THE CULTURE Ministry has allocated more money for grants in 2006 and made its system for getting a grant more transparent and faster. Applicants can request grants from a total allocation of Sk750 million (€20 million), which is a 50-percent increase from last year, and monitor their applications' progress on the Internet.
"The new grants system will be more comprehensive, easily understandable thanks to being brought to electronic form and significantly faster," said Culture Minister František Tóth.
When Tóth became culture minister last year, he found more than Sk90 million (€2.3 billion) in funds waiting to be distributed and more than 600 contracts for 2004 untouched. To prevent such a situation arising again, he introduced an electronic system. The applications for grants will be registered via the Internet, which will speed up the time for attending to the requests and enable the applicants to see at what stage their applications are at any given moment. Each application is assigned an identification number.
"This way the allocated finances can be more effectively and quickly used," Tóth said.
The SITA news agency reported that the ministry has also implemented a points system for evaluating applications, which, the minister says should prevent lobbying groups from forcing their agendas. A novelty is the possibility to pay compensation costs for projects.
Applicants can ask for grants from the Culture Ministry in nine programmes, which include 35 sub-programmes. Within the new system the ministry has also introduced a new project, Cultural Passes, a kind of automatic support for applicants who meet specified conditions.
This system, SITA says, replaces the previous "classical" way of assigning finances to cultural institutions, for which Tóth has been criticized.
Information on the grants system is available at www.culture.gov.sk.