“Life in Kosovo” debated festivals

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The second BIRN-organised RTK debate on cultural topics dealt with local festivals.

Since 1999, a number of cultural festivals have been organised, most of them traditional. Organisers’ main complaint is lack of funds.

The main points discussed in this debate were the challenges of organising festivals in Kosovo, with the main focus of discussion on financial problems.

The panelists invited to debate the topic were: Veli Bytyçi, public relations director on the ministry of culture; Aliriza Arenliu, director of the international documentary and short film festival Dokufest; Zana Krasniqi from the International students film and theatre festival SKENA UP; and Ilir Bajri, director of the Pristina jazz festival.

Arenliu insisted that the ministry of culture “doesn’t have a proper strategy for festival funding”. He said funds tend to arrive late because of the absence of a signed agreement between fundraisers and granting organisations. He added that everything gets done on the basis of trust.

Bytyçi maintained that funding delays were due to the late hand over of project proposals. But he also said that the ministry should not be seen as the sole source of funding and organisers should look to private donors.

Bajri said he was aware of the ministry’s limited budget and asked about other ways it could lend support.

Krasniqi highlighted the trouble he has persuading members of the international community to attend the SKENA UP festival, because they still have the impression that there’s conflict in Kosovo. “The key problems is to convince foreign participants to come,” she said.

The discussion moved on to the lack of public interest in cultural events, in particular plays.

Bajri blamed the low quality of plays, “I’m not enthusiastic about the theatre any more, as it doesn’t offer anything interesting.”

All panelists agreed that there were a large number of festivals in Kosovo, but their quality was uneven.