2. Current cultural affairs
Last update: December, 2020
Like in other countries around the globe, the year 2020 proved very challenging for the artistic and cultural sector in Croatia and thus for cultural policy making as well. The Artistic and cultural sector made numerous pleas and initiatives in order to highlight the drastic situation of artists and cultural workers in Croatia. In order to grapple with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government created a number of measures to assist the cultural sector. Debates in the cultural sector concentrated around whether these measures were adequate, or were timely, and whether they could have been made in a more sustainable manner as it has become evident that the pandemic will be prolonged in 2021.
However, the difficult circumstances brought about by the coronavirus were exacerbated on Sunday March 22nd, when the country’s capital Zagreb was hit by the strongest earthquake in the last 140 years, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale. Many people lost their homes and there is serious damage to a number of buildings and the general infrastructure, most notably in the city centre’s Old Town. As a large number of cultural institutions, cultural organisations and companies are located in Zagreb, and especially in Zagreb city centre, the earthquake has taken a toll on the cultural infrastructure. Cultural objects, offices of cultural organisations and ateliers were left severely damaged, while others have been completely destroyed. The assessment of the damage is still being made and the Ministry of Culture and Media announced that it will work together with the City of Zagreb, conservation departments and other relevant bodies in order to develop appropriate models for renovation. At the time of finalising this report another strong earthquake measuring 6.4 hit the Sisak-Moslavina country with devastating consequences for not only the cities of Petrinja,Sisak and Glina but the whole Sisak-Moslavina country. Seven people lost their lives, a number of the citizens their homes, while according to the preliminary inspection, a number of cultural monuments and cultural infrastructure was damaged.
The year 2020 brought about parliamentary elections that led to another term of the centre-right government coalition led by the Croatian Democratic Union (Hrvatska demokratska zajednica – HDZ). This resulted in the continuation of the cultural policy priorities of the Ministry of Culture, which changed it’s name to the Ministry of Culture and Media in order to reflect the existing responsibilities of the Ministry and to highlight increasing focus on the media sector. Thus, there were no major changes in cultural policy priorities in relation to the former mandate that has put focus on enhancing cultural creativity and support of independent artists (see chapter 2.3 and 4.1.3); entrepreneurship in cultural and creative industries (see chapter 3.5); development of the audiovisual sector (see chapter 3.5.3); development of (digitalisation of) the heritage sector (see chapters 2.4 and 3.1); supporting the independent cultural sector (see chapters 6.4 and 2.3); and supporting audience development and participation in culture (see chapter 6), while also working on updating the cultural legislation (see chapter 4.2). The debates related to the drafts of the new law on independent artists, electronic media, authors’ rights and the critique of the continuous lowering of funding for independent media and lowering of the working standards of journalists (see chapter 2.5.3).
Much has been anticipated from the Rijeka 2020 European Capital of Culture (ECoC) project as the biggest international cultural project in Croatia since it’s independence. The project was opened on the 1st of February 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic most of the activities that were planned during the year had to be cancelled. A number of cultural policy debates related to the interconnection of international, national and local levels of cultural policy making and practice, while the COVID-19 crisis also opened the policy issues related to the process of implementation of the Rijeka 2020 programme and its legacy. The coinciding of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union with the Rijeka 2020 ECoC looked like a good opportunity to present the culture of Croatia on an international level, but the COVID-19 crisis has limited the scope of this presentation and cooperation (see chapter 4.1.9). However, a number of (mainly online) events and meetings with EU stakeholders were organised during the Presidency, including the high-level meetings on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the cultural and audio-visual sector (resulting in the Declaration by the Ministers of Culture and Media. Culture in times of COVID – 19 crisis), and among others, highlighting the need for better actions related to media literacy.
Last update: December, 2020
Cultural rights are enshrined in the Constitution (see chapter 4.1.1) and are implicitly constituent to the national cultural policy framework (1.1). This is evident from the sector-specific policies related to the right to artistic work (see chapter 2.3); freedom of expression (see chapter 2.5.3); the right to cultural heritage (see chapter 3.1); protection of intellectual and material benefits accruing from cultural production (see chapter 4.1.6); the right to equally accessible and available cultural, library, information and leisure services (see chapters 3.2. and 3.5); the right to choose one’s own culture as well as to respect culture, its autonomy and identity (see chapters 2.5.4 and 2.6). Discussions around culture-related rights issues in general are scarce and this topic as an explicit policy issue has not been widely debated.
Issues related to cultural rights are mainly viewed focusing on the cultural rights of national minorities. There are 22 officially organised minorities in Croatia: Albanians, Austrians, Bosnians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Italians, Jews, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Poles, Roma, Romanians, Russians, Ruthenians, Slovaks, Slovenians, Serbs, Turks, Ukrainians, and Vlachs. All minorities receive state support through the Government Office for Human Rights and National Minorities. The total population of Croatia in 2011 was 4.284 million. According to the last census in 2011, Croats make up 90.42% of the population and 7.67% are ethnic minorities (the remaining percentage either did not respond to the census, or they responded by quoting regional affiliation, or they did not want to declare themselves). Apart from Serbs who represent 4.36% of the total population, all other minorities form less than 1%. The political and legal framework defining the position of national minorities is derived from the Constitution (1990, rev. 2001, 2010, 2014) and the Constitutional Law on Rights of National Minorities (2002, rev. 2010, 2011). Minorities have elected their representatives in the Parliament through a special electoral unit, and currently there are 8 representatives elected according to the rules of relative majority.
