The following speech of Jeton Neziraj was part of the Culture for Change program closing event that took place on December 22, 2020.
I am afraid this speech will not be very optimistic and in line with the festive spirit of this closing event that we have organized today.
Culture for Change was supported by the European Union Office in Kosovo and implemented by Qendra Multimedia and Goethe Institut. This program was a continuity of a previous EU program the goal of which was also to support the cultural scene in Kosovo, especially the independent one.
During these three years, we have talked loud and clear about achievements, results and the importance of this program - we have even prepared a short documentary about that which we will have the chance to watch later. That is why, I am not going to talk about the program's achievements, but rather about the future, about the upcoming year which will find Kosovo without a program like this and with a reduced state budget for culture.
The upcoming year, this EU program dedicated to culture, will no longer exist. In case it is initiated, the legendary EU bureaucracy will need at least a full year, if not more, to start implementing. I am saying 'if' because so far, there have been no indications whatsoever that the EU has thought about continuing this support. And this is disappointing. It is a lack of vision.
Giving up the support for culture, makes EU look like our ministries, even like the culture one, who in lack of a vision, build asphalt, stadiums and cultural houses, wherever and whenever possible.
The EU will continue supporting farmers, small businesses, this or that group, this or that ministry, justice and police. But, not culture! Because culture is still seen as luxury. And this is not a country of a cultural luxury, this is a country of emergencies and other needs, political, social, economic and whatnot - but not cultural!
On the other side, next year, the Ministry of Culture will have a reduced budget. But even when it is not reduced, the budget is badly managed, badly distributed and in the end, artists and the independent cultural scene are not its beneficiaries. The budget goes to sports fields and cultural houses that are built all around to add to the glory of respective mayors, political partisans and so on. And by the end of the year, half of that budget, which was halved to begin with, returns to the state's account. This is a cycle which we have seen so much that we have already memorized.
The upcoming year does not look optimistic — I am afraid so will be the next years after that. We will probably continue seeing more asphalt, more budget allocated for multi-million 'national' projects such as the legendary 'Opera...' one by the Ministry of Culture, or like the promised multi-million support of the EU about the multifunctional cultural hall - and likewise.
So, more bricks, more façade, more asphalt.
Less art, less culture. Thus, less freedom, less future.
Welcome to the International Republic of Asphalt!