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It happened in a land of peasants, by Milovan Milenković

Belgrade, capital of Serbia, is a city of two million, located on an area populated centuries ago. Since then, this area has many times been eroded by wars and not very successfully renewed. So, its cultural-historical heritage is more verbally than physically preserved. Today, without wars (for almost two decades), we try to leave as little of the cultural content behind, mostly due to general negligence of the authorities. 

Thus, for example, idea of Belgrade’s place on the cultural map of Europe, a potential victory in the contest of the cities for the European Capital of Culture 2020 had failed. The project aimed the city to become part of the most significant European project in the field of culture and preparations for it began back in 2009. With government change and reducing of the state budget, especially in the sphere of culture, the project fell through. European Capital of Culture 2020 is Rijeka (Croatia), and a second Serbian city, Novi Sad is a candidate for 2021 The budget of the Ministry of Culture decreases each year.

Part of the state budget designed for the culture for the following year is 0.6%. Average cut for the EU countries is between 3 and 5 percent, of significantly larger budgets. Distribution of this, almost negligible, sume of money usually ends up in the institutions and  in the hands of individuals close to the government (this is nothing new, however the less money they handle with, the more obvious they are). Besides the omnipresent lack of funds, good examples of a bad cultural policy are The National Museum and The Museum of Contemporary Art. They are technically working, or they worked in a very limited capacity due to reconstruction. They have been in the process of refurbishing for about 10 years now and nobody knows when will they start working in full capacity again. They are, practically, closed.

However, cultural life is still somehow carrying out: either by adjustment of the institutions to the current economy – the ticket price for theatrical performances in January and February 2015 were lower than one or two euros, or as a result of enthusiasm –citizens initiative to “resurrect” abandoned cinema and establish the cinema program; DIY theatre; “turning culture into the streets” and alike or, in some cases due to closeness to the ruling structures.