Cultural Policy in Slovakia: A Glimpse into its Transformation

Culture is a cornerstone of society, reflecting the values, traditions, and creativity of its people. In Bratislava on September 18, 2023, a significant event took place – a conference on the transformation of cultural policy in Slovakia. This gathering shed light on the dynamic changes and strategies implemented to ensure the flourishing of culture in the country.

Creating Strategy with Purpose
One of the key takeaways from the event was the importance of having a well-managed culture strategy. However, it’s not enough to merely draft a strategy; it must be accompanied by a robust action plan and, crucially, financial backing. Without financial support, even the most well-crafted strategy can remain on paper. 

Collaboration for Success
Working groups were formed, each dedicated to specific areas within culture. What makes these working groups unique is their composition – they comprise experts from the external environment, heads of departments at local governments, and heads of culture departments from cities. This diverse blend of expertise ensures a holistic approach to addressing cultural challenges.

Focusing on Key Areas
Three crucial areas were identified for special attention:
1. Law on Culture: Ensuring the legal framework supports and promotes cultural endeavours.
2. Status of the Artis: An issue resonating not just in Slovakia but also in countries like Portugal and the Czech Republic.
3. Law on Sponsorship: Encouraging private sector involvement in cultural initiatives. In particular, the Culture Act came under scrutiny, which includes aspects like the naming of natural and legal persons in the cultural sphere.

Objectives of Cultural Policy
During the event, Marcel Čas emphasized the importance of measurable indicators when assessing results in cultural policy. He highlighted the core objective of cultural policy, which revolves around the creation, presentation, research, and preservation of arts, creative industries, and cultural heritage. This should result in a high-quality and accessible artistic and cultural offering, as well as positive socio-economic impacts of culture.
Drawing inspiration from the Ministry of Health, which effectively uses indicators, it was noted that social trust is a vital set of indicators. These indicators are not just limited to the cultural sphere; they extend to the broader aspects of governance.

The Intersection of Culture and Economy
It’s a well-established fact that culture and creative industries can significantly impact a country’s economic development. Two sets of indicators were discussed – trust in government and distrust in the media. Slovakia’s trust in government was found to be at 30%, trailing behind the EU average.

Panel Discussion Insights
A panel discussion involving Marcel Čas, Jana Knežová, Zuzana Revešová, and Marek Engeľ delved deeper into these topics. Marcel Čas emphasized that data on the indicators already exists; the challenge lies in harnessing that data effectively. The cultural institutions sometimes grapple with the purpose of data collection, highlighting the importance of data literacy.
Zuzana Revešová stressed that the best strategies tend to be participatory. However, there’s often a fear of data misuse when collecting it as part of surveys. Culture, ideally, should be a public good, and a well-structured strategy can provide stability.

Changing Perceptions
The discussion also highlighted a shift in perception regarding culture. It’s no longer seen as merely a leisure activity but as a vital educational tool. This change in thinking was partly attributed to an investment contribution, which acted as a catalyst for reshaping cultural policies.

Balanced Approach with Financial Indicators
The event concluded with insights into monitoring cultural policy. It was suggested that a balanced approach should be adopted, akin to the Balanced Scorecard, which involves four dimensions:
1. Financial Indicators: Assessing the fiscal health of cultural initiatives.
2. Professional Indicators: Evaluating the impact on artists and cultural professionals
3. PR-focused Indicators: Measuring the public perception and reach of cultural initiatives
4. Indicators Focused on Internal Processes: Ensuring that the machinery behind cultural policy is running smoothly

This monitoring process would occur every two years, allowing for adjustments and improvements along the way.

Best Practices from the UK
The event also highlighted best practices from the UK, showcasing how cultural policy can be effectively structured and managed to promote culture as a vibrant and essential part of society.
In summary, the discussion on September 18, 2023, underscored the importance of a well-managed cultural strategy backed by financial resources. It also emphasized the need for measurable indicators to assess the impact of cultural policy, underlining culture’s role in economic development and societal well-being. This event marked a significant step in the ongoing transformation of cultural policy in Slovakia, ensuring that culture remains a vibrant and integral part of the nation’s identity.


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