroyed Savamala as a new self-organised cultural city district in Belgrade. Many urban movements have been initiated: Do not drown Belgrade, Open about public space, Ministry of Space, etc. All of them collaborated in raising public debates about the misuse of public space, the re-appropriation of cultural spaces through privatisation processes (network of bookshops sold to a butcher; network of cinemas to urban investor, etc.), the disappearance of cultural neighbourhoods and its memories (Slavia as a key Belgrade’s square linked to the working class movements memories), the rise of new monuments for questionable historical figures (such as Alexandar II, Russian tzar; and Heidar Alliev, dictator from Azerbeijan) or completely unknown persons to fulfil wishes of foreign investors (such as a national poet from Kazakhstan).
These issues have generated a lot of political and performance actions, research projects, conferences and publications but, unfortunately, this could not prevent that the public policies ignore the cultural aspects and the demands of civil society. Similar actions are now led to protect the natural heritage of Stara Planina (with support of the Ministry of Ecology, local municipalities, experts from the faculty for biology and the faculty for forestry), but the investors of small hydro-electric plants continue to build as they are backed by the Government.