Can culture in Serbia do without Europe?

Can culture in Serbia do without Europe?


Serbia is a part of the European cultural space and it is successfully participating in programmes of the EU supporting culture, evaluated the panel “Can Culture in Serbia do Without Europe”, held at the Book Fair at the EU stand organized by the EU Info Centre. The participants of the talks were representatives of the Delegation of the EU, Culture Desk and Media Desk Creative Europe, Forum for Culture of the European Movement, expert Team Europe Serbia and the Kolarac Foundation, but also agents of independent cultural scene and experts from the audience.

Negotiations chapter 26 concerns the field of culture, but it also deals with field of youth, sports and education, representative of the Delegation of the EU in Serbia, Nadežda Dramićanin said. She reminded that in the field of culture there are no strictly determined directives of the EU which should be abided by, but only recommendations: “EU is striving to offer framework recommendations, because directives whose implementation is monitored do not exist. We give framework recommendations through the programme Creative Europe…”, Dramićanin said and stated that the budget was increased for this programme lasting until 2020.

According to her evaluation, it is important the projects used for applying are written by organisations themselves. Dramićanin added that apart through Creative Europe, support is also given to culture through IPA – Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance.

“We believe culture in Serbia cannot do on its own, that the path of cooperation is better”, concluded Dramićanin, adding that it is a fact cooperation is necessary for applying for EU funds, as well.

Representative of the Desk Creative Europe Serbia, Nina Mihaljinac, stated that 40 organisations from Serbia participate in this programme. In giving examples, she state a lot of support is given to establishing the scene of contemporary dance, publishing, programmes of audience development… “Some publishing houses survive due to translations financially supported by Creative Europe” Mihaljinac added. Nowadays, Serbia precisely occupies the first place by the number of approved projects of literary translation (out of 19 submitted, 6 were successful).

Mihaljinac evaluated that Serbia is indeed a part of the European cultural space, but also that the state itself must determine what are the priorities during the negotiation process, also emphasising the possibility of influencing certain conditions of financing.

“The competition for literary translations, for example, initially implied that translations could have been done from all languages so we reached the situation that big languages were being translated to other big languages and small languages to other small languages, hence the result was segregation. Now the condition is to translate from small languages to large ones and vice versa”, she said, adding that in the process of European Integration, Serbia should find its interests, as well.

The Head of the Media Desk for Serbia, a part of Creative Europe supporting the audiovisual media, Nevena Negojević, said that Serbia is very successful since March 2016 when it started participating in the sub-programme. Until now eight projects were supported, mostly for film development. Moreover, Serbia is one of the first countries of low production capacity which gained support at the competition for the TV programme, which is one of the most complex ones. Festivals did not manage in the best way, hence only the Palić Film Festival received support.

“However, for the next year we are aware where we made mistakes, so these applications will be of higher quality. What is interesting is that Beldocs, the international festival of documentary film, received support for the development of industrial market. This is also a space where priority of the Media sub-programme can be seen, because they were given funds to organise the first market of film professionals. It is something Serbia did not have up until now and it will be one of the rare countries in the region organising it this year”, said Nevena Negojević, adding that through all supported projects a tendency was recognised that projects were approved to companies which were already very active at the level of international cooperation.

The specific nature of the Media sub-programme, which has a continuity of 25 years already, lies in the fact that it is primarily oriented towards the profit making side, which results in a problem of the relations between small countries and countries which have high production. “Some of these questions are being solved between desks and between countries themselves, and some of them in Brussels. Our capacities to influence these programmes do not exist”, she said and pointed out that it is good regional networking is an important thing in the sub-programme Media which only then goes to the international level.

The Director of Ilija M. Kolarac Foundation, Jasna Dimitrijević, presented the experiences from the TakeOver project where Kolarac participates with partners from Poland, Greece and Italy whose aim is audience development, particularly the youth audience. The topic, she said, is common for all countries and this is exactly why the project was designed. In order to conduct the project in the most successful fashion, Kolarac formed the Youth Board which expressed how young people actually see some problems and they gave their own perspective. Dimitrijević stated that Kolarac, no longer receiving funds from the budget, has almost the same problems as state institutions but that it is at an advantage in conducting projects because it possesses the infrastructure.

Vice-president of the Forum for Culture of the European Movement in Serbia, Milena Stefanović, evaluated that this forum was recently formed again to deal with lobbying in the field of culture. She expressed a hope that the national cultural strategy will be a part of the public debate next year as it was announced.