Minority cultural activities are predominantly traditional, e.g., preserving language, nurturing folk traditions, music and art, organising exhibitions, acting and reciting groups. The cultural activities of the Jewish and Italian minorities are widely spread and their participation in the cultural life of Croatia is more general. The Serb minority’s cultural activities are visible and observed as specific, while cultural visibility of other minorities is limited.
The Ministry of Culture and Media supports various programmes through the distribution of grants in art and cultural fields. All national minorities have designated reference libraries that are distributed over the country: BeliManastir City Library (Hungarian); Daruvar Public Library (Czech); "Ivan Goran Kovačić" Karlovac City Library (Slovenian); Pula City Library (Italian); Našice Public Library (Slovak); "Bogdan Ogrizović" Library, Zagreb (Albanian); Libraries of the City of Zagreb (Rutheninan and Ukranian); City and University Library Osijek (Austrian), "Prosvjeta" Serbian Cultural Association (Serbian) and "VladoGotovac" Public Library Sisak (Bosniak). The Ministry also provides support for the establishment of the "Prosvjeta" Serbian Cultural Association and the Jewish communities in Zagreb. In 2020 the ‘Kali Sara’ Central Library of Roma was opened in Zagreb, which is the only such type of library in Europe.
In 2011 the Slovakian Cultural Centre was established in Našice (the focal city of the Slovakian minority in Croatia), according to the reciprocity principle similar to the cultural centre of the Croatian minority which is already established in Slovakia.
Last update: December, 2020
The main measure related to supporting artistic production is defined through providing the social security measures for freelance artists. In comparison with other workers they have the right to retirement and disability insurance and to health insurance according to relevant legislation (see chapter 4.1.3). The status of independent artist entitled to support from the budget remains one of the burning issues in Croatia where an overall reform of the system is needed, especially taking into account that the existing system is not harmonised with the relevant Croatian legislation (especially labour and pension laws as well as with strengthened rules on fiscal and financial discipline). This has continued to be a hot issue of discussion and the changes in the legislation were announced several times in the last couple of years but are still not agreed between the professional community and the legislator.
Research data shows that the position of artists as well as other cultural workers is still rather precarious in Croatia, whether we are talking about those working in cultural industries or those working in civil society organisations in arts and culture (Primorac et al 2020). The situation differs from subsector to subsector, but the fragility of the professional life of artists and cultural workers due to the project-to-project type of work has proven to be a crucial problem. The Ministry of Culture and Media has tried to bridge this problem in the last couple of years by introducing additional measures in the form of special calls oriented to supporting the work of writers, translators and visual artists (see chapter 7.2.2). In addition, within the Programme for Cultural Entrepreneurship (now: Programme for Cultural and Creative Industries) it provides support for stimulating employment in this sector (see chapter 3.5). The Kultura nova Foundation, dedicated to civil society organisations in culture and arts, provides support for organisations and their workers and also has special measures that support artistic research. The Foundation has also executed research on the position of workers in its sector in 2016 that showed the precarious working conditions, which was the stimulus for some of their, above mentioned, policy measures (Barada et al 2016).
The union of workers employed in the cultural sector (HSDK) covers workers in cultural institutions and the Ministry of Culture and Media, while including freelance artists as well. However, there is a division between them and workers in cultural industries and civil society organisations in arts and culture that do not have unionised representation. Selected sector-specific professional associations cover some labour- rights related issues but this is still not enough to create an adequate framework for enhancing a better social situation for artists and cultural professionals. New actors and initiatives have emerged in the last couple of years that explicitly advocate around the issues of social and economic rights of artists and cultural workers (see chapter 4.1.5), but there is still a lot work to be done.
The mobility of artists and cultural professionals around the world is encouraged through the financing of international cultural cooperation throughout the years (see chapter 1.4). During the course of the years through different private initiatives and international projects a number of residencies have been developed within the country for foreign and domestic artists as well.
Last update: December, 2020
The changes in the field of digitalisation are swift and the number of users of new technologies is growing rapidly, but these developments are not followed by equally swift responses in cultural policies. Croatia does not have an official strategic document for the development of digital transformation of the cultural and creative sectors and the official initiatives related to strategies and programmes for digitalisation were mainly focused on its technical aspects. However, digitalisation issues are regularly included in the strategic plans of the Ministry of Culture and Media, but in a fragmented manner focusing on specific cases in a particular period. For example, in the Strategic Plan for the period 2018-2020 (Ministry of Culture, 2017a), focus was placed on completing a national project for the digitalisation of independent cinemas (arthouse, small and regional cinemas) so as to enable easier and wider distribution of audio-visual content. This project has been finalised in cooperation with the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC), an arm’s length body dedicated for support and promotion of Croatian audio-visual sector. The Ministry of Culture co-financed 60% of the equipment cost in larger cities and 70% of the cost in smaller ones. The cinema owners and the local and city self-governments covered the remaining costs. This proved to be a good practice example on a European scale, with more than 100 cinema theatres that were digitised in Croatia by 2020. Within the book sector the National Reading Support Strategy 2017 – 2022 (Ministry of Culture, 2017b) was elaborated but e-books are only marginally mentioned. Legislative changes have been made with the updated laws on museums, libraries and archives that were adopted in 2018 and 2019. For the first time they mention the new digital context that affects the work of heritage institutions. Harmonisation of national legislation with EU Directives regarding copyright, as well as the audiovisual media services that have an impact on digital culture, has been made through the preparation of the draft of Law on Electronic Media in 2019 and draft Proposal of the Law on Copyright and related Rights in April 2020. However, although the Law on Electronic Media was put into the adoption procedure, the other law was not yet amended during the finalisation of this report.
