Exit Euope – New Geographies of Culture Publication is now available for download!

Countries in the region of former Yugoslavia, despite all differences, share a common cultural space. A cultural space that has been broken and deeply divided, that saw the break out of war, and the establishment of new nation states. A cultural space divided even further by international politics, along the lines of EU membership negotiations and other international associations. Regardless of its position in the heart of the continent, this region is rarely perceived as an inherent part of Europe, not only because of the torn relationship between its countries, but also due to the distended links between the region and the rest of Europe.

At the level of cultural policymaking, the region sees a strong presence of cultural policies (and politics) that are still largely based on an obsolete system of public institutions, leaving independent cultural actors in an unprivileged position. Decision makers in culture are yet to initiate much needed reforms in means of developing strategic orientation, transparency of activities, and openness for a number of actors active on the cultural map.

Former and present efforts of international institutions and organisations aimed at promoting the social and economic development of the region – and its integration in the European Union – made no or little impact on the cultural landscape. Cultural co-operation in the region and internationally still faces many challenges and needs to receive appropriate support, especially to counter traditional views associating cultural and symbolic production with the representation of national identity. Today the strong potential of cultural production and co-operation in processes of communities re-building, reconciliation, economic development, and social change has to be formally acknowledged and converted into concrete actions.

Despite extremely challenging social and political environments all countries of former Yugoslavia have developed vibrant, dynamic and socially engaged independent cultural and art scenes. This development was made possible during the 1990s thanks to the support of a number of international actors. After their withdrawal, however, and national governments’ promises often not followed by concrete actions, the independent scene was left with very limited resources. In the last years, the financial crisis and its economic and social consequences have dramatically worsened the situation for all cultural actors in the region, as in the rest of Europe.

The EU’s enlargement process has offered new perspectives and opportunities to the countries of the region – in particular by using the pre-accession funds, or by participating directly in the Culture programme and other EU programmes. Accession dynamics are however different for every country, and this has created imbalances and further lines of divide. Slovenia is already an EU member; Croatia should conclude the negotiations in the forthcoming period; Macedonia is also an official candidate to EU accession; Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia are potential candidates; and Kosovo, the youngest country in the region, still needs to achieve full international recognition. Despite all the EU efforts to integrate this geographical space, the European Union remains a distant and complicated project to engage with for cultural operators, as for regular citizens of the region.

At the same time, cultural policy instruments in the countries of ex Yugoslavia remain insufficiently developed to foster structural changes. Such changes are yet urgently needed to enable a long-term and sustainable development of both public sector in culture, as well as the independent sector, and provide means for stable, strategically developed cultural cooperation and exchange, both in the region but also between the region and ‘Western Europe’.

Clubture Network and its regional partners have been active since 2004; connecting regional independent cultural organisations and aiming to play an active role in the cultural policy making processes both in the region and internationally.

A consultative process on these issues started in 2006, including a number of activities such as regional meetings and conferences in Zagreb (2006, 2008), Belgrade (2008), Skopje (2007) and Maribor (2009).

Since the beginning of the process, more than 70 different organisations active in the fields of contemporary arts and theory, urban culture, youth culture, interdisciplinary artistic and cultural projects, activist and socially engaged programmes from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia took part in the activities.

In November 2009, together with partners – Culture Action Europe and the Alliance Operation City – Clubture Network organised an international conference in Zagreb entitled “Exit Europe”. This conference concentrated on the general topic of European cultural policies, with a particular focus on new cultural practices in the former Yugoslav countries, and a critical reassessment of the EU enlargement process from the perspective of the independent cultural operators. The conference was accompanied by two pre-conference events organised in Skopje and Sarajevo in October 2009.

