Latest Articles


29.10.2014
Rosa Liksom

Finland, Lapland, Russia and me

The Tornio River forms the border between Sweden and Finland, and flows into the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea. Throughout the ages, writes Rosa Liksom, the world's travellers have navigated the river with a view to finding out about the mystical North. [ more ]

29.10.2014
Svenja Ahlhaus

Animals in parliament?

29.10.2014
Hugues Lagrange

Mediterranean youth uprisings

29.10.2014
Ulrich Brand

Degrowth: Birth of a movement?

24.10.2014
Agri Ismail

The pioneers of global gentrification

New Issues


28.10.2014

A2 | 20 (2014)

Soumrak literární kritiky [Twiligth of literary criticism]
24.10.2014

Wespennest | 167 (2014)

Norden
23.10.2014

Glänta | 2/2014

Migration #2
23.10.2014

Mittelweg 36 | 5/2014

Politische Tiere [Political animals]

Eurozine Review


29.10.2014
Eurozine Review

A centre receding

"Glänta" remaps migration; "Wespennest" heads north; "Mittelweg 36" engages in animal politics; in "Blätter" Marc Engelhardt slams the snail's pace of the Global North's response to Ebola; "Esprit" discerns the rehabilitation of the public sphere in Mediterranean youth uprisings; in "Letras Libres" Mark Lilla asks if there's a Plan B for non-democracies; "Res Publica Nowa" says that what Poland needs now is creativity; and "A2" finds the morphing of lit crit into advertising copy distasteful.

15.10.2014
Eurozine Review

This revolutionary moment

17.09.2014
Eurozine Review

Independence in an age of interdependence

03.09.2014
Eurozine Review

Was Crimea a preliminary exercise?

06.08.2014
Eurozine Review

What are you doing here?



http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2011-05-02-newsitem-en.html
http://mitpress.mit.edu/0262025248
http://www.eurozine.com/about/who-we-are/contact.html
http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2009-12-02-newsitem-en.html

My Eurozine


If you want to be kept up to date, you can subscribe to Eurozine's rss-newsfeed or our Newsletter.

Articles
Share |


"Culture has been marginalized, even stigmatized"

Sodobnost, Slovenia

Swingeing funding cuts with worse expected has left Slovenian journals to a death by instalments, writes Sodobnost editor Evald Flisar. The new government's disdain for national culture combines with a unhealthy proximity to the corporate sector to marginalize the cultural community.

Sodobnost has a mixed financing model. We receive 80,000 euros annually from the Slovenian government and around 19,000 euros from subscriptions; because we receive government support we are not allowed to advertise. Next year, because of budgetary restrictions, public funding is likely to be lowered. Nobody knows by how much exactly, but anxiety about radical cuts is widespread and, in my view, justified. The entire annual budget of the Slovenian Book Agency – which supports over 60 literary and scientific periodicals and around 200 books a year, as well as translations into foreign languages and other international promotional activities for Slovenian literature – is currently roughly equal to the cost of building one kilometre of a two-lane motorway, or to the cost of keeping two Slovenian soldiers in Afghanistan (currently there are around 89). The government seems to feel that keeping Slovenian culture alive is less important than flexing our feeble military muscle abroad ("NATO commitments" apparently overriding those towards national culture). On top of this, the government collects far more from the sale of books through VAT (8.5%) than it returns to the Agency and to authors through the Public Lending Right.

Financing European cultural journals


Like other types of cultural organization reliant on public funds, cultural journals throughout Europe have felt the impact of recession. In addition to funding cuts, journals are also having to negotiate the upheavals taking place in the print sector. Through a European survey of financing for cultural journals, Eurozine takes stock of the situation of the network, in order to communicate its experiences internally and to others who hold a stake in European cultural policy today. [more]

