Cultural Policy and Values Intrinsic vs Instrumental The

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					Cultural Policy and Values: Intrinsic versus Instrumental? The Romanian Case Dan-Eugen RATIU Department of Philosophy, Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca
Full Paper for the 5th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research 20-24 August 2008, Istanbul, Turkey Abstract
This paper addresses the cultural policy in post-Communist Romania, focusing on the justifications for supporting culture and the arts. The objectives are to clarify the values that legitimize public support and to determine how they affect the meaning and impact of cultural policy. The author argues that the different justifications of public funding, instrumental or intrinsic, depend on the representations of the roles that successive governments conferred to culture and the arts, as well as on the particular ideas of culture and art they promoted. The policy discourse after 1989, nurtured by a remanent instrumental ideology, slowly connected to the international debate, being dominated by a traditional, narrow conception of culture and art, conflicting with a modern one. The paper concludes that the fluctuations and conflicts between different values and ideas of culture and art have worked until recently to constrain cultural policy, disrupting its implementation and altering its effects.

Romanian cultural policy; public support; intrinsic and instrumental values; ideas of culture and art

Contact: Department of Philosophy, Babes-Bolyai University, 1 M.Kogalniceanu str., 400084
Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Email:

Word count: 7938 (excluding references) Introduction In Western countries cultural policy represents a very popular area among scientists, an extensive literature dealing with issues as the rationales and impact of public support for culture. Before the 1980s, it was nearly undisputed that culture and the arts were a public responsibility and, therefore, should be financed mostly by the government. However, the generous public support for the arts led to a high dependence of artistic institutions, as well as individual artists, on the state, and to an equally high state influence on cultural activities (Mokre 2006). Within this context, especially in France a critique of the state interventionism raised from different philosophical or ideological perspectives. However, the outcomes converged towards the idea that an interventionist policy and protectionist system, though leading to a general amelioration of the artists‘ social condition, also generate perverse effects, raising as many problems as they have solved, by contributing to the sterilization of creation by the ―cultural State‖ (Fumaroli 1991) or by transforming the artists in social-assisted, unprepared for the competition on a global art market (Michaud 1989). The 1990s have brought about major transformations in the philosophy of cultural policy, towards a neo-liberal discourse and model. But critiques also emerged regarding its guiding principles, as well as the expected outcomes. Recent studies conclude that, in sum, the highly optimistic

prognoses of the benefits of liberalisation in the cultural sector have not been realized (Mulcahy 2006, Mokre 2006), and argue that seeing and evaluating culture and arts policy in economic-quantitative terms encourage commercial and mainstream cultural production and discourage innovative forms of culture making – arts on the margins, emerging artists, and social criticism (Goff and Jenkins 2006). Other studies look from a critical perspective at the hegemonic process of neo-liberal globalisation and its implications for culture and cultural policy, the general argument being that culture is now saturated with a market-oriented mentality that closes out alternative ways of thinking and imagining (McGuigan 2005). The disputes over the guiding principles of cultural policy generated a shift in the mainstream legitimation for supporting the arts. In sum, as Mulcahy (2006) observed, they have led to a dichotomy between the ―ideology of merit good‖ – using intrinsic arguments: art merits support because of its contribution to the general welfare – and the ―ideology of cultural utilitarianism‖ – using instrumental arguments: the socialeconomic impact of the arts, as social cohesion, sustainable development and urban regeneration etc. –, as well as to an opposition between intrinsic and instrumental value of the arts. In post-Communist Romania, where the first cultural strategy was formulated only in 1997 under the impetus of the Council of Europe, a critical reflection on cultural policy‘s principles and implementation manifestly lacks. Those who got involved in debates about cultural policy, often ignored by scholars, were mainly cultural managers, experts and animators of NGOs. Yet the discussions were conveyed in a technical language which tends to eliminate any reflection regarding values, seen as ideological, while the justification of cultural policy or its operational concepts were considered as self-evident and useless to define. Contrary to the technical language of cultural management, this paper proposes a valuecentred approach of cultural policy in post-Communist Romania, focusing on its founding values and its conditions of legitimacy and contradictions. The research relies on few basic ideas. Firstly, that cultural policy is inseparable from values and open to conceptual invention, its main component being of ideological nature. It is defined according to Urfalino as ―a coherent and successful alliance, that is socially accepted, between a representation of the role that the state confers to art in consolidating or transforming society and a set of public measures‖ in that purpose (Urfalino 2004, pp.385-386). Secondly, that there is a need to examine from a philosophical viewpoint the uses of concepts in the sphere of cultural policy, as we can gain in our understanding by clarifying confusing ideas. It is mainly about understanding the justifications of public support and the particular ideas of culture and art on which cultural policy is grounded in Romania. The main question regards the nature of arguments that justify the public support for culture and the arts, in other words the answer to the question: why must culture or artistic creation be an issue of public support? Other questions regard the arguments‘ legitimacy and usefulness: are they reasonable and sufficient for justifying the state intervention in the (autonomous) field of culture or the appeal to other justifications is necessary? Can government play a (legitimate) role in the process of defining art and the artistic quality?