The following recommendations are the product of the discussions held during those activities, followed by consultative processes between partners.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE EUROPEAN UNION

  • The region has to be recognised as an integral part of Europe, and as a key building block of the European integration project.
  • EU institutions have to acknowledge the intensity of the independent cultural production and co-operation, and therefore the role of civil society organisations in the development of the region.
  • The EU should integrate in its policies and programmes an understanding of the social and political environments within which independent cultural organisations operate, specific for each country of the region, as well as the independent cultural sector’s specificity in the overarching cultural landscape.
  • The EU has to recognise the potential of the independent cultural scene in helping the integration of the region in the European political project because of its impact on individuals, communities, and civic debates, and therefore its participation in the development of a European citizenship.
  • The EU should recognise cultural civil society as one of the most valuable resources for defining needs and policy priorities, as they operate on the ground and have direct insight in the functioning of political institutions and in the everyday life of the people of the region. These organisations should be regularly consulted during policymaking processes, the definition of strategies and programmes, and all political initiatives that concern cultural and social development.
  • The EU has to acknowledge that independent cultural organisations in the region are currently operating in very difficult conditions (i.e. lack of infrastructures, scarce financial resources, no long-term support, etc.) compared to their “Western” peers. Their capacity to access funding in EU programmes, such as the Culture Programme, is therefore often limited. In this respect, the EU should:

o   develop, within the existing programmes, specific grant schemes to support cultural operators in the region;

o   acknowledge the limited financial capacities of those actors and set up specific measures to facilitate their access to funding (for instance, render the rules concerning the number of partners or the provision of matching funds more flexible);

o   develop, in parallel to those exceptional and transitory measures, capacity building schemes to support the structural and stable development of the independent cultural organisations of the region and of their operating environment.

  • The EU should continue to mainstream culture in all its policies and political initiatives in the region. It should do so by initially ensuring a quality implementation of the pre-accession funds in order to open the way in the future to more structural supports, addressed already in the political accession negotiations.
  • Through pre-accession instruments and specific Community programs, the EU should continuously provide:

o   long-term financial support for programme exchange, cooperation and co-production in the region, with a special emphasis on the intercultural dimension of those initiatives;

o   small-grants for initiating innovative projects and testing out new partnerships;

o   more accessible and flexible short-term (ad-hoc) funds for mobility, both in the region and between the region and the rest of Europe (for ex. small grants for meetings, conferences, residencies programmes, internships, as well as for networks, organisations and individuals);

o   long-term, structural, and operational support to existing advocacy initiatives and for the establishment of new frameworks operating both at national and regional levels;

o   support to various actions aimed at structural changes in public policy making and institutional reforms in the region (such as inclusive, participative cultural policymaking; transparent cultural strategies; legislative changes; new models of organisation and management in the cultural sector; research on cultural policies etc.);

o   long-term, structural, and operational support for networks and cooperation platforms, both on national and regional level (artists and cultural organisations networks, functioning on bottom-up and participatory principles, and that enable genuine, direct and productive co-operations between their members);

o   capacity building schemes, enabling know-how transfer and information sharing within the region and between the region and the rest of Europe (on topics such as network development, advocacy, management, etc.) responding to needs assessed “on the ground”;

o   support for the development and maintenance of regional on-line information tools that would provide accurate and relevant information about the cultural landscape of the region (organisations, advocacy initiatives, expertise, funding, etc.) and facilitate cultural co-operation both within the region and between the region and the rest of Europe;

o   investments in new cultural infrastructures for independent sector, and development of new models of governance (such as partnerships between the public sector, civil society and businesses).

  • The EU should support capacity building and vocational training in public administrations of the region, to improve the dialogue with civil society organisations, as well as to enhance transparency and effectiveness in public institutions.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS

  • Support the long-term development of the independent cultural sector in the region (operational grants, infrastructures, capacity building schemes, etc.) and also provide support that corresponds with the policies and initiatives of the EU and of other international organisations.
  • Develop national and local cultural strategies based on consultations and active participation of all stakeholders.
  • Include cultural co-operation as a priority action in all overarching funding schemes for international collaborations.
  • Participate in know-how transfers and exchanges of best practices in the field of cultural policy with their peers in the region.
  • Provide adequate matching funds for projects financed by the EU, and pay all instalments in due time in order to allow these projects to resume without obstacles.
  • Provide clear and transparent procedures for open calls.
  • Support multiannual cultural programs and cooperation between organisations.
  • Support the participation of independent cultural actors in European networks and projects (travel grants, exchange programmes, etc.).

