In the framework of the yearly assembly of the Regional Platform for Culture Kooperativa, held from 7th till 9th December 2017 in Skopje, there were organized two public round tables. The first one, entitled Perspectives for the regional cooperation, gathered Robert Alagjozovski, Macedonian minister of culture, Teodor Celakoski, member of the managing board of the platform, and Predrag Cvetičanin, director of the Centre for empirical studies of culture of South-East Europe.
Minister Robert Alagjozovski, as reports portal SEEcult.org, said that Macedonia has political will to support development of cooperation in the region and added that “it is already happening on the institutional level, institutional actors collaborate, but that is in the first place cooperation through festivals and exhibitions…”. He considers that Macedonia can initiate intensifying structural support to cooperation of organisation of the independent cultural actors, but that it would be more promising if the initiative is supported by several countries rather than initiative of one country alone. He concluded that he believes that support to Kooperativa is an attempt of ministers from the region, but also supported by European countries and other actors in order to secure long-term sustainability which wouldn’t be dependent on the political climate and its’ changes. “Appearance of such initiatives is not exceptional. Kooperativa could be only one among several, rather than exceptional” – said Alagjozovski concluding that this process can take two directions, one being strategic with the support of EU, or the other demanding a lot of energy and synergy of ministers in the region in order to be realized multilaterally.
In his presentation, Predrga Cvetiačnin gave results on the position of organisations of the independent cultural scenes in the region and social position of actors in the sector. The end of one phase is marked by the retreat of international donors and now it would be important for the nation-states to take over the role of financers of the cultural segment of the civil sector. Results of the research show devastating state in economic and financial aspect, although actors are most educated part of the cultural sector (85-90% with high education). Specificity of the actors of the independent culture in the region refers also the fact that although they work in precarious conditions, they don’t belong to precariat, and they are highly satisfied with their work in spite of difficult working conditions and low wages (average mark 7). That makes them prototype workers of neoliberal capitalism – concluded Cvetičanin pointing out that organisations of the independent cultural scene made, in the year prior to the research, mode then 880 projects and about 5800 individual cultural programmes, 182 international projects which means that there is interest and need for cooperation.
Teodor Celakoski, member of Managing Board of Kooperativa, pointed out to the need of cooperation between independent cultural scene with other emancipatory structures in the society as a way of raising above the logic of “misery” and being destined to produce unrecognized high-quality works. Among challenges in that regard, Celakoski asked if scenes can function in certain respect as political subjects and not necessarily in the electoral sense. Are independent actors prepared for solidarity and cooperation as well as for development certain tactics which comprehend working on social innovations and redefining the framework, while on the other hand participating in confrontation, and not only in the cultural field? Referring to examples from the region which demonstrate precisely this, Celakoski accentuated that he is not thinking only of independent cultural scene, but independent actors in the wider framework, considering the fact that there is a huge number of initiatives, organisations and individuals prepared to question the system. As a good example of such kind of collaboration Celakoski mentioned Croatian examples of local platforms which work on participatory governance in governing public space which was the theme of the round table the next day.
Round table dedicated to civil-public partnerships gathered representatives of different initiatives developing different models in participatory governance such as Pogon – Zagreb Centre for Independent culture and Youth, presented by Tomislav Medak, Centre Jadro from Skopje, presented by Jane Calovski, Magacin from Belgrade, presented by Luka Knežević Strika, and Elektrarna and Kino Šiška from Ljubljana, presented by Jadranka Plut.
The assembly gathered 18 members and two new members are accepted into membership – Fondazioni Lumbardhi from Prizren and Centre for empirical studies of culture of South-East Europe.