Public financial support for ensuring opportunities for domestic cultural activities, goods and services
Implementation of the Articles: 6, 7, 8 of the Convention and promotion of measures aimed at protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions within the national territory.
This measure is focused on providing public funding at all government levels through public Calls for Applications. Financial support is being given to cultural and media programs and improvement of infrastructure. Having the Law on Culture come into force, in 2010 the Regulation of methodology, criteria and standards of grant procedure for projects/programs in the field of culture (Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, No. 57/2010) was adopted. One of the explicit criteria for co-funding of projects is the diversity of cultural expressions. This criterion is being applied to nine area of Calls for Application, which the Ministry announces annually.
In the field of music production, the Ministry supported some of the most significant music festivals such as: the "Exit" in Novi Sad, the "Nišville Jazz Festival" in Niš, the Dragačevo’s Brass Bands Festival in Guča, a globally unique competition of national brass bands traditionally held since 1961, and many others. These events contribute to the decentralization of musical life, better dissemination of musical expressions, and to increasing participation in the musical life. The "Exit" festival, which is being organized in Novi Sad each year since 2000, has been singled out as a particularly successful example. During four days, the festival is visited by 200,000 people from 50 countries each year. According to some estimations, the festival brings 13.6 million euro in city economy.
In the area of film production the Ministry, together with other levels of government, annually supports about 20 film festivals and programs among which are the "Palić Film Festival", the International Film and Music Festival "Küstendorf", the Festival of Documentary Film, and others. These events contribute to the promotion of young film creators, non-commercial artistic achievements and to the promotion of cinematography in general. For example, the "Küstendorf " Festival, apart from showing contemporary independent film masterpieces, provides the opportunity to students and young film makers to be in touch with well known directors worldwide through workshops that accompany the Festival, and to exchange experiences and opinions. All that is a stimulus for creativity and cultural exchange. The founder of this festival is the eminent film director Emir Kusturica, and it is being held at the mountain Mokra Gora, on the Mećavnik hill, where ethno-village Drvengrad was made.
In the area of visual arts and multimedia over 100 projects are being supported annually (2009-83; 2010-141; 2011-150). Most of them are projects of non-governmental organizations. There are also projects related to representative events featuring actual tendencies in the domain of visual arts such as "The October Art Salon". Throughout the five decades of its existence "The October Art Salon" underwent a dynamic transformation from a non-competition exhibition to an international authors’ manifestation and an important event for promotion of visual arts, visited by 100,000 people annually. The next example is "The Belgrade International Architecture Week" (BINA) organized by the Belgrade Society of Architects, which presents current activities in domestic and international architecture within a series of exhibitions, lectures, workshops, forums and projections.
The practice of co-funding was established by the Protocol on joint participation in funding of events in the area of culture significant for the city of Belgrade between the Ministry of Culture and the City of Belgrade signed in 2010. Protocol provided the lasting source for funding some of the most important events for the city of Belgrade and the state as well ("Belgrade International Theatre Festival" – BITEF, "Belgrade Music Festival" – BEMUS, "International Film Festival" – FEST, "Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival", "October Art Salon", and "International Jeunesses Musicales Competition"). They all contribute to the improvement of production, diffusion and dissemination of diversity of cultural expressions and to facilitation of the dialogue among cultures, especially due to their international aspects.
