Text topic: Cultural Policy
Text author: Vesna Čopič
The relationship between politics and culture in a multiparty representative democracy is in its very essence problematic. On the one hand there is the cultural sphere, stressing that culture and the arts must be independent and autonomous, even if - by force of circumstance – they are financially dependent on government. On the other hand, cultural policy as public policy cannot simply be excluded from the political system and delegated to the connoisseurs. The ruling policy which won the election has a democratic mandate to regulate public affairs - even in the field of culture. Due to the high specialization of social subsystems, which have become operationally closed organisms, there is an even greater threat of democratic deficit if politicians have to stay away from culture and arts. This attitude shakes the very foundations of democracy as a political form of government in which the governing power is derived from the people. A positive alternative to the arm’s length principle as an insulation of arts from politics, which potentially reduces the ability to attract and retain political support, should therefore be replaced by an arm-in-arm approach, i.e. a policy of interaction between the political authorities, professionals and citizens/users. This new deal should be based on inclusion in the political process (participative democracy) and the dialogue between them (deliberative democracy). The article proposes some elements that would enable this process.
The modern democratic formula is hidden in the winning combination of a strong state and strong civil society, where the magical balance between differentiation, politics and professionalisation is to be found. Only this balance can mutually neutralise the various dangers such as: differentiation with the unresolved problem of coordination and integration, politics that can change into partocracy, and professionalism that can succumb to opportunism and lead to technocracy. At the centre of this balance lies the need for re-affirmation of the public value of culture which presupposes its re-politisation.