Policymakers and actors in the cultural field in Romania, with some exceptions, shared the paternalistic attitude that culture is a state responsibility, which has ―to promote art and culture‖ and ―to promote Romanian cultural and artistic values worldwide‖. Such general discursive formula tells nothing about the rationales and finalities of the public support for culture and the arts. The public discourse in the last two decades – that is discourses, debates, strategies and reports by cultural administrators or public authorities, such as the Ministry of Culture (MoC), reorganized since 2001 as the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affaires (MoCRA) – hardly tend to justify the public support of culture. The justifications are rarely explicitly formulated but they can be deduced from the roles that successive governments tend to prescribe to culture and the arts. During the Communist rule, culture was considered as an ideological tool in shaping the ―new mankind‖ and ―constructing the multilateral developed socialist society‖. After 1989 one could obviously observe the transformation or ―normalization‖ of the mission of culture, which liberates itself from this burdensome propagandistic task. However post-Communist governments still expect some outcomes in exchange of funding culture and the arts. New roles are now assigned to them, reflecting this time ―a new conception of the art and culture‘s usefulness in constructing the consumption society [sic]‖(MoC 2000, p.5), as the first post-Communist cultural policy report puts it hybridizing the jargon of the Communist ―golden age‖ with the new language of the capitalist era. A Grandiloquent Justification of Funding Culture: the National Interest and Prestige The first and most important role assigned to culture is to play as a source of identity. All post-Communist governments agreed on this subject. Nonetheless the identity at stake holds various meanings – from ―cultural identity‖ to ―national identity‖ – which are not always matching the ideology of the ruling parties. A version endorsed during the CDR-PD-UDMR centre-right-wing government (1997–2000), a coalition of Christian democrats, liberals and the Hungarian minority union, is that the artists have ―to promote the identity and cultural development of society‖, as mentioned in the Joint Declaration of the Ministry of Culture and the main unions of artists, released at the closure of the National Alliance of the Creators‘ Unions (ANUC) annual symposium in November 1998 (MoC and ANUC 1998, p.5). The role of culture as ―carrier and creator of identity‖ was reiterated and reinforced during the PDSR/PSD left wing government (2001-2004), presumably SocialDemocrat, this time the identity being understood as ―national identity‖. As the President Iliescu stated in his discourse at the National Cultural Forum ―The status and perspectives of Romanian culture at the beginning of a new millennium‖ (June 2002), which was aiming at defining a national strategy regarding culture: ―Culture, as part of our national being, is meant to assert our national identity within the globalized world of the future‖ (Iliescu 2002, pp.3-4). In this context and particularly during 2001–2004 the public financing for culture and the arts was mainly justified in the grandiloquent terms of national interest – supporting the artists as ―guarantors of the national cultural identity‖ – and prestige, which is


presumably attainable at international level by ―Romania‘s participation in the international cultural dialogue‖ and by ―imposing Romanian culture on the international scene‖ (Iliescu 2002, pp.2-3). The identarian conception of culture and tactic is not specific to Romanian cultural policy but largely shared/employed by other countries, such as France for example (de Waresquiel 2002, pp.141-142). Neither the dilemmas of identity are specific to Romanian cultural space but widely spread in the European space, especially in the Eastern countries where after the fall of Communism the attempts of regaining the traditional values or the modern occidental ones have taken the form either of a violent „identarian revendication‖ or of a „quick fix internationalization‖ (Şuteu 2003, p.11). Therefore a question arises on the constitutive elements of this identity and implicitly of culture according to Romanian policy discourse: are these elements just the memory and the traces of the past – the heritage, the traditional and vernacular culture – or the contemporary creation as well? Another question concerns the nature of this ―identity‖: is it conceived in individual-cultural terms or in national-collective terms? The attributes ―national‖ or ―Romanian‖ attached to ―culture‖ do not have a unique meaning during the analyzed period. Their meaning goes from a neutral one (the simple territory), referring to the culture produced inside the country (MoC 2000a, pp.7-8), up to an ethnic one, related to the identitarian conception of culture. But the latter stands either for a ―cultural identity‖ of individuals or for a collective ―national identity‖, which was sometimes understood in a nationalist manner as ―national specific‖ in opposition to international/foreign cultures. Thus, during the 1997–2000 government, the preoccupation for ―national culture‖ was considered by cultural administrators a false problem: ―the cultural identity‖ supposes other frames than the frontiers and the criteria of nation, as the cultural policy evaluation report by Romanian experts puts it; the specificity of Romanian culture is equated to what the historian Nicolae Iorga had already characterized between the two World Wars as ―the Romanian synthesis‖ (CoE 1999a, pp.12-14). Consequently, the strategy of the Ministry of Culture in this period has an utilitarian-individualistic tint, putting along the social development and the individual one – which is understood as intensification of ―cultural creativity‖ for the ―improvement of life quality for all the members of society‖ – and emphasizing the individual and cultural participation: ―The Ministry of Culture grants priority to the fundamental right of each individual to the access and participation to the cultural life and to the improvement of life quality‖ (MoC 2000a, pp.17-20, 113-114; MoC 2000b, p.3). During the 2001–2004 government, the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affaires promoted an identitarian notion of culture, understood as source of national identity, although there is an appeal ―to understand culture in the modern way as a development tool which helps to increase the general level of life quality‖. Therefore the cultural policy was explicitly set under the sign of the renaissance of national culture: the focus is on the ―national dimension of culture‖, ―national identity‖ and ―cultural heritage‖, the priority being the stimulation of vernacular creation and the protection of traditional culture – understood as signs of communitarian identity. But this objectives formulated in heroic terms actually hides a reaction of national re-alignment in opposition to what, in the previous governance, had seemed an opening towards international cultures, qualified at this moment as ―national and international manifestation of some tendencies


