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BACK Milena Dragicevic Sesic, Prof.

Concluding paper:


In spite of the fact that the name of the conference was: Reconstructing cultural productivity, and in spite of the fact that we all said we despise our States and have a lot of doubts, suspicions toward EU – Phare programs (money distribution), in fact we spoke a lot about State, or another public money support (Council of Europe, European Cultural Foundation, KulturKOntakt…).

Words like: production, market, trade, loan, risk, enterpreneurship… has been heard – but modestly. Still, we consider culture and cultural production as responsibility of public sector, and in this divided and impoverished region the market and powerful independent sector is far away future.

Even some questions, like: how the idea of Museum of Contemporary Arts in Sarajevo relates to system of private galleries – have stayed non-answered – because often private cultural institutions, commercialized because of market demands (just to survive) are not considered by public opinion as "cultural" – as significant in cultural development process.

But in the same time, all the projects presented or developed here – during the conference – from the building of Museum or Concert hall to BAN project or Omnibus movie (Zagreb, Belgrade, Sarajevo), had shown not only the vision and energy, but joy of enterpreneurialship and great commitment to cooperative work and collaboration in culture.

The sentiment of refusal of "client" approach (just waiting to the commands and purchase of big multilateral organizations) – and predominance of creative, pro-active, initiating approach, even sometimes against "trends" in cultural development and policy.

In the same time – as primary objective has been put task to RE-CREATE, to RE-IMAGINE a Balkan! This task can not be left to politicians. It is our task to provide visions and concepts for the future.

Do we still have to be afraid of Balkans? Is it still "comic opera written by blood" (M.E.Durham)? What we have to do to show that stereotypes such as:

Balkan as powder keg

Balkan as place of mutual hatred

Balkan of people of extreme feeling

Balkan as space of secession, separation, division, instability

Balkan as space of anachronisms and recidivism

Balkan as a space of tribal simplicity – and extreme complexity (which is not possible to understand)…

have been created in XIX century and only partially can be true! (In this sense the book Imagining the Balkans of Maria Todorova, can be a usefull tool).

But we have to overcome the real problems of Balkans, problems which makes impossible everyday communication among artists and cultural producers:

  • Balkan as space of interrupted memories

  • Balkan as space of still non-defined countries and borders,

  • Balkan as space of huge political walls between people even within same country

  • Balkan – isolated with virtual wall of Schengen visa from the rest of Europe…

and of course, many, many others…

But how to make our voice heard? HOW TO BE LET IN? In the Europe, in the world?

Some ways had been shown as obvious:

I From art production to art market

  1. to use existing structures better, to become more efficient and effective

In this sense the review Balkan media was cited as better known in Europe then on Balkans. Festival Neighboring voices, different workshops, etc.

  • focus of our action should be on distribution and dissemination of…

  • support to professional gatherings

  1. to develop new, creative projects – viable and culturally effective.

II From local community to the European & World community

  1. through institutional co-productions, creation of "big", state supported projects – PRODUCT ORIENTATION

  2. through networking, small scale projects, workshops within NGO`s, independent cultural sector – PROCESS ORIENTATION

To act in both fields the cultural producers on Balkans need practical aid – on both information level and technology support – especially from the West, and,

Contextual, mutual aid – partnership, from the East with emphasis on Balkans.

What are our tasks defined on this conference?

We, as cultural producers and practitioners on Balkans, underlined the needs which had to be fulfilled, and which demand urgent tasks and precise action plan:

  • to create positive image of Balkans, both internally and externally

  • to create space for open Balkan dialogue of artists and cultural practitioners

  • to create structures, strategies and instruments in regional perspective which will enable cooperative work

  • to stimulate enterpreneurship, risk taking, market, ownership diversification, deetatisation of cultural institutions

  • to contribute toward redefinition of cultural policy issues, etc.

All this tasks can stay just like this throughout the years. What we need now is selforganisation and determination to achieve our goals even with our own means. In that sense I have proposed certain Action plan, naming concrete institutions and NGO`s as responsible for certain projects. Only if we immediately after conference start to work on those tasks, we will achieve at least the platform for the future projects and cooperation.


I propose many tasks, but all of them had been named here, in Sarajevo, as necessary and urgent. For each of them I will try to define the key partner – the organization or NGO who is already specialized in the field, have certain experiences and competencies, and, finally, wants to devote part of its time and energy to this, taking in account the region as such. To designate them like this today does not mean much – just to stimulate them to be pro-active in this field of mutual cooperation and project making.

  1. Cultural policy reconstruction – Balkan specific, endogenous cultural development project. The competent partners for this project can be Culturelink, Zagreb and Blue Dragon, Sremski Karlovci.

  2. Balkan Art managers network (BAMN) - will regroup all producers and enterpreneurs in culture willing to work on Balkan level through intercultural or cooperative projects.

  3. As YUSTAT, Belgrade, has already established the network of performing arts managers in Yugoslavia – and as this organization have partners in all of the Balkans, it would be the most natural that they have the role of activating the future network in even wider area of culture. (Also, YUSTAT is linked with Culturlink, Oracle etc., and as organizers of Symposium: City – culture – identity, they are making one of the rare platforms for exchanging among visual and theatre artists, theoreticians of all profiles: urbanists, architects, theatrologist, culturologist, but also technicians, etc.)

  4. Training – development of specific forms of training for both cultural policy and cultural management –

  5. As in Europe today exist many different trainings for cultural policy and management, such as:

    European Diploma in Cultural Project Management, Bruxelles

    European Master in Cultural Management, Dijon (ECUME/ECUMEST)

    Summer school in Cultural Project Management, Salzburg,

    Summer school: Innovative cultural policies and cultural management, Budapest (CEU), and as through MOSAIC project – Council of Europe tends to organize more appropriate scheme for Balkans (country by country), there is no need to develop another form. The need is to transmet information to real cultural practitioners – especially in those countries like Albania and Bosnia – from where very few managers went to further education and training. The BAMN (Balkan Art managers network) should connect all of those who have already graduated those diplomas and act more pro-actively as disseminator of information about trainings.

