4. Law and legislation
Last update: September, 2018
The Draft of the New Constitution was approved by Parliament on 30 September 2006 and was approved by the citizens of Serbia in a Referendum on 28 and 29 October 2006. The Constitution represents Serbia as the "state of the Serbian nation and all citizens who live in it", recognising cultural diversity and human rights among the main principles. It underlines the affiliation to European principles and values.
Article 10 defines Serbian as the official language and Cyrillic as the official form of writing. The official use of all the other languages and letters in Serbia can be regulated by law, based on the Constitution.
Article 11 states that Serbia is a secular state, and that no religion can be placed as mandatory or official.
Article 14 states that the Republic of Serbia protects the rights of national minorities and guarantees them special protection, equality and preservation of their identity.
Article 15 guarantees the equality of men and women, developing the politics of equal opportunity.
Article 21 forbids any kind of discrimination based on race, gender, nationality, religion, political or any other beliefs, as well as culture and language.
Article 43 guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religious beliefs.
Article 46 guarantees freedom of thought and expression, and freedom to accept and spread information and ideas through speech, image or any other way.
Article 48 encourages respect for differences (ethnicity, culture, language, religious identity) through measures in education, culture and public information systems.
Article 50 defines freedom of the media and regulates censorship.
Article 51 defines the right of citizens to be informed.
Article 73 defines freedom of scientific and artistic work. Authors of scientific and artistic work are guaranteed moral and material rights, regulated by law. The Republic of Serbia encourages and helps the development of science, culture and the arts.
Article 79 defines the right of preservation of uniqueness of ethnic minorities: the right to express, keep, nurture, develop, and publicly express their national, ethnic, cultural and religious particularity; to use their symbols in public space; to use their language and system of writing; to have the option to participate in court proceedings in their own language. In the areas where minorities make up a large portion of the population, they are entitled to go to public schools in their own language. They are also entitled to set up their own private educational institutions; to use their first and last name in their own language; to have the names of the streets and institutions written in their own language in the areas where they make up a large number of the population; have the right to receive and give information and ideas in their own language; and to set up their own media.
Article 80 defines the right of national minorities to form their own educational and cultural organisations which they finance voluntarily, as well as the right to links with their compatriots outside the territory of the Republic of Serbia.
Article 81 calls for the development of a spirit of tolerance between all the people living on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, through education, culture and the media.
Article 183 defines the jurisdictions of the autonomous provinces which are defined by the Constitution and the Statute of the autonomous province. One of the jurisdictions of the autonomous provinces is culture.
Article 190 defines the jurisdictions of the municipalities. One of the jurisdictions is to answer to the cultural needs of the citizens of the municipality.
Although the Constitution was approved in October 2006, some important Constitutional laws are still in the process of being written or approved. In 2010, initiatives were raised by the representatives of some political parties (ruling and opposition) for changes in the Constitution, mainly concerning better support for decentralisation; relations between the Parliament and the members of Parliament (should the ownership of the mandates be in the hands of every member of the parliament, or it should still be controlled in some way by the political parties); and a more civil versus national tone of the Constitution (in the current Constitution, Serbia is a state of Serbs and other citizens). These initiatives continued in 2011, but there are no serious signs that the Constitution is going to be changed soon, because the problem of the Constitution is closely connected to the Kosovo crisis – a majority in the Parliament sees the Constitution and its Preamble as one of the main legal instruments for the protection of the right of Kosovo to formally remain part of the Republic of Serbia, while some part of the oppositions sees this Preamble as an obstacle to EU integration of Serbia.
Last update: September, 2018
General Law that regulates allocation of funds in Culture is "Law on Culture" (2009). It is specified that for the programmes and project in culture, Ministry of Culture must use open competitions for allocation of funds that are allocated for the financing of the particular areas of culture, cultural heritage and media. Public calls are opened every year for the specific areas, and public, as well as private institutions which can propose their project if they are in line with requests of these calls. This law also regulates the status of Major Cultural Institutions, whose founder is Republic of Serbia. These institutions are funded on the basis of their expenses and proposed projects that they plan to implement during the year. Besides running expenses, and proposed projects, Ministry of Culture is also responsible for the financing of the capital (infrastructure) projects in these Institutions.
Minister of Culture has the discretion right to allocate by himself up to 20% of a yearly budget of the Ministry of Culture, intended for the projects of highest importance for the culture of Republic of Serbia. This right is constantly criticised in the cultural sector, but it is still operational.
The so-called "Omnibus Law" (2002), issuing the activities and institutions in the territory of Vojvodina which will be financed by the Ministry of Culture and the Secretary for Culture in the autonomous province of Vojvodina. There are also regulations on important institutions and organisations for culture in Belgrade, as well as in the autonomous province of Vojvodina, which regulates a system of financing culture on the city and province level.
