1) Analysis and identification of the vulnerabilities of the sector in order to strengthen and prepare as much as possible public and private actors for possible / future similar situations
2) Limiting financial vulnerability: the cultural sector is one of the hardest hit at the moment, not only by the closure of museums and performing arts institutions to the public (and their inability to bring in their own income), but also by the blocking of the independent system (independent artists and Cultural and Creative Industries).
In the short term measures should be focused and applied to minimise the effects of the pandemic. Thus, in our view, we advocate the following:
1) Creation of a financial instrument, at national level, to ensure the temporary online functioning of the cultural environment. Digitisation is currently an effective way of making cultural and intangible heritage accessible. Our proposal aims to provide financial support at national level for local authorities that are responsible for cultural institutions. The measure is all the more effective as it brings results with an immediate and long-lasting impact.
2) Re-launch of local culture funding programmes administered by local authorities for the private sector. A large number of local authorities have given up the budget for cultural agendas in order to redistribute the budget to the health system. Financial support through cultural agendas could be reduced, but should be kept at least for traditional events to allow communities to feel the return to normality and give a chance to the private cultural sector to survive.
3) Ensure the framework for the operationalization of GC 76, by providing the infrastructure and setting up the team to operate and manage this fund that allows investment in the cultural sector. The cultural infrastructure in Romania is deficient and this is a good time to start investments in the field of heritage, especially in terms of prevention. The direct beneficiaries, apart from the institutions, would also be those in the private sector (architecture, construction, digital infrastructure, graphic designers, artists, etc.). In practice, it would be a boost for the economy, with medium and long-term effects. From our point of view, a large part of the actual investment activities would take place online, thus ensuring the right working conditions without the risks of the current pandemic.
4) The relaxation of social distance should, from the first stage, also consider cultural institutions and private operators, with respect for strict rules, following the model presented by Western countries (Austria, Denmark), where a customer/visitor is allocated a 20sqm indoor/outdoor space. At the same time, the creation of a national investment programme for tools and interventions to disinfect and secure the space and the public would generate more confidence for society.
5) EGO to suspend, during the state of emergency, the payment of operating costs (rent, utilities, maintenance) to operators in the cultural and creative industries in the private sector.
6) Ensuring the functioning of private institutions and operators that manage movable and immovable cultural heritage. We propose that insurance should consist in the obligation to support the salary funds for specialist staff working directly with heritage. Encourage research programmes to identify cost-effective solutions with minimal environmental impact (environmentally friendly, bio-degradable substances, etc.) The lack of specialist staff and effective solutions will result in irrecoverable damage to heritage objects and much higher investments after this period.
7) In the interests of efficiency, effectiveness and economy, a rapid national evaluation of high-performing institutions is urgently needed. Analysis of the economic potential of cultural institutions and the private sector to generate differentiated support in crisis situations, so that public expenditure has a maximum return in terms of revenue to the state budget.
8) Creation of a guarantee fund for co-financing European projects for both the private sector and state institutions.
9) Simplify the certification of authorised experts, either through the equivalence of the experience of museographers/researchers with more than 5 years in museums, or through regional training programmes that are financially accessible on a large scale. In the current context, institutions are obliged to evaluate heritage, and evaluators are very few and have to complete very expensive courses, which puts museums under pressure and at risk.
In the medium term
1) Limiting technological vulnerability: the cultural sector in Romania is ill-adapted to digital culture and new technologies (there is a lack of a national policy on digital culture and the use of new technologies, with a major impact on the education system). The solution of making cultural resources available online (through the E-culture project - digitisation of mobile cultural goods, through virtual tours or virtual guides in collections) needs to be accompanied by solutions to attract income through activities based on these resources, but the public sector is not ready for these alternative solutions.
2) Additional tax incentives for the private sector to grant cultural vouchers - a tool which, together with holiday vouchers, would help to shorten the recovery period of the sector. Their use would also have a positive effect on the craftsmen who sell their wares through the country's museums.
3) Provide a financial instrument for the completion and maintenance of public and private collections, including simplification of procurement procedures.
4) Balancing the salaries of all cultural institutions in order to achieve the equity necessary to stabilise, retain and encourage human resources in the cultural sector. The document is submitted to the Ministry of Culture.
5) Continue the implementation of GC 76/2018 prioritising revenue generating projects at regional level.
6) For the 2021-2027 European financial year, it is necessary to facilitate access to large-scale projects (example of the ROP), making it compulsory to valorise the beneficiary objective of funds after the project implementation period. At the same time, the funding guidelines for rural development must be supplemented with funding lines accessible to cultural operators in rural areas to enhance local cultural resources.
7) The implementation of a national funding programme for specific activities of state and private museums, multiannual for the valorisation of the managed heritage.
8) The abolition of VAT for galleries and shops that promote the artistic production of popular creators, craftsmen, artists, etc. In this respect, competition with industrial and export products would be fair, encouraging domestic production and guaranteeing income for the intangible heritage component.
9) The Ministry of Culture should draw up a document to encourage existing human resources (craftsmen and builders) from the surrounding areas on restoration sites specific to vernacular architecture. This would encourage the stability of the holders of specific knowledge, techniques and tools in the area of origin. This creates an opportunity for quality cultural tourism with an immediate impact on local sustainable development.
10) Identify and implement fiscal facilities to encourage financial interventions of the private sector in culture (sponsorships, donations, etc.).
11) To implement the National Strategy for Culture and adapt it to regional, county and local needs.
1) Establishment of regional authorities under the Ministry of Culture to manage the needs related to tangible and intangible cultural heritage, implement investment projects, identify immediate needs and contribute effectively to sustainable regional development.
2) For state institutions, a regulation is required for the evaluation of qualitative indicators, the impact on the social, economic and educational environment.
3) Implementation of the directions of the National Strategy for Culture.
4) Adapting existing financial instruments to the needs of society and the state and private cultural environment. Here we refer to unforeseen situations (the current pandemic being a concrete example) and ensuring a reserve that allows the functioning of culture for state institutions and the private sector.
5) Priority support for state and private institutions with proven capacity to attract European funds and spend them efficiently.
The lack of predictability generated by the proposal to amend GEO 189, given the limitation of mandates that will also apply to those in progress, will generate a situation of non-involvement of the management factor in identifying the most effective and economical solutions and measures to minimize the impact generated by the pandemic and, more than that, disinterest in the measures that are required in the medium and long term.
At the same time, the balancing of salaries for all staff in cultural institutions, according to the document submitted by the professional organisations (RNMR and AMM), would generate greater loyalty and mobilisation of the already existing and very creative human resources.
I do not intend to turn the document and the proposed measures into a salary complaint, but rather to emphasise that we already have an extraordinary resource, the human resource, in the current and future context!
General Director of ASTRA SIBIU Museum & President of the National Network of Museums in Romania
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