Vesna Čopič

[Faculty for Social Sciences, University in Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia]

(in sessions: Culture under Pressure, 20 Jan, 17.00 – 18.30 and A Comparative View: Cultural Institutions In Post-Yugoslav Transformations 21 Jan, 15.45 – 17.30)

An Attempt to Conceptualise the Modernisation of Public Sector in Culture

(lecture in Culture under Pressure, 20 Jan, 17.00 – 18.30)

The term modernisation is an empty term. In order to fill it with contents it should be defined what means »to adopt to the modern ways«. There are different theoretical concepts dealing with the public sector reform but we could identify their common elements such as the introduction of market philosophy, the targets/outputs oriented funding, the contractualism, the customer oriented services, the change of legal status towards the larger autonomy, tendering and bidding etc.. These elements challenge the fundamental principles of the institutional organisation of public sector such as the principle of hierarchy, the rule of law, the principle of political neutrality and the principle of accountability. All these principles on one hand suffocate managerial discretion and on the other enables the perception of public institutions as legal obligation of state in contrast to NGOs with no structural funding. The shift from institutional principles of organisation to post-institutional paradigm would require changes on the level of political system (re-politisation of culture/arm in arm instead of arm’s length, professionalization of cultural administration instead of division between administrative and professional tasks, negotiation instead regulation), on the level of stakeholders (strategic role of founder instead of direct daily formal or informal intervention, managerial freedom based on professional responsibility instead of bureaucratic rules, users oriented services and decision making instead of formal representation of users in governing structure) and on the level of organisational processes (an organisational heterogeneity instead of universal status of public establishment, diversification of working status instead of centralised system of public servants, lump sum funding instead of item line budgeting). This modernisation formula is based on three elements: (1) duality of strong state and strong civil society, (2) re-affirmation of public value of arts and culture and (3) post-managerial paradigm that subordinate managers to cultural mission instead of raise them above other professions. Its result should give a hybrid between cultural institution and cultural NGO and consequently incorporate NGOs in regular cultural policy system.


Vesna Čopič graduated at the Faculty of Law and made  Ph.D. on non-profit management  in the Faculty for Social Sciences at the University in  Ljubljana. Between  1991 and 1997  she was evolved in the evaluation of Slovenian cultural policy and she   published (author/co-author) some major publications from this field in that time. Throughout the transitional period she prepared the legislation in the sphere of culture for the Ministry of Culture. On one hand she is a lawyer with extensive experience in legislation, engaged in the preparation of  laws for different fields of culture included regulation related to tax treatment, social security, labour conditions, remuneration and all other schemes which are important for  the status of cultural institutions, creators, artists and performers, on the other hand she is  a public policy analyst involved in the overall evaluation of national cultural policy  using  multi-disciplinary methodology for working across professional boundaries, bridging disciplines such as cultural administration, public finances, tax legislation, urban and regional planning and local self-government.  She  participated as an expert  in some of  Council of Europe programs, EU research projects, UNDP and ECF activities. She publishes in the scientific journal at home and abroad. Her principal interests are legislation, public governance and cultural policy including cultural sttistics.  She is lecturing cultural policy and cultural management in the Faculty for Social Sciences at the University in Ljubljana.

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