Public cultural institutions to cease being hostages to an ineffective national policy

Authors: Dr. Tanja Miletić Oručević i Husein Oručević, Media centar OKC Abrašević (Mostar, 10 August, 2012)
“we advocate a general change of stance of international foundations and donors, and shifting the cultural investments – very often ephemeral and weakly or not evaluated at all – from nongovernmental sector to public, national cultural institutions, which have the spatial, technical, staff, and to a certain extent even strategic and mission capacities for real improvement of the quality of cultural life in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Precisely with the aim of helping public cultural institutions cease being hostages to an ineffective national policy, international cultural agents must start supporting them, and, primarily, make these institutions „eligible” for their funds.”

A Culture of Disgruntled Subjects

Author: Nebojša Šerić Shoba, artist (New York, 1 April 2012)
“The situation is indeed difficult and a long-term strategy is needed in order to exit this crisis. To make the best moves we need competent people with international experience, alongside with financial analyses, strong efforts in promotion and a transformation of a (currently) indifferent public, while working on linking all cultural institutions in the country and networking all positive forces which have the capability to make a difference in this mire which keeps swallowing everything around it.”

Seven cultural institutions in Sarajevo and their status

Author: Dr Enes Kujundžić, Faculty of Philosophy Zenica
“At any rate, the actual relationship of a given society towards preserved records of its past is attested by the level of development of its cultural memory. At the same time we should keep in mind that culture in itself is not easily defined. There is no general agreement between the scholars, philosophers and sociologist on what should be included in a definition of this term.”

In such a debate, we will talk of all cultural institutions, and not only of the seven cultural institutions in Sarajevo

“We cannot discuss those causes without falling into many traps which continue to burden an honest, professional and civilized dialogue in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The seven cultural institutions of national importance in Bosnia and Herzegovina managed to obtain a controversial status, one which puts all other institutions in an inferior position, in every sense.”

How to create new partnerships and thus a wider working context?

Author: Adnan Harambašić, architect, The President of the BiH’s Association of Architects (Sarajevo, 18 August 2012)
“It is hard for even a moment to forget the political reality of B&H and try to think about the problems of cultural institutions in a fresh and different way. In my opinion, to make that kind of thinking at least possible, we need to separate the two issues which, unfortunately, often intervene with each other.”

Institutions in no man’s land as a collateral damage of the openness of the Dayton Peace Agreement

“It is obvious that the causes of the current crisis are political. Seven cultural institutions “of national importance” in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) have found themselves in a ‘no man’s land’ as collateral damage of the Dayton Peace Agreement, due to its openness to different interpretations.

Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot exist without its institutions

“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…”

Society in Bosnia and Herzegovina still stuck in the mud of primordialism

“The problem, therefore, lies not only in that employees do not know what to do, or do not know what they are doing, or do not know how to do their jobs, but lies in the fact that many of us do not know what the very purpose of these institutions is, i.e. what their function is in the present climate.”

We must not allow closure of these institutions

“The crisis that has plagued these seven institutions of „national importance“ in Bosnia and Herzegovina is, first and foremost, the consequence of the political system in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the Dayton Peace Accords. Why have the state institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina not yet indicated their stance on the status of these seven cultural institutions and found an adequate solution for this highly important problem?”

Cultural Policy in Bosnia Herzegovina: Experts Report (Council of Europe)

Cultural policy in Bosnia Herzegovina — experts report: togetherness in difference — culture at the crossroads in Bosnia Herzegovina
by Charles Landry, Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2002 (MOSAIC project)
“…After the war the different cultural groups, who define themselves as nations have all wanted their own national cultural institutions with the Croats and Serbs asserting that the existing institutions all of which are based in Sarajevo increasingly represent Bosniacs. There is, for example, a national library and theatre for RS in Banja Luka; and the Croats in Mostar are proposing a national Croatian theatre.

In a settled political environment none of this would particularly matter as long as the difference between the claims of the state and those of the nation were clear and not conflicting. There are numerous examples of national institutions within states from the Basques to the Scots to the Sami in Finland. It is for Serbs or Croats valid if they so wish to set up national institutions, but not to claim that those institutions should represent a separate state. Currently, for example, RS desire a separate seat at international bodies. The real problem that is apparent to everyone, but which largely remains unspoken, is that if this were allowed the process of ethnic cleansing would be seen to have won.

This leaves the question open about what to do with the eight state institutions. To ensure their credibility as representing the whole of the state their content has to reflect the diversity of the whole of BiH, which they largely do, but would need to continue to do….”