Inspired by the Eurozine initiative, our long-standing partner "Varlik" conducted a survey of Turkish journals. Like their European counterparts, Turkish journals need public support. However, they are far more wary of risking their independence by receiving government funding. [more]
Before the creation of the Slovenian Book Agency in 2009, funding for literature came from the Ministry of Culture. The new centre-right governing coalition first decided to abolish the agency, but after a public outcry it decided to keep it going or, rather, let it die by instalments. First it reduced the 2012 budget for book and magazine subsidies by 25 per cent; then it informed the director that salaries for only three employees could be covered, leaving the remaining four to find outside sponsors. This is by far the most original way of running a government agency within the European Union. Because of the cuts, many contracts already signed cannot be honoured, many excellent projects have been cancelled, most have been delayed. Slovenia is fast approaching the level of crisis experienced by Italy, Spain and Portugal. Even greater cuts in the public budget are envisaged for 2013 and 2014, and culture will be the first to suffer.

Funding for Sodobnost is programme-based, lasting three years. After that we have to re-apply. The current three-year period ends this year. There is a possibility that, because of budgetary uncertainty, we will have to apply for funding annually, which would severely limit long-term planning. It would be a catastrophe if we were forced to reduce the number of issues from 12 to 8, or even fewer. Currently, Sodobnost appears regularly and contributors receive their fees within 30 days after publication. If the cuts continue we may be forced to reduce authors' fees or, alternatively, slim down the volumes (currently we publish around 1650 magazine pages a year). This would be the severest blow to Slovenia's oldest cultural journal (founded in 1933) since World War II. We live in hope that the long tradition of the journal may at least play some role in future funding decisions.

Sodobnost doesn't receive any third-party funding from foundations or private donors. Since companies receive no tax benefits for supporting culture, they prefer to sponsor soccer clubs and other sporting activities – understandably enough, since they reach much wider audiences. Nor do we receive any form of "hidden funding". In order to distribute 650 copies of the magazine to subscribers every month we have to pay normal postal rates; very few copies are sold in the bookshops. Profits from subscriptions from public libraries in Slovenia, as well as the many foreign universities with Slavic departments, cannot be considered a form of hidden funding, either, since an annual subscription only just covers print and publication costs – and that does not include royalties, editorial work and overheads!

We have no full-time employees. Everybody works part time for a modest wage, from the editor-in-chief to the sub-editors to the accountant; staff members have to do other jobs in order to survive. Part of the reason for not employing people full-time is that Sodobnost is published by a non-profit artistic society, a legal entity that enjoys certain benefits in terms of taxes and book-keeping (any profit we make cannot be paid out to the members of the society but must be reinvested in our activities). Of course our annual "profit" rarely exceeds 100 euros. Even so, if we do not reinvest it, it is taxed.

While our new centre-right government is the product of the failure of the previous centre-left government, the latter didn't single out culture for the most drastic cuts. Relatively speaking, the last few years have been relatively good for the magazine. Government support for the journal was not exorbitant but adequate, allowing us to maintain established standards to a satisfactory degree. After being elected in February 2012, the first thing the new government did was to incorporate the Ministry of Culture into a super-ministry for Science, Education, Higher Education, Culture and Sport! All sectors subsequently received mid-term budgetary cuts, mostly culture, then higher education. The new super-minister is reported to have stated that "culture is important but not that important". The current government has, for the first time in the history of independent Slovenia, decided that it does not need the support of the country's fairly numerous and influential cultural community. Nor does it seem to remember that the Slovenian language and nation (as opposed to the 20-year old Slovenian state) has not survived for 14 centuries because of the 89 odd soldiers we now have in Afghanistan (and quite a few, under the banner of the United Nations, in some other trouble spots), but because throughout these centuries it was culture that has been our anchor and saviour.

Of course, the policy changes have to do with the eurozone crisis and the belt-tightening measured imposed by Brussels, compounded by the fact that the new government is at pains to follow the Merkel austerity line to a T. However there are other reasons for why the Slovenian economy (once the most successful economy of the new EU member states) is teetering on the edge of disaster: the unhealthy marriage of politicians and corporate barons, disrespect for the constitutional court, destructive ideological differences going all the way back to World War II, not to mention the pernicious influence of the Catholic Church. All segments of the society are feeling the pinch, culture most of all. Suddenly, within months, culture has been marginalized, even stigmatized. This cannot last of course. Common sense will have to prevail. Slovenia has never been a military power fighting insurgents in faraway lands. We have always been a small nation in the most strategic part of Europe with an enviable national culture, and that has kept us alive.

