A Sci-Fi Contemplation?

TASR (Slovak Republic‘s press agency) press release – “Yesterday the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic definitively ceased to exist”.

The director of the Slovak National Theatre is confused and asks whom he should invite to events related to the celebration of 100 years of the theatre. He does not get an answer, so he takes precaution to invite all of the government, the old and the new one, but no one is coming. Panic. The managers of cultural and artistic organizations in the previous competence of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic immediately meet and resolve pragmatic issues related to the content and validity of their founding documents. Who the hell will fund them? The cultural community signs an urgent appeal to the sponsors. Unfortunately, we do not have a law on cultural sponsorship. Panic. The new representative of the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic, whom no one has seen in the opera, reassures: “We can realize financial transfers intended for their operation and budgeted capital expenditures for all organizations and funds, originally established by the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic within the set deadlines“. Nobody trusts him. The management of art councils and fund, where every artist should have their own account, is stubbornly silent.

What do we have the Slovak Academy of Sciences for?, one of the arguments sounds. The transfer of competencies of the Department of State Language of the Ministry of Culture and cooperating institutions can be smooth, because “there is no need to duplicate”! Young experts from “Value for Money” also came to this conclusion at the Ministry of Finance. All complaints will be handled promptly by authorized SAS staff.
The Ministry of Transport and Construction will harmoniously integrate the Cultural Heritage Department under the responsibility of tourism. “I don’t see any problem with that, because in statistical reporting we have almost never divided culture and tourism,” says the new minister, whom no one really knows. However, conservationists are rioting because it threatens their ongoing and upcoming research. “Conservation of monuments is not just a presentation of places and objects of tourist interest,” they scream on the networks, “let’s not forget the historical collections of museums and galleries, library collections, archives”! The Minister of Transport admits that he will probably need an in-depth audit of these activities in order to be able to identify which of them represent primarily economic benefits, which is a priority of the new government, and will carefully monitor the return on other possible investments. Otherwise, unproductive activities will finally be abolished.

“We implement intangible cultural heritage and cultural awareness activities as part of the standard teaching of students and pupils and, of course, as part of extracurricular activities, which means that we should be able to redistribute cultural vouchers”, said a new deputy Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport offers a solution. “The first step will be to create a special fund for our precious folk art, where we will move this agenda.” Does he want to depoliticize folklorism? – worried voices of the professional public are asking. “These issues,” the minister reassures, “are in the process of being resolved.” But what about the NationL Education Centre, these are secured jobs, where will we find work, people say panicking in the SNP square.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Investment and Informatization is willing to take on the agenda of data collection and statistics in the cultural sector. “Their further processing will take place on the order given by the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic according to the needs of the sector,” says the spokesman of the Office in his statement. There was no such high interest in the analyzes in the sector on the part of the Ministry of Culture to necessitate carrying them out without an order. They also take responsibility for the intellectual property agenda. Intellectual property issues, or the copyright law, however, must pass under the responsibility of the Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic, because the ownership and property of creators is a corrupt environment and the Prime Minister wants to oversee it in his long-term program “Away with corruption!”

“One of the most significant changes we have achieved with the abolition of the ministry,” says the coalition leader, “is finally the complete separation of church and state. Priests will simply come to the district committees in the district towns every month to get their payment. In this way, we have avoided constant and long-lasting discussions in the society”, the new Prime Minister proudly informs on the RTVS television programme. Church dignitaries did not send their official statements by the deadline. Unofficially, they allegedly express dissatisfaction with this unforeseen situation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic finally and definitively takes over all projects of international cultural cooperation. The cultural community is, of course, again dissatisfied and points to the fact that in this way cultural projects will be managed only formally and there will be no responsibility for the quality of their content. A spokesman for the Government of the Slovak Republic stated that this had not been the case so far. “And the agenda of the creative industry will still be negotiated with the relevant departments,” he added reassuringly.

He concludes: “We took this step mainly because the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic did not meet our economic, educational and ecological, perhaps even political expectations. It did not create a space for public discussion about what culture means to us, to our hard-working people, our society, and that is why culture in general was forgotten. At this turbulent moment, as we are facing much greater challenges, we must realize the seriousness of the situation and state that we have no idea yet what we have lost with the abolition of the Ministry. We do not even know how many activities and activities we have not yet covered during the redistribution. With this decisive step, we have only fulfilled the attitudes of the previous government and our worried people and society over the last 30 years. We assure the public that we will reintroduce the financing of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic only if a real and strong social order comes from the society. Last but not least, the desperate state of public finances left to us by the previous government also leads us to taking this step, and with this step we will save one job of a car driver and two secretary positions. Saving is our second priority”, the spokesman for the Government of the Slovak Republic aded in loud silence.

Jana Javorská