Public institutions founded by all state authority levels, usually receive the financing for the operating expenses / overheads (expenses of the building, electricity, phone, salaries of the employees...), but for the costs of the programmes they have to submit the applications every year to their founder for approval, and to also do the additional fundraising.
Every public institution is obliged to follow the public tendering procedures for all the public spending that exceed the sum of approximately 30 000 EUR. There has been many voices against this Law and its implementation in the field of culture since it does not recognize the specificities of the field (hiring an artist or a music band is not the same as building a house and selecting the most adequate construction company). Despite the action of National Council for Culture and support of the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Finance and Government have not addressed this issue so far.
Ever since 2012, transparency of public finances and corruption was announced as an important task for the government. In the field of financing culture, the Ministry of Culture and Information introduced a new regulation concerning financing cultural projects and monitoring the financial aspect during its implementation in 2012. The new regulation introduces a strict policy to facilitate external financial control and procedures relating to operational and financial controls of cultural projects financing by the Ministry of Culture and Information. Ministry of Culture is working hard with Ministry of Finance, on implementing new procedures for financial control and management through the EU funded project (PIFC). It was expected that the new procedures will enable more efficient control over public spending in the culture, and they will create a more disciplined financial environment in this sector. Besides the formal regulation, however, there is no effective control and evaluation of funding project. Those issues have been mentioned several times in the Ministry of Culture’s state audit reports.
Last update: September, 2018
The status of free-lance artists is regulated by the Law on the Rights of Self-employed Artists. According to the Law, these artists are entitled to health, pension and disability insurance, which are supposed to be paid by the municipalities. The city of Belgrade and a few other cities regularly pay these allowances, but since the Law is still a recommendation instead of a legal obligation, not every municipality acts on it.
Freelance artists are usually organised in different professional arts associations, which keep a register of their status. In spite of the Law, free-lance are facing different problems in different municipalities, especially regarding the irregular covering of their health insurance (usually municipalities pay indemnity to the Social security of Serbia with delay which prevents artist to get free health care services). This constantly provokes protests and revolt from art associations.
This situation was planned to be changed, following the implementation of the new Law on Culture. The Ministry is planning to put the sub-laws into the parliamentary procedure, with one of the sub-laws redefining relations with self-employed artists, but the Parliament had higher priorities, concerning the requirements of the EU integration processes (more in chapter 4.2). However, until 2018, this situation hasn’t changed and the status of freelance artists depends upon local authorities, the association they belong to (most of artistic associations have regulated their status but association of translators of academic literature and folklore artist have not) or the art field they are in.
The register of freelance artists is administered by different professional artist unions. During the reign of Slobodan Milošević (1989-2000), many artists left the "official" artist unions and created new, parallel ones. Therefore there were three writers' unions, two publishers' unions, etc., which is creating a problem regarding the registering of freelance artists. Through the open call in 2011, the Ministry of Culture has chosen 31 unions and associations to represent the different fields of arts and culture, which was a good step towards a more systemic approach to the rebuilding of the sociocultural cycles in every sector of culture. This could mean more clear roles and responsibilities for the unions and associations, as well as better and stronger relations with the Ministry of Culture, but also a systematic monitoring of their work.
Last update: September, 2018
There are three relevant tax provisions:
- the Law on the Profits of Legal Entities (RS OG No. 25/2001 amended 80/2002, 43/2003 and 84/2004) entitles them to deduct 1.5% of their income in one fiscal year for donations made to culture; After Profit Tax was amended in 2010 - the amount of deduction increased to 3% of their income in one fiscal year for donations made to culture, and finally to 5% in the year 2014.
- the Income Tax Law permits deductions on personal income tax for cultural activities. Artists are allowed a tax deduction of between 40-65% on their earnings for expenses related to their work (without documentation); and
- gifts to museums, libraries and other cultural institutions are exempt from taxes.
The tax rate on the net income resulting from intellectual property rights is 20%. The Income Tax Law (RS OG No. 24/2001) provides a breakdown of the % share of income derived from intellectual property rights that is tax deductible:
- 65% - sculpture, tapestry, art ceramics, mosaic and stained glass;
- 55% - art photography, fresco painting and similar arts, clothes design and textile design;
- 50% - painting, graphic design, industrial design, visual communications, landscaping, restorations, translations;
- 45% - music performance, movie-making; and
- 10% - programmes and performances of folk music; and all other activities.
After the Income Tax Law was amended in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009 (RS OG No. 80/2002, 135/2004, 62/2006, 65/2006, 31/2009 and 44/2009) the % share of tax deductible income derived from intellectual property changed as follows:
- 50% - sculpture, tapestry, art ceramics, ceroplastics, mosaic and stained glass, art photography, wall painting and other painting in the space with various techniques, costume design, fashion design and artistic processing of textile;
- 43% - paintings, graphics, industrial design with the development of models, small works from plastic, visual communication works, interior design works and facade architecture, scenography designs, scientific, technical, literary and fiction works, translations, restoration and conservation work, performances of artistic work (playing of instruments and singing, theatre and film acting, recitation), shooting movies and conceptual sketches for the tapestry and costume design.