In the area of cultural heritage, the first digitisation initiative that the (then) Ministry of Culture initiated was the Croatian Cultural Heritage Project (2007-2012). This was a national programme for digitisation of archival, library and museum materials which also contributed to the creation of a central platform for cultural heritage that was developed in 2008 (www.kultura.hr) and which was closed in 2011. The national aggregator for cultural heritage was launched only in 2014 with an aim to allow heritage institutions to send digital content to the Europeana platform. The Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media plays the role of coordinator for the national aggregator which presents an obstacle to the equal participation of Croatia in EU projects related to aggregation and withdrawal of EU funds. This results in a small number of institutions that have been using the national aggregator as shown by the analysis of the current state of digitisation of cultural heritage in the Republic of Croatia (Ernst & Young, 2018). This report was the basis for the preparation of the project ‘e-Culture – Digitalisation of cultural heritage' that started in 2020. The project is an activity envisaged as a part of the draft National Plan for the Digitisation of Cultural Heritage 2025, prepared in 2019 by the Ministry of Culture that is presently in the adoption process. The funds for the implementation of the e-Culture project have been secured from both the European Fund for Regional Development (85%) and from the state budget (15%), in the total amount of 41 994 473 HRK (approx. 5 599 263 EUR). Partner organisations in the project are the Croatian State Archives, the National and University Library, the Museum for Arts and Crafts and Croatian Radio Television.
ICT use is increasing in particular in the cultural industries, such as the audio-visual industry (gaming industry in particular) but also in librarianship and archives and other cultural sectors. However, support for the digitalisation in cultural institutions is not adequate and is hindering further development. In the 2019 Call for support for the digitalisation of museum, library and archival programmes, seventy-six programmes were submitted, while 45 programmes were approved in the total amount of 655 743 HRK (87 432 EUR). Priority was given to programmes that are economical and/or that had secured support from other sources (either on the regional or local level, from sponsors, foreign organisations etc.). A number of institutions are working in parallel on different digitalisation projects; in order to bridge these problems. Since 2010, the National and University Library in Zagreb organises yearly 'The Festival of Digitalisation Projects'. It gathers experts in the field of development and management of digital collections, building up the systems of digital libraries, digitalisation of different types of data and usage and promotion of digital cultural and scientific heritage. The Kultura nova Foundation also offers support for the digitalisation of the archives of civil society organisations in contemporary arts and culture in order to preserve the records of the work of these active but fragile organisations. The Croatian Audiovisual Centre also offers support for digitalisation of selected audiovisual works through its public call for complimentary activities. However, the burning issue of a decaying audiovisual heritage and the lack of an adequate strategy for its digitalisation, which is connected to the yet unresolved position of Croatian Cinemateque and the status of authors’ rights for films produced in the Yugoslav period, remains an open but urgent problem for the audiovisual community.
With the creation of the Cultural Council for New Media Cultures in 2004, the financing of artists working with new technologies became more transparent and they gained easier access to public funds. In 2013 the Council for New Media Cultures changed its responsibilities to the Council for Innovative Cultural and Artistic Practices that assesses the applications for public needs in culture in this area. In 2020, as a result of the needs of the sector due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Culture and Media also opened a call for digital adaptation of the existing cultural programmes and the creation of new cultural and educational content for the digital sphere.
ICT companies are giving support to cultural activities through sponsorships and donations that are mainly in-kind. However, neither side is doing this according to any government programme, but according to available regulations concerning taxes on sponsorship and donations and on a case-by-case basis.
Last update: December, 2020
Promotion of intercultural dialogue is a relevant issue in Croatia and is present within the agenda of cultural, media, educational and social policies. However, there are no explicitly formulated policies for the promotion of intercultural dialogue nor is there a special fund or support scheme. It is important to note that due to recent Croatian history and the consequences of the Homeland war, the issue of integration and re-integration of minorities, coexistence, as well as resettlement of refugees and displaced persons have been continuously high on the list of political priorities, but still remain an open issue. It should be mentioned that Croatia is not a country receiving any substantial number of immigrants other than those from neighbouring countries. This is why the issue of intercultural dialogue within the country remains largely an issue of social integration and creating equal opportunities for all minorities. The recent migrant crisis opened up issues of the changing of the asylum and migration policies but no specific measures especially relating to intercultural dialogue have been made.
There are a number of NGOs and initiatives, both on national and regional levels, focusing on issues of intercultural dialogue. Examples of good practice that continue each year include:
- BEJAHAD – Jewish cultural scene – a project that has been taking place for more than ten years. The programme consists of a week-long series of cultural programmes, activities and debates where, every year, the Jewish community invites one of the other minority groups from the region as well as a Jewish community from one of the European countries to cooperate in the organisation of this programme.
