Podcast sic!: No culture at all


In situations of crisis, culture is among the first to be abandoned and the last of which we remember when things return to normality. Victoria Coroban and Andrei Lutenco, the moderator of the fifth episode of the podcast “That’s the way it is”, wonder how healthy such an approach is. The invitees, Nora Dorogan, a member of the team of the Laundry Theater, and Max Cârlan, director of the festival OLDOX and Queer Voices, related how independent culture survives and what support the state provided in times of a pandemic and before them. Among other subjects discussed were the public service and the relations between the culture of a society and its chances of overcoming crises, IPN reports.

The podcast notes the state allocates about 0.5 percentage points of the GDP, approximately 1 billion lei, to the national culture. This money is primarily used to maintain, to the limit, the state institutions of culture. Only about 5 million lei of this budget is allotted for all the independent cultural projects, such as theaters, the performing arts, the visual arts and music. In 2020, which was a pandemic year, the sum remained unchanged.

Nora Dorogan confessed the team of the Laundry Theater, as it was involved in international partnerships and co-productions, didn’t apply to the contest. There is the same budget and the same regulations. Before the pandemic too, the government not only didn’t help independent culture enough, but even placed hindrances.

The international documentary film festival MOLDOX, which has been held in Cahul for five years, last year was staged with the support of international bakers, the contribution of the National Cinematography Council being of 2.5%. The festival’s director Max Cârlan said he feels discouraged to look for money in the country as the response is expected to be negative or the budget will be decreased considerably and they should better make effort elsewhere.

Many cultural activities found refuge online, if not too many. “As we moved everything to the online environment, it was a kind of ‘overdose’,” stated Nora Dorogan. She regrets the lack of direct contact with spectators. The Laundry Theater reached the idea of talking with the public by phone.

The way in which the state supported (or didn’t support) culture in times of a pandemic reveals an older approach according to which culture should become self-sufficient and should be a creative industry. Nora Dorogan believes yet the role of culture is not to make profit. “The role of culture is to educate. Our role is to react to what is happening today in the world (…) To counteract, by our play, for example, hate, racist, homophobic, xenophobic speech,” she said, noting cultural speech means critical thinking and capacity to have a dialogue.

“Finally, culture and arts, either they are independent or state-owned, serve the public interest – to educate. That’s why the developed sates invest in culture not only for profit, while the survival of artists and initiatives is not only their problem, but also the problem of the state. We all benefit from cultural work and this should mean that we must take care, as a state, so that the cultural workers benefit from unconditional support during the current pandemic,” says the podcast.

To listen to the podcast, click on the link. The project is financed with the grant provided by Soros Foundation Moldova from the “Phase II COVID-19 Response” Reserve Fund for assisting the Republic of Moldova in fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus.