7. Financing and support
Last update: September, 2018
Public cultural expenditure per capita in Serbia was 23,5 EUR (2773 CSD) in 2017, while in 2001 the figure was 16,2 EUR. At present about 524 cultural organisations have the status of budget users, out of which 167 are located in the territory of AP Vojvodina, and 359 in the territory of Central Serbia. This fact indicates that the cultural system still creates great pressure on the state budget. On the other hand, the current situation indicates that there is no public awareness or will to introduce the principles of efficiency and management practice in cultural institutions / organisation, or political interest to start cultural financial reforms.
Increasing per capita expenditure at the local level (see Table 8a) is a result of a shift in emphasis towards supporting festivals as a part of local cultural life, which supported about 1 250 local events and festivals in Serbian municipalities. The "festivalisation" of culture has caused disapproval among cultural actors: e.g. "Exit" and "Cinema City" events receive 1/3 of all financial support granted by the open competition system in Novi Sad (630 000 EUR in 2009 and 300 000 EUR in 2010).
In 2017, the total public cultural expenditure is estimated to be 172,3 million EUR (all levels of government). This corresponds to 1.05% of total public expenses in Serbia at all levels of government.
Table 8: Public cultural expenditure per capita in Serbia, in EUR, 2001-2016
|Per capita cultural expenditure (all government levels)||16.5||15.7||20.1||19.6||20.4||22.6||24.0||18*||15*||23*||23,5*|
|Per capita cultural expenditure (the central level -Republic)||3.0||3.0||6.2||11.0||11.1||11.6||10.1||7.2||7.7||9*||9,2*|
|Per capita cultural expenditure (provincial level / AP Vojvodina)||1.5||2.35||2.9||3.10||3.6||5.1||5.8||5.7||n.a.||6*||n.a.|
|Per capita cultural expenditure (city of Belgrade)||22.5||24||20.1||17.5||25.4||22.7||19.2||17.1||16.1||15.5*||n.a.|
Mikić H. (2011) Cultural policy and contemporary challenges of Financing culture: international experiences and Serbia, Culture No. 130, pp. 75-104;
Mikić H. (2013) Cultural industries and diversity of cultural expression in Serbia, Belgrade: Creative Economy Group
* Estimate; per capita expenditure includes expenditure for Diaspora cultural projects allocated by the Ministry of Diaspora, expenditure for preservation and conservation of religious cultural objects allocated by the Ministry of religion, expenditure for cultural-tourism project allocated by the Ministry of economy and tourism.
Table 8a: Public cultural expenditure per capita in some Serbian cities
|Amount||In EUR||In EUR||In EUR||In EUR|
Source: Local cultural policies (2010), Institute for Cultural Development, Belgrade; Author's calculation based on Budget Decision of Novi Sad and Belgrade, 2007-2009. Data for 2017 has been taken from the research Đukić et al. 2018.
Last update: September, 2018
6.2.2 Public cultural expenditure broken down by level of government
Table 9: Public cultural expenditure: by level of government, 2012
|Level of government||Total expenditure in EUR||% share of total|
|State (central, federal)||54.217.954||33%|
|Local (municipal, incl. counties)||94.850.000||58%|
|TOTAL||163 348 954||100%|
Source: Mikić H. (2013) Cultural industries and diversity of cultural expression in Serbia, Belgrade: Creative Economy Group, pp. 26
The present statistical system does not provide precise data concerning the share of different levels of government in the public financing of culture. In 2012, government subsidies at national level accounted for about 33% of the total public cultural expenditure; municipalities accounted for about 58%, and the Province of Vojvodina took up the remainder (9%). In 2016, these percentages were more or less the same. In the structure of public cultural expenditure of municipalities, Belgrade City government subsidies account for about 58% of the total public cultural expenditure of municipalities, while Belgrade municipalities account for about 17%. The growing participation of local governments in the public expenditure for culture is due to an increasing level of financing local media by the public media purchasing model.