- Literary seminar "The Days of Vladan Desnica" named after a famous Croatian writer of Serbian nationality. The seminar promotes intercultural dialogue through debates about literature and broader topics.
- Since 2006, "Days of Serbian Culture" organised by the Serbian Cultural Association "Prosvjeta" present contemporary Serbian culture during a week-long festival in Zagreb.
- Days of Italian Culture and Language in Rijeka.
- World Day of the Romani language.
Other examples of good practice that deal with the issues of intercultural dialogue:
- Croatia actively contributed in the process of writing the White Book of Intercultural Dialogue of the Council of Europe;
- The National Foundation for Civil Society Development is the coordinator of the Anna Lindh Foundation - ALF (projects promoting dialogue between cultures of the Euro-Mediterranean region) through the Croatian Network for Cooperation in the Mediterranean.
- Intercultural dialogue is widely promoted through a number of EU supported cultural and educational projects, mainly carried out by NGOs. Such projects are multinational and directly devoted to intercultural dialogue, communication and related multicultural competencies. Their aim is to support cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue through different activities (theatre, music events, exhibitions, festivals, etc.).
- Support is also given for cross-border co-operation projects, both by the Ministry of Culture and Media and the Ministry of Science and Education. Initiatives are usually carried out by NGOs which apply for government funding. Co-operation programmes include joint education programmes, co-operation in promoting common heritage, student camps etc.
- Selected NGOs have created programmes that relate to integration of migrants and welcoming refugees (e.g. Taste of Home/Okusidoma; Are you Syrious?).
The question of religious communities in Croatia is regulated through the Law on the Legal Position of Religious Communities (NN 83/02, 73/13), and the Ministry of Administration holds the Registry of the Religious Communities. According to the online Registry in 2020 there are 53 registered religious communities in Croatia.
The government of the Republic of Croatia takes steps to support all activities that promote dialogue between different faith groups. Sixteen agreements have been signed with 16 churches and religious communities. The international agreement with the Holy See regulates issues with the Catholic Church in Croatia, while other agreements were signed with: the Serbian Orthodox Church in Croatia; the Islamic religious community in Croatia; the Evangelic Church in Croatia; the Reformed Christian (Calvinist) Church in Croatia; the Evangelical Pentecostal Church in Croatia, which additionally represents the Christ Pentecostal Church in Croatia and The Union of Christ Pentecostal Churches in Croatia; the Adventist Church in Croatia, which represents the Reformed movement of the Seventh-day Adventists; the Union of Baptist Churches in Croatia, which represent the Church of Christ; the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Croatia; the Croatian Old Catholic Church; and the Macedonian Orthodox Church in Croatia. In 2003, the Agreement between the government of the Republic of Croatia and the Jewish Community in Croatia was adopted. In autumn 2008, the Agreement was signed with the Beth Israel Jewish faith group, and in 2012 the Agreement was also signed with the Co-ordination of Jewish Communities in the Republic of Croatia. In August 2014, after three years of court proceedings and with the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights, the Agreement was also signed with three other churches: The Union of Churches ‘Word of Life’; the Church of the Full Gospel (CCE); and Protestant Reformed Christian Church.
Croatia has a large Diaspora around the world from North and South America, Australia and New Zealand to Western European countries particularly Germany, Switzerland and Austria. An independent organisation / institution the "Croatian Heritage Foundation" (Matica iseljenika) established by the government in 1990 by a special Law on the Croatian Heritage Foundation (HMI), and funded through the Ministry of Culture and Media, supports and coordinates cultural programmes for Croatians abroad. The Ministry of Culture and Media also supports special radio programmes aimed at the Croatian Diaspora, as well as satellite programmes on Croatian Radio Television.
Last update: December, 2020
Diversity education is implicitly part of general school curricula in Croatia and is mainly administered by the educational policy making bodies at the national level. Intercultural education is taken as an important element of school curricula in those areas which were occupied during the Homeland war and where there is a special need to build an inclusive education system. However, there are still divisions in these territories and the implementation of the minority educational programmes result in divided classrooms and pupils of Croatian and Serbian nationalities in cities such as Vukovar. Although this is an implementation of the national minority rights regulations (see chapter 2.5.4), everyday life presents obstacles for developing diversity education programmes. Initiatives that put focus on building multicultural and intercultural educational models have not had much success. One example is the experimental Intercultural School that was built with the support of the Kingdom of Norway and which was supposed to start with its programme in the city of Vukovar in the school year 2018/2019, but has not open its doors to pupils.
NGOs play an important part in developing programmes related to intercultural education, building awareness on the importance of diversity education and tolerance whether in the format of workshops, seminars, festivals of different types of educational programmes. One can mention organisations such as the Centre for Peace Studies and the GOOD initiative that have been raising these issues and especially advocating for the development of the civic education curricula that includes implementation of diversity education.
