Budget cuts threaten to cancel many festivals

Budget cuts threaten to cancel many festivals

IBNA Special Report

Pristina, March 24, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Elton Tota

The recent decisions of the Minister of Culture, Kujtim Shala to make budget cuts for several film and music festivals has irritated artists to a great extent.

They have even lost patience and decided to openly object these decisions.

Artists have united today and delivered a press conference.

“The network of independent cultural organizations of Kosovo-the Cultural Forum in cooperation with independent cultural institutions and independent organizations, holds today on 24 March 2015 a press conference in relation to the decision of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport in regards to the contest for the support of 2015 cultural projects”, says the announcement of this Network.

Artists demand institutional support for their projects

The allocation of the budget has had a negative impact on the festival dedicated to 9/11. This festival has postponed the contest for playwrights for an undetermined period.

The press official for the festival, Getoarbe Mulliqi says that if the Ministry of Culture reviews its decision about the allocated funds, then the festival will take place, otherwise it won’t.

“A recent institutional decision, which is an insult for all of those who create sustainable values, that survive the test of time and officials who come and go, obliges us to postpone the planned contest for an undetermined period, hoping that such decision, which has been well thought, will be reviewed at once”, Mulliqi says.

She considers the amount of four thousand Euros as an insult.

“The value of a short film amounts to 6-7 thousand Euros. Four thousand Euros are not even enough to hold a festival, print brochures, pay the jury, to pay for accommodation…”, she says.

The Stage UP , a festival with a history of over one decade and the only platform for students from all over Europe, has lost 11 thousand Euros from this year’s budget. The funds allocated for it are only four thousand Euros.

“Last year,  Stage  UP was given 15 thousand Euros by the ministry. In fact, our festival has always been supported by the Ministry of Culture. The decision of the minister to cut the budget for festivals doesn’t only damage festivals or the organizers of these festivals, but it damages culture and this way, it isolates the country even more. This decision threatens the holding of this edition and in my opinion, the Ministry of Culture is directly attacking young artists, because  Stage UP promotes the work of young artists”, says the directress of  Stage UP festival, Hana Qena.

Chopin Piano Fest, one of the main festivals of classical music in Kosovo and the only promoter of young people in this genre, has only been a fund of 2 thousand Euros.

This has obliged the festival to open a bank account and ask for donations in order to save the edition, which is scheduled to start in a few days.

“Chopin Piano Fest Pristina 2015 is in a serious danger. But the contributions have been amazing. A list of all contributors will be published in the festival’s catalogue”, write the organizers.

On the other hand, DAM Festival too has also had budget cuts from the Ministry of Culture.

“I’m sorry that this ministry has decided to cut the budget on culture and I believe that this will be revised. Now it’s the last chance for the artist community and civil society to react against the way culture of this country is being treated by the institution which is responsible for the development of culture in the country. This is the last chance for reaction. Otherwise, this will mark the start of the destruction of the independent cultural stage in Kosovo”, declared Dardan Selimaj, artistic director of the International Festival of Young Musicians DAM Festival, a festival which in a few days will mark its 10th anniversary.

The 2015 budget for culture will be 300 thousand Euros less than last year and this will lead to drastic cuts in the domain of visual art and music and film festivals in the country, except for DokuFest. /ibna/