"The Belgrade Dance Festival"¸ an international event for promotion of new dance and choreographic achievements also deserves a significant attention. It was founded in 2003 at the initiative of the International Dance Council (CID) of UNESCO, Paris, and the program selector is a choreographer Aja Jung. The festival set up standards of contemporary dance and theatre aesthetics, and provided support to domestic professional dancers, pedagogy workers, choreographers and young ballet talents by presenting the best achievements of the dance arts. Through various projects this Festival contributes to the developments of artistic dance in Serbia. Due to this festival our country hosted some of the most famous choreographic and dance groups. The Festival has been developing due to the a continued support of the Ministry, the Secretariat for Culture of the City of Belgrade, as well as foreign embassies, cultural centres and other institutions of participating countries. The partnership between private, civil and public sectors provided great results and introduced recognizable investment models of large companies into the Serbian culture. For example, the “VIP Invites” award “returns” our prominent dance artists who made their careers outside of Serbia and who are awarded with the recognition for artistic opus and promotion of our ballet art abroad. The jubilee 10th "Belgrade Dance Festival" was organized under the auspices of the Delegation of the European Union. By signing the Protocol on Cooperation with the Ministry of Culture in November 2010, the festival received a long-term support, in this way the project become more sustainable.
Support to the encouragement of free flow of ideas and cultural expressions, mobility and facilitation of mutual dialogue among cultures, were mainly enforced at the national and provincial levels, and the level of the City of Belgrade. On the other hand, this aspect of improvement of cultural diversity was considerably neglected at the local level due to the difficult economic situation. Among the interesting examples of projects of best practices related to mutual dialogue among cultures is the "Regional Creative Studio – Jozef Nađ" in Kanjiža, an independent initiative in the area of performing arts and contemporary dance. With its own theatre productions, this institution nourishes and develops cultural diversity not only of Vojvodina, where it is based, but beyond. Through the intensive international cooperation it contributes to the improvement of mutual dialogue among cultures including new generations of actorsdancers and the audience.
The example of good practice in regional cooperation is the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, which participates in the project called "Tačka-Točka-Pika". The project was designed as a bridge between cultural capitals of the region. It is the first project of this type in the area of culture in the region, implying the cooperation of three philharmonic orchestras – Belgrade, Zagreb and Slovenian, throughout the five-year period. The project’s significance is seen in establishment of the network of regular partners, the improvement of regional cooperation, enhancement of mobility and better positioning of Serbian music production into the European context. Projects "Suno e RRomengo" (production of the Roma people’s plays and education of actors) and the "Workshop of Integration" (theatre for the blind and people with poor sight and their inclusion into cultural and social life) are the examples of the support given to the diversity of cultural expressions of minority groups and other sensitive social groups. These projects were supported due to the signed protocols between the Ministry of Culture and the Executive Council of the AP Vojvodina, the Municipality of Inđija and the Theatre (for the project "Suno e RRomengo") and the Association of Citizens Workshop of Integration (for the project "Workshop of Integration").
According to the fact that the Ministry of Culture and the Secretariat for Culture and Public Information of Vojvodina are responsible for field of media, they support media programs through Annual Open Calls. In such way national minorities are provided to have media in their own languages and in the same time language diversity and diversity of media productions and dissemination are ensured. For example, the Ministry supports printed public media in languages of following national minorities: Albanian, Bosnian, Romani and Bulgarian. This is in line with the fact that Serbia is a multiethnic country, especially Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, where, according to the latest census in 2011, live over 21 national minorities. This support ensures respecting of human and minority rights, consideration of cultural, linguistic, religious diversity which are guaranteed by the the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia (Article 48). Data from the latest census in 2011 show that there are 17 different languages that are most frequently spoken in the Republic of Serbia, i.e. those languages that at least 2,000 people considers as their mother tongue. Beside Serbian, in Serbia languages that spoken are as follows: Hungarian, Slovak, Croatian, Romani, Romanian, Rusian, Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Albanian and other. As far as language diversity, it is important to mention that UNESCO International Mother Language Day is been celebrating in Serbia by various institutions in various local communities. One of the examples is Gallery Babka in the Municipality of Kovacica in Vojvodina. As a multiethnic and also multilanguage municipality where Serbian, Slovak, Hungarian and Romanian language are spoken, this seemed to be the perfect place for celebrating this day. This gallery has been celebrating International Mother Language Day from 2002. On the occasion various public events (round table, discussions, exhibitions) are organized and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Government of Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, and the Municipality of Kovačica.
