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End of the road for national design centre?

THE CULTURE Ministry has decided to abolish the Slovak Design Centre (SCD) in its current form by the start of next year. This radical measure has surprised designers and raised a wave of protest.

THE CULTURE Ministry has decided to abolish the Slovak Design Centre (SCD) in its current form by the start of next year. This radical measure has surprised designers and raised a wave of protest.

"The decision to terminate the only Slovak institution supporting design is unreasonable, and is being made without expert analysis of the centre's function and mission, or public debate," opponents of the plan stated in an open letter to Culture Minister František Tóth.

While questioning the unclear reasons behind the decision, designers also argue that preserving the institution would mean following the European trend.

"It's more than a little ironic that the design centre, which was founded 15 years ago by one of the country's first post-revolution govern-ments, would be sacrificed at a time when the European Union is busy generating the maximum possible support for innovation and design," said the SCD's director Katarína Hubová.

The Culture Ministry has stated it is searching for more effective ways of supporting design, which, it admits, is often used in profitable businesses.

Of the four national centres the ministry currently supports, design receives the smallest fraction of its budget: nine percent, which is equal to Sk9 million (€231,000).

But by abolishing the SCD, the ministry stresses that it does not necessarily want to eliminate its activities. The centre's artistic and documentary activities will be continued by institutions like the Slovak National Gallery, and the ministry actually plans to increase support for cultural activities related to the design sphere.

"The cultural-educational mission of the design centre has been accomplished. Therefore, we have long been thinking about the need to transform it," head of the Culture Ministry's arts section, Martin Mašek, told the daily SME.

The final verdict remains up in the air for now.


- ZH

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