Dnevnik: Govt Withdrawing Funds from of Independent Artists, Producers to Silence Critics
STA, 12 January 2022 - The Culture Ministry is trying to discipline independent artists and producers by denying them funds offered as part of a EUR 3.8 million call for applications for 2022-2025, the newspaper Dnevnik says in Wednesday's commentary headlined Unbearable Simplicity of Suppressing Critics.
Vasko Simoniti is not the first culture minister to say that Slovenia has too many artists, but he is the minister who has made the greatest effort to do something about it.
For him, "superfluous" are those who are active in the non-governmental sector, whom the current government finds stubborn and whom it does not get along with.
As a result, the idea that the number of NGOs and self-employed in culture is "financially unsustainable" found its way into a new draft national culture programme, even though funds for non-institutional culture represent but a few percent of the entire culture budget.
It is thus no surprise that the public call for applications for funding for the next four years, on which many NGOs depend, has caused uneasiness among the applicants.
This is partly because the number of programmes to be funded is limited and partly because, despite a record culture budget for the coming years, the ministry has hinted at a cut in funding of independent artists and producers.
The scarcity of funds for this group is nothing new because the country has a rigid culture model in which most of the funds go to public institutions. While the previous governments made efforts to cushion the situation, Simoniti seems to be using it to dismantle the culture sector to make it to the liking of "the second republic".
It is hard to overlook comments that it is those who criticise the government's policies that have been left without funds, which is a kind of censorship of thought and creativity.
Dnevnik points to Glej, an independent theatre group, which has been left without funding, formally because other NGOs' programmes have scored more points than it had.
However, it indicates that the true reason could be the fact that Glej's head is also the head of an association that "regularly points to disputable and harmful decisions of the ministry".
In other words, depriving NGOs of funds is the only true tool the authorities have at their disposal for disciplining, Dnevnik says, adding that in NGOs, politics cannot simply replace heads that are not to its liking with servile staff without professional integrity, as is the case in public institutions.