How are we responding to media change? The Sodobnost website (http://www.sodobnost.com/) includes excerpts from the most interesting contributions in the latest issue (and sometimes in full), introductions to all the books we have published and an archive of past issues of the journal. One can subscribe to the journal via the website and we have an extensive mailing list for regular information and reminders about our publications and activities. The entire contents of Sodobnost all the way back to 1960 are also accessible for free in digital form through the National Library, with the exception of the issues of the running year.

Nevertheless, circulation and sales are declining. Whether that has to do with media change I am not sure. I believe that the main (if not the only) reason for declining circulation is growing economic hardship. Most of our readers are educated middle-class professionals who have been hit hardest by the austerity measures. The same trend is affecting other journals and even daily newspapers. In my opinion, the print journal remains the most relevant form for cultural publishing. At least in Slovenia. At least for the time being. People still love to "handle" books and magazines as physical objects, to see them on their shelves; libraries like to make them available to their visitors in their reading rooms.

The journal's content follows a 76-year tradition of high quality new poetry, prose and essays; in-depth book and theatre reviews that far surpass those in daily newspapers; new stage plays that publishers generally ignore; socially critical leading articles; introductions to alternative philosophical views and contemporary foreign authors; in-depth interviews with prominent cultural figures. Some people still prefer to have all that in their post-box once a month, rather than navigate the chaos that is the www. Although not averse to it, we feel that exclusively digital future is still some years away – at least from our perspective. This is definitely an area where we don't strive to be pioneers but are happy to follow in the footsteps of others – when forced to do so. We don't want to be among those who wish to obliterate the Gutenberg Galaxy; we are happier to be their victims, if it comes to that.

We are broadening our activities by publishing books; this is partly an economic calculation and partly a matter of gaining enough credibility to ensure funding. The books are mostly high quality poetry, novels, short stories, essays and children's books, both Slovenian as well translations (for the last two years with the support of the European Literature Fund). Regular subscribers can buy the books with up to 40 per cent discount. We have also tried direct political lobbying; however the current decision-makers appear to be deaf. Campaigning too vigorously can even have negative results. What the current government lacks is the readiness to listen, to discuss and to consider arguments – and may the best man win. That is bad for Slovenian culture, and bad for the country.

What role can Eurozine can play in consolidating the position of cultural journals in Europe? For Sodobnost, receiving the rights to publish articles first published by other member journals for free is a definite plus. To make contributions published by our magazine available to other Eurozine partners is another. Without Eurozine partnership we wouldn't know what is being published elsewhere, and nobody outside Slovenia would know what is being published by Sodobnost. There would be no exchange of ideas, no awareness of the wider context of the current European cultural trends. All things considered, Eurozine is a brilliant idea that should attempt to incorporate as many European cultural journals as possible. I could hardly think of a better way of integrating the various cultures of the European Union, similar though they are. United we stand, divided we fall.

 



Published 2012-09-12


Original in English
First published in Eurozine

Contributed by Sodobnost
© Evald Flisar
© Eurozine
 

Support Eurozine     click for more

If you appreciate Eurozine's work and would like to support our contribution to the establishment of a European public sphere, see information about making a donation.

Focal points     click for more

Russia in global dialogue

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
In the two decades after the end of the Cold War, intellectual interaction between Russia and Europe has intensified. It has not, however, prompted a common conversation. The focal point "Russia in global dialogue" seeks to fuel debate on democracy, society and the legacy of empire. [more]

Ukraine in focus

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/publicsphere.html
Ten years after the Orange Revolution, Ukraine is in the throes of yet another major struggle. Eurozine provides commentary on events as they unfold and further articles from the archive providing background to the situation in today's Ukraine. [more]

The ends of democracy

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/democracy.html
At a time when the global pull of democracy has never been stronger, the crisis of democracy has become acute. Eurozine has collected articles that make the problems of democracy so tangible that one starts to wonder if it has a future at all, as well as those that return to the very basis of the principle of democracy. [more]

The EU: Broken or just broke?