Last update: December, 2020
There has been much debate about media legislation, media pluralism and diversity in Croatia during the past twenty years that reflects the transformation of media and media policies. As a consequence, media laws have been changed and amended several times in this period while the new amendments are also in preparation (see chapter 2.4 and 4.2.6). The current government announced within their previous mandate that a new media strategy will be created and that the new media laws will be changed accordingly, but these changes are still awaited and meanwhile critique from professional associations is growing.
In 2010 Croatia successfully concluded the process of digital switchover which created space for the Council for Electronic Media to publish tenders for new licences. In the last couple of years, the number of media organisations and their ownership structure stabilised. According to the Registry data available on the website of the Agency for Electronic Media (AEM), in 2020 there were 31 TV channels (ten with national concessions, four of them publicly owned), 151 radio stations (six with national concessions), fifteen media-on-demand service providers, 114 satellite/Internet audio-visual providers and 60 non-profit audio-visual and/or radio programme providers. According to the web data of the Croatian Post and Electronic Communications Agency (HAKOM), there were 88 providers of access to Internet services operating in Croatia in 2019.
Diversity and plurality of the media are particularly promoted by the Fund for the Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity of Electronic Media, established by the Law of Electronic Media provisions that included the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS Directive) solutions. The fund is administered by the Council for Electronic Media (VEM), and financed by 3% of Croatian Radio Television licence fees. It supports production and broadcasting of public interest programmes in local and regional radio and television channels, which serve local communities and sometimes use local dialects in broadcasting (e.g. in the Istria region). This support goes to the promotion of the production and broadcasting of electronic media content of public interest on local and regional levels, which is important for the right of citizens to public information, the rights of national minorities, promotion of cultural creativity, and development of education, science and the arts. Support from the Fund is used to promote the production and release of audio-visual and radio programmes of public interest of television broadcasters and/or radio broadcasters at local and regional level, of non-profit television, radio broadcasters and non-profit electronic publications (digital news/internet portals), as well as employment of highly qualified professionals of those broadcasters.
Although Croatian legislation includes regulations on quotas and responsibility of broadcasters and media owners with regard to the diversity of contents, systematic monitoring is restricted and therefore it is difficult to assess the extent to which the provisions of different laws are respected. The Council for Electronic Media ensures monitoring in relation to programme obligations through direct and indirect measures. In 2019, it issued 34 measures to TV, radio and electronic publications in the form of warnings, penalties, and revocations of concessions.
Media production in the arts, humanities, cultural history and identity is mostly broadcast on the PBS Croatian Television First and Third Channel and Croatian Radio Third Channel (the latter completely devoted to culture). The HT1 channel has also complemented its news broadcasting by devoting 3-5 minutes to cultural information. While the daily press covers social / political events extensively, the amount of published information on cultural life has been gradually diminishing. The number of specialised bi-monthly magazines that write extensively about art and culture has reduced, and reporting on cultural life has shifted to diverse cultural portals dedicated to different cultural fields. However, with the cuts to funding in the non-profit media, the cultural media portals are also in a precarious situation. According to data from December 2019, the Ministry of Culture and Media supported the publication of 106 programmes of local, regional or national (printed and online) cultural journals with 3 722 000 HRK (496 266 EUR) which is a significant decrease in comparison to 2016 when it amounted to 4 988 000 HRK (approx. 665 066 EUR) (Primorac and Obuljen Koržinek 2017).
The question of anti-trust measures has been greatly discussed in the context of the process of joining the EU, prompted by requests to harmonise legislation with European standards. In 2011, debates concentrated around the amendments to the Law on Media and the Law on Electronic Media, which included changes regarding transparency of ownership. An amended version of the Law on Croatian Radio Television was passed in July 2012 that simplified and improved the management structure even though this Law was criticised for a serious democratic deficit in terms of the independence of the PSB from the government. The amendments to the Law on Media in 2013 introduced changes to the penalties for law infringements that were a result of aligning the Law with the Directive on the services in the Internal Market. The draft of the new Law on Electronic Media that entered the parliamentary procedure in 2020 should bring more transparency in media ownership, regulate of the obligations of publishers, protect competition and regulate issues specific to video-sharing, on demand platforms and electronic publications.
The debates in the last few years included discussions on the lowering of working conditions of journalists (in print, TV and electronic media), the quality of broadcast content in public and commercial media, and the issue of lowering of financing for non-profit (electronic) media. This is reflected in the results from the data collection of the Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM). In relation to the assessment of the risks to media pluralism, Croatia scores a medium risk for Basic Protection (45 percent) and Political Independence (58 percent) areas as well as high risk for Social Inclusiveness (67 percent) and Market Plurality (69 percent) areas (Bilić 2020). The Market Plurality domain scores high risks in the indicators covering online platforms’ concentration and competition enforcement, news media concentration and owner and commercial influence over editorial content. Social inclusiveness contains high risk indicators in areas of access to media for women and minorities, as well as in a lack of strategic thinking for promoting media literacy (Bilić 2020: 17).
