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Council of Europe

Culturelink review, no.20/November 1996 - contents - imprint - archive

Cultural Policy in Estonia

National Report, European Programme of National Cultural Policy Reviews

prepared by Mikko Lagerspetz and Rein Raud
Council of Europe Culture Committee, Strasbourg, 1996, 117 pp.

Report by a European Panel of Examiners
Council for Cultural Cooperation, 152 pp.

The National Report prepared at the request of the Estonian Ministry of Culture and Education by the authors of a non-governmental institution of higher education and research, the Estonian Institute of Humanities, presents an overview of the Estonian cultural policy and its impact between the years 1988 and 1995.

The focus of this study is on the activities of public authorities. Also, in order to create a basis for the evaluation of the effects of public policy, one part of the Report reflects the situation also in those cultural fields that are not directly subjected to state intervention, such as the private consumption of culture, the social and economic conditions of professional creators of culture, the cultural industries, and the cultural activities of national minorities. However, 'the core of Estonian culture is in its rich folklore', as the Minister of Culture states in the Report.

The study comprises introductory chapters, dealing with Estonian cultural history (A Short Overview, Towards Independence: Developments in Politics and Culture), followed by a number of chapters that deal with financing, the creators, and consumption of culture. Also, a chapter on cultural industries in Estonia is included, as well as chapters on the protection of cultural heritage and the policy towards immigrants and national minorities, and on international cultural relations. The final chapters, Public Discussion of Cultural Policies, and Cultural Policy: Between Hopes and Realities, are attempts to depict the perspective for cultural policy in Estonia.

In order to present the historical, cultural, social and political context, this report contains a relatively lengthy description of the recent social and political developments and the role of culture. The changes in cultural policy over the study period have been of a fundamental nature. The cultural policy of Soviet Estonia in 1988 differed from the present one both with regard to its priorities and to the underlying concept of the role of the state. Ideological and aesthetic control of cultural life by state authorities is no longer considered desirable; on the other hand, they have fewer resources to distribute.

Report by a European Panel of Examiners

This review was the first carried out on the cultural policy of a post-Communist country.

Difficulties were caused by the fact that at present Estonia has no explicit cultural policy, but it does have a clear and agreed set of priorities which provide the framework for cultural policy. The central theme of this report is, therefore, the issue of how to build on such a framework an agreed transparent and humanistic cultural policy expressed in documentary form.

The Examiners' Conclusions and Recommendations (such as Funding of the Arts and Culture, Support for Artistic Creation, Accelerating Decentralisation, etc.) are very important for the realization of Cultural policy in Estonia.

For more information, please contact: Cultural Policy and Action Division, Council of Europe, F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France, tel.: 33 88 41 26 32; fax: +33 88 41 27 50.

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Cultural Policy in the Russian Federation

National Report, European Programme of National Cultural Policy Reviews, Moscow, 1995, 186 pp.

Report by a European Panel of Examiners
prepared by Jacques Renard
Council of Europe Culture Committee, 1996, 180 pp.

This National Report was written by a group of experts commissioned by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and is the first ever national report on cultural policy prepared in Russia. It contains a wealth of facts and information concerning the existing legislation and brings together expert opinions about the situation in different spheres of social life connected with cultural policy.

In the section on analysis, attention is focused primarily on the last decade, during which time the years 1985 and 1991 marked the turning points. 1985 marked the beginning of perestroika in the Soviet Union, introducing modifications into the state's policy in the economic, social and cultural spheres. The internal contradictions and changes in the Soviet political and economic system resulted in the final collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991. Since the cultural policy in Russia today bears the mark of the past, the report gives a brief outline of the state's cultural policy implemented before 1985, while concentrating on the period from 1985 to 1991.

One of the priorities of the federal cultural policy is to preserve Russia's cultural heritage. The current transitional period has produced a number of urgent measures, such as the adoption of a special status for the cultural heritage of the peoples of Russia, which is catalogued and receives the support and protection of the State. The cultural industries have been growing rapidly in Russia and a chapter dealing with their growth is included in the report.

The report consists of the introduction, nine chapters and the conclusion. After some general information about the structure and population of the state presented in the first chapter, the second chapter begins with a systematic account of the current cultural policy and a general overview of the political and socio-economic situation in the country. The third chapter is entitled 'Cultural policy goals and means', and it outlines the objectives and legal and economic means by which the cultural policy can be implemented, including the financing of culture. The following chapters (IV - VI) examine the specific features of policies implemented in different sectors of cultural activity. The cultural activities of the public (chapters VII and VIII) and international cultural co-operation (chapter IX) are the subject of special analysis.

'The main goal of the federal cultural policy today and in the near future is to make sure that cultural life supports the development of political, social and economic reforms', stated the authors of the National Report in their concluding remarks.