- 34% - for the programmes and performances of popular and folk music, production of phonograms, production of videograms, production of TV shows, database production, and all other author and related rights which are not listed.
The third type of the tax deductible income (34% share of tax deductible income) was a result of the lobbying of large concert organisers and folk and popular music producers. They were quite successful in their lobbying – previous rate for the folk artists was constantly 10%, while the rates for the first two groups were higher (60% and 50% after the changes in 2006).
The Income Tax Law does not permit individuals to deduct for contributions to charity. This restrictive tax treatment came into effect in 2001 as a part of general tax system reform. The new Law on Personal Income Tax repealed a system of non-standard tax deductions, which could be up to 15% taxable income. Except for donations for cultural purposes, this tax-benefited treatment had been dedicated also for investments in objects with special cultural, historical and scientific value.
Deductions offered, in the Law on the Profits of Legal Entities, on donations to culture are not really considered as an incentive in practice. In addition, the character of cultural donations and types of organisations that may receive tax-benefit contributions were regulated by direction. The donations can be made for: production, prevention and research of cultural values and heritage; improvement of conditions for the development of cultural activities; international cultural cooperation; education and research in the field of culture and stimulation of creative work. The types of organisations that may receive tax-benefit contribution are in the field of: heritage, museums and galleries; artistic, literary and other creative work; film industry and video production; archive, library, botanical and zoological gardens and the publishing of books, publications and booklets.
The Law on the Profit of Legal Entities also regulates tax exemption for non-profit organisations. According to Article 44, non-profit organisations are granted tax exemption under the following conditions:
- the income is up to 300 000 CSD (around 2 900 EUR in the year 2011) higher than its expenditure in the year of which the right to tax exemption is granted;
- the non-profit organisation in question does not distribute the income thus generated to its founders, members, executives, employees or persons associated with them;
- the salaries paid to employees, executives or persons associated with them are not higher than twice the average salary paid in the business area to which the non-profit organisation in question belongs; and
- the non-profit organisation in question does not distribute its assets in favour of its founders, members, executives, employees or persons associated with them.
Incentives introduced during the former regime have disappeared, such as the matching fund "corporation-state / dinar na dinar". New incentives have not yet been created. At present, all donations (except those given through the government) have a 5% gift tax, even if the donation is made in kind. This represents a huge obstacle, even to large donors of equipment. The institution / recipient usually have to find another donor to cover the taxes to be paid to the state.
VAT was introduced in Serbia at the beginning of 2005.The general rate is 20%. A reduced rate of VAT for books, tickets for music manifestations and cinema tickets is 8%.
In 2011, the Ministry of Trade made a decision to grant tax benefit (tax credits) to foreign companies that are producing films in Serbia. The tax credits were temporary based (only for 2011) and are considered to be part of initiatives in the framework of the Programme of Branding Serbia). In 2015, the tax incentive programme became part of a regulatory framework to attract investment. A new regulation on investiture incentive for the production of audio-visual works in Serbia was adopted in 2015. It allows film companies to rebate the part of taxes paid in Serbia for production. Eligible costs includes: fees and earning as well taxes paid to members of the film production who are tax resident of Serbia; cost of rental, hotel accommodation, per diems up to 100 EUR per day; copyright fee;, cost of goods purchased in Serbia and used for film production; film insurance premiums; overhead expenses and operating costs. Criteria for applying those incentives depends on the minimum budget of the production: 300.000 EUR minimum for films and TV films, 150.000 EUR minimum for animated films, 100.000 EUR minimum for special purpose films and TV commercials and 50.000 for documentary films. Tax incentives raised from 20% to 25% in 2018. Applications for the tax incentive programme are submitted to Film Centre Serbia and granted after a decision by the tax incentive commission. In 2018, the budget for the tax incentive programme is approximately 6,7 million EUR.
Last update: September, 2018
In Serbia, all artists that are employed in cultural institutions are public servants under the Public Servants Law Regime (2005). The new Law on Culture envisages the introduction of a new model in which artists will be engaged on a contractual basis rather than as employees. Since these steps would cause large dis-satisfaction in the field of culture, especially during the financial crisis period, with a large number of unemployed people across the sector, these changes have not became operational until now. Although, we are still sceptical about the determination of the decision makers to start the systemic changes, which are not popular, the very difficult current financial situation, as well as the financial projections for the public cultural sector for the next couple of years, will probably push these changes. The alternative would be to close a number of public institutions, or even more severe cutting of budgets.