The share of the Ministry of Culture and Information regarding the total government budget in 2018 was 1.0% (but part of the budget devoted to culture is 0,6 of the total government budget, which represents quite same level as a year before). . The amount of money intended for competitions as well as ad hoc cultural projects accounts for approximately 16% of the total budget of the Ministry of Culture. In 2011, the share of the Ministry of Culture in the total government budget has reached the lowest level in the last 10 years (0.65%). Out of the total budget of the Ministry of Culture, 25% goes to central government administration of culture, while the amount of money intended for public competitions and ad hoc projects accounts for approximately 20% (11 million EUR), while the budget for public cultural institutions funded by central government accounts for 50%.
Table 10: Share of the budget of the Serbian Ministry of Culture and Information in the total government budget,
in thousand CSD and in EUR, 1997-2018
|Year||Budgetary expenses of the Republican government (000 EUR)||Budgetary expense of the Ministry of Culture||Proportion of the budget of the Ministry of Culture|
|1997||13 820 981||311 834||-||2.26%|
|1998||16 807 473||289 154||-||1.72%|
|1999||17 640 691||245 088||-||1.57%|
|2000||32 702 454||557 690||15 934 000||1.71%|
|2001||127 339 827||1 074 235||23 871 000||0.84%|
|2002||217 379 629||1 389 625||22 818 000||0.64%|
|2003||318 691 919||2 954 919||47 814 000||0.93%|
|2004||362 045 252||5 851 070||85 305 000||1.62%|
|2005||400 767 778||5 608 642||70 548 000||1.40%|
|2006*||459 407 647||6 376 627||78 240 000||1.38%|
|2007*||551 126 440||4 942 284||60 345 000||0.89%|
|2008||695 959 075||6 888 157||81 000 000||0.98%|
|2009||748 652 903||6 895 770||72 587 000||0.92%|
|2010||738 645 297||5 860 797||58 607 970||0.79%|
|2011||846 919 908||5 541 260||55 412 600||0.65%|
|2012||797 994 245||5 698 555||54 271 954||0.68%|
|2013||1 012 997 900||5 755 421||48 774 754||0.56%|
|2014||1 127 944 700||15 659 118||139 759 000||1,38%|
|2015||1 062 758 700||14 640 194||124 069 441||1,36%|
|2016||1 049 867 600||10 845 073||91 907 398||1.03%|
|2017||1 119 142 100||13 369 016||113 296 746||1,19%|
|2018||1 201 000 100||13 320 754||112 887 746||1,10%|
Statistical Yearbook 2000 and 2002, Office of Statistics of the Republic of Serbia, Law on Budget of Republic of Serbia for 2000-2018: Bulletin of public finance 2018.
* Excluded is expenditure of the National Investment Plan.
By the end of 2003, the Radio-Television of Serbia (public broadcasting service), the Regulatory Agency for Broadcasting, and the public enterprise PANORAMA were financed through the budget of the Ministry of Culture.
The share of the Ministry of Culture in the total government budget increased in the period from 2004 to 2006, but this budget growth doesn't mean a real increase of financial resources for cultural and art production (programmes). Starting from 2004, Radio-Television of Serbia (public broadcasting service), the Regulatory Agency for Broadcasting, the public enterprise PANORAMA, and the publishing organisation "Bratstvo" (journals, newspapers, magazines in the Bulgarian language), were financed through the budget of the Ministry of Culture. Financing activities of these organisations took up around 45% of the budget of the Ministry of Culture. By the end of 2006, financing of those organisations was cut, due to the introduction of new legal forms of their financing (e.g. broadcasting license fees, TV subscriptions, etc.). This is one of the reasons why the share of the budget of the Ministry of Culture is reduced in 2007, as there are no more "media" expenditures in it, while the rate of participation in payment of TV subscriptions has finally achieved the desired level of 80% (the resistance to the "renewal" of TV subscription in Serbia was great, as the "boycotting" of the payment of the subscription was part of the democratic battle at the end of 1980s and beginning of 1990s). In 2014, the budgetary expenses for culture increased again – this was partly an increase of cultural expenses, but again added new media expenses (expenses for public broad casting company) to the Ministry of Culture and Information’s budget as well media open calls.
