SEVERAL artists and representatives of cultural organisations have signed an appeal criticising the decreased budget for culture for next year. According to them, the proposed cut in expenses compared to this year’s spending will be “the death knell” for a number of organisations in Slovakia and their activities.

Meanwhile, Culture Minister Marek Maďarič also criticised the proposed budget, saying it is at odds with the government’s programme statement.

According to the first draft of the state budget, introduced in mid-August, the Culture Ministry should get €173 million next year, down by €10 million compared to this year.

The appeal, titled ‘Culture, What For?’, has already been signed by the director of the international theatre festival Divadelná Nitra, Darina Kárová, Dušan Vicen of SkRAT theatre, writer Michal Hvorecký and Marek Adamov from the Žilina-Záriečie cultural centre. They point to the repeated drop in funding for culture in the draft budget for 2015, which will mostly affect the system of subsidies and subsequently non-state cultural activities, the TASR newswire reported.

The signatories also noted that Slovakia spends only 0.39 percent of its GDP on culture annually.

“In all neighbouring countries the figure is higher, whereas the European standard is 1 percent,” they claimed, as quoted by TASR.

The appeal underlines that the current trend in the EU is to support culture with the knowledge that individual fields of culture do not absorb finances but generate them.

“Culture is a producer of innovation and jobs, and it activates the economy and develops tourism,” the signatories said, as quoted by TASR. “It also builds identity, contributes to tolerance and improves the quality of life.”

According to Maďarič, the government’s programme statement reads that the government views the long-term debt to culture, the insufficient recognition of its importance and the absence of systematic changes that create an inadequate environment for cultural development.

“The kind of politics that will recognise culture not only as important for society, but which will also provide it with more significant support, is necessary,” Maďarič said, as quoted by TASR.

The minister considers the draft budget unacceptable and expects that the sum will change after negotiations with Finance Minister Peter Kažimír. He did not say how much money he would consider acceptable.