THE SLOVAK Design Centre (SDC) is to be transformed, though no one yet knows quite how. The Culture Ministry, which established the centre in 1991, has failed to give a clear answer as to what will happen to the SDC.
The future of the centre has been uncertain for some months. In September 2005, the media was filled with reports that it would be abolished. Then, in December last year, plans were announced to put the centre under the administration of the Technical University in Zvolen, and "transform" it. However, no details were revealed.
The efforts of the Culture Ministry to recall the current head of the centre, Katarína Hubová, added to the uncertainty of the situation. The ministry said Hubová is undertaking on her own activities that are unsystematic and ineffective.
Support for Hubová has come from artists and designers and they are confident that the SDC is fulfilling all its tasks. The artists and designers are not against a transformation if it is done professionally, but they are strictly against putting the centre under the auspices of the university in Zvolen.
Accusations about just who is or not able to manage the centre, and culture as a whole in this country, abound. While the ministry wants Hubová to go, a group of designers, in an open letter, expressed deep discontent with the current culture minister, František Tóth, and the head of the art section at the Culture Ministry, Martin Mašek.
According to the designers, Mašek is following his own agenda. His company also received a special grant. The designers object to Mašek defending a former head of the centre who had to leave her post under suspicion of misusing funds. The designers wrote that Mašek consciously presented only unfavourable information about the centre and its current boss and failed to mention successful activities.
They said they appreciated the fact that for the first time the SDC is fulfilling its mandate, declared when it was established in 1991. There is an up-dated and functional library used by students, pedagogues and the public. The number of events organized by the centre has increased under the new management. The Slovak design magazine De Signum is now accessible to the public. For the first time, the SDC is trying to obtain funding from EU structural funds.
The SDC was established by the Culture Ministry as an organization partially financed by the state budget. Its goal is to promote design, publish and educate, organize competitions and provide advisory in the field of design. It also administers a database of designers active in industrial and graphic design as well as a database of companies focused on the development of their own products and production programmes.
Compiled by Marta Ďurianová
from press reports