for minimizing the importance of national identity‖ (MoCRA 2001, pp.15, 43-44, 129; MoCRA 2003, pp.91-92). Significantly for the ideological horizon of those who administrated culture in that period, settling the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affaires in a brand new building in the Village Museum was symbolically assumed as an arrival ―to the core of the rural and originating civilization of Romanians (matca civilizaţiei rurale şi aurorale a românilor)‖ (MoCRA 2003, p.5). Similarly, President Iliescu‘s discourse at the National Cultural Forum in 2002, after stating that ―culture, as part of our national being, is meant to assert our national identity within the globalized world of the future‖, postulated that this identity would be generated especially by the ―Romanian village [which] has always been the keeper of traditions, of the heritage of spiritual creation and of the national identity‖ (Iliescu 2002, p.4). This approach of the national culture in identarian-collective terms revives thus an outdated conception of culture with idyllic and nationalist tints. Consequently, the public discourse and cultural policy in Romania still prolong the ancient ideological conflict between national tradition and modernity, as well as a tension or even opposition between an idea of culture which is rather utilitarianindividualistic (centred on the individuals) and a ―nationalist‖-collectivist idea of culture (centred on ―the national being‖). Besides the identarian conception of culture and in tight connection to it, the cultural policy making and implementation was also built on a patrimonial conception of culture, in that its extension includes mainly the heritage and the vernacular-traditional forms. This conception explains the policy emphasis on cultural heritage, whose primacy was not merely conceptual but also practical. The cultural policy translated this idea of culture through the pre-eminence of preserving the national heritage – understood as a factor of national identity and of historic legitimacy –, over the support of contemporary art or living culture. Although this patrimonial policy reigned especially during the PDSR/PSD governances of 1992–1996 and 2001–2004, both presumably periods of Social Democrat rule, it transcends the political and ideological cleavages of ―right‖ and ―left‖ (Raţiu 2007, pp.203-204). For example, from 1996– 1998, the expenditures related to heritage rose to the third most significant portion of the Ministry of Culture‘s overall budget, a rate of increase twenty times that of 1994– 1996 (MoC 2000a, pp.45–47; CoE 1999b, p.17). This increase was not only due to the precarious condition of cultural heritage, but also to the notion that it is ―essential for the creation of national identity‖, as stated in the national report on cultural policy (CoE 1999a, p.130). This patrimonial conception of culture also led to changes in the departmental structure of the Ministry of Culture, which was reorganized in 2001, and its programs. For example, the Direction for Visual Arts merged with the Direction of Museums and Collections among a General Direction of Heritage; along the same lines, the programs for exhibition or purchase of artworks merged with the National Program for Valuating the Cultural Heritage. As a result, the promotion of artistic creativity was subordinated to heritage and interpreted as a patrimonial act. Correspondingly, the ministry reoriented its strategy in the visual art sector toward the ―support and promotion of national events‖ and purchasing of valuable art works ―to complete the national heritage‖ (MoCRA 2003, 88–92), whereas it dropped the support of contemporary creativity as an explicit cultural policy objective (Raţiu 2007, p.210). Despite the apparent generosity, the justification of financing culture in the grandiloquent terms of national interest and prestige generates a serious problem, that of


evaluation of cultural policy. The outcomes of a policy aiming to ―promote the arts and culture‖ in order to ―guaranteeing the national cultural identity‖ are extremely difficult to quantify. So it leaves a broad space for arbitrary in the public action: government can manage resources at its will, not having to be accountable and to concern itself with any measurable effects of its cultural policy. On the other hand, at the international level, the actual effects of an ―imperial‖ cultural policy like that of ―imposing (Romanian) culture on the international scene‖ depend on the resources allocated and on the acknowledged capacity of state‘s institutions to provide cultural legitimacy: there can be noticeable results only when considerable financial resources are dispensed (as in the case of France, but there also surprises do not lack) and where an influential institutional framework is involved. Both the weakness of the Romanian cultural institutions and the insignificant resources provided by the government on this purpose, alongside the arbitrariness in decision-making or lack of transparency in dispensing funds, couldn‘t else but condemn the public action founded on the national prestige argument, as well as the cultural acts performed under this purpose, to a limited public impact and to irrelevance from the cultural point of view. Unassuming a comprehensive evaluation of the policy of ―promoting Romanian culture abroad‖, even a brief review of the public discourse and cultural actions undertook in this aim during 2001–2004 can offer a suggestion about the (in)effectiveness of public actions under the sign of ―promoting culture and art‖ in the name of national prestige or interest. The manner in which the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs‘ reports underline the ―promotion of the image of Romanian art abroad‖ and the ―art‘s festive stakes‖ (MoCRA 2003, p.92), bears witness to the submission of cultural policy to a rhetoric whose main target is not the cultural act but the cultural image. It also exposes its festive-glorifying and official character, both through the nature of the cultural supply submissive to diplomatic rigours rather than to artistic excellence and through its addressees: the favourite events were ―The Days of Romanian Culture‖, ―The Year of Romania‖, ―centennials‖ or celebrations of artists, all under the ministry or presidential patronage1; the audience was frequently limited to the diplomatic community or Romanian diaspora, ignoring the local public; meanwhile, the displaying places were not recognized cultural spaces, but the Romanian embassies and cultural centres or other governmental or international institutions such as Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the European Council in Strasbourg, the European Parliament in Brussels, The Nations Palace in Geneva etc. (see MoCRA 2001, pp.23-25; MoCRA 2002, 19-21,34). Moreover, the international presence of Romanian creators ―from the craftsman and folklore singer to famous visual artists‖ had been programmatically assumed in the official discourse of the minister of culture during 2001–2004. All the external cultural manifestations like ―The Year of Romania‖ or ―The Days of Romanian Culture‖ in that period lay under the sign of a celebrative patrimonial saga, voluntarily exhaustive but extremely composite, so that the modern or contemporary art exhibitions in Romanian

