Press conference – Requirements of Novi Sad Independent cultural scene
Independent cultural scene of Novi Sad requested an urgent public meeting with city officials regarding the alarming situation and the conditions in which it operates, as well as a number of current events that are indicating a progressive suppression strategy of the independent production and organization.
Representatives of civic associations and professional organizations requested the open discussion concerning many problems they are dealing with, including the issue of leasing public and work spaces, the results of the annual city competition in the field of culture for year 2016 which are published only just at the beginning of June, and also the lack of an infrastructure fund or support that can not be reduced solely on production. Further, so far detected problems are also the inseparability of lines of funding for public institutions founded by the city, private companies and non-profit associations of citizens in the field of culture, in addition to the lack of differentiation in culture, art production and tourism and the absence of support from local authorities for the empowerment and participation of citizens’ associations in projects supported by the European Commission through the provision of funds for matching.
The request for the first public and urgent meeting has been sent to the member of the City Council for Culture, the Office of the Mayor and the City Administration for Culture in the name of more than 20 civic associations and professional organizations, whose representatives held a press conference at the premises of the Independent journalists of Vojvodina on July 12th.
An answer is first expected by the City Council for Culture, and a meeting with them would be the first in a series which independent scene intends to organize regarding the many complex problems that require continuous work to ensure long-term solutions.
Initial work meeting, which would be devoted to the problem of leasing public and work spaces of citizens’ associations in the field of culture, should initiate a series of public talks about other key issues to gradually reach a solution of the development and vulnerability of independent culture, all in the light of the candidacy of Novi Sad for the European capital of culture 2021, which implies the existence of contemporary cultural and artistic production. Also, solving this problems is in accordance with the proposal of the draft strategy for cultural development in Novi Sad for the period 2016-2026., as well as with the jobs and responsibilities of City Administration for Culture to encourage the development of cultural and artistic creation in the City.
Spatial capacities of the independent scene actors, based on the field research of the situation in the sector of culture in Novi Sad, which is implemented by the Faculty of Sport and Tourism
The list of urgent and long-term demands and proposals for solving the identified problems related to the leasing of public and work spaces for acting citizens’ associations in the field of culture was included with the invitation to the meeting.
Among the urgent requirements is the restoration of gallery and work space to the use of members of professional associations and citizens, primarily to Photo-Cinema and Video Association of Vojvodina (Nikole Pašića 34), as well as the solution to the problem with the space of the Association of Fine Artists of Vojvodina in Mihajlo Pupin Boulevard 9 related to the new agreement with JP “Poslovni prostor” with an increased rent of space, in order to enable the continuation of the unobstructed functioning of these professional associations.
Timeline for the solution of the submitted request is September this year.
Conditions regulation for the use of public and working areas of professional associations and associations of citizens in the field of culture and the creation of publicly available procedures to use them was also requested through open discussions with the City Administration for Culture and members of the City Council for Culture, and subsequently with their communication with the Mayor and JP “Poslovni prostor”.
In this regard, it was requested an exemption of payment for renting public and work space for professional associations in the field of culture which have representative status in accordance with the Law for culture, as well as for self-established associations of citizens in the field of culture, and that of those spaces that are in the public offering JP “Poslovni prostor”. Further, impairment points of leasing in the public and working premises of non-profit associations of citizens (at 23 points per m2 per month) which are associations of citizens decide as appropriate and necessary for the area and type of activities implemented.
These urgent problems should, as proposed, be resolved by the end of 2016.
There is also a proposed criteria of conditions that the citizens’ associations in culture need to meet in order to use the space (that are registered in the Register of Associations of the Republic of Serbia with head office in Novi Sad, to act as a voluntary and non-profit organizations to implement programs of public interest in culture, contemporary artistic creativity and civil society, and to contribute to their development, and to carry out their activities in accordance with the above criteria for at least two years or during the last two years).
Regarding the first meeting, the independent scene also defined three long-term demands with proposals for solving them, starting with the establishment of space for newly formed associations, which could include the release of costs “overhead” (utilities) for an initial period of the association in order to assist them in starting up and stabilizing the work and strengthening them for the long-term operation. In this area, it should be defined and the possibility that citizens’ associations are faced with problems of support and financing of their activities in a given period may use the resources release this kind of costs (working title area: emergency incubator). Establishment of such space includes an initiative to form new institutions of civil-public partnership (between associations of citizens in the culture of the City of Novi Sad).
Other long-term requirements are related to the establishment of the mechanism of budgetary participation of the City Administration for Culture in the infrastructure costs of associations of citizens working in private premises ( their own homes and living spaces), while the proposed time frame is by the end of 2018. The third requirement concerns the establishment of a mechanism of budget participation of the City Administration for Culture in restoring and renovating the premises where citizens’ associations are working.
The requirements are in front of an independent culture scene in Novi Sad jointly headed: SULUV, Photo-cinema and Video Association of Vojvodina, Association of Applied Artists and Designers of Vojvodina, Youth Center CK13, Shock cooperative (ex Art Klinika), Association for video art “Videomedeja, “Association of architects of Novi Sad DaNS, Institute for flexible culture and technologies Napon, Center for new media_kuda.org, Group for conceptual politics, Association of Dramatic artists of Vojvodina, Gallery SND from Kisač, Association of film and television workers of Vojvodina, Association of composers of Vojvodina, Agency for film and video production DRUID, Visual artistic laboratory, the Association “Kulturanova”, Independent art Association “Izba,” Association “Cultural and artistic labyrinth,” Association “Pioneer” and Exit Foundation.
Gathering the independent scene began in June, at the initiative of Kuda.org and GKP, with the agreement on the continuation of regular meetings in the CK13 that are open to other interested organizations of independent culture that want to contribute to the articulation of the current situation, especially considering the forthcoming public debate on the draft strategy for cultural development of Novi Sad 2016-2026, while at the height of the preparation and the candidacy of Novi Sad for the EPC 2021st.
Among the participants of the first meeting was also Exit foundation which for years has a status of priority for funding and to which the single largest part of the city budget for culture applies. That in mind was one of the reasons for the earlier meetings and strong protests from the independent scene.
Since the Exit Foundation is involved in the preparation of the candidature of Novi Sad for the EPC 2021, its representative had the opportunity at the first meeting at the CK13 to get acquainted with the state of the independent cultural scene that, as recommended by Brussels, should be strongly present in the program of the EPC .
“Our idea is to make the initiative free and public from the start, to make possible to join to all those who wish to contribute to the articulation of the current situation. Exit Foundation is a body that is nominally in the name of the city took over operations around the EPC and at the first meeting they also appeared as an interested party in the situation (because in the evaluation from Brussels it was specified to them the fact that they do not have anything from the independent scene (!)). From their appearance, we realized how much they do not know, and since they left a contact, we believe that no one should be excluded, but rather to with this model of public debate improve and build a systematic framework for the development of non-profit artistic production” said Zoran Pantelić from Kuda.org.
“Precisely because Exit Foundation is in monopolist position, we open this crisis situation through them and problematize the City intends to run for the EPC at the time when they kicked out into the street one representative association, threatened others, and at the competition assigned 0 dinars to all organizations- paradoxically perhaps they pointed to their real views, but are now in the position to have to explain” said Pantelić for SEEcult.org, adding that it remains to be seen on which side in the process of public negotiation with the City Exit Foundation will stand.
The independent culture scene will in any case continue to insist on the establishment of a public debate model in order to build a system framework for the development of non-profit artistic production, said Pantelić