Last update: December, 2020
The official language is Croatian. Laws passed in May 2000 regulate the status of minority languages and alphabets and their official use on the local level (Law on the Use of Language and Script of National Minorities in the Republic of Croatia, NN 51/00). The laws also offer the possibility of education programmes (primary and secondary school level) in minority languages (Law on Education in the Language and Script of National Minorities, NN 51/00, NN 56/00). Such programmes have been established for Czech, Hungarian, German, Serbian and Italian minorities. The first preregistered primary schools in the Serbian language were opened in 2002. The laws are implemented in areas where language groups are concentrated, e.g. the use of the Serbian language and Cyrillic alphabet in East Slavonia, of the Italian language in Istria, etc. These laws were received favourably by the ethnic minority groups. However, in 2013 the implementation of the double-script (Latin-Cyrillic) plaques on the official buildings in Vukovar and some other cities caused protests by the Croatian representatives of war veteran communities, and they are still in dispute. In addition, the implementation of education in minority languages in the same area that implies separated classrooms for Serbian and Croatian children is also put into question (see chapter 2.5.2) especially taking into account that Serbian and Croatian are mutually understandable. The discussions on the implementation of different models of education are in a process that would follow the rights acquired by law but also take into account the local situation.
In line with the Law on Croatian Radio-Television and the Law on Electronic Media, Croatian Radio-Television has special and regular news programmes in several minority languages. Local radio stations also have special programmes in minority languages.
The school curricula include supplements in minority languages (language, literature, history, art and music); there are optional programmes for mother tongue learning at various summer schools.
Apart from these supplementary minority language classes in schools, language pluralism is not widely debated due to the low numbers of linguistic minorities in Croatia, and the fact that Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian are mutually understandable.
A lot of attention has been paid to promotion of the Croatian language and culture abroad; teaching of the Croatian language and literature for Croatians in the Diaspora is supported through programmes of financing by the Ministry of Science and Education in 20 countries around the world. In some countries the classes are organised as a part of regular educational curricula, while in some countries it is organised as extracurricular activity in the auspices of Croatian Diaspora community activities. The Ministry of Science and Education also organises and finances the network of Readers in the Croatian Language and Literature exchange positions in 28 different higher education institutions around the world, and three centres for Croatian Studies in Australia and Canada. Foreign students of Croatian gain scholarships at ‘Croaticum’ study programmes at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, as well as through a yearly Croatian Seminar for Foreign Slavic Studies Students or the ‘Zagreb School of Slavic Studies’ at the Inter University Centre (IUC) in Dubrovnik.
Last update: December, 2020
Gender issues are systematically monitored and adequate policies are designed by the government and parliament bodies for the promotion of gender equality: the Governmental Office for Gender Equality, the Committee for Gender Equality of the Croatian Parliament, and the State Ombudsperson for Gender Equality. However, the programmes and initiatives in this field in the cultural and creative sectors are rare and are not part of an overall policy in this field.
Among such initial initiatives was a round table on gender inequality in the audiovisual sector organised by the Governmental Office for Gender Equality in July 2008 entitled ‘Visibility of women in Croatian cinematography’ that resulted in policy recommendations for the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC). It can be said that some of these recommendations later on contributed to changes in decision making and also to a publication of a booklet promoting women workers in the industry entitled ‘Cinderellas, Queens and Godmothers of Croatian Film 2012/2013’ prepared by HAVC (2013) and financed by the European Women’s Audiovisual Network (EWA), and a brochure ‘Women in Croatian Film 2015/2016’ (HAVC 2016). The cooperation with EWA continued and in 2016 resulted in the study "Where are the women directors in European films? Gender equality report on female directors (2006-2013) with best practice and policy recommendations", that was executed in Croatia and other six European countries and showed further gender inequalities in the film industry. In 2019, the Croatian Film Directors Guild international conference, entitled ‘Women in Film Industry’, was organised in Zagreb. As a continuation of actions in this field, the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) has commissioned a study on this topic that was still in preparation at the time of the writing of this report.
The project ‘Women in Media’ by the Agency for Electronic Media (AEM) started as part of the activities of the working group ‘Women and Gender’ by MNRA, of which AEM is a member. The aim of the project is to build awareness on the position of women in Croatian society, achieve better understanding of both the media and the general public on the representation of women in media as well to provide better visibility of women in media and contribute to diminishing stereotypes. As part of this project AEM published ‘The Recommendations on better news coverage of women’s sport in electronic media’, ‘The Media Codex-Recommendations on News Coverage on femicide and violence against women’ and other relevant research publications. An important part of the project is the web portal ‘Žene i mediji’ (Women and Media) that was established in 2019, which publishes news on the events and research as well as different inputs from the partner organisations.
Selected initiatives are emerging also from professional associations and non-governmental organisations and portals. For example Prostor plus, an NGO from Rijeka, published results of research on the position of women artists in the city of Rijeka and its surroundings in 2018 that illustrated their precarious position. The independent portal ‘Vox feminae’ should also be mentioned for their coverage of (issues related to) women artists and cultural workers.
In February 2020, The Art Pavilion in Zagreb opened its season with the exhibition ‘Zagreb, the City of Female Artists / Works of Croatian female artists from the late 19th to the 21st Century’. This is the first exhibition since the independence of the Republic of Croatia devoted solely to the work of women artists that encompasses such a long period and that includes works in all media forms– from classic painting and sculpture to contemporary forms of artistic expression. Due to severe earthquake damage the Art Pavilion in Zagreb has been closed since 22nd of March 2020.