Some examples of actions for promoting Romanian culture abroad are fairly relevant. In 2002, ―the most important cultural events‖ in Germany have been, according to MoCRA‘s report, ―The Days of Romanian Culture in Bavaria‖ and ―The Festival of Danube Countries‖ where ―the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs had a remarkable presence‖ through a delegation consisting in ―craftsmen, Info stand, traditional dishes and shows of the Masca Theatre‖, all under the management of a state secretary. The ―Romanian Cultural Year in Great Britain‖ in 2004 included as priority, besides a Brancusi exhibition at the Tate Modern Gallery (which was actually the organizer) and a painting exhibition (Victor Brauner), sales exhibitions of current vernacular creation, of naïve art, presentations of wines and traditional dishes, folk music shows and fiddlers bands (see MoCRA 2003, pp.5-6, 15-19, 44, 84-84; MoCRA 2004, pp.9-10). 6

cultural centres or in other cultural spaces coexist with exhibitions of archaeology, history, folk art and handicraft, technical heritage and so on (see MoCRA 2001, pp.5253, 58-59; MoCRA 2002, p.6). The frenzy of commemoration and celebration which characterizes not only the external Romanian cultural policy but also the internal one, shows that this was intended to be ―a machine producing consensus‖, i.e. ―national culture‖, in a country in double search (national and international) of identity. Certainly, the identarian strategy and the correspondent conception of culture are not to be blamed in themselves. Nevertheless, it should be noticed that the notion of ―national culture‖ has an extension that covers mostly the traces of the past – the heritage, the vernacular and traditional culture. This conception dominant during 1992–1996 and 2001–2004 induces a tension between the popular-traditional and the high-contemporary forms of culture, running the risk to disrupt the cultural landscape when arriving at the point to oppose some forms as genuine-native versus unauthentic-foreign, such as national heritage vs. contemporary art, and handicraft vs. cultural industries. In fact, the cultural supply supported by the state and implicitly ―the national identity‖ proposed as such have been characterized by the unbalance between the traditional-particularistic forms (which were favoured) and the modern-universalistic cultural practices. Meanwhile, the emphatic presence in the cultural events of the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs – which had mostly acted not as mediator between cultural demand and supply but as direct producer of culture – transformed ―the promotion of Romanian art and culture abroad‖ into an approach of self-representation, in other words into a status earning activity of the cultural administrators rather than of the artists themselves. A Pragmatic Justification: the Social and Economic Benefits of Funding Culture and the Arts Another role post-Communist governments attributed to culture and the arts is that of a ―tool‖ or ―factor of the economic and social development‖. This role is subsequent to the identarian one from a chronological point of view and less important in the legitimating rhetoric of the public funding for culture. In fact, Romanian government has only recently discovered that ―culture is to be regarded not as a consumer of funds but as a generator of economic sustainable development and social cohesion‖, as stated in the 2000 report of the Ministry of Culture (MoC 2000a, p.7). Previously, The Joint Declaration on the Status of Art Creators and Performing Artists in Romania adopted in 1998, still combining the language of the ―golden age‖ with the new jargon of the informational era, recognized the role of culture in ―the processes of social transformations‖ and assumed ―the key role of contemporary artistic creation in the construction of the informational society‖ (MoC and ANUC 1998, pp.9-10). The pragmatic perspective imposed into the public discourse only after Romania entered the Council of Europe programme of national cultural policies reviews (19971999) and, then, started the negotiations for entering the European Union. This type of justification for funding culture was formulated by European experts in the 1999 report on the Romanian cultural policy. This report spotted three reasons, apart from purely cultural considerations, to invest in culture: an economic reason (―culture as a factor in growth and job-creation: investing in culture means investing in economy‖), a social one (―culture is part of the social ‚cement‘ that binds people together, promoting


dialogue between different groups and helping to develop an independent, active civil society‖), and another reason related to the belongingness to Europe (culture as a ―passport‖ for Romania‘s access into the European Union) (CoE 1999b, p.6). Another impetus came from the Cultural Strategy elaborated by foreign experts in the framework of a PHARE project financed by the EU (finalized in February 2000), which related culture and market-oriented economy. The above mentioned formula was taken over as such from this strategy:
„Mission statement. Romania, taking as a starting point in heritage, traditions and cultural contributions from all social and ethnic groups as well as its infrastructure and monuments, will develop and support cultural life and creators of art and culture focusing in joining the EU in the context of a democratic and open society geared to a market-oriented economy. For this reason, culture is to be regarded not as a consumer of funds, but as a generator of economic sustainable development and social cohesion.‖ (MoC 2000b, p.6)

