The Emerging Creative Industries in Southeastern Europe
The course on "Redefining Cultural Identities", organized by the Institute for International Relations from Zagreb and the Inter-University Centre in Dubrovnik, has widened its program and evolved in the last five years to become the course on "Managing Cultural Transitions in Southeastern Europe". During this period about 200 students and professors from the region and from all parts of Europe assembled in Dubrovnik to deliver lectures, to learn about different aspects of cultural identity change and to discuss cultural transitions in the Southeastern European post-socialist countries. An impressive number of issues have been covered within the course programs: identity changes and policies; social implications of cultural, media, language, minority and education policies (all redesigning cultural values and cultural life in general); intercultural relations; emergence and development of cultural industries; opening up of cultural exchange through cultural markets; introduction of new technologies and mediation of cultural contents; the social position of arts and artists; as well as other areas of cultural creativity. The list is not exhausted, neither is the interest of new generations of cultural professionals in the region. They actively contributed to the quality and discussions during courses, and established good friendly and cooperative links. New networks have been designed, and existing ones widened.
Programs and methodologies of work have been constantly upgraded. In 2004 the course directors and organizers agreed to implant a conference on Southeast European cultural cooperation into the course program and thus increase time and vivacity of discussions. The results were encouraging, and this effort has turned out to be a good practice of the course. Visiting the Art Gallery Lazareti in Dubrovnik and discussing the plans for further development and widening of its activities was interesting and inspiring for the participants, both professors and students alike.
Now the papers that are prepared following the delivered lessons are in front of us. They are divided into two chapters: one on the creative industries in Southeastern Europe, and one on cultural exchange and cooperation in the region.
The creative industries or, rather, culture industries as they appeared in the Southeastern European countries, stem from the tradition of industrial and market-oriented cultural production taken to be low culture or even kitsch cultural production, undermined during the times of socialism. In the transition period these industries became more associated with the ideas of modernization and technological progress, and strongly prompted by imports of cultural consumerism based on pop cultural products. In the 2002 session of the Dubrovnik course, redefining cultural identities in the region was discussed through the analysis of cultural industries and technological convergence. It was already clearly visible that the small-scale cultural industries and productions might be both economically and culturally reasonable if supported by regionalist ideas and intra-regional cultural cooperation (Redefining Cultural identities: Cultural Industries and Technological Convergence, Culturelink (Dossier) Vol. 13, No. 37, August 2002, pp. 113-142.), which might, perhaps, establish links among small and very diverse Southeastern European cultures. However, the influence of large transnational corporations, which are turning the region into a part of the global cultural market, has not yet been undermined.
Now Inga Tomić-Koludrović and Mirko Petrić add a new dimension to this discussion and show how the Southeast European transitional societies, at best "mixed societies" undergoing different types of modernization process, may react to challenges relating to the development of creative industries and creative economies. The authors clearly stress that in spite of numerous commonalities, the differences between countries in the region, and also within them, may still produce very different reactions to the challenge of creative industries and the markets they may be cultivating. Jaka Primorac offers a review of how cultural/creative industries have been changing over time, and looks into the technological content of the term. Maja Breznik analyzes Slovenian publishing and outlines the position and role of small local publishers that are subsidized by the state to carry out their often demanding programs. Their efforts are diverted by the direct transfer of the publishing industry from abroad, done through a subtle set of measures that diminish local financial and creative efforts and thus show that the quality of content does not pay much in international competition. Aldo Milohnić discusses aspects of "flexible" employment in culture and thus adds an important asset to the further development of cultural and creative industrialization.
The discussions on cultural cooperation in the region, mainly based on analyses by Dona Kolar-Panov, Milena Dragičević Šešić and Corina Suteu have shown how transparent indeed their influence in turning the region into one market is and may be in the future. Linking parts of the region after the crisis of dissolution of the former Yugoslavia has been largely concentrated in cultural and media fields, and supported by foreign foundations and companies. It appears to go from the top down, i.e., the elaborate formats of cultural and media cooperation and interaction are implemented in different cultures and parts of the region with a view to supporting their mutual interconnectedness. However, the application of the same format or the same TV program through local televisions is primarily meant to contribute to the standardization of the local (cultural) markets, and not to creative cooperation among local cultures. Although such programs include some aspects of formalized cooperation among local actors and institutions, they remain far from creating an appropriate form of communication that would touch the main problems of cultural identification and development, including that of cultural or creative industries.
The two issues, cultural/creative industries and regional cultural exchange, remain not only a challenging field of cultural research, but also the key elements for discussions on the institutionalization of cultural studies in university programs, or in analysis of multi- and interculturalism. The presentation of the cultural studies program of the University of Rijeka by Marina Biti, points out the need to introduce such a type of study and thus contribute to the rationalization and analysis of cultural developments. Cultural transitions unavoidably demand insights into intercultural relationships, and Melita Richter Malabotta offers here a reflection on different models and approaches to the issue. The ever more intense concentration of cultural developments in the cities of Southeastern Europe demands conceptual and policy analyses of the already developed models and their possible endogenization in the region, which is offered by the Petrić and Tomić-Koludrović text on the creative city and the Kulturstadt. The contribution by Lidia Varbanova stresses the importance of information flow and presents the project designed to help development of specialized cultural portals. All these contributions contextualize the further cultural development and cultural life in the region.
The editor would like to thank all the authors for their valuable contributions, for their Dubrovnik lectures, contacts with students and colleagues during the Dubrovnik seminar, and for their good will to help sustain an analytical approach to the most challenging issue of the development of cultural/creative industries and studies in Southeastern Europe.