Last update: December, 2020
As stressed in the report of the Ombudsperson for Persons with Disabilities in 2014, despite a number of examples of rich and diverse cultural expression of many children and persons with disabilities, their artistic endeavours are not sufficiently supported in general nor are their activities sufficiently present in the media. Specific strategies to support people with disabilities as professionals in the cultural labour market are lacking as well as general policies related to this sector. Although the state finances and supports the cultural programmes and projects run by the DPO (Disabled People's Organisation) and some institutions, the funding is still insufficient. DPO made significant efforts in making cultural activities from local to national level more accessible to persons with disabilities. However, participation of persons with disabilities in cultural events is still severely restricted due to inaccessibility of premises and lack of support in the way of accessible transport and assistance. Accessibility is just one example in a series of problems that persons with disabilities face if they decide to take part in a cultural or sports event or in accessing or creating media content (lack of adaptation of (cultural or audiovisual) materials for particular disabilities etc.). Compiling information in this field is complicated as data from a survey by the Disability Ombudswoman executed in 2014 shows. Of 148 art organisations and theatres surveyed to investigate accessibility of cultural activities they offer to persons with physical and sensory impairment, responses were received from only 24 theatres and 24 art organisations: only 7 of them noted they were accessible, while 10 reported partial accessibility (Ombudsperson for Persons with Disabilities, 2014: 56).
In order to tackle some of the issues related to the Ombudsperson’s assessment, in 2020 the Ministry of Culture and Media, in cooperation with the Ombudsperson for Persons with Disabilities, published a pilot Call for programmes that enable access and availability of cultural content for persons with disabilities and children and youth with developmental difficulties. Within this pilot programme, 26 programmes were supported with a total amount of 1 564 438 HRK (208 591 EUR) as the data from the Ministry shows. The aim of the legislator is to assess the implementation of this pilot programme in order to adjust it to the needs of the sector so as to make it a part of regular Calls by the Ministry of Culture and Media.
As an example of a theatre company led by people with disabilities one can mention the theatre ‘Novi život/New Life’ as one of the oldest theatres of who are blind in the world. It is led by the association of people who are blind and visually impaired, New Life, in Zagreb.
Last update: December, 2020
Social inclusion is recognised as an important issue within the strategic plans of the Ministry of Culture and Media and the Ministry was appointed as an Intermediate Body Level 1 within the Croatian European Structural and Investment Funds Management and Control System for the 2014-2020 programming period for the Operational Programme Efficient Human Resources (OPEHR) 2014-2020. Within this Programme, the Ministry of Culture and Media is responsible for two specific objectives under two priority axes. Priority axis 2 deals with Social inclusion with its Investment priority 9.i - Active inclusion, with a view to promoting equal opportunities and active participation, and improving employability, and Specific objective 9.i.1 - Combating poverty and social exclusion by promoting labour market and social integration of vulnerable groups, and combating any form of discrimination. Since culture and media create a high quality platform for the social integration of various marginalised groups, such as youth and the elderly, as well as for the expansion of intercultural programmes that target different minorities, the activities will include support to community media, organisation of workshops, seminars, training, plays, various interactive events, production of media content etc., aimed at improving accessibility to arts and culture, promoting participation of vulnerable groups in the media and increasing their visibility, developing creativity, enabling active and healthy aging, encouraging active involvement in the community and strengthening the participation of artists, cultural workers and other relevant experts in their work with vulnerable groups.
On 12th December 2016, the Ministry of Culture and Media published an open (temporary) call for project proposals for the programme "Arts and Culture for Youth." The first Call was closed on 21st April 2017 and it supported six projects that were supported with a sum of 2 968 221 HRK (395 762 EUR) while the second Call ended in 2018 and supported 11 projects with a total funding of 7.5 million HRK (1 million EUR). The main aim of the programme is overcoming the limitations of youth access to cultural and artistic content and activities and encouraging young people to actively participate in the cultural life of their communities. The general objective of the Call is to improve the social inclusion of young people in the Republic of Croatia, especially disadvantaged young people, through their greater participation in cultural and artistic activities and content.
Another axis of social inclusion instruments within this programme is a Call focusing on social inclusion and improving the quality of life of people over the age of 54 through improving their access to cultural and artistic activities. On 23rd May 2017, the Ministry of Culture and Media published an open (temporary) call for project proposals for the programme "Arts and Culture 54+". The Call was closed on 24th July 2017 and 40 projects were selected with a total funding of 20 million HRK (2 666 666 EUR).
In addition, the ESF funding is also programmed for the development of social inclusion through the community media: on 15th of April 2019 the initial Call for project proposals for the programme "Media for the community - supporting social inclusion through media" was published and on 31st of July 2019 the results were presented to the public: 13 projects were supported with a total funding of 15 000 000 HRK (2 000 000 EUR).
Social inclusion is also relevant to the programmes related to the cultural projects of national minorities. The Ministry of Culture and Media supports programmes proposed by national minorities based on their artistic or cultural excellence. These follow the usual procedure and criteria applied to the selection of all proposals. However, there is a special fund for supporting activities and projects by national minorities, administered by the Government's Council for National Minorities, which includes also cultural projects in the fields of arts and heritage, media, events and festivals as well as various projects promoting education, social cohesion and intercultural dialogue. Special provisions referring to education and cultural activities of the Roma people have been adopted through the National Programme for the Support of Roma and programmes such as the National Strategy for Roma Inclusion 2013-2020. Several bilateral agreements on cooperation in the field of culture and education include references to the cultural needs of national minorities and the activities of their respective associations and institutions.