In total, between 40% and 50% of the Ministry’s budget usually go to culture and the rest goes to media projects. The increase of the total budget in the past three years is caused by infrastructural expenses for the National Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Arts.
Last update: September, 2018
Table 11: State cultural expenditure in Serbia: by sector, 2008
|Field / Domain / Sub-domain||TOTAL|
|In EUR||In %|
|I. Cultural Heritage||63 144 000||29%|
|Intangible Heritage / Folk Culture|
|II. Visual Arts||11 939 000||5.5%|
|FineArts / Plastic Arts|
|Design / Applied Arts|
|III. Performing Arts||22 899 000||10.5%|
|Theatre, Music Theatre, Dance|
|IV. Books and Press||26 179 000||12.6%|
|V. Audiovisual and Multimedia||32 046 000||14.4%|
|VI. Interdisciplinary||60 793 000||28%|
|Cultural Relations Abroad|
|VII. Not covered by domain I-VI|
|TOTAL||217 000 000||100%|
Source: Office for Statistics of the Republic of Serbia, 2010; Law on Budgets, Serbia, AP Vojvodina 2008; Serbian Business Registers Agency (financial reports 2009); Decision on competitions, Ministry of Culture of Republic of Serbia 2008.
The present statistical and government statistical system does not provide precise data concerning the sectoral structure of financing culture. The government statistical system is based on GFS methodology, which recognises a very basic structure of cultural expenses (media and publishing enterprises, other cultural expenses). From the other side, the Republic Statistical Office (RSO) stopped statistical collecting in the field of social activities (which was collecting data on culture), and started collecting statistics on budgetary users, but at a low classification level (1 or 2 digit). Also, RSO use a restricted definition of budgetary users, which means that almost 50% of budgetary users are not included in statistical reporting. At the moment, there is no state programme for improvement of cultural statistics. Some initiatives and activates come from the Institute for Cultural Development (such us e-culture, local cultural policy), but those initiatives and activities are based on statistical methodology which are in question (empirical classification and categories), and which are not comparable in the long-term or with international standards.
In 2012, the Task Force for Development of Creative Industries organised a Regional Seminar on Cultural Diversity, Public Policy and Cultural Industries with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, with the topic of improving cultural statistics. . The seminar was dedicated to disseminate knowledge about cultural statistics, new measures on economic contribution of cultural industries and indicators for evaluating public policies in the field of cultural diversity.
In fifteen biggest cities in Serbia average programme part of the budget represents 21% budget for culture, except the programme budget of the city Novi Sad that is much higher.
Structure of the budget for culture in 2017 in 15 Serbian cities
|City||Salaries||Material expenses||Programmes and projects|
Overview of the types of public calls for culture in 2017
|City||Form of support||Share of the call in cultural budget||Number of supported projects||Average grant per project|
|Novi Sad||Call for projects in culture||0,53%||351||386,794.87|
|Kragujevac||Call for projects in culture||10,7%||58||676,485.26|
|Суботица||Call for projects in culture||8,44%||155||207,741.94|
|Зрењанин||Call for NGOs and amateur associations||3,0%||64||159,590.38|
|Лесковац||Call for projects in culture||3%||38||236,842.11|
|Панчево||Call for projects in culture||2,72%||51||138,333.33|
|Сомбор||In 2017 call for NGOs and amateur associations. In 2018 call for projects in culture||2,99%||48||125,000.00|
|Ниш||Call for projects in culture||0,99%||26||196,115.38|
|Врање||Call for projects in culture||1,64%||42||83,333.33|
|Смедерево||Call for projects in culture||1,30%||21||142,857.14|
|Чачак||General call for NGOs with a programme line for culture||1,4%||17||175,689.41|
|Краљево||General call for NGOs with a programme line for culture||1,2%||26||96,923.08|
|Крушевац||Call for projects in culture||1,3%||39||58,974.36|
|Зајечар||General call for NGOs with a programme line for culture||0,61%||9||177,777.78|
|Ужице||Call for publishing projects; call for NGOs with a programme line for youth and culture; since 2018 call for music manifestations||0,2%||10||37,000.00|
Last update: September, 2018
The majority of support for creativity is given to cultural institutions, organisations and companies via project grants. Such calls for projects are published annually by the Ministry of Culture, the Provincial secretariat for culture and the City secretariats or offices for culture in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš, Subotica and other smaller cities.