On this basis, a pragmatic justification of financing culture from public funds was added to the national interest and prestige argument. This new justification was formulated both in terms of social impact or benefits – ―social cohesion and inclusion‖, ―struggle against inequalities and discrimination‖ and ―satisfying cultural needs‖ of the public –, and of economic benefits, initially assessed in general terms as ―general growth of the country‖ and ―durable development‖. Yet the cultural policy after 2000 did not follow constantly these arguments. As in the case of the identitarian notion of culture that founds the justification in terms of national interest or prestige, there are fluctuations and discontinuities in cultural policy-decision and making. This pragmatic perspective in public funding for culture, initiated during 1997–2000 and encoded by the Cultural Strategy (2000), was embraced at the National Cultural Forum (2002) but only at a discursive level. President Iliescu‘s discourse reasserted the ―economic potential‖ of culture as ―a mean of general growth of the country‖ and the fact that culture ―is not only [a.e.] an unprofitable consumer of resources, but, on the contrary, it can and it should be creator of resources‖ (Iliescu 2002, p.2). Yet that strategy was abandoned and the cultural policy shifted again the emphasis on the identarian role of culture. In fact, this National Cultural Forum explicitly aims at building an alternative national strategy in the cultural field – ―the renaissance of national culture‖ (Theodorescu 2002, p.1; MoCRA 2001, p.129). The justification of public support for culture in social-economic terms was re-installed in the foreground of cultural policy after the general elections in December 2004, by the new centre-right-wing government (PNL-PD-UDMR-PC). The Government program 2005-2008 and MoCRA‘s strategy, part of the National Development Plan (2005), brought into the Romanian policy discourse in an explicit way the justifications employed in Western cultural policy since the 1990s, that is the specific economic benefits that culture could offer to a community: development of cultural tourism, attracting investors, urban economic revitalization and so on (Romanian government 2005a, MoCRA 2005b). Considered in the local context, such a pragmatic justification has the merit of repositioning the cultural activity in relationship with the public to which it addresses, and culture in general in relationship with the social (often ignored before). Furthermore, it presupposes as a condition sine qua non the evaluation of cultural policy in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, thus increasing the degree of responsibility or

accountability in the public action. In a broader framework, it also helps in reconciling the arts with the economy, after the rupture provoked by the romanticist and then vanguard artistic ideology. Nevertheless, the justification of funding culture in social-economic terms also brings up some problems. On the one hand, this is about the overestimation of the possible impact of the cultural activities, which can be followed by deception even if substantial financial resources are allocated to culture and the arts. This could lead in the end to the questioning of the public support for culture itself. The case of France is relevant: not only have philosophers who quibble been very sceptical towards the capacity of the arts and culture to ensure ―social cohesion and inclusion‖ and to eliminate inequalities, but also researches in sociology of culture have contested such claims and ceased to consider the idea of a social impact of the arts obvious. For example, the sociologist Philippe Urfalino (2004, p.394) questions the very idea of a social causality connecting the arts as cause and a state of society as effect, considering it as irrelevant 2. That is why governments‘ expectations should be properly calibrated and the effects of cultural activities should be pursued at the micro-social level rather than globally. Neither these expectations/effects can be separated from the degree and intensity of the cultural consumption and participation on which they are fostered. But the few estimations of the cultural consumption in Romania – starting with the first survey on this topic carried out by IMAS (Marketing and Polling Institute) in 1999 and the study on The market of culture by the Concept Foundation (2000), to The barometer of cultural consumption and The indicator of the cultural life by the Centre for Research on Culture (CRC) in November 2005 – indicate a very low degree of cultural participation and, as a general tendency, the decline of cultural consumption in Romania since the 1990. This negative dynamic persists after 2000, in spite of a slight increase of cultural production and a relative stability of the public cultural infrastructure3. Recent surveys (CRC 2005a, 2005b) also indicate a considerable reorientation of cultural consumption from public infrastructure (cinemas, theatres, museums) to private resources (TV, video, PC, DVD) and from ―high culture‖ to entertainment (―festivals‖). Within these conditions, the success of a cultural policy expecting outcomes such as ―social cohesion and inclusion‖ and ―to eliminate inequalities and discrimination‖ in exchange of financing culture and the arts is hardly plausible.

Urfalino, Ph. 2004. L’Invention de la politique culturelle. Paris : Hachette, p.394: „Pourquoi ne pas se résoudre à admettre que les différents avatars de l‘esthétique romantique, que toutes les variantes du thème de la puissance sociale des arts sont de mauvaises bases pour penser l‘action publique en direction des arts et de la culture ? Il faut se résoudre à admettre des choses simples. L‘idée selon laquelle l‘Etat peut transformer ou améliorer significativement la société en utilisant le levier des arts est fausse […] Plus exactement, c‘est l‘idée même d‘une causalité sociale reliant les arts comme cause à un état de la société comme effet qui est dépourvue de pertinence.‖ 3 For example, only approximately $3.50 were spent on cultural activities per family in 1999; compared to 1997, there was a decrease in reading level, theatre and film attendance, and museum and exhibition visitors: 40% of Romanians read about the same amount and 52% read less; the frequency of visiting exhibitions and museums remains the same for 77%, decreased for 22% and increase for 1%, counting only 2% from the time dedicated to culture by Romanians (CoE/ERICarts 2003, pp.20-21). For the negative dynamic of the cultural consumption between 1993-2000, the survey on The market of culture in Romania contains relevant data: the percent of peoples who do not read books increases from 39% to 48%, that of people who do not go to theatre, opera and concerts increases from 75% to 87% (Concept Foundation 2000, pp.40-43). After 2000, the cultural consumption and participation still remains at a very low level: in 2005, 61% do not visit museums or exhibition and 38% visit once a month or rarely; the percentage are similar for cinema: 74% and 23%; theatre: 76% and 21%; opera 88% and 10.5%; instead the ―festival‖ category reaches the highest level of consumption and participation from all cultural sectors: 43% from population (CRC 2005a, 2005b). 9

