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Published on Tuesday October 8th, 2013 | by MetruCub

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INSTITUTIONAL CHANGES IN CULTURE & QUALITY OF GOVERNANCE IN ROMANIA

SNAPSHOTS OF TWO DIFFICULT YEARS (2012-2013)

prepared by CubicMetre for the 2013 annual conference of Culture Action Europe in Rome

The creation of a National Institute for Film

In July 2013, under a Government Emergency Ordinance (OUG 72/2013) three institutions were reorganized in order to create a National Institute for Film (the National Film Archive was condensed with the Cinema Creation Studio and the Video Art Studio in Bucharest). The new Institute will function, together with the National Center of Cinematography, under the Ministry of Culture. The professional community perceives the new body as insufficiently clear in its mission and activities, often confusing and overlapping the functions of the National Center for Cinematography. The Institute is due to organize festivals and galas, to produce and commercialize cinema and television movies (including series), to provide publicity services for the cultural offer supported by the Ministry of Culture, or “to promote the national culture abroad”.

The political interference in the case of the Romanian Cultural Institute

Through a Government Emergency Ordinance (OUG 27/2012), in June 2012 the Romanian Cultural Institute (RCI) was reorganized in order to increase the political control over its management and activities. It became subordinated to the Parliament, instead of the President (as it used to be, particularly to avoid any political interference) and its mission changed into “consolidating and amplifying the relations with the Romanian community abroad” and “promoting the national identity”. The most important figures at that time resigned from the Romanian Cultural Institute (its president, Horia Roman Patapievici and the RCI in NY director, Corina Șuteu), being quickly replaced with cultural personalities agreed by the leading political coalition (The Social Liberal Union). The institution met some ad hoc decisions that seriously affected its activities and continued to lose its identity, its profile and its professionalism. But it gained in political sympathy.

 

The public cultural management legislation to the disadvantage of cultural managers

After 1990, the cultural management became a desideratum for the cultural scene: explicit cultural policies were formulated in favor of professionalizing new cultural managers, the first cultural managers with diploma graduated abroad and returned to Romania, while legislative initiatives started to be formulated in order to create a special status for the young profession. In 2005 was adopted the first law governing the field of public cultural management, while in 2008 it suffered some consistent changes. This summer, a Government Emergency Ordinance established a new vision over the arts management for public institutions (the majority in Romania), where the domain is not recognized as an autonomous are of competencies, but a generic name for those who lead a cultural institution, preferably artists. The legitimacy of cultural management as an area of expertise is seriously endangered.

 

The merger of several public institutions dedicated to research in culture, consultancy on EU cultural cooperation funding schemes, and training culture professionals

The Center for Research and Consultancy in the Field of Culture resulted from a merger of the Center for Studies and Research in the Field of Culture and the Center for Consultancy for European Cultural Programmes in 2009. It had already brought together two institutions which little in common in concrete terms, as the first had the aim of contributing to the elaboration, supervision and evaluation of public policies in the field of culture, and the latter was hosting the Cultural Contact Point and the Media-Desk, and it aimed to support cooperation of cultural operators with their international counterparts. After 3 more years, in August 2013, a new Government Emergency Ordinance (OUG 72/2013) merged the Center for Research and Consultancy in the Field of Culture with the Centre for Professional Training in the Field of Culture, creating a complex institution which now brings together under the same institutional chapeau important functions such as research, consultancy for European public funding and professional training in culture. Cultural operators are worried about the results of the merger, and no impact study or public consultation was carried out during the decision-making process.

The National Dance Centre dodged a bullet

In September 2013 a legal draft intended to bring under the umbrella of the Romanian National Opera in Bucharest three other institutions: “Ion Dacian” National Operetta Theatre, “Tinerimea Română” National Art Centre, the “Oleg Danovski” National Opera and Ballet Theatre from Constanţa, and the National Dance Centre. After a prompt response and an audience with the Minister of Culture, the National Opera and Ballet Theatre from Constanţa was removed from the legal draft and agreed to remain an independent public institution, with a legal personality of its own. Not so easy was for the National Dance Centre, which needed a concentrated effort from contemporary artists, critics, dance managers and enthusiastic audience to make their voice heard and demand that the decision be properly discussed, and that the differences in the modus operandi of the host institution and the Dance Theatre be acknowledged, as well as the very different artistic profiles they follow. Following a public debate and consultation between the Minister of Culture and contemporary dance stakeholders, in late September the Ministry concluded that the National Dance Centre will keep its legal personality, and not be absorbed by the National Opera in Bucharest.

Administration of the National Cultural Fund without the money from the National Lottery

The Administration of the National Cultural Fund is the only relatively stable, transparent and open-competition-based public funding body in Romania. Even if its funds are relatively little compared to the growing number of viable and creative cultural organizations that could help art make a difference in the Romanian society, its functioning has been appreciated even when criticized, and considered essential to the cultural sector since its establishment, in 2005. Nevertheless, in September 2012 a Government Emergency Ordinance swept most of the funding resources of the institutions by redrawing the financial support of the National Lottery money from 2013 onwards (with applicability starting January 2014). Now the institution faces the situation where it would need to reduce its funding for cultural projects to a minimum, depending only on its own sources of revenue, which need to be collected directly from economic agents which usually show no discipline in paying their taxes, and which are difficult to coerce by the few employees the National Cultural Fund has.

 

A national strategy for culture for 2014-2020 lacking public consultation

The timing of the formulation of the national strategy for culture was related to the need to prepare the strategic documents for the Partnership Agreement that Romania was to negotiate with the European Commission and finally reach an agreement, as to direct the new structural funds for 2014-2020 into the country. It started in December 2012 and reached the phase of public consultation in July 2013. Cultural operators were invited to contribute and give their opinion to an almost 500 pages-long document, but nevertheless there were some enthusiasts that took the challenge and made some valuable comments. The strategy is a very complex foundation for many interesting and potentially useful programmes and legal amendments, among which some stand out: an increased focus on the links between culture and education, access to culture, culture and creative industries, and youth activities and empowerment. Built heritage is also considered in its more contemporary sense, as heritage protected areas, and not as individual, distinct monuments from the surrounding zones, but the strategy has been criticized as having too much of everything, and thus allowing too many loose options for the decision-makers, and not many levers of intervention and advocacy from cultural operators.

Photo source: Corporate Strategies blog


About the Author

MetruCub – resurse pentru cultură este o asociaţie înfiinţată în anul 2012 cu scopul de a funcţiona ca o platformă de întâlnire, dezbatere şi expertiză pentru profesioniştii din domeniul cultural – artistic. MetruCub îşi propune să exploreze, să sprijine şi să dezvolte sectorul cultural prin studii de specialitate, prin proiecte interdisciplinare şi prin crearea unui context în care artişti, operatori culturali, cercetători şi autorităţi să se poată întâlni şi comunica. Credem în rolul important al artei şi culturii în dezvoltarea fiecărui individ şi a societăţii în ansamblu şi pledăm pentru un management cultural profesionist şi o fundamentare obiectivă şi democratică a politicilor ce vizează domeniul cultural.



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