ASSITEJ Serbia  Press release

Decisions of the Commission appointed by the Ministry of Culture on the allocation of funds for financing and co-financing of projects in the fields of contemporary art for the 2016 published in May of this year, sparked strong reactions among the actors of the art scene in Serbia. ASSITEJ Serbia published its statement among the first ones in the series of reactions of various associations and organizations that express a strong protest against further collapse of the cultural scene in Serbia, which is already too shaky.

We believe that the distribution of a large amount of funding and support to a few projects only, selected by the Commission, predicts a uniformed, monotonous, limp and non inventive scene. We wonder who and why strives to crumbles the diversity of the art scene without the presence of a range of various projects, without innovative and vibrant theatre that inspires, without the live theatre that responds to the time in which we live and offers new perspectives on the challenges that our society, particuraly children and juvenility is facing today.

Statement

Although we are aware that such public statements in our environment are almost always left without adequate (and often any) reaction of those to whom they are addressed, we believe that we are obliged to make a statement about the published results of the Competition for Funding and Co-financing of Projects in the Field of Theatrical Creation and interpretation by the Ministry of Culture and Information issued in 2016. We hope to, at least, leave a written trace of protest of a large number of artists against the direction in which Serbian culture is moving today. Against of the absence of any cultural policy. Against the ignorance of the basic preconditions necessary for the endurance of our profession.

We do not intend to question the quality of the projects that received funding, however we have to notice that Commission’s decision left an unacceptably large number of organizations and artists without the right to work. A culture that does not hear many different voices, does not see different poetics, one that is closed to young artists, such culture without diversity is per se contradictory.

However, in this statement we will reconsider the criteria by which the Commission is supposed to be guided in making decisions and selecting the projects which will be financed/co-financed.

The guidelines include the following:

1) recognition of projects at the national level

2) their importance for the promotion of Serbian culture abroad.

With  regard to the published results, we have a strong suspicion that the Commission was not guided by these criteria, and therefore, doubt of their professional work.

When it comes to the promotion of Serbian culture outside its borders, an informed Commission must have known that the ASSITEJ Serbia is one of the few organizations which, by virtue of being part of a large international network, as well as due to the personal involvement of its members who are a part of the network’s international board, is continuously working on increasing the recognition of local Serbian artists outside the borders, and that a significant number of artists and projects gained a great recognition around the world, in large part due to the virtue of the activities and efforts of the Serbian national section of the association. In particular, these results make it impossible for Serbia to take an active role in gathering regional representatives of ASSITEJ network and opportunity to host the theater for children and young people practitioners from the region. With the decision of the Commission, the overall engagement of Assitej Serbia in strengthening the regional community and the visibility of its potential in this field is diminished. Like many times before, good ideas that emerged in our environment will not be developed due to the decision-makers’ lack of sensibility, openness and recognition of their importance for the wider society.

Regarding the importance of the scheme on the national level, in a cultural environment that has in several decades produced only three or four major playwrights for children and young audiences, we consider the existence of a large number of programs that contribute to the development of dramatic writing necessary. Drama heritage is something that remains behind us, and with this kind of (non-existing) cultural policy, we fear that we well leave very little to the upcoming generations. Therefore, the most ambitious project for which we applied was precisely biennial competition for a contemporary piece for theater for children and young people. The previous two competitions, and our overall work on the promotion of dramatic art, recognized as an example of good practice in the international community, are already showing significant results. Some of these texts that were publicaly presented for the first time through the work of ASSITEJ, are now being performed on the local and regional scenes, and some were even presented to the international community through the European publications of dramatic art for children and young people. In addition, we believe that drama literature that should one day remain as our heritage is being created exactly through such programmes and activities. With the results of this Competition this has also been seriously undermined.

These and many other results and achievements of ASSITEJ Serbia are publically available, and they verify our work themselves. However, we hope that this time, the Ministry of Culture and Information will not ignore this and other calls to reconsider the professional work of its Commission, and that these statements of our organisations and individuals from the cultural spheres will be the beginning of a dialogue that will contribute to creating a better climate for culture. The identity of our country has been created by politicians far too long, now is the time for culture to (re)gain this role that belongs to it.

In Belgrade,

May 17th , 2016.

For ASSITEJ Serbia

Diana Kržanić Tepavac, president of ASSITEJ Serbia , member of the Executive Committee of ASSITEJ International

Milena Depolo, member of the Executive Committee of ASSITEJ Serbia

Minja Bogavac, member of the Executive Committee of ASSITEJ Serbia

Slavica Vučetić, member of the Executive Committee of ASSITEJ Serbia

Damjan Kecojević,member of the Executive Committee of ASSITEJ Serbia