28 November 12

Final BICCED Culture Conference in Belgrade

The closing event of the three-year project “Balkan Initiative for Cultural Cooperation, Exchange and Development”, BICCED, started on Thursday in Belgrade's Youth Centre.

At the conference “Balkan Cultural Policies - What Is (to be) Done”, culture experts and speakers from the region review the cultural policies implemented in the Balkans over the past three years based on more than 300 analytical pieces produced as part of the project.

BIRN's regional director Gordana Igric opened the conference by saying that BICCED has raised interest among the journalists and that now after three years there are 50 journalists in the group from the region that are interested in cultural polices.

"We have planted a seed and all should know that cultural policy is important because it reflex national identities in the Balkans but also financial power of the states themselves".

The director of SEEcult.org and project partner Vesna Milosavljevic explained that the name of the conference is taken over revolutionary novel by Nikolay Chernyshevsky -What Is to Be Done? "This is an open call for all of us to think what should be done, so the situation in the cultural field would have change."

"For three years BICCED journalists achieved much in realising the context of cultural polices in the Balkans. With the help of the experts and cultural workers journalists have managed to analyse and investigate topics that weren’t in the focus of the society. The articles dealt with laws on culture and its influence on various areas of arts. More than 300 hundred pieces were produced",  said Nemanja Cabric, BIRN Culture Watch project coordinator.

BICCED has aimed to map the main problems and tendencies in the field of culture in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia, and to present them to decision-makers and the public, thus contributing to finding solutions for problems and initiating needed reforms.

BICCED was implemented by the Balkan Investigative Regional Reporting Network, BIRN, and by SEEcult.org, and was funded by the Swiss Cultural Programme in the Western Balkans (SCP).

The conference brings together representatives of cultural institutions and media from the region, including journalists trained during the project.

In the first part of the conference Jelena Knežević, executive director of BITEF from Belgrade; Lutfi Dervishi, executive director of Transparency International in Albania and media lecturer at the University in Tirana; Nihad Kreševljaković, director of SARTR theatre from Sarajevo; and Robert Alagjozovski, independent cultural consultant, art and culture critic from Skopje, gave an overview of cultural policies in the region and the main problems faced by cultural organisations and institutions over the past three years.

In the afternoon session, the focus of the work during three panel discussions will be on the financial crisis and its consequences, new networks and initiatives in independent cultural scenes and the lack of space for culture in the media and possibilities for improving this situation.

Panelists and participants in the event include Lola Joksimović (Cultural Contact Point Serbia, Belgrade), Amila Ramović (Ars Aevi, Sarajevo), Josif Papagjoni (Center for Art Studies, Tirana), Dimitrije Vujadinović (Balkankult Foundation, Belgrade), Sašo Stanojković (artist, Skopje), Albert Heta (Stacion - Center for Contemporary Arts, Pristina), Milica Pekić (Kiosk/Kooperativa, Belgrade), Darka Radosavljević Vasiljević (Remont/ Independent Culture Scene of Serbia, Belgrade), Iskra Gešoska (Kontrapunkt/Jadro Assotiation, Skopje), Dražen Crnomat (UNSA Geto, Banja Luka), Marija Đorđević (Politika, Beograd), Janja Sesar (Kurziv/Kulturpunkt, Zagreb), Jasmin Duraković (Depo.ba, Sarajevo), Nebojša Ilijevski (Center for Media Activities, Skopje), Ben Andoni (Gazeta Shiptare, Tirana) and Nataša Novaković (blogger, Banja Luka).

The sessions will be moderated by Aleksandar Brkić (University of Arts, Belgrade), Gordana Igrić (BIRN) and Vesna Milosavljević (SEEcult.org), and will be followed by questions from the floor and discussion.

The conclusions of the conference and its panel discussions will be used for a common appeal and recommendation letter to all decision-makers and other relevant stakeholders in the region, as well as for the BICCED project follow up.

The end of the conference will include a presentation of the Culture Watch Award, established by the BICCED project with the aim of promoting an investigative and analytical approach to journalism in culture.

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