On the other hand, the justification of funding culture in terms of social-economic benefits runs the risk of generating a bureaucratic vision over the artistic creativity and of instrumentalizing art. As an important cultural administrator (at a regional level) energetically stated, ―the artists need to understand they only exist in order to satisfy the public needs‖4. This kind of statement attests that Romanian cultural administration, looking for new models of cultural policy but still being fond of the ―social command‖ and the focus on amateur culture of the 1970s and 1980s, tends to confound the arts with the ―cultural animation‖ and the artists with the ―cultural animators‖. Without making further considerations on this statement, there is a need to say that the categories of animation culturelle and animateur culturel had appeared in France not to replace those of ―art‖ or ―artist‖ and the correspondent practices and professions, but to manage a surplus of ―creativity‖ postulators, also turned up as an effect of a cultural policy centred on direct interventions of a government waiting for the social benefits of funding culture. An Ethical Justification of the State Intervention to Support Culture: Correcting the Market Inequities or Failure As mentioned before, the Romanian policy-makers did not hasten to make explicit the rationales and justifications of their actions. An interesting official discourse trying to justify the governmental intervention to support culture was instigated by the first episode of the Debates market ―Why and how should culture be funded?‖ launched by ECUMEST Association in February 2005, whose purpose was to promote the dialogue between cultural administration and civil society about the reform of the system of financing culture. The moderator of the debate challenges the audience by asking if currently, in the context of globalisation, Romania is or is not in the situation to follow the recent tendency of ―less-state‖ in supporting culture. As an answer, the state minister coordinating the domains of culture, education and European integration (who is also a writer) proposed an argument of public support for culture, which turns into an ethical justification of the state intervention in the cultural field:
―The state has to support culture and creators, because culture shall not be considered a ‗merchandise‘ in the market conditions […] it would be a mistake to believe that culture could be submitted to the market conditions‖5.

The idea according to which the government should continue to support culture and the artists is welcome, considering their precarious social condition and the actual state of culture in Romania. However, its justification – which goes back on the thesis according to which the freedom of creation as well as the access to culture are facilitated by the existence of a public space unsubordinated to the market laws, namely exempted from risk and competition – imposes serious reserves. It is true that this presupposition is quite largely spread. One could find it in the report on Romanian cultural policy by European experts during the CoE review programme (CoE 1999a, p.7). It has also fostered the cultural policy of the welfare-state for a long time. As it was observed about the cultural

Răceanu, C. Intervention in the Debates market „Why and how should culture be funded? In Romania‖, Bucharest, 25 February 2005. 5 Marko, B. Intervention in the Debates market „Why and how should culture be funded? In Romania‖, Bucharest, 25 February 2005. 10

policy in France, along the successive surveys of the Ministry of Culture ―there appear as mutual objectives of governing the arts not only the consolidation of conditions of artistic production and distribution, but also – symbolically – the mutual (solidaire) taming of the market pressures on creation and minimizing the obstacles towards democratisation‖ (Menger 1987, p.30). But this type of ethical justification – which in Romania is somewhat related to the ―educational and intellectual mission‖ of culture (MoCRA 2002, pp.13-14) – runs the risk of producing effects contrary to those in view, if the state intervention aims to assure the conditions for artistic creativity to survive, on which it is added, as previously stated, ―the promotion of (Romanian) culture on the international scene‖. Two arguments can be set up against the justification of the government intervention in ethical terms of correcting the market ―inequities‖ or ―market failure‖. On the one hand, the experience not very far off of former Communist countries shows that the price paid by the Eastern European artists for the ―liberation‖ from the private capital‘s hegemony and for avoiding the risks of the free profit culture was their submission to a bureaucratic system – through the agency of artists‘ unions, totally dependent on the state – or, in some cases, their subordination to the state-party and their transformation into ―state artists‖, either ―officials‖-engaged or passive, with the mentality of assisted persons (Haraszti 1983, pp.95-119, 129-141; Cârneci 2000, pp.181-183). But the purpose of the actual cultural policy is not and cannot be the bureaucratisation of the artistic life and the reproduction of the former ―state artist‖ or the production, instead, of ―socially assisted‖ artists. On the other hand, the state interventionism and the protectionist system thus created cause distortions in the art worlds even in a democratic system, as proved by the French experience of the last decades. As Menger argues, the cultural policy of the welfarestate debouched in the control of some assisted segments of the artistic market, quite protected domains in which the logic of the state‘s cultural voluntarism generated the inflation of population of candidates to artistic profession and the number of institutions with cultural aims, as well as of the assisted artistic production (the ―official‖ art), and finally led to an overpopulation and artistic overproduction crisis (Menger 1987, pp.2952). Other sociological researches prove that the conjugated effects (even though undesired) of the concern of compensating the market failure consisted in modifying the organization system of the artistic life and the modalities of the artistic recognition and in promoting an art indifferent to the public taste, but which was imposed as a dominant aesthetic paradigm (Moulin 1997, pp.88-89). A recent report of another art sociologist attests that the attempt of decoupling the contemporary French art from the art market system drove to a failure of the initially proposed purpose, that of boosting it in the foreground of the art worlds. This judgement is proven by the weak positioning of the French contemporary artists compared to the American, German, English or Italian artists, both in the international classifications of the major artistic institutions and in the international art market (Quemin 2002, pp.10-13, 183-191). The failure of this type of cultural policy, despite the huge amount of public founds allocated, shows that the policy of public direct financial support is not a sufficient condition in order to fulfil goals such as supporting artistic creativity and promoting it on the international scene, if the implementation fails to consider the actual conditions of a free and globalized art market.