Listen to the final session of the Exit Europe conference:

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download: ExitEurope-DraftingRecommendations.mp3

Listen to the audio recording:

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download: ExitEurope-ZelimirZilnik.mp3

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Round table: Struggling advances – culture actors between local limitations and new perspectives

Moderator: Teodor Celakoski (Multimedia Institute, Zagreb)

Speakers: Kristian Lukić (Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Currator & initiative For Cultural Policies / Novi Sad); Andrea Zlatar Violić (Faculty of Philosophy, Professor / Zagreb), Aldo Milohnić (Peace Institute, Researcher / Ljubljana), Iskra Geshoska(Kontrapunkt / Culture Center Tocka, Executive Director / Skopje), Davor Mišković (Drugo more, Director / Rijeka)

Listen:

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download:ExitEurope_StrugglingAdvances.mp3

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Panel: Culture – between economy, identity and critical citizenship

Moderator: Petar Milat (Multimedia Institute / Zagreb)

Speakers: Maja Breznik (Faculty of Arts and Peace Institute, researcher / Ljubljana), Mark Terkessidis (Institute for Studies in Visual Culture / Cologne), Pascal Brunet (Relais Culture Europe, director / Paris), Tomislav Medak (Multimedia Institute / Zagreb)

Listen:

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download:ExitEurope-CultureBetween.mp3

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Panel: A post-Yugoslavian purview

Moderator: Aleksandar Bošković

Speakers: Dejan Jović (University of Stirling, Centre for European Neighborhood Studies, Director), Vladimir Gligorov (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies),Svetlana Slapšak (Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis, Dean / Ljubljana)

Listen:

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download:ExitEurope-PostYugoslavianPurview.mp3

Listen or download Mark Terkessidis‘ keynote speech Culture on the run. Mobility, translation and cartography in contemporary cultural practise: What’s all the fuzz about?

listen:

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download: ExitEurope-MarkTerkessidis.mp3

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Info session: Cooperation in the Region – building platforms

Presenters: Katarina Pavić (Clubture Network, Coordinator / Zagreb), Iskra Geshoska(Kontrapunkt / Culture Center Tocka, Executive Director / Skopje), Marko Brumen(Pekarna magdalenske mreže, Project manager / Maribor)

listen:

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download: ExitEurope-InfoSession_CooperationInTheRegion.mp3

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Info Session: Everything you wanted to know about EU cultural policies

Presenter: Daphne Tepper (Culture Action Europe, Policy Analyst / Brussels), Ilona Kish (Culture Action Europe, Secretary General / Brussels)

listen:

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download: ExitEurope-InfoSession_EverythingYouWantedToKnow.mp3

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Panel: Cultural advocacy – mobilising the sector

Moderator: Daphne Tepper (Culture Action Europe, Policy Analyst / Brussels)

Speakers: Pascal Brunet (Relais Culture Europe, director / Paris), Sanjin Dragojević(Faculty of Political Science, Professor / Zagreb), Chris Torch (Intercult, Artistic Director / Stockholm), Tsveta Andreeva (European Cultural Foundation, Strategic Programmes & Cultural Policy Development Team / Amsterdam), Križana Brkić (Croatian Ministry of Culture, Cultural Contact Point, Head od Office / Zagreb)

listen:

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download: ExitEurope-Panel_CulturalAdvocacy.mp3

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Panel: Prefixes of culture

Moderator: Leonardo Kovačević (Zagreb)

Speakers: Stephen Zepke (independent researcher / Vienna), Ugo Vlaisavljević (philosopher / essayist, Sarajevo), Rastko Močnik (Faculty of Arts, Professor / Ljubljana)

listen:

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download: ExitEurope_PrefixesOfCulture.mp3

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See the images and listen to the audio of the first conference day: the opening speeches; the panel EU accession – What’s culture got to do with it? and the keynote speech of Dubravka Ugrešić Dangerous Liasons

Listen to the opening speeches:

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download: ExitEurope-Opening.mp3
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Listen to the panel EU accession – What’s culture got to do with it?

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download: ExitEurope-EUAccession_WhatsCultureGotToDoWithIt.mp3
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Listen to the keynote by Dubravka Ugrešić

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download: ExitEurope-DubravkaUgresic.mp3