A general change has been made through Labour Law, and Law on Public Administration (2005) which affected artists employed in public institutions and those working part-time in public institutions. There are restrictions on double employment in the public sector that are preventing artists employed by art schools to be also employed by public theatres (which was often the case, i.e., a professor of theatre-directing being, at the same time, an artistic director of the theatre, etc.). This is also regulated by the new Law on Culture and, through the sub laws, types of employment in the cultural and arts sector has been defined (more in chapter 4.2.1).
Collective bargaining agreements exist in the fields of theatre, archives, museums, libraries and institutes for heritage protection. A special section of the trade unions are responsible for bargaining, enforcing and monitoring these agreements. On 29 August 2003, the City of Belgrade signed special collective agreements with all of the relevant trade unions, which cover 1 600 employees in the city's cultural institutions.
Last update: September, 2018
Efforts are underway to harmonise the domestic regulations on intellectually property with international conventions. Authorities are looking at various international documents and recommendations to aid them in their work:
- WIPO Conventions and Recommendations;
- EU Directives; and
- recommendations of the AIPPI on how particular intellectual property matters are to be regulated.
The new Law on Copyright and Related Rights was adopted on December 11th 2009 (and amended in 2012). It regulates the object and the content of copyright and related rights, the organisation for collecting royalties generated from copyright and related rights, and sanctions for infringement. The Law extends copyright protection to any "original intellectual creation of an author, expressed in particular form, irrespective of its artistic, scientific or other value, its purpose, size, content and manner of expression, as well as the permission to publicly announce its content". A non-exclusive list of objects is included within the scope of the Law: written works (books, pamphlets, articles, etc.); spoken works (lectures, speeches, orations, etc.); dramatic, dramatic-musical, choreographic and pantomime works; works originating from folklore; music works, with or without words; film works (cinematography and television works); fine art works (paintings, drawings, sketches, graphics, sculptures, etc.); architectural works; applied art and industrial design works.
The Law incorporated the changes connected to the WIPO and EU Conventions and TRIPS. The changes include the retroactive protection of the rights of interpreters and producers of phonographs, more detailed restrictions of the author's rights, as well as more consistent implementation of number of EU directives. Due to the amendments in 2012, the work of collective societies, the process of changing tariffs as well controlling mechanism in collecting and distributing fees by copyright societies, are regulated more precise.
Alternative ways of regulating artists' rights, like Creative Commons, are being slowly implemented in Serbia, mostly through young artists and the alternative art scene.
There are no blank tape levies in Serbia. Existing legislation does not recognise public lending rights. Due to the difficult economic situation, there are no possibilities to cover these expenses by users, libraries, video rentals or by the government.
During 2009 and 2010, very intensive media campaigns by SOKOJ (Organisation of Music Authors of Serbia) and PI (Rights of Interpreters) raised the issue of respect for the Law on Copyright and Related Rights. The disputes between SOKOJ and PI on one side, and the representatives of mostly small and middle sized companies, and especially small entrepreneurs, resulted in the compromise in 2012, mediated by the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Finance, of the new scale, prices, and methodologies of calculating fees for the use of music. Small entrepreneurs, such as hairdressers and shoemakers, are exempt from paying the fees for playing music (usually radio), in their shops. The US Embassy was very prominent in this period, lobbying the Serbian Government to put more effort into the fight against piracy, especially concerning the software industry, as some of the largest US software companies have branches in Serbia. On the other hand, Serbia is increasingly a part of the globalised world, which still does not have a clear answer to new technologies that are allowing free access to any product of the creative industries from anywhere in the world.
The Law on Protection of Personal Data was passed in the Parliament of Serbia in 2008 (with some amendments in 2009 and 2012), as well as and the Law on the Free Access to Information in 2004 (with amendments in 2007, 2009 and 2010). The Commissioner for Information of Public Interest and the Protection of Personal Data is responsible for the protection of these laws. The first Commissioner, Mr Rodoljub Šabić, has played a very important role in protecting the public interest – he helped to clarify what a public institution represents and what kind of information should be available to the public. Until recently, most of the information concerning the functioning of public institutions was considered to be for internal use only and was kept secret. Public cultural institutions were made to slowly open themselves to different communication channels and make their internal systems of communication open to the public, for public discussion and criticism.
See chapter 2.5.4.
Information is currently not available.
Last update: September, 2018
The first task of the new government in 2000, after the systemic changes in the country, was to impose the rule of law in all fields, which means re-creating the basic and most important state legislative documents starting with the Constitution.
Without a basic legal framework, which defines the territorial organisation of the country, property issues, privatisation, taxation etc., work on specific concrete laws in the cultural field would be futile. This was one of the reasons why many new laws relevant for the cultural field are only now in the process of being drafted while more general state laws are passed and Parliamentary procedures set up. This was the reason why the Law on Culture, prepared in 2007, was adopted by the Parliament in 2009 and amended in 2016. Currently, the Ministry is preparing new amendments to the Law on Culture (foreseen to be adopted in 2019).
