Reaction of JADRO Association to the newly announced cuts in the culture budget by the Ministry of Culture of North Macedonia12. 07. 2022.
NO CUTS ALLOWED IN THE CULTURE BUDGET!
JADRO – Association of the Independent Cultural Scene reacts to the latest announcements about the newly announced cuts of the budget of the already approved projects from the Annual Competition for financing projects of national interest in culture, in a precise amount of 31%. We are dissatisfied with Bisera Kostadinovska-Stojchevska, Minister of Culture of North Macedonia and the Ministry of Culture’s non-transparent relationship regarding the managing ways of the cultural budget in a time of crisis.
The independent cultural sector has already suffered enormous damage as a result of the pandemic, which is why the announced cuts will have huge consequences on a sector that is already in an extremely unstable position and whose survival is questionable. Such a decision poses a danger for the complete abolition of the long-standing programs and the extinction of small organizations whose survival directly depends on these funds. The criteria for the allocation of funds from the Ministry of Culture have never been and are not equal for all. The general and continuous political ignorance, non-argumentation and flatness regarding cultural policies and artistic production are constantly pushing the independent cultural sector into the most unfavorable social and economic position that our society has seen.
The made measurement and the assessment that some costs from cultural programs are less significant than certain capital investments show a misunderstanding of the social significance of the cultural and the artistic production created by the independent cultural sector and gives away the state of general ignorance for contemporary understanding of art and culture. We are outraged by the carelessness and the lack of recognition of the challenges that the independent sector faces, of their role in the creation of cultural policies and the importance of this sector for the national development of culture in its broader sense, which includes modern cultural practices, as well as democratizing identity processes.
Cultural workers, artists, informal groups and organizations working in the independent cultural sector were not informed or consulted and do not agree to any kind of reduction in the working funds, for which they have already signed contracts. We would also like to point out that many of the cultural workers in the independent cultural sector do not have other sources of funds, they work freelance, they do not have guaranteed salaries, health and pension insurance, and yet they contribute to a huge extent to the development of the modern culture. The independent cultural sector is not represented by the consulted unions, nor do they have the same needs as cultural workers from public cultural institutions. The independent cultural sector is directly influenced by the Ministry and depends on its finances, which are less than sufficient. This sector will not survive with reduced funds from the Ministry, nor can it offer, as Kostadinovska-Stojchevska says, “a rich cultural post-covid summer in all its glory” without them.
The members of JADRO Association have drawn up their project plans a long time ago and are deeply involved in the production processes of their programs, they have signed contracts with participants from the state and abroad, they have foreseen the received funds within their annual budgets for fees and other important budget lines which are crucial for the continuation of their operations. This way of thinking about possible cuts from the already finalized budgets and programs of organizations and individuals shows a deep misunderstanding of the process of realization of our projects, but also implies an underestimation of the energy and the time that cultural workers invest in planning, submitting and implementing their programs. Finally, they all bear a responsibility to their collaborators, domestic and international partners and donors, with whom they have been building trust for years and in front of whom they have integrity.
We are outraged from the distribution of funds proposed by the Ministry of Culture, which underestimates the value and the dignity of our cultural workers, who deserve systemic changes, thoughtful and progressive tax policies and greater interest in the cultural production offered by the independent cultural sector. We are tired of declarative and fictitious support. The members of JADRO – Association of the independent cultural scene are disappointed by the Ministry of Culture, which has promised support to the independent cultural sector that was constantly overworked trying to create a rich cultural program during the social, economic and health crisis. The violation of the already signed agreements by one of the stakeholders, in this case by the Ministry of Culture as an institution that has concentrated, centralized and inviolable power is unacceptable. The Ministry of Culture as an institution must protect our interests and all of us who invest in culture despite the precarious working conditions.
We remind the Minister of Culture that at working meeting held in February this year, whose purpose was to familiarize her with the work of the JADRO Association, she was informed about the immediate need to increase the budget for culture and to establish a special fund and a special program/budget line within the framework of the Ministry of Culture for the independent cultural sector, following the good practices from some foreign examples. Finally, in order to improve domestic cultural production, we expect actual commitments in this direction, which we are already long overdue.
JADRO – Association of the independent cultural scene