As one of the measures for promoting participation in culture, the Ministry used the format of pronouncement of "The Year of … " e.g. Book, Film, etc. The 2011 has been pronounced as the "Year of Book and Languages", which brought writers, publishers, libraries and languages to a focus. Numerous scientific meetings, professional consultations and seminars dedicated to the Serbian literature, the development of publishing and librarianship and the future of these professions were held. Year 2012 was pronounced as the "Year of Film", when the 100th anniversary of the Serbian film was celebrated. In cooperation with the French National Audio-Visual Institute – INA (Institut national de l'audiovisuel), the transformation of the "Filmske novosti" institution into the Center of Audiovisual Heritage was initiated. That was the first step in preservation of everything remained that would be put on audio and video carriers (sound records, music, television production, video records, photography, etc).
The support to artists in the process of creating cultural expressions (Article 6, paragraph g) was given through the improvement of their social and economic status. It is the most noted of the indirect economic measures concerning the implementation of the Article 6 of the Convention. This implies the decrease of income taxes for artists and cultural creators. This is achieved by setting the limits of standardized costs for works in artistic and cultural domain higher than for works from other fields , while time limitation of income from the artistic work is allowed for five years. However, the existing measures should be further improved since most artists and cultural creators agrees that the work in culture and cultural industries is burdened by taxes. Due to reduced budgets only few organizations can provide adequate amounts to cover fees for artists and cultural practitioners. As part of the improvement of social status of artists, the cities of Belgrade and Novi Sad finance payments of social contributions for independent artists with the most endangered economic status. For example, the Secretariat for Culture of the City of Belgrade annually spends about 1 million euro for this measure, which is about 3,67% of the total budget for culture of the City of Belgrade. The fee is paid annually for about 1,600 independent artists living in the City of Belgrade. As part of the improvement of economic status of artists, the Ministry of Culture awards a lump sum fees in the form of national pensions to prominent artists and cultural creators. 412 artists and workers in culture received payment of national pensions for cultural contribution in the amount of 500 euro per month.
In the context of the supporting artists in this four year period, it is important to point out that five professional associations from the field, of visual arts obtained status of the representative cultural associations at the national level: Association of Fine Artists of Serbia (ULUS), Belgrade, Association of Applied Artists and Designers of Serbia (ULUPUDS), Belgrade, Association of Applied Artists and Designers of Vojvodina (UPIDIV), Novi Sad, Association of fine Artists of Vojvodina (ULUV), and Photo, Cinema and Video Association of Vojvodina, Novi Sad. Obtaining the status of a representative cultural association is extremely important for civil society organizations because through this status, these organizations do the work that the state administration entrusts them with. These activities relate to the status of individual artists: gaining the status of an individual cultural professional, keep records of individual artists and other tasks related to rights and obligations relating to the status of individual artists and cultural professionals.
Tax support: Further measures in the tax policy corpus relate to the tax support for better funding of production, dissemination and distribution of cultural goods and services through tax benefits for donations. The benefits for donations were increased from 1,5% to 3,5% of the total income of companies and corporations. Changes took place when in 2010 the Law on Corporate Income Tax (Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, No. 18/10) came into force. Article 15, paragraph 3, of this law envisages the expenses for investment into the area of culture to be acknowledged as an expense up to 3.5% of the total income. Support to infrastructure: One of the largest challenges in funding of diversity of cultural expressions presented a provision of access to infrastructure for creation, production, diffusion and distribution of cultural contents. Some of the most significant infrastructural projects were the renovation of national cultural institutions of Yugoslav Film Cinemateque and the National Library of Serbia, Cultural Center Dom Omladine, cultural institutions of the City of Belgrade, as well as investments into the network of cinemas in Serbia within the program Digitalization of Cinemas.