Last update: December, 2020
The issue of social cohesion is primarily dealt with in the context of ensuring that all social groups, including all minorities, have equal access to public services such as education, social security, health protection, media, culture etc. As they develop, NGOs and other civil society organisations invest increasing efforts in the promotion of social cohesion, by supporting or organising festivals, exhibitions, cultural events etc. mostly at the local level. The National Foundation for the Promotion of Civil Society supported a number of NGOs and their programmes targeted at the promotion of social cohesion. The existing network of community cultural centres (pučka otvorena učilišta, domovi kulture, centri za kulturu) assists in bringing cultural programmes and projects closer to vulnerable communities and helps to balance the often unequal cultural offer which is mostly concentrated in larger urban centres. During the last ten years, different initiatives have served to further improve existing cultural centres and develop new models oriented to opening of new types of socio-cultural centres based on participatory governance. One such initiative was a two-year project “Approaches to Participatory Governance of Cultural Institutions” (2016 - 2018) implemented by the Kultura Nova Foundation with the support of the UNESCO International Fund for Cultural Diversity. The project focused on the existing and emerging models of innovative cultural institutions which are arising from sharing creative spaces based on the principles of participatory governance. By looking into relevant stakeholders (public authorities and bodies, civil society organisations and NGOs, creative industries and local community representatives), the project specifically focused on investigating their active involvement in planning, decision-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programming of innovative institutions. The implementation of the project resulted in strengthening the evidence-based policy development and good governance in cultural and creative industries through different activities including capacity building and knowledge sharing for relevant stakeholders done through a number of workshops and events; a participatory governance guidebook for innovative models of cultural institutions was published as part of the project; “Participatory Governance in Culture: Exploring Practices, Theories and Policies. DO IT TOGETHER” conference, which gathered relevant researchers, policy makers and practitioners.
The Kultura Nova Foundation advocates on the national level about the importance of sharing responsibility in usage and governance of cultural resources, active engagement of the local community in governing, programming and production of the cultural and artistic contents. This work contributed to the Open Call ‘Culture in the Centre – Support to the civil-public partnership development in culture’ initiated by the Ministry of Culture and Media within the framework of Efficient Human Resources Operational Programme and supported by the European Social Fund. The Kultura Nova Foundation was actively involved in the programming stage of the project and participated in the Working group – advisory body of experts formed by the Ministry of Culture involved in co-creating the Open Call. The Call was closed in 2018 and 34 projects were selected and supported with a total funding of 50 million HRK (6 666 666 EUR).
Last update: December, 2020
The "Strategy of Cultural Development – Croatia in the 21st Century", drawn up in co-operation between the Ministry of Culture and a team of independent experts and accepted in the Croatian Parliament in early 2002, gave a detailed presentation of these goals and the necessary instruments to achieve them. One of the key goals of the Cultural Development Strategy has been the democratisation of culture, intended to increase active participation in culture and to popularise art and culture in schools and through the media. However, since then no action plans were made in order to implement the adopted strategy. The Cultural Development Strategy (Cvjetičanin and Katunarić (eds) 2001) defines culture as follows: "All forms of intellectual and artistic expression of symbolic social identity, belonging, behaviour and customs, and such industrial products, including the media, produced for spending leisure and shaping people's attitudes".
This strategy emphasises the importance of culture for Croatia and elaborates 14 different concepts, all focusing on "culturally sustainable development". In other words, the "development of human interests and activities that will progressively decrease the drain on natural reserves and the existing capacities of the infrastructure and settled areas, and will at the same time use art, science, education, and cultural games and customs to encourage the enjoyment of values that stimulate closeness among people".
A new cultural development strategy is currently in preparation by the Ministry of Culture and Media that needs to be in line with the overall National Development Strategy 2030, which was presented by the government in 2020. The Cultural Strategy will be based on a detailed analysis of the conditions of the cultural sector that is executed by over twenty cultural professionals and researchers and is currently being finalised within the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Media. This will then be the basis for opening up discussion on the issue of cultural sustainability in the wider professional community and general public that has been rather neglected in the last twenty years.
Last update: December, 2020
After the Open Call for nominations for the European Capital of Culture for 2020 in the Republic of Croatia that was opened in June 2014, several cities prepared for this nomination. The finalists in the Call were the cities of Dubrovnik, Osijek, Pula and Rijeka, and in the final round the city of Rijeka was chosen as the winner with the project entitled ‘Port of Diversity’. After several years of preparation of a number of programmes, projects and investment in cultural infrastructure, the grand opening of ECOC, the biggest cultural project since the independence of Croatia occurred on the 1st of February 2020. Rijeka 2020 European Capital of Culture also coincided with the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which was seen as a great opportunity for Croatian arts and culture to be presented internationally, and thus amplified expectations and plans. However, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the majority of the prepared programmes and projects were cancelled, and the programme of Rijeka 2020 continued on a reduced scale with a number of online events. Although the timeframe of the project was officially extended, the expected impact of the project locally, nationally and internationally will not be as expected.