The general issue with these calls is that their aims are very vaguely and loosely set, without clear indicators or goals. Hence, evaluating these calls as policy instruments is very hard and subjective. What can be said, though, is that the very procedures by which projects are chosen is often inadequate in terms of temporality (results of awarded projects are published in May-June while the projects have to end and to be reported on by 31stof December); choice of jury members (often persons with dubious professional experience); a vague and administrative project application and evaluation form; no feedback or public ranking from the jury; many awarded projects are not cultural. However, lately there are some signs of improvement. The Ministry has improved its application process with the jury acting autonomously and providing clear feedback. The City of Novi Sad stands out as an example. It has introduced an online application form with relevant questions for applicants and a Strategic plan according to which the applications have to be read. Also, juries have to publicly explain their choices. In many other instances and cities, calls are still very problematic.
When it comes to the Ministry of Culture, this year it supported 11 areas of artistic creativity. The call had at its disposal around 3 million EUR (4.86% Ministry’s budget), while civil society organisations received 1.310.000 EUR (2.06%). We can see from this that the overwhelming majority of the Ministry’s budget is devoted to supporting the public cultural infrastructure. When it comes to different fields, most funds were awarded to film (21%), music (20%), theatre (18%) and visual arts (14%), while dance, youth culture, culture for people with special needs and others received less than 10%.
Apart from the calls for projects, which have become a main source of financing for artists as well (many have formed their NGOs or private companies), artists are allowed a tax deduction of40-65% on their earnings for expenses related to their work (without documentation). Another important and much debated instrument for supporting the work of freelance artists is the system of subsidizing social security and pension for artists. By the Law on Culture, local municipalities and the Provincial government have the right to support all artists who have been acknowledged by the representative artist union by covering their social and health security. Currently, very few municipalities are offering such support for all registered freelance artists (the City of Novi Sad is covering health insurance and pension insurance and the City of Belgrade only the latter).
Unfortunately, the support to NGOs depends of the political stands of local and central authorities towards them. According to the Freedom House report (2018), “Foreign and domestic nongovernmental organizations generally operate freely, but those that have taken openly critical stances towards the government or address sensitive or controversial topics have faced threats and harassment in recent years. In January 2017, activists from the Youth Initiative for Human Rights were physically attacked at an event organized by the ruling party.” Many programmes and projects of the Centre for Cultural Decontamination (CCD) are under threat of right wing groups. On the last call for projects of the City of Belgrade, none of the seven projects which the CCD presented got the support (while only three got symbolic support from the Ministry of Culture and Information).
Last update: September, 2018
There are no public incentives for freelance artists to, for example, write a book, create a visual art work, etc. The whole field of artists funds has not changed much in the previous years. Artists do have the possibility of applying for funds to support the exhibition and presentation of their work inside and outside of the country. However, there are no precise application procedures or any transparency in decision-making. In the Law on Culture from 2007, a special Award for Extraordinary Contribution to National Culture has been promoted, often referred to as "National Artistic Pensions". Artists and cultural workers could apply and receive lifetime monthly allocations of 50.000 dinars (it was 500 and today only 450 euros). In the first year 265awards were granted. From the first year the award is followed by numerous controversies including the selection of members of committee, nomination process and award receivers. Most often, voices could be heard that many “entertainers” and lowbrow artists received the award, which supposedly led to the banalisation of the whole initiative. In 2013, 465 artists and cultural workers received the award. In 2014, the new Minister initiated the cancellation of the awards, stating that they have lost their purpose and are misused, while they consume a lot of resources (3% of Ministry’s budget). However, the Parliament voted against the cancellation.