An Intrinsic Argument: Culture’s Contribution to the Public Welfare An argument of a different nature from the previous ones, close to the ―ideology of merit good‖, is also present in the cultural policy discourse. In Romania, this intrinsic argument is related to the role attributed to culture and artistic creativity as ―essential source of human progress‖ and factor in the ―improvement of the quality of life‖, as stated in the Joint Declaration (1998) of the Ministry of Culture and the main unions of artists:
„We, the undersigned, recognize the following principles: 1. Cultural creativity is an essential source of human progress. Cultural policies have to recognize the essential contribution of the art creators and performing artists to improve the quality of life and to promote the identity and the cultural development of society.‖ (MoC and ANUC 1998, p.5)

The Cultural strategy (MoC 2000b, p.3) reiterate this legitimation of public support for culture from a public welfare perspective. A similar intrinsic argument had been formulated in the debates on cultural policy in France, outlining a justification of the public action in favour of culture which depends, in a certain manner, on evidence: culture and the arts are promises of human accomplishment participating in what favours the conception of a better life (Urfalino 2004, p.401). The advantage of justifying the support for culture and the arts from the contribution, by their very nature, to the public welfare, derives from its gratuitousness or disinterested character: in this case, the state should not play as a sponsor expecting specific benefits in exchange for funding culture but as a generous maecenas, patron of arts. Nonetheless this justification based on the intrinsic value of the art is problematic too. As Urfalino (2004, p.402) notes, the pertinence of the idea that art and culture participate in what favours a better life tends to become uncertain, as nowadays it gets to be more and more difficult to ascertain indisputable referents for the notions ―culture‖ and ―art‖. The radical transformation of artistic practices, which generated the dispute over the contemporary art in France in the 1990s, has re-imposed in the debate ―the philistine‘s question‖, already invoked by Tolstoy: ―Is it true that this is art and that art is as important as we could make such sacrifices for it?‖ If idea that the state shall support culture and the arts is undeniable, a legitimate question still arises: which culture, which art? The cultural policy discourse in Romania does not explicitly offer (with one exception) a definition of the concept of ―art‖ it uses. Nevertheless, a review of the policy reports and discourses can offer some clues for outlining the dominant conception of art in the last decades, which is not exempted of ambiguities, tensions or contradictions. In the early 1990s, the public space in Romania was dominated by a traditionalist conception of art, seen as an activity separated from society. Consequently, the cultural policy neglected the connection of art to other sectors of the social action, as well as the relationship between art and public, limiting itself to the traditional areas or forms of art. The European experts underline in their report on Romanian cultural policy the disregard during 1990–1996 of the cultural industries, as well as of the new or nontraditional artistic expressions (CoE 1999b, pp.7-8, 15-16). The arts policy between


1997 and 2000 appear as an exception to this restrictive policy, but in a reversed sort of way. Against the previous tendency, the Direction for Visual Arts (DVA) of the ministry, founded in the end of 1996, assumed the mission to sustain and promote the ―professional‖, ―contemporary visual discourse‖ ―which aims to redefine the national identity through the relationship with the actual Western time [sic]‖ and could ―integrate Romanian culture into the world circuit of artistic values‖ (DVA 2000, p.1; MoC 2000a, pp.65-71). But this strategy of supporting contemporary art was gradually marginalized and then abandoned after the PDSR/PDS return to power at the end of 2000. Cultural policy was then given the mission to engender ―the renaissance of national culture,‖ where ―national‖ designated the high traditional and, primarily, the popular (peasant) forms of culture. This understanding of ―national culture‖ re-inducts the ancient tension between professional and amateur, exploited before by the Communist regime. Moreover, MoCRA‘s policy and the strategy set up at the National Cultural Forum mainly aims at the promotion of the ―popular culture‖ or vernacular-amateur culture, while the visual arts are the only cultural sector where the ―peasant-creators‖ (creatorii populari) are mentioned equally and aside with the professional artists as the ―inexhaustible spring of the Romanian creativity‖ (Iliescu 2002, pp.4,7; MoCRA 2001, p.129). On the other side, when art is preponderantly defined in terms of high culture, its meanings go from multimedia to the work of art as ―social laboratory‖, but excluding this time the traditional media or forms. For example, the few theoretical considerations in the 1997-2000 policy report define the contemporary art or creation as:
―a cultural production where ‗the artistic object‘ […] eludes from form, becoming a contemporary language of communication, that appears on the basis of the passing from an art using traditional techniques, to an art that assumes high technologies‖, and which ―integrates the social and the political in its aim‖ (MoC 2000a, p.65).

Accordingly, the Direction for Visual Arts stated the priorities of its 2000-2001 strategy for funding contemporary art as follows: ―The initiatives of national interest are considered top priorities if they promote: original creation, creation in a contemporary perspective which rules out the neo-realist-socialist perspective and the obsolete academic perspective‖. The selection and promotion were directed by the principle of excellence. Nonetheless, the artistic quality criterion (―the originality of the artistic work‖) is supplemented by the positive discrimination in favour of some non-artistic categories: participations of ―artists representing national minorities‖ and of ―female artists‖ are among the criteria for selecting and financing the projects (DVA 2000, pp.8, 15). A tension appears thus in the category of ―professional‖, ―high‖-art itself, between the traditional media/forms and the contemporary ones, considering that contemporary art is opposed not only to former ―socialist-realism‖ and ―academic‖ art but also to the ―modern tradition‖. Similarly, within the selection and promotion principles a tension emerged between artistic criteria (the intrinsic value of art) and social criteria, such as whether the artists belong to an ethnic or gender minority. In the case of recent cultural policy, tension persists between strategic objectives that favour ―the new forms of expression and cultural practices,‖ proclaimed in the Government Program 2005–2008 (Romanian Government 2005, p.108) and those that maintain ―a balance between tradition and innovation,‖ as proposed in the ministry‘s strategy later presented to the parliament by the liberal minister of culture (MoCRA 2005, p.2).