Table 4: List of existing cultural legislation
|Title of the Act||Year of adoption|
|Law on official use of languages and alphabets||1991; SG RS 45/91, 53/93, 67/93, 48/94, 101/2005, 30/2010, 47/2018 and 48/2018|
|Law on Issuing Publications||1994;SG RS, 37/91, 53/93, 67/93, 48/94|
|Law on Serbian Literary Society||1997; SG RS, 20/97|
|Law on Matica Srpska||1992; SG RS, 49/92|
|Law on Cinematography||2011|
|Law on Ratification of the Protocol to the Agreement on the importation of artefacts of educational, scientific or cultural character||1981; SG RS 7/81|
|Law on Endowments and Foundations||2010; SG RS 88/10|
|Law on Culture||2009; SG RS 72/2009 am. 2016.|
|Law on Library and Information Sector||2011; SG RS 52/11|
|Law on Old and Rare Library Materials||2011; SG RS 52/11|
|Law on Legal Deposit of Publications||2011; SG RS 52/11|
|Law on Renewal of Cultural and Historical Heritage and Support for Development of Sremski Karlovci||1991; am. 1993 and 1994; SG RS, 37/91, 53/93, 67/93, 48/94|
|Law on Establishment of the Museum of Genocide Victims||1992; am. 1993 and 1994; SG RS, 49/92, 53/93, 67/93, 48/94|
|Law on Heritage Protection||1994; SG RS, 71/94|
|Publishing Law||1991; am. 1993, 1994, 2004, 2005; SG RS, 37/91, 53/93, 67/93, 48/94, 135/2004, 101/2005|
|Regulations on the keeping of records of persons who perform independent artistic or other activity in the field of culture||2010; SG RS 41/10|
|Regulation on conditions, criteria and method of acquisition and withdrawal of the status of cultural institutions of national importance||2010; SG RS 40/10|
|Regulation on detailed conditions and manner of awarding recognition for outstanding contribution to national culture, and culture of national minorities||2010; SG RS 36/10|
|Rules on determining the composition and operation of the Commission determining the representativeness of the associations and the termination of the status of representative associations in culture||2010; SG RS 57/10|
|Regulation on the procedures, criteria and standards for the selection of cultural projects that are financed and co-financed from the budget of the Republic of Serbia||2010; SG RS 57/10|
|Regulations on the content and the way of keeping of records of the public cultural institutions, located on the territory of the Republic of Serbia||2010; SG RS 38/10|
|The Decree on special awards for contribution to the development of culture||2010; SG RS 91/10|
|Draft bills||Short description of progress|
|Law on Archive Documentation and Archive Sector||Draft version was open to public debate from January 2010. Final version is in preparation.|
Table 5: Overview of the international legal instruments
|Title of the Act||Year of adoption|
|Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Case of Armed Conflict||Hague, 1954; Ratified in 1956. SG FNRJ, 4/56|
|Convention on the means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property||Paris, 1970; Ratified in 1973. SL SFRJ, 50/73|
|Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage||Paris, 1972; Ratified in 1974. SL SFRJ, 56/74|
|Convention for the Protection of European Architectural Heritage||Granada, 1985; Ratified in 1991. SL SFRJ, 4/91|
|Protocol to the Agreement on the importation of educational, scientific or cultural items||Florence, 1950; Ratified in 1981. SL SFRJ, 7/81|
|Convention on the archaeological heritage||Valletta, 1992;|
|Convention on the conservation of intangible cultural heritage||Paris, 2003; In the parliamentary procedure.|
|European Convention on Cinematographic production||Strasbourg, 1992; Ratified in 2004; revision signed in 2017.|
|European Landscape Convention||Florence, 2000; Signed|
|Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society||Faro, 2005; Signed|
|Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions||Paris, 2005; signed in 2009.|
The new Law on Culture is based on 10 principles of cultural development - freedom of expression of cultural and artistic creation; autonomy of subjects in culture; openness and availability of the cultural content to the public and citizens; respect for the cultural and democratic values of European and national traditions and diversity of cultural expression; integration of cultural development into social-economic and political long-term development of the democratic society; democratic cultural policy; equality of the subject in the process of establishment of institutions and other legal entities in culture and equality in the working process of all institutions and other subjects in culture; decentralisation of the decision-making process, organising and financing of cultural activities; encouraging the cultural and artistic creation and preservation of cultural and historical heritage; encouraging a sustainable development of the cultural environment as an integral part of the living environment.