The building of the Yugoslav Film Cinémathèque was reconstructed using the funds of the National Investment Plan. Nowadays, the Cinemateque has four projection halls with total capacity of 500 seats and 6 new depots. The importance of these investments is reflected in the fact that this is an institution of special significance for Serbia, established in 1949. Apart from the domestic film production, it contains all the most valuable works from the world film history. Over 85,000 copies, in various formats, silent, sound, black and white and colour ones, are kept there. Apart from the archives, there is also the museum, library and cinema.
In the same year restoration of the cinema "Fontana" in Novi Beograd, one of the Belgrade City municipalities, was completed. The cinema was opened within the "Francophony Film Festival" as part of the celebration of the Day of International Organisation of Francophonie. The cinema "Fontana," one of the cinemas for the population of Novi Beograd, was restored after more than 10 years, with the intention to develop the Center of European and Children’s Film as the educational segment of film art. Partners in realization of program of the "European and Children’s film" are the Film Art Center "Art & Popcorn" and the Children’s Film Festival "Kids Fest".
The U.S.A. Embassy in Belgrade provided one million dollars to be spend on one infrastructure project in Belgrade. The citizens of Belgrade had the opportunity to decide whether this grant would be spent on the reconstruction of the Culture center Dom Omladine or the City’s Institute for Emergency Medical Assistance. Voting by phone and via Internet they selected reconstruction of the Dom Omladine. After the completion of the project in 2009 this culture institution have conditions for organizing the most quality cultural events, including the cinema technique for 3D projections.
Also, five cinemas were adapted due to the accession of Serbia to the Eurimage program of the Council of Europe (November 2004), three of which in Belgrade (Art Cinema Museum, the Dom Sindikata Hall, Belgrade Cultural Center Hall), one in Kraljevo and one in Zrenjanin. Support to cinema infrastructure is very significant having in mind that cinema system in Serbia was devastated, that there have been no investment in this field for decades, that most of them are closed, and 30% of exclusively cinema halls belongs to state companies mainly in bankruptcy proceedings, while there are very few privately owned cinemas.
Support to infrastructure was provided to the civil society, as well. One of the examples is the Cultural Center "Grad", an independent organization that moved into a rearranged space of the Old Warehouse from 1884, which made it into a multifunctional space for organizing very diverse events – from exhibitions and performances to conferences and debates.
Challenges identified in the implementation of this measure: The main challenge is ensuring of sufficient funds for culture. Due to economic crisis effects, in the past few years the Ministry of Culture and other government bodies are faced with great challenges and difficulties. Most funds are being redirected into the areas more seriously affected by the crisis, which can cause the social crisis as well, so there is less and less funds available for culture. For example, in 2012 the budget planned for culture reached the lowest level in the past 10 years, and one should equally have in mind that the entire public expenditure is under restrictions. Most of flagship projects initiated in the previous period remained unrealized due to reduced money income, while local levels have a constant problem to fund infrastructure dating back to the period before ratification of the Convention.
A total of 125.8 million euro at all government levels was annually invested into the improvement of diversity of cultural expressions.
Access to finance for projects of independent participants of cultural scene and other organizations (Article 6, paragraphs b and g) was 12% at the national and local level, i.e. 3% of the total funds intended for support to cultural diversity, while its share at the Belgrade city level was 12,8%. The provincial allocation of funds shows significantly better results, where about 50% of total funds were redirected to funding of these projects. For the improvement of dialogue among cultures (Article 6, paragraph e) averagely 2,19 million euro was annually spent – and averagely 1.72 million euro was annually spent at the national level, while about 450,000 euro was annually spent at the Belgrade city level for these purposes.
19.2 million euro was spent on the infrastructural support, and funds of this type made 6,4% of the republic budget, 4,6% of the provincial budget and 2,1% of the local budgets, 8% of the Belgrade city budget for cultural diversity.
On average 2,19 million euro was annually spent for presentation Serbian culture in the world and for facilitating mutual dialogue among cultures, mostly allocated at the Republic and Belgrade city levels, while this aspect of cultural diversity improvement was largely neglected at the level of local self-governments due to a difficult economic situation.