Massive protests of artists and cultural workers in Serbia!

On Sunday, 22nd of June, more then 800 cultural workers and artists went out to protest on Republic Square in Belgrade, Serbian capital. Never before protest of cultural workers and artists took place in Serbia in such a massive scale. Not only in Belgrade, colleagues were protesting in other cities, Novi Sad, Niš and Vršac… Those protests were not emerging out from the sky. Anger and dissatisfaction with many socioeconomic and political issues accumulated in recent years culminated yesterday. Most important structural, social and political causes for the protest are: Corruption and nepotism in the field of culture and non transparent redistribution of the resources; Poverty of the workers in the field of culture; Change of the government from democrats to conservatives on the level of the Republic and cut of the funds for the so called “non-patriotic” art; Artists and cultural workers with the status of the “freelance artist” are not able to renew their health insurance, because social benefits had not been paid since January 2013 by the cultural department of the city of Belgrade (ruled by Democrats). Statement of Saša Stojanović and Vladan Jeremić: With this declaration we support the protest of artists and cultural workers. We call all citizens to join and to participate in this initiative! The so-called democratic authorities that took over institutions after 5th of october 2000, increasingly alienated them from artists and cultural producers under the shabby excuse of „necessity of transition“ and quickly melted into the old clientelistic networks, fantasizing of the great global market of cultural industry that will bring wealth. Today, at the moment when even these clientelistic networks cannot be satisfied anymore, conditions are

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given for a general protest! The precarious position of cultural workers is unbearable, as creative labor in fact has turned into unpaid labor. Neoliberal austerity measures, closure of public institutions and budget cuts present a trend that will proceed if we won’t struggle against it. Abstract attacks on “the state”, “bad governance” or ministries won’t lead to the solution of much more profound problems nor help map their sources. Citizens are brutally deprived of public cultural life (two museums are closed to public: the National Museum because of restitution and the Museum of Contemporary Art because of bad management), culture is being retraditionalized, we are witnesses of

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culture racism, clericalization, attempts to bring back monarchy and similar phenomena. Neoliberal politics demand commercialization of culture and closing down of public institutions. The state of affairs in culture can’t be isolated from the broader societal conditions in which Serbia and the region are situated in. Our protest needs to be linked with the struggles of all workers in defense of public goods. Only politics of solidarity and economic democracy can create preconditions for cultural institutions that will support the production of social value and creative freedom. Saša Stojanović and Vladan Jeremić, artists, Beograd, 18. 06. 2013.

 

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