Begging for financial support

Slavo Krekovič

In Slovakia it is very likely that people who are starting their own grassroots initiatives have to negotiate with the state, or the city institutions, or regional governments to get some support. But usually since there is no cultural policy on these different levels they would really acknowledge the existence of bottom up initiatives. It is very difficult to get substantial funding for these activities and to really have an awareness of institutions that are not really established top-down, because the transformation process after the fall of communism still has not been completed in a way.

So we are also trying to communicate with the municipality and also with the regional government and to get support not only for A4 as an independent cultural center, but also several times we tried to attract their attention, and we wanted to move and push things forward to establish a platform, a grant system, or a platform for support of independent cultural activities, which has not yet happened. And we are hoping to really get more people involved, and to get support for the artistic organizations and independent civic initiatives to really build a kind of strong movement, that would force the government on different levels to change their policy.

City of Bratislava has several cultural institutions so that is the regional government. But it is very difficult to start this process of acknowledgement of small independent initiatives and of course even cultural centers that already exist in Bratislava, and to get substantial support, that is needed for at least basic infrastructural running costs and so on. So we feel that there is this need of re-structuring the cultural policies on different levels, that would really take into account independent civic activities, and that would sort of create conditions for artistic works, and would actually make it possible for artists to stay in the city, or in the region, or in Slovakia.

It seems that now in the city government the officials are kind of listening to what the independent operators are saying, and they would really like to change the things, but since there are of course many different problems with the city budget, it is not so easy, and of course you need to make more sustainable pressure and kind of intelligent way of communication. And especially regarding the cultural industries and creative economy there is the potential or maybe the possibility of getting the city government involved.

In the same time I feel big danger that this idea or this ideology of creative industries could lead as well to support only for this industrial side, which means for commercial projects, or for start-ups, and companies, that would kind of be creative and attract creative class workers, but at the same time they would just be oriented towards generating profit. And I think that arts and all the non-profit initiatives should not be excluded of this support and of this development. And I think it is very important to stress this non-commercial point, that we need more support for artists, who are not willing to become commercial, and who are not companies. Because we would really appreciate the officials and the politicians to create conditions for creative people, so they would not be forced to become entrepreneurs. And I think this is one of the big risks of that just taking the policies from another states or another cities in different countries. Because I think it is not enough to establish creative incubators and to let people to move in and to watch what happens.

In Bratislava we have a nice example of Cvernovka factory which is an old factory where architects, designers, fashion designers and web developers kind of spontaneously moved in a couple of years ago. And they created this kind of a hub or creative environment. And I think this is a nice example of how it could work even without an official approach. Although it would be much more easier if there would be some kind of support from the local government, I mean from the city that would kind of push these initiatives, and it would take advantage of this movement. And there are many creative people in this region. And I think there are many artists who would really like to stay in Slovakia, in Bratislava. But the problem is the conditions for them and also the living costs are quite high. So the most important think is to create and to elaborate on the strategy for sustainable cultural development and including cultural and creative industries but not limited to commercial enterprises.

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Slavo Krekovič

Slavo Krekovič

A4, Bratislava, Slovakia

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