Support Seviqc Brežice in fighting for equality in culture
In order to preserve the Seviqc Brežice festival and other most important programmes in the Slovene independent culture, I addressed on Saturday, 23 September 2017, the below open letter to Prime Minister Dr Miro Cerar.
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT.
You are kindly asked to support our cause with your signature, and inform friends and acquaintances of this open letter.
Dear Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Miro Cerar,
As the new National Programme for Culture (NPC) 2018–2025 is being devised, I ask that you carefully consider the role and importance of certain top quality non-governmental programmes in the area of culture, and urgently take appropriate action to avoid Slovenia becoming last on the cultural scene of not only Europe but the world. Top quality non-governmental programmes are a necessary supplement of public institutes, since a country’s national cultural production can only be successful—with few exceptions—provided the institutional and non-governmental sectors collaborate. If your passive, slow and poor solutions persist, you will have decapitated the elite of non-governmental production and thus cause irreparable damage to institutional culture as well.
One of such non-governmental programmes is Seviqc Brežice, a festival that has had a distinctly European, entrepreneurial and international character since its beginnings 35 years ago, when I started it in 1982 in Radovljica; it has been run since 1997 by the Ars Ramovš Institute for Art, Marketing, Promotion and Investments. The festival has had a major impact on the perception of revitalising historic towns and renovating castles, and has been a driver of green tourism in the country. It is the chief initiator of the early music scene in Slovenia, which has formed and consolidated over these past decades. Nowadays it has many followers, both in the non-governmental and institutional sectors, both organisations and individuals. They were encouraged by our activity and have become successful promoters of Slovenia in the world.
We started and remained all these years without any clear or decisive support from the national cultural policy and politics, which have all along sought excuses in the old-fashioned model of cultural policy that focuses on public institutions as a matter of priority instead of adequately supporting programmes of the same importance emerging from the independent scene. Such conditions leave top achievements and most propulsive NGOs overlooked. We have only persisted due to personal sacrifices, efforts, hopes and desires, and this is spite of the fact that the seed we had sown has produced a rich crop and secured Slovenia a solid position on the European cultural map of early music. It is not fair of you to risk the abundant cultural capital we have created to miss the last chance for things to come to order, be it due to other interests or negligence. Our message that it is possible to build something out of nothing resonated strongly and encouraged many, which is of course disturbing to all those clinging to their benefits, to whom we represent nothing but a threat.
As a person active in the Slovene culture scene who has made above-average investments in the Slovene culture, I presume I have a legitimate right, as a member of the civil society, to put the following demands to my Prime Minister and expect him—on the basis of the requirements posed by his elected office—to read them and take action. Why am I not turning to the Minister of Culture? Because the 20-year long stalemate has pushed cultural policy to the edge of political irrelevance and can thus not be overruled without your political support. Inertia might have sufficed before the financial crisis, but now, with the national budget for culture down one quarter, we are left scraping by. I sincerely hope you recognise the problem and make a personal commitment, as a politician devoted to the rule of law, to overcoming these ominous problems.
1. Adequate respect for top quality culture programmes of the Slovene non-governmental sector, and that the programmes and projects of both the institutional and non-governmental sector receive a comparable systemic valuation depending on their actual relevance and not on their organisational or legal status.
2. Adequate co-funding or additional funds for the non-governmental sector at the national level, allowing the cultural stalemate to be overcome.
3. Co-funding at the local level, since such a small cultural space demands an active national cultural policy to build local awareness of the importance of the arts and culture for local communities.
4. Equality between institutional and non-governmental production, meaning they be comparable in terms of specific parameters although not the same.
5. That a one-stop-shop be set up for NGOs and individuals self-employed in culture, offering legal and tax assistance and information.
6. Support for programmes taking place at cultural heritage sites.
7. That tender rules be amended and the seemingly unbiased scoring be replaced with a system based on reviews, i.e. reviews of a particular programme or project as a whole.
8. Since the act amending the Exercising of the Public Interest in Culture Act (ZUJIK) proposes the NPC be split into a more general document and an Action Plan—the Government’s chief executive document—we have to insist the Minister for Culture present his Action Plan upon the presentation of the NPC 2018–2025 so that his and the Government’s priorities are made clear.
Interpretation and clarification of requirements is availabe on: Interpretation and clarification
Klemen Ramovš, Artistic Director and General Manager of Seviqc Brežice Contact the author of the petition