General interest in culture includes: creating possibilities for intensive and coordinated cultural development; making conditions for nurturing cultural and artistic creation; research, protection and use of cultural goods; financing of cultural institutions founded by the Republic of Serbia; financing programmes and projects of the organisations and associations, as well as other subjects which are contributing to the development of culture and the arts; discovering, creating, researching, preserving and presenting of Serbian culture and culture of national minorities; creating conditions for the availability of the cultural heritage to the public; research, preserving and use of goods of special value for the culture and history of the Serbian people, which are located outside of the Republic of Serbia; encouraging and helping the cultural expressions which are the result of creativity of individuals, groups and associations of Serbs abroad; encouraging international cultural collaboration; encouraging professional and scientific research in the field of culture; spreading and developing education in the field of culture; encouraging the use of new technologies in culture, especially concerning IT and digitalisation; construction of a unique library information system and central function in the library sector; construction of a unique IT system in the sector of cultural heritage protection; encouragement of young talent in the field of cultural and artistic creation; creating conditions for the encouragement of independent cultural and artistic creation; encouragement of amateur cultural and artistic creation; encouragement of children's creativity and creativity for children and youth in culture; encouragement of cultural and artistic creation of people with special needs, and promoting accessibility to all with special needs; encouraging the art market, sponsors, patrons and donors of culture; supporting the development of creative industries;and supporting the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.
The law defines cultural activities and fields of cultural activities as:
- research, protection and use of cultural heritage;
- library information activities;
- books and literature (creation, publishing, bookstores, translating);
- music (creation, production, interpretation);
- visual and applied arts and architecture;
- performing arts and interpretation (drama, opera, ballet and dance);
- cinematography and audio-visual creations;
- art photography;
- digital creations and multimedia;
- scientific and educational activities in culture; and
- other musical, rhetorical, artistic and stage performances of cultural programmes.
One of the most important things that the new law brings is the foundation of the National Council for Culture, which has the role of providing permanent support from experts in preserving, developing and expanding culture. The Council will have the task of analysing and giving opinions on the state of the field of culture in the Republic of Serbia; giving suggestions for creating cultural policy; giving suggestions in the development of cultural activities; participating in the creation of the strategy of cultural development and providing the monitoring for its execution; recommending the criteria for gaining the status of artistic excellence, or an expert in the field of culture; giving suggestions for the arrangements concerning other questions in the field of culture as well as inter-departmental cooperation (science, education, urbanism, international cooperation, etc.). The Council was constituted on 12 July 2011, and has 19 members. They are selected every 5 years from the circles of eminent and recognised artists and professionals in the cultural sector. Over the years, the relation between the Minister and the Council became tense: the finances for the Council were cancelled and although the actual Law still foresees a Council, it is not functioning since 2015. The Council has lost its meaning due to the lack of political will to support the work of such arm’s length body. At the beginning of 2016, the mandates of the Council’s members expired and the process of selecting the new members is marked by controversial issues and disapprovals of cultural professionals.
Important change comes also from the definition of subjects in the field of culture - cultural institutions, cultural associations, artists, collaborators / cultural experts and other subjects in culture. The law regulates the main principles of functioning of all these subjects.
Possibly the biggest change comes with the institution of a public competition for the managers of public cultural institutions. They are elected for a period of 4 years, and can be re-elected. All of the candidates are obliged to present their plan for the functioning and development of the institution. Public institutions can also have one or more artistic directors, which are selected by the board of the institution. When it comes to employees - a person can work in a cultural institution only based on a contract for a period of 3 years, which can be renewed. Persons with over 20 (men) / 17.5 (women) years of work experience can obtain permanent work status.
Gaining the status of the National Cultural Institution of Excellence is no longer permanent. The government will award this status to an institution according to criteria which will be formed, but can also take this status away. Also, there can be two recognised representative associations for every artistic sector (visual arts, applied arts, drama arts...); and this status can be removed. The status of self-employed artists, self-employed cultural experts, performers of cultural programmes and independent collaborators in culture are defined in the law.
This Law on Culture became operational from March 2010, although it depends on a number of sub-laws and ministry rulebooks that will have to go through the government or the Serbian Parliament. Because of the complicated administrative procedures, it will evidently take much longer to have the Law on Culture fully operational. Several sub-laws and regulations were adopted during 2010 and 2011, a large number of the announced and planned changes that it introduces in the field of culture are still just a word on a paper. The Law on Culture is mostly a normative law without any serious impact on the culture sector in practice. In 2018, the Ministry of Culture started the preparation of new amendments to ensure better implementation.
Last update: September, 2018
The 1994 Law on Heritage Protection defines public services in this field. A number of special decrees and regulations have further outlined rules on how to conduct inventories, to valorise and categorise cultural heritage as well as define the responsibilities of archives, museums, film archives and libraries.
Cultural heritage protection is one of the top priorities of the Ministry of Culture because it represents the national traditions and identities of all people and cultures in Serbia.