The public discourse in Romania also constantly translates a limited, narrow conception of culture, in the sense that writing has always enjoyed the pre-eminence in comparison to the other forms of cultural expression, especially the visual ones. The access to culture is defined as ―access to book, to education‖, which referred – again restrictively – especially to the literary forms, the educational-canonical ones (Iliescu 2002, pp.4-5). Such idea of culture has also practical implications in the mechanisms of public support for culture. There are special and exclusive programmes to support written culture, distributing state aid or public subsidies for publishing books and magazines (especially literary) and for acquisitions in public libraries. Thus certain sectors and forms of artistic expression were favoured: writing over visual, traditional over non-traditional, canonical over alternative. For example, between 2001–2004, the public funds for the visual arts reached only 2% of the total funding for cultural actions, whereas the funding for cultural actions covered only 17–22% of the overall expenditures of the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affaires. One can explain this conception of culture and the correspondent cultural policy through the historic motives of the pre-eminence of the writer‘s figure in Romanian culture, but can not justify it, because of the patent disproportion between different sectors of culture as the writing and the visual arts. The paradox of a limited vision of culture like the one dominant in Romanian cultural space and of a cultural policy mainly oriented towards supporting the written culture and books industry (but through bureaucratic mechanisms as the state aid), is the lack of results in cultural consumption and participation: despite this policy orientation, all surveys confirm the constant decrease not only of the spectators in museums or exhibitions visits, but of the number of readers and reading practices (Concept Foundation, 2000; CRC 2005a, 2005b). In this case, what can still justify the government intervention in the cultural field in order to support art and artists? In the actual ideological conditions, set by Urfalino in the formula l’après-politique culturelle – that is the double exhaustion of both state and intellectual‘s sacredness, and the end of a philosophy of history, of the cult of art, which founded the heroic cultural policy à la française –, there remains a less exalting justification of the public support for the arts: the very existence of an autonomous artistic life (Urfalino 2004, p.404-406). The public action should have as a directing line the ensuring of the economical pre-conditions of the artistic life. In the last analysis, the public support for the arts cannot aim but at safeguarding and developing the economical basis necessary for creating art freely. Conclusion The governments in post-Communist Romania have justified the support for culture through different arguments, instrumental or intrinsic: a grandiloquent justification in terms of national interest and prestige, a pragmatic one in terms of social-economic benefits, an ethical one in terms of correcting market inequities, and an intrinsic one from a public welfare perspective. But all of them depend on the representation of the roles conferred to culture and the arts: generating and safeguarding the national identity, contributing to economic development and social cohesion, educating and enlightening people, engendering human progress and public welfare.


The particular conceptions of culture and art of the successive governments play a central role in shaping cultural policies. Despite the advancement after 1989 in the direction of a pragmatic policy, mostly under the impetus of European institutions or policies, the Romanian public discourse – nurtured by a remanent instrumental ideology considering culture and art mainly as ―tools‖ of creating either national identity, social cohesion, public wealth or general welfare –, continued to be dominated by a traditional, narrow vision of culture and art, conflicting with a modern one. In the core of cultural policy stands an identarian-patrimonial conception of culture: understood as source of national identity, its extension includes mainly the heritage and the vernaculartraditional forms of culture. This reveals the remanence of the ancient conflict between social values such as conservatism and paternalism underlying a nationalist paradigm of culture, and the values of modernity. The cultural policy after 1989 was predominantly interventionist, but the public support fluctuates in favour of one or other type of artistic practices, either the traditional ones (popular or ―high‖) or the contemporary vanguard ones, according to the leading ideas of culture and art. This fluctuating policy or conflicting involvement of the state seems to be a repeated pattern of Romanian public policies, working until recently to constrain cultural policy, disrupting its implementation and altering its effects. Certain sectors and forms of artistic expression were favoured: writing over visual, traditional over nontraditional, canonical over alternative, but without noticeable results in the dynamics of cultural consumption and participation. On the contrary, a tension was induced between the vernacular-traditional and the high-contemporary forms of culture, between professionals and amateurs, or – when the contemporary conception prevails – new tensions appeared into the ―high‖-―professional‖ art itself, between the traditional, modern and contemporary art forms. In order to reach its objectives, a comprehensive cultural policy has to overpass these limitations and take into account the diversity of cultural forms, the plurality of actors involved in artistic activities, the plurality of artistic practices competing one with each other, as well as the considerable mutations related to the emerging creative industries. A new conceptual framework is needed for a more effective cultural policy, adapted to the changing regime of contemporary art and able to enhance creativity.

Author’s biography
Dan Eugen RATIU is an associate professor of art philosophy at Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. He is an Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna from April to June 2008. His main research interests are in contemporary art theories and practices and arts policy. Latest scientific activities include participations in the STP&A Conferences 2006 in Vienna and 2007 in New York, the ESA-Arts 2007 Conference in Lüneburg, and the Boekmanstichting Roundtable 2007 in Amsterdam on the ―Interactions between Public and Private Financing of the Arts and Culture in the EU‖. Recent publication: ―The Arts Support System in a Transitional Society: Romania 1990-2006‖, The Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society, Fall 2007, Vol.37, No.3, p.201-223.


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