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
Brought on by the global economic recession, the eurocrisis has been exacerbated by serious faults built into the monetary union. Contributors discuss whether the EU is not only broke, but also broken -- and if so, whether Europe's leaders are up to the task of fixing it. [more]

Time to Talk     click for more

Time to Talk, a network of European Houses of Debate, has partnered up with Eurozine to launch an online platform. Here you can watch video highlights from all TTT events, anytime, anywhere.
Dessislava Gavrilova, Jo Glanville et al.
The role of literature houses in protecting the space for free expression

http://www.eurozine.com/timetotalk/european-literature-houses-meeting-2014/
This summer, Time to Talk partner Free Word, London hosted a debate on the role that literature houses play in preserving freedom of expression both in Europe and globally. Should everyone get a place on the podium? Also those representing the political extremes? [more]

Eurozine BLOG

On the Eurozine BLOG, editors and Eurozine contributors comment on current affairs and events. What's behind the headlines in the world of European intellectual journals?
Ben Tendler
Cultures of the Anthropocene

http://www.eurozine.com/blog/
Though the Anthropocene has yet to be officially ratified as a new geological epoch, reflections on cultures of the Anthropocene can hardly be considered premature, writes Ben Tendler. A roundup of recent contributions to the public debate that seek to overcome departmental thinking. [more]

Vacancies at Eurozine     click for more

There are currently no positions available.

Editor's choice     click for more

William E Scheuerman
Civil disobedience for an age of total surveillance
The case of Edward Snowden

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-04-18-scheuerman-en.html
Earlier civil disobedients hinted at our increasingly global condition. Snowden takes it as a given. But, writes William E. Scheuerman, in lieu of an independent global legal system in which Snowden could defend his legal claims, the Obama administration should treat him with clemency. [more]

Literature     click for more

Olga Tokarczuk
A finger pointing at the moon

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-01-16-tokarczuk-en.html
Our language is our literary destiny, writes Olga Tokarczuk. And "minority" languages provide a special kind of sanctuary too, inaccessible to the rest of the world. But, there again, language is at its most powerful when it reaches beyond itself and starts to create an alternative world. [more]

Piotr Kiezun, Jaroslaw Kuisz
Literary perspectives special: Witold Gombrowicz

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2013-08-16-kuisz-en.html
The recent publication of the private diary of Witold Gombrowicz provides unparalleled insight into the life of one of Poland's great twentieth-century novelists and dramatists. But this is not literature. Instead: here he is, completely naked. [more]

Literary perspectives
The re-transnationalization of literary criticism

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/literaryperspectives.html
Eurozine's series of essays aims to provide an overview of diverse literary landscapes in Europe. Covered so far: Croatia, Sweden, Austria, Estonia, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary. [more]

Debate series     click for more

Europe talks to Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/europetalkstoeurope.html
Nationalism in Belgium might be different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account. The debate series "Europe talks to Europe" is an attempt to turn European intellectual debate into a two-way street. [more]

Conferences     click for more

Eurozine emerged from an informal network dating back to 1983. Since then, European cultural magazines have met annually in European cities to exchange ideas and experiences. Around 100 journals from almost every European country are now regularly involved in these meetings.
Law and Border. House Search in Fortress Europe
The 26th European Meeting of Cultural Journals
Conversano, 3-6 October 2014

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/conversano2014.html
Eurozine's 2014 conference in southern Italy, not far from Lampedusa, addressed both EU refugee and immigration policies and intellectual partnerships across the Mediterranean. Speakers included Italian investigative journalist Fabrizio Gatti and Moroccan feminist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Rita El Khayat. [more]

Multimedia     click for more

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/multimedia.html
Multimedia section including videos of past Eurozine conferences in Vilnius (2009) and Sibiu (2007). [more]


powered by publick.net