The system and means of heritage protection is regulated by the Cultural Properties Law, dating back to 1994. A new law is still in the process of being enacted.
According to the 1994 Cultural Properties Law, the activities to be carried out by the heritage protection institutes consist of: research, registration, valorisation, proposing and determining cultural properties, categorisation, maintaining registers and the Central Register, preparing studies, proposals and projects, providing owners and users with expert assistance in preserving and maintaining cultural properties, proposing and overseeing how technical protective measures are carried out, publishing the results of cultural property protection activities, and participating in the preparation of urban and territorial plans.
The present law, as well as regulations, are outdated and do not correspond with changes in the theory and practice of conservation and protection of cultural and natural property. Since 2002, certain efforts have been made to prepare a new Law on Heritage Protection and it is still in the process of being enacted. A new Lw on Urban Planning and Construction (2009 and amended in 2011 and 2014) has marginalized a lot of administrative jurisdictions of the cultural heritage institutes. The national Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED) has a strong influence on the regulatory framework and on other policies since 2017 (new government appointment). In 2018, NALED created a new draft proposal for the Law on Heritage Protection, outside of any consultations with heritage professionals and other relevant cultural stakeholders. The Ministry of Culture initiated the draft of a new Law on Archive Documentation and the Archive Sector, which currently does not exist. The aim of the draft law is to outline a new legal framework for archival activities in line with European standards.
Last update: September, 2018
There are no specific laws for the performing arts and music. A Theatre Law has been in preparation for more than 10 years now, mostly dealing with labour issues (types of institutions, employment policies, etc.). There was a plan to place a Theatre Law in the group of other sub laws that will arise from the new Law on Culture which is in force since March 2010, but it is postponed again for an indefinite moment in the future.
Last update: September, 2018
There are no specific laws for visual or applied arts.
Last update: September, 2018
A set of three important laws was adopted in 2011 – Law on Library and Information Sector (SG RS 52/11), Law on Legal Deposit of Publications (SG RS 52/11) and Law on Old and Rare Library Materials (SG RS 52/11).
The Law on Rare Library Materials introduces the obligation of professional care of old and rare library materials for all the owners of these movable cultural artefacts, not just for libraries and institutions. The circle of libraries that are in the process of effective protection of old and rare library materials, which until now included only the National Library of Serbia and Matica Srpska Library as depository libraries, is now widened. The Law was updated from the standpoint of the need for encouraging the use of new technologies in the field of old and rare library materials, especially information technologies and digitalisation. Criteria for assessment of old and rare library materials are introduced, as well as the right of the private owner of the materials to request a free expert advice on old and rare library materials.
Law on Library and Information sector recognises the need to foster the application of new technologies in library services, especially information technologies and digitalisation, which was not regulated until this Law was adopted. This Law regulates the establishment of the National Centre for shared cataloguing, as a vital institutional and functional form of fulfilling of the obligations of complete records of everything that is in the libraries on the one hand, and the rights of all citizens to unrestricted access to information, knowledge and cultural values. With this Law, forms of library materials formed on the basis of new technologies, such as electronic, combined and multimedia publications and computer programmes used by the public are officially recognised for the first time.
The Law on Legal Deposit of Publications is intended to achieve the public interest of preservation, archiving and full access to the entire publishing production in Serbia and in the Serbian language anywhere in the world. The novelty is the passing of the obligation of mandatory submission of the copies from the printers to the publishers. The number of copies required is halved (5 instead of 10); a mandatory copy in electronic form is introduced, all forms of traditional print publishing and all forms of digital publishing are equally treated, including Internet, within the Serbian domain.
The Parliament, at the request of The Ministry of Culture, approved the amendment to the Law on Publishing through urgent parliamentary procedure, recognising the National Library as the only state agency for delivering four international publication numbers: ISBN, ISSN, ISMN and DOI. The new Law on Publishing is in the final draft phase, with the most important change being the introduction of the National Book Centre. The main aim of the Law is to take responsibility for strategic decisions concerning publishing procedures and protection of the national publishing industry. Although it in the final stage, it is still not clear when it can be expected in the final Parliamentary procedure.
Last update: September, 2018
Film, video and photography
The former Yugoslavia was very well-known for its film production, not only of long features, but also in the field of documentary and short films. 20-30 films were produced per year. However, in 1991, with the dissolution of the country, only about five films were being produced per year. This situation changed with the support for film production coming from both State Television and from the Ministry of Culture after 2000, with the significant increase in the support of the Eurimages fund, as well as the number of regional co-production projects.
There are two basic public institutions responsible for cinematography in Serbia:
- the Yugoslav Film Archive (one of the five largest film archives in the world); and
- the Film Centre of Serbia.