  6. Regional co-productions, Sarajevo as a host, F.I.S.T., Obala, SCCA…

  7. Ressource center about co-production practices and fundraising possibilities is needed in the region, especially in the area connected with mutually understandable language.

  8. Regional networking of NGO`s in culture – MULTIMEDIA, Skopje
    First the existing NGO`s have to be connected in network to facilitate the joint projects and exchange of experiences. Also, existing networks in more specific fields, like "Balkan Young Theatre Network" has to be supported in exchanging information, attracting money for projects, and building more attractive and "known" image – to be easily recognized in public (on and outside Balkans).
    First national network of independent theatres have recently been created in Yugoslavia – this network is connected with European networks (like IETM, or Magdalena project) – but far less is doing on Balkan itself.

  9. Balkan City of culture network – city public arts projects – to develop Balkan identity through art projects… YUSTAT conference can be the starting point of the future network.

  10. This conference emphasized as the main factor of cultural development – cities and their cultural policies and practices. There exist already many projects on local level – some of them had been presented on the conference – like Imagine… (Belgrade, Sombor, Skopje…), or Rainbow in the park, or projects of SCCA Sarajevo – Meeting point, etc.

    Through projects invented and realized throughout the Balkan cities, starting with local identity, and then through artistic projects to elaborate future visions, horizons… the only new ideas for Balkan are created. The State has no more visions, it is a lack of "ideology" – not only "end" – but the real value crisis.. In this situation, the new ideas, the new energy and strength is coming from small cities like Kikinda (Distrikt 020), Dimitrovgrad, Bitola… 

  11. Balkan Culture stock-exchange – bursa of art projects – web site (Blue Dragon, Belgrade, BAN, Skopje – for visual arts). It will be excellent to have one web site where we all can attache our projects looking for partners, or possibility to show them or exchange. Like Book Fair, this Virtual Fair of Artistic and Cultural Projects can be excellent tool for both art managers and artists in and outside the region.

  12. Balkan Think Tank in Culture – Task force for Cultural policy and development should be created and supplemented with specific committees for each artistic discipline and cultural field. – PALGO center (Public administration and Local Government Support) in Belgrade can host or organize the meetings of Think Tank.

  13. At the end – I want to emphasize the importance of such a project like Balkan umbrella, project of Remont group, or joint media projects (like we had "Alisa" in broadcasting for the whole Europe – we now need Balkan Alisa).

European Library – project proposed by independent publisher - Clio, Belgrade – brings us the new type of cultural institution combining sale and promotion – meeting places of authors and the active public (opinion makers). In the countries overfloaded with xenophobia and nationalism, those Libraries will be the contact point with "outer world" – European publishers and intellectual community.

What need all those ideas is financial support – loan, credit, donation… Yes we can do a lot with local money – the project Rainbow in the park, community art project of students of Theatre production of Faculty of Drama Arts in Belgrade is a good proof of that – but those activities can not have a major impact.

For Remont, Clio, Multimedia, F.I.S.T., VANS, – and for their concrete projects – especially those projects which culturally connects region – the outside money is imperative – because nationalistic cultural policies of all the Balkan states do not have neither "budgetary line" neither good will to support projects which overcome the borders, hatred and mutual prejudices. And, it seems that it is going to be like this for quite a long time (maybe the excuse is going to change – to become more "soft" – Instead of: we do not want to support projects with "croatian… other" artists" – it is going to be "we can not support those projects, because within this budget we can just help "our" (meaning state) institutions to survive."

Of course, I have not put here the tasks our friends and colleagues outside the region wants to realize – and they came here with many suggestions – to enlarge Stability pact with cultural issues, to develop specific Balkan cultures funding systems, placements for mutual exchange etc. They are going to develop better then us the advocacy arguments and to lobby in EFAH, European Union, Council of Europe etc. for "Balkan" region.

And through this synergy and joint commitment of all the partners, both from the East and the West, from the North (and in many senses the Nordic experience can be very inspiring for the Balkans) to the South, maybe we will overcome all this obstacles which exist now on Balkans – real and psychological, political and virtual, economical and social. Fight against the exclusion in Europe of culture will be the reality only if starts to concerns the most excluded – people on Balkans. Not to be taken from time to time as artistic but to participate on everyday basis in all processes and programs of European culture.

Annex of proposal

Think tank members:

Milena Dragicevic Sesic, group 17+, Palgo center, Belgrade

Branimir Stojkovic, prof.

Nada Svob Djokic, Culturlink, Croatia

Agar Pata, Zagreb

Vladimir Milcin, Skopje

Dunja Blazevic, SCCA, Sarajevo

Corina Suteu, course director

Dan Perjovski, artist, Bucharest,

Lidia Varbanova, prof. Sofia

Kamen Balkanski, Sofia

Effi Karpodini Dimitriadi, Greece,

Nedim Gursel, writer, Istambul

Committees for different fields:

  1. Cultural heritage – Effie Karpodini Dimitriadi

  2. Visual arts – Dan Perjovski and Dunja Blazevic

  3. Performing arts – Vlada Milcin, Skopje

  4. Literature – Nedim Gursel, Istambul

  5. Film – Dejan Kosanovic, prof. Belgrade

  6. Cultural participation/decentralization – Milena Dragicevic Sesic

(Of course – it is only my proposal – to connect also with Greece and Turkey a bit – what about Hungary? )