Culture Minister Ľubica Laššáková's latest decisions have outraged the public. As a result, the public has launched an online petition asking she be recalled from her post for “interfering in professional processes and for her lack of qualifications”, the Sme daily reported.
The petition has been signed by more than 900 people, including representatives of the arts community.
Cuts for cultural institutions
After she decided not to support several projects submitted by the LGBTI organisations, Laššáková also radically cut contributions to the priority projects of several cultural institutions. This includes the Slovak National Gallery (SNG), Kunsthalle, the Slovak National Museum (SNM), as well as some regional theatres and libraries, the Denník N daily reported.Culture Ministry stops money for LGBTI community projects Read more
For example, SNG asked for €367,000, but received only €114,000, while Kunsthalle received €15,000, despite asking for €180,000. SNM usually asks for €9 million, but received €500,000-€800,000, according to the daily.
The cuts will have an impact on their exhibitions, performances, concerts and other activities and publications.
The author of the petition, composer Martin Burlas, explained that Laššáková has failed to win any authority among the arts community.
“A few weeks ago, she attended events where she implied not only the preservation, but the independence of Kunsthalle would be considered under a new contributory organisation of the Culture Ministry, even though the actual steps of the ministry concerning finances lead to the elimination of the institution’s programme,” Burlas wrote, as quoted by Sme. “The result of Laššáková’s real decisions in the office is an alarmingly low amount of finances for the Culture Ministry’s contributory organisations, like the SNG and Kunsthalle, despite the minister’s public promises.”
The ministry rejects criticism
The affected cultural institutions were unpleasantly surprised.
“The decision is discouraging and exterminating for us,” said Alexandra Kusá, head of SNG, as quoted by Denník N.
If the ministry does not increase the gallery’s budget, it will be forced to cancel its programme and work only in a limited regime, Kusá added.
“Such a step on the ministry's part does not raise trust that it cares about the present or even the future of Kunsthalle as an independent state organisation,” said Nina Vrbanová, its authorised director, as quoted by Denník N. “On the contrary, we face lack of interest and fatal undervaluation.”
It is not clear yet why the ministry has decided on cuts.
“The Culture Ministry categorically rejects any claims about cutting the budget of its contributory organisations,” said head of its press department, Barbora Palovičová, as quoted by Denník N. On the contrary, the ministry increased the budgets, she added.
Priority projects cannot be claimed and are only an addition to the ordinary budget of the organisations. Thus, they should not replace the ordinary activities of these organisations, Palovičová continued.
However, Kusá said that the money for priority projects is not extra money and that they spend it as part of their ordinary operation, Denník N wrote.