Following the agreement between the Ministry of Culture and Media and the Film Centre of Serbia from 2016, the Ministry allocated a total of 600,000,000.00 RSD for all programmes of the Film Centre. 322,841,214.00 RSD was allocated for projects of international cooperation and promotions, which include participating in 5 film markets on international festivals, 1 co-production market, 4 special programmes from the field of international cooperation (presenting Serbian film in Helsinki, Bucharest and New York), 2 memberships in networks and support to the Serbian representative of the Academy Awards (Oscars) in the category “best feature film in a foreign language”.
In Serbia, laws for film are considered out-dated and are currently being revised (the current law is the Law on Cinematography from 1991). In anticipation of the adoption of a new Film Law, the Ministry of Culture and Media organised an open competition for state funding to new films. From 2002 to 2007, 10.18 million EUR were invested in feature films, in a number of short films and some documentaries, some of which received awards from international and national film festivals.
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (now the Republic of Serbia) entered Eureka Audio-visual in 2001. It also became very active within the South East European Cinema Network due to the fact that in 2004 (November 17th) it became an active member of the European Film Fund for coproduction, distribution and exhibition of creative cinematographic and audio-visual works - Eurimages (as a part of the Federal Union of Serbia and Montenegro at that time). According to the statistics, Serbian authors obtain a significant percentage of the allocated means.
Currently there are five cinema venues in Serbia, within the Network of Europa Cinemas – in Belgrade - Cultural Centre Belgrade (KCB), Art Cinema "Museum" and Dom Sindikata, as well as Multimedia centre "Kvart" in Kraljevo and "Cinema" in Zrenjanin.
In the framework of assistance to digitalisation of theatres that are members of the Eurimages network, in 2011 two of the venues were supported - cinemas in Kraljevo and Belgrade's KCB. This is a tri-partite project involving support at the local level, the Ministry and the Eurimages. There is also the plan to continue digitalisation of other cinema venues in Serbia (e.g. Eurocinema in Subotica, venue of Palić festival, Cinema in Leskovac, etc.).
The Ministry of Culture has formed a Group of experts for audio-visual heritage in order to create a new institution dealing with audio-visual material. The idea is to transform the "Film News" (Filmske novosti) and to create an institution able to maintain, save, and restore film, video and audio production – similar to the functioning of the French INA (Institut National d'Audio-visuel).
Laws related to the mass media are the Law on Broadcasting (2002), the Public Information Law (2003), the Law on Telecommunication (2003), the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance (2004) and the Law on Advertising (2005).
The Law on Broadcasting stipulates:
- that broadcasting licenses are to be given on the condition that a minimum of 40% of the transmission time is filled with programmes of European origin, 10% of which must be produced by independent producers; and
- that the duration of commercials will be limited and controlled according to the programming, i.e.: a film may only be interrupted twice and a television programme only after 45 minutes of showing.
The Law on Broadcasting also sets general programme quotas. The following obligations have been made:
- broadcasters are obliged to programme at least 50% of air time with Serbian language content. Within this share, half must be its own programmes / productions; and
- local and regional broadcasters, if they are predominantly state-owned, are obliged to allocate 10% of their air time to independent productions, which can also be co-productions.
The Law on Advertising regulates advertising and sponsorship issues. The commercial broadcasters are not allowed to use more than 20% of their daily airtime for advertising (maximum 12 minutes per hour of programming). Advertising time is limited to 10% of daily airtime (maximum 6 minutes per hour of programming) for public (national, local and regional) and civil broadcasters. These rules are not followed by most of the commercial broadcasters or the public service broadcasters.
The Data Secrecy Law (2009) protects information related to national security, public safety, and foreign affairs, among other categories. Defamation was decriminalized in 2012 and is now a civil offense. However, articles that criminalise insult remain. Some confusion within the judiciary over Serbia’s media laws continues. The authorities frequently obstruct journalists’ efforts to obtain public information under the 2004 Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance. According to the Freedom House report (2018), “The Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media issues licenses to broadcasters. However, its processes are non-transparent and it has yet to prepare by-laws that permit the implementation of some 2014 reforms, and the EU has encouraged it to take additional measures to ensure its independence.”
The 2010 Law on Electronic Communications requires telecommunications providers to keep records on the source, destination, and timing of all electronic communications for one year for potential government use, provided that a court approves such requests for information.
Last update: September, 2018
In this domain authorities are shared between municipalities and cities (local self-governments) and the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure. Currently, The Department for spatial planning, urbanism and habitation is in charge of legislation in this area. Key legislation involves:
- Law on spatial plan of the Republic of Serbia from 2010 to 2020;
- Law on construction and urban planning
- Law on returning nationalized property;
- Law on water;
- Law on Housing;
- Law on trading of property;
- Law on the maintenance of housing;
- Law on Agricultural land;
- and other.