Policies for Culture Project
The present supplement represents one of the action projects of the Policies for Culture programme, a regional partnership programme jointly initiated and managed by the European Cultural Foundation (Amsterdam) and Ecumest Association (Bucharest).

Participative policy-making in South-Eastern Europe

The Policies for Culture programme was launched in March 2000 as an attempt to engage the cultural sectors of South-eastern Europe in a serious and responsible process of translating their ongoing cultural policy debate into concrete, tangible, local projects that could contribute to a sustainable strengthening of the cultural sector. Recognising that the space for cultural expression in much of South-eastern Europe was still suffering from the legacy of former regimes, whilst it was at the same time being bombarded by borrowed models from the West, Policies for Culture set out to support namely those initiatives that arose spontaneously from within the participating countries themselves.
Structured around the triangular working relationship between the three levels - the executive, the legislature and the independent Third sector in the policy-making process, the programme aims to raise awareness about the role civil society has to play in the this process and to empower cultural operators to find channels to voice opinions in this process and to encourage participative policy-making.

The Programme management

The overall co-ordination of the Policies for Culture programme is the responsibility of a consortium of 2 organisations:
The European Cultural Foundation (Amsterdam)
ECF is and independent non-profit organisation that promotes cultural co-operation in Europe, by supporting external projects through its grants programme, as well as by developing its own programmes in close co-operation with European partners, within set priority areas. Since 1986, the ECF gives priority to cooperation with and within Central and Eastern Europe. Since 1997, the ECF has been paying attention to South-Eastern Europe, where several programmes that foster regional co-operation have been developed.
The Ecumest Association (Bucharest)
Founded in 1998, in order to launch and support cultural and artistic activities between a variety of partners from Central and Eastern Europe, the Ecumest Association develops a variety of activities in the area of training and specialisation in cultural policies and cultural management. The long term objective of the Association is to create a regional centre (CEE) of analysis and expertise in cultural policy and to initiate pilot programmes addressed to artists from the region, adapted to their needs of dialogue and mobility at the European level.

The programme activities

Policies for Culture is first and foremost a framework programme, within which there is room for a whole spectrum of activities. Within this framework Policies for Culture advocates a bottom-up approach, whereby initiatives are identified and developed by individuals and organisations in the region as action projects within the programme.
In each country, the programme was developed in partnership with a local steering committee, gathering together representatives of the three levels the project is addressing. Besides benefiting from the expertise on the local level, the programme has also started to pool expertise at the regional level, to set up a network of policy-makers throughout the region.

Debate workshops

Policies for Culture brings together representatives of the different levels (MPs, Ministries of Culture representatives, national cultural institutions, independent cultural sector, media and private sector), various aspects of the cultural policy-making process being discussed and analysed in the framework of debate workshops. In the years 2000-2001, three major international launching debate workshops have been held, each one focusing on a topic of interest to the host country, namely:
- Legislation and cultural policy development (Sinaia, Romania, June 2000)
- Decentralisation: investing in culture in the regions (Bistritsa, Bulgaria, January 2001)
- Advocating culture (Zagreb, Croatia, November 2001)
Six action projects were financed as programme follow up in Romania and Bulgaria until now (included the present supplement):
1. Developing a local cultural strategy for the Timis county, Romania
2. Supplement 22 magazine dedicated to cultural policies, Romania
3. Developing a local cultural strategy for the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria
4. Technological Park Culture, Sofia University, Bulgaria
5. Setting up and launch the Romanian Cultural Agency (ARCult)

The future - programme phase II

2002 has marked the beginning of a new phase of Policies for Culture, within which the programme will focus on:
1. Further strengthening the Policies for Culture platform, offering on the ground action by financing new action projects on local level; Regular local meetings and debates.
2. Act as an interface between the expertise in the region and the ongoing cultural policy debate in the EU, through the network we have built up in the last few years by the means of the following:
Enhance the flow of cultural policy information between the countries and experts in the region; Contribute to academic analysis of cultural policies in SEE, to conduct comparative analysis of cultural policies in the region; Develop a range of publications.

Forthcoming event:

Regional Steering Committee meeting to be held in Bucharest in May 2002, for discussing and deciding concrete actions for the programme development in the region.

For more information about the programme, please write to:
info@policiesforculture.org
or consult our website: www.policiesforculture.org.