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State and Culture: Studies of Contemporary Cultural Policy

By Vesna Djukic, Institute for Theatre, Film, Radio and Television of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, Belgrade, 2010, 448 pp.

This book presents the result of fifteen years of research and analysis of cultural policy, within the curriculum of undergraduate and graduate studies of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts and the University of Arts in Belgrade, as well as a great number of research projects, in which the author participated. The book is an original scientific contribution to the investigation of the contemporary cultural policy, particularly in the sections that are concerned with the comparative analysis of key words and contemporary strategies and instruments of cultural policy in Europe. Approximately 25 key terms related to contemporary cultural policies (sustainable development, minority, social cohesion, etc.) were analyzed in the book. Each of the chapters problematises an important theoretical aspect of cultural policies. Twelve of the most significant theoreticians of cultural policy and twelve research centres operating in the European context, with a particular emphasis on the turbulent transition context of South Eastern Europe, were researched, studied and classified. Owing to this fact, this scientific publication is intended not only for an academic audience, but for all participants in the current reform processes of public practical policies. The book is also aimed at researchers, analysts, and those employed in all sectors and areas in which decisions are taken, related to the further cultural development in the region of South East Europe, which has been undergoing structural changes of practical cultural policy in the course of recent years. The book contains five chapters, which problematise the most significant issues of contemporary cultural policy in the period of the last two decades.

The first chapter, entitled Theory of Cultural Policy, analyzes current theories and definitions of cultural policy. Through the analysis of different definitions of terms used within cultural politics, the author determined a lack of the term 'management' within cultural policy. The term 'management' in the context of cultural politics is not always used in the most adequate way, even as exhibited in literature written by subject matter experts. Key terms for practical cultural politics have changed over time and are related to certain time periods, which is how the term cultural democracy came about. As these transitions occurred, other terms have appeared, such as: de-etatisation, de-sectoralisation, intersectoral cooperation, deinstitutionalization, and depoliticization, which are all terms used to describe the lack of influence governments have on cultural politics during periods of transition. The terms multiculturalism, interculturalism, and transculturalism have all been created through the promotion of cultural diversity and cultural pluralism.

The second chapter, Historical Phases and Effects of Cultural Development, represents a comparative analysis of the cultural development in Serbia, Europe and the world, with a special emphasis on the period, starting from 1918, when with the establishment of the USSR, cultural management became the competency of the state, which is in sync with the title of the book State and Culture, showing that the scope of the problem should be limited to the role of the state in the area of culture. This review, systematized according to several intersection points in time, not only sheds light onto the historical development of models, instruments and strategies of cultural policy, but it also studies their effects, relating them directly to contemporary models, instruments and strategies, the effects of which will be studied in the future.

The third chapter, Innovative Instruments and Strategies, starts off with an analysis of the contemporary principles of cultural policy, and continues with a detailed analysis of the networking strategy, the achievement of sustainability, and other significant strategies of program-organizational development. This section of the book perceives culture as an inter-sectoral area of operation of different sectors of state administration. The author stresses that these strategies are impossible to implement without the use of certain instruments. Changes in the field of cultural policy have driven changes in the terms used. As such, cultural pluralism has been changed to cultural diversity, democratization to cultural democracy, exchange has now become cooperation or collaboration, co-production is now partnership, animation became mediation, region has become territory, and associations are now networks. The end of this chapter brings a comparative review of theoretical dichotomies and practical strategic dilemmas, which fully encapsulates all significant theoretical and practical issues in this scientific field.

The following, chapter four, Development Possibilities of Contemporary Cultural Policy in Serbia, represents the comparative analysis of the situation in Serbia. Territorially oriented themes can be simultaneously viewed in the context of the region. The author emphasizes strategic planning as a crucial component of the cultural politics of a society, while also highlighting that art and culture are not isolated from one another, but represent an inter-field culture. Cultural tourism is just one of these intersectoral development opportunities, as advised by the Council of Europe. Education policy includes professional training of personnel in culture. Arts education is a formal education for an improved cultural perception and the development of cultural habits of a society. Long-term management of societal cultural development requires a conceptualization of the society's cultural development, but not to the extent of the loss of its cultural identity.

Finally, the last chapter questions the research methodology of public policy and within it, research of cultural policy, based on the experience of the author as a lecturer at the renowned international interdisciplinary MA studies in Cultural Management and Cultural Policy of the University of Arts in Belgrade (Centre for Interdisciplinary studies, Universite Lumiere Lyon 2, UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy and Management). Written recommendations for the implementation of cultural policy should be designed to solve the real problems of public policy and include plans to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations. Analysts, centres for practical policy research, and institutes of culture carry out these interdisciplinary studies, as well as analyze the practical politics. The author argues that countries in transition rarely make decisions in the field of cultural policy based on the proposal of practical politics, but it has importance when taking decisions that are of public interest.

Certain topics and reference materials contrast existing literature, covering a wide spectrum of theoretical cultural policy knowledge and concluding that effective practical application of cultural policy theories requires exceptional managerial skills and abilities, as well as an effective utilization of organizational and management tools through the interdisciplinary scientific fields of: art, cultural studies, management, economics, finance, law, political systems, psychology, communication and many other disciplines to ultimately achieve an exemplary cultural policy. With this book the author has created a high-quality piece of literature on the topic of cultural politics, that could be improved upon through the use of regional cases and examples to show the effects of cultural policy in those particular areas.

By Edib Ahmetasevic