Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot exist without its institutions
Ferida Duraković, a writer, Secretary of the P.E.N. Center of Bosnia and Herzegovina (14 August 2012)
I’ve become annoying even to myself repeating several simple things regarding the state of our capital cultural institutions: there can be no Bosnia and Herzegovina if there are no common institutions at its state level – at least Bosnia and Herzegovina of the nature that I advocate for. In this horrible legal and political vacuum, everyone is snatching a bit for themselves because in the eyes of their “own“ ethnic group they will become greater and more important if they maim Bosnia and Herzegovina and steal from it that which should be the property of all of us, and not of only one, or two, or three exclusive “constitutive“ ethnic groups of politically suitable upstarts.
My proposition is the following:
In the cultural institutions of primary importance for the country, the administrative boards should be replaced on an urgent basis and newly named by way of a public call for applications. Naturally, highly expert and competent citizens should named to the boards, rather than incompetent but «acceptable» members of the ruling parties. Afterwards, these administrative boards (competent and not only suitable) should adopt a longterm development and sustainability strateg
y and present it to the relevant institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina (firstly to the Ministry of Civil Affairs), with precise dates and the most precise budget possible regarding every institution. If the administrative boards were competent and determined to change the present situation, then the whole task would be much easier and more manageable. In the first stage, the administrative boards should see to it that cultural institutions’ employees receive regular salaries which do not make them feel humiliated and insulted, as well as normal working conditions – including the infrastructure and maintenance, following which the employees – assuming they are qualified and competent (there are those who are and those who are not) – would have the motive and reason not to shirk their work, but to do their job as professionally as possible and to the best of their abilities, to their own satisfaction, as well as that of all citizens and political officials in the country.
The institutions positioned in Sarajevo as the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina should not employ only staff from Sarajevo; the National Museum should employ, by manner of recruitment notice, qualified men and women from Banjaluka, Bijeljina, Mostar, Široki Brijeg, Tuzla, etc., so that their (good and competent) work becomes a representation of efforts in the field of culture of workers from all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, removing any possible doubts (openly expressed in the society) that these institutions should be of the Federation’s or cantons’ concern.
If these previously mentioned basic issues are resolved, other tasks are in the hands of the employees of the cultural institutions: if they are qualified to apply for international, national, entity, cantonal or municipal grants for cultural project funding. Should they attend workshops and training regarding access to various funds (as far as I know, some may have already done that), then I believe that would m
ark the beginning of normal functioning for these institutions. The market requires that cultural institutions generate additional profit themselves, but I believe that no cultural institution in the world is capable of supporting itself financially on its own. Fulfilling these preconditions, we would, in no time, see how the managements of these cultural institutions really function and whether (provided they have basic working conditions and adequate salaries), they are capable of ensuring additional financial resources for various projects and realizing planned programs, as they have for years claimed they are capable of doing. Something else should be considered, namely, sending into retirement those employees who are incapable of applying all appropriate technological applications in their work that are required by the jobs in these institutions. So many young people who have completed their education abroad are waiting eagerly for an opportunity to show what they know and what they can do, and to put their knowledge to good use in their home country, but that opportunity is never given to them.
Cuts that must be made will be difficult and painful, but these institutions have already experienced drastic cuts. I am completely c
ertain that they will produce positive results (where there is political will there is a way). It is high time that we stopped sinking into the mud of mediocre and nationalistic policies which bear the seed of destruction of this beautiful country.
About the author: Ferida Duraković graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy in Sarajevo. She has worked as the first language professor, seller of ice cream and books, language editor, editor, translator and a guide through the war-time Sarajevo in the period 1992 – 1996. She translates from English. She has published nine books for adults and children. She has worked as the chief executive of the PEN Centre in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1992, and her book of short stories under the title ‘Ne lažem Tita mi’ (“I’m not lying, I swear by Tito”) is forthcoming. Her text compilation book “POKRET OTPORA (2007 – 2010)” (THE RESISTANCE MOVEMENT (2007 – 2010)” (Publisher: ‘Dobra knjiga’, Sarajevo) has just been published.