Following this model, the Ministry of Science granted "national pensions" for researchers - there were only 8 of them, of which 2 were given to musicologists.
Only a few private funds support artistic creativity such as: the "Borislav Pekić" Fund (for writing a novel) or the "Madlena Janković" Fund (usually for musicians).
Last update: September, 2018
Awards for artistic work are very popular and numerous in Serbia. Ever since the 1960s and 1970s, awards have been understood as a proper cultural policy instrument, hence they have been supported and developed. Currently, there are a whole series of awards having their roots in the socialist era, post-2000 awards and some new ones. Local municipalities, faculties, academies and universities, press houses and media outlets, libraries, museums, theatres, festivals, artist unions and associations – everyone has an award of their own. They are popular in all artistic fields – music, theatre, poetry, literary work, heritage, museums. As with all awards, some are more disputed than others and there have been cases of artists refusing the award based on the bad reputation of it.
Among the new awards is the Jelena Šantić award for culture and art. It is the only award that specifically focuses on engaged art with the title “Brave Steps Forward in New Cultural Practices”, awarded by Jelena Šantić Foundation.
Another form of financial stimulus for artistic work is mobility grants. The Ministry of Culture also has its own mobility grant. In 2018, 101 mobility projects were supported with the total value of 5.700.000 RSD (cca. 48.000 EUR). The City of Novi Sad has introduced mobility grants scheme via the Foundation NS2021 European Capital of Culture.
Last update: September, 2018
The fact that professional artists' associations are legally treated similarly to all other associations (i.e. of art amateurs) has created a lot of tension between public authorities and those associations. They have lost all the privileges they once had during socialist times and have, upon occasion, even been expelled from their premises (because they happened to be located in buildings which were legally owned by some other organisation or private person, a fact not challenged before). The main responsibility of the associations has also been transferred to the provincial and local level of governance, with the exclusion of national associations.
According to 2018 report by the Ministry, there are 31 recognised artist associations in Serbia. They are entitled to apply to a special call for support by the Ministry. In 2018, the Ministry has granted 42.436.732 RSD to 26 associations (ca. 360.000 EUR) for their operational expenses and programmes.
A new and completely different legislative logic is needed to differentiate between professional associations (which act more as trade unions for freelance artists), groups of amateurs and NGOs working on policy issues.
In general, transformation from state association of artists to associations as non-governmental organisations provoked a lot of controversies and negative reactions among the artistic community, who felt rejected by the state. In 2018, 31 associations and unions were recognised as being representative, after the open call of the Ministry of Culture in 2011.
Last update: September, 2018
There are a few actors in the field of promoting private cultural financing in Serbia. Smart Collective has launched a forum of business leaders (http://www.fpl.rs/o_nama/clanice.46.html) while BCIF and the Chamber of Commerce are also launching similar initiatives (see chapter 1.3.3).
However, according to the latest research (Katalist and Trag, 2018: 23) culture is not among the four key areas of philanthropy in Serbia (public health, support to marginal communities, poverty reduction and education). Culture receives less than 3% of the total donations/sponsoring and heritage receives even less (0,5%.). There is no recent research about sponsoring policies by private companies and the extent of the financial flow within. Many companies are offering goods or services as sponsor’s contribution (marketing agencies their services for festivals; soda factories their goods for refreshments; airlines their tickets for guests, etc.). For example, Mokrin House, a private endeavour in North East Serbia, offers its premises for free to several NGOs and their projects such as Creative Mentorship (an innovative capacity building project in the cultural sector linking young cultural entrepreneurs with successful professionals from different fields).