Report by a European Panel of Examiners

The purpose of this Report was not to make a comparison of Russia's cultural situation in the previous period and the current period of transition, but to record the present situation as accurately as possible, to make various observations, to identify the thrust of current developments, and to offer suggestions for the benefit of the Russian authorities. The present report was written upon the completion of the investigations, made by the Panel members and on the basis of the data collected, admittedly incomplete.

On this basis, the Panel concluded that the crisis in the Russian Federation was political, economic and social, and also profoundly cultural. The European Panel, therefore, attempted to evaluate all of the areas covered by the National Report, trying to provide a constructive and professional assistance in order to accomplish the task assigned to it by the Council of Europe.

The final result was a list of recommendations given at the end of the Report, embracing the re-definition of the cultural policy, re-examination of the financial and institutional framework, increased support for cultural activities, greater cultural decentralization, and the establishment of new measures in order to stimulate participation, as well as international cultural exchange.

For more information, please contact: Cultural Policy and Action Division, Council of Europe, F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France, tel.: +33 88 41 26 32; fax: +33 88 41 27 53.

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The European Network of Ancient Places of Performance

The European Network of Ancient Places of Performance is an informal structure for cooperation between professionals, launched in 1993 as part of the European Plan for Archaeology initiated by the Council of Europe during the period 1995-1996.

This multi-disciplinary network comprises professionals from a variety of backgrounds (archaeologists, architects, heritage conservationists, set-designers, organizers of performances and multi-media productions, representatives of public authorities which own monuments, tourism professionals, etc.). Network meetings were held in Orange (France), Mrida (Spain), and subsequently in Palermo and Segesta in September 1995. An initiative such as this arose from the desire to promote sustainable development and quality cultural tourism compatible with environmental protection and the cultural values of regions. Many ancient places of performance located in southern, eastern and western Europe, and particularly around the Mediterranean basin, are in an advanced state of decay and their use for contemporary performances could be a means of ensuring their survival, provided sufficient care is taken to avoid further deterioration through inappropriate restoration or excessive tourist use.

The Mrida seminar, Access of Visitors to the Ancient Places of Performance in Spain, October 1994, undoubtedly provided much food for thought on this question. The Proceedings of this colloquy are concerned with restoration, architecture, visitors and spectators, tourism, development and management of various Mediterranean theatrical monuments.

Further action by the Network will take place in the coming months and will be managed by the European Foundation for Heritage Skills with the support of the European Union.

The project will culminate in an international conference in Verona, Italy, at the end of August 1997.

To obtain the Proceedings of the Seminar, please contact: Daniel Thrond, Principal Administrator, Cultural Heritage Division, Council of Europe, F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France, tel.: 88 41 20 00; fax: 88 41 27 81/82/83.

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European Gardens

Following the favourable response to the first issue of the Historic Gardens Foundation's English/French publication European Gardens, issue number two, Summer 1996, examines the often difficult decision to open a historic garden to the public as a way of generating income to support its maintenance.

The issue takes a look at educating young children to raise their awareness of the beauty of both natural and man-made objects and teaching older students to appreciate and conserve them, and investigates the historical botanic connections between Europe and the rest of the world, forming strong, now two-way, attachments.

The sober splendour of Portuguese gardens is explored, common cultural routes throughout the European heritage are traced, and gardens at risk are listed.

News about exhibitions, conferences and summer schools is included.

Address: The Historic Gardens Foundation, 34 River Court, Upper Ground, London SE1 9 PE, United Kingdom, tel.: 44-0171-633 9165; fax: 44-0171-401 7072.

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Culture and Neighbourhoods

Volume I
Concepts and references

Council of Europe Publishing, Strasbourg, 1995, 161 pp.
ISBN 92-871-2869-3

Culture et Quartiers

Volume I
Concepts et références

Editions du Conseil de l'Europe, Strasbourg, 1996, 176 pp.
ISBN 92-871-2868-5

This publication is the first in a five-volume series planned to describe the results of the Culture and Neighbourhoods project undertaken by the Council of Cultural Co-operation.

This volume has already been presented in the Culturelink Bulletin, no. 17/November 1995 (p. 46), as a general and conceptual framework for the project. It assembles some of the contributions and results of the two conferences, on Urban Space for Cultural Policies, Munich, January 1994, and on Urban Regeneration in European Neighbourhoods, Bilbao, June 1994, as well as a bibliography on culture and neighbourhoods and an appendix presenting useful information and addresses. (See also: Culture and Neighbourhoods Project, Culturelink no. 11/November 1993, pp. 61-64.)

The book is available in both English and French, at the following address: Council for Cultural Co-operation, Council of Europe, F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France, tel.: (+33 88) 41 20 00; fax: (+33 88) 41 27 81/82/83.