5 Cultural Policy Resources in South East Europe
Last updated: 23.09.2016

HOME  E-library  Articles & Reports  1. Cultural policy: country profiles
01.04.2002 | author: Sanjin Dragojevic
Cultural Policy of Croatia: Main Issues
Policies for Culture Journal, April 2002
Sanjin Dragojevic
is lecturer at Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Zagreb.
The Strategy of Cultural Development

In the Strategy of Cultural Development (adopted by the Government and the Parliament at the beginning of 2002) culture is defined as the sum of all forms of intellectual and artistic expression, symbolic social identity, belongings, behaviour and customs, including industrial products and media, related to the fulfilment of leisure time purposes and the formation of attitudes of people’. The term ‘culturally sustainable development’ contains a core notion of the strategic meaning of culture, being defined as the ‘development of human interests and activities, which exhaust natural sources and existing capacities of infrastructure and inhabited space as little as possible and which, at the same time, foster joy in values related to the arts, science, education, games and customs stimulating close and productive relations among people’.

Aims of Cultural Policy

The general aims of Croatian cultural policy are: cultural pluralism (in the aesthetic and multiethnic sense), autonomy of artistic creativity, growth and diversification of financial sources, polycentric cultural development, promotion & affirmation of participation in culture to raise the quality of life, growing of employment and inventiveness in all sectors and, most importantly, to put culture into the centre of developmental interests of the country. The Ministry of Culture tries to fulfil these aims under the “principle of the 3 Ds”: desetatisation, decentralisation and democratisation.

Decision Making Procedures

Cultural policy decision-making and its implementation involves the interplay of the Ministry of Culture, Government and Parliament, on the one hand, and arm’s lengths bodies, local government and self government, cultural institutions, NGOs, and individual
artists and their associations on the other. The Ministry of Culture prepares draft laws, as well as other important documents for the Government and transmits them to the Committee for Science, Education and Culture, which is followed by debate and adoption by the Parliament. The Ministry participates in the drafting of the budget and decides on the allocation of budget funds according to the various fields of culture.

Councils for Culture

Councils of Culture were established in 2001 for the 11 different fields of culture. They are arm’s length bodies that propose the aims of cultural policy and suggest measures for their implementation. At the same time they provide professional assistance to the Minister and develop the longterm national cultural programme, including annual financial programmes. Until now such councils have been established solely at a national level even though the Law on Cultural Councils ensures such a possibility on the county and municipal levels. Legislation guarantees the right to local self-government in culture in the fields of archives, libraries, protection of cultural property and theatre. At the same time the Ministry no longer has the right to nominate the directors of cultural institutions, nor approve the programme and activities of these institutions.


Decentralisation is a major issue of debate in Croatian cultural policy and practice. There is a process of wide administrative reform in the direction of decentralisation of all public sectors. The draft of the decentralisation model in culture was accomplished with experts nominated by the Ministry of Culture and the Croatian Law Centre, and financed by the Soros Foundation. The Draft defines decentralisation measures in the fields of decision-making, financing, infrastructure and cultural life, proposing polycentric cultural development of the country correspondent to the cultural and historical Croatian regions. The clear conception of multicultural and intercultural measures or measures aimed actively to support cultural pluralism (marginalized groups of the population, sexual minorities, intergenerational cultural initiatives, initiatives for people in particular needs) are still missing and have to be defined, representing one of the future possible priorities of the cultural policy of Croatia.

The Budget for Culture

Undoubtedly the most important achievement of the new central cultural administration established in the year 2000 is fact that for the first time in more than ten years, cultural operators have approached more than 1% of the overall state budget (in 1992 the percentage was 0.52%, in 1996 it reached 0,66%, in 2001 it was 1,1%, whilst in the year 2002 it is expected to rise to an ambitious 1,2%). This trend in the rise of central public funds has been accompanied by the indication to actively support new and experimental forms of artistic expression, as well as new and alternative forms of cultural organisation (particularly where youth culture is concerned).

New Technologies

A crucial component of cultural development has been is the role of new technologies and intersectorial approaches, such as cultural tourism. Particular efforts are being made to improve or establish inter-relations within the public and the non-profit sectors in culture. As a consequence, for example, the Ministry of Culture has, for the first time, started to co-finance some projects with the Open Society Institute - Croatia. The most important project and result of this initiative is the establishment of the national cultural portal ‘Culturenet Croatia’ (www.culturenet.hr), which is being realised in cooperation with Croatian Telecommunications, Microsoft Croatia and the European Cultural Foundation.

International Cooperation

In international cultural cooperation more stress is being laid on direct contacts and mutually defined programs, projects and initiatives undertaken by the cultural institutions or organisations themselves. New projects of multilateral cooperation include: Civic Education - Education for Democracy and European Studies functioning in cooperation with partners from Germany, United States, CIVITAS International and the Council of Europe; the MOSAIC Program in cooperation with the Council of Europe and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands; a Virtual Library for 21st Century and Amber Road in cooperation with countries of the Central European Initiative; the programme Policies for Culture in partnership with organisations from South-Eastern Europe and the EU, managed by the European Cultural Foundation and the Ecumest Association; more than 15 projects in cooperation with UNESCO etc.

New Trends

There is an ongoing process of transformation of overall legislation in culture, with a particular stress on the provisions related to tax incentives and deductions, but also on the revision or transformation of legislation directed to foster development of the non-profit sector. Some first steps have been undertaken to introduce cultural management as a discipline (with a particular focus on film production issues) at the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb. At the same time the need for such a type of education is very widespread, as is the need for continuous training and education programmes for professionals in culture and cultural administration. One of the most ambitious plans of the current cultural policy is related to new and missing cultural infrastructure - particularly new buildings for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Music Academy, new Opera House and dance and film centre.

Here and here you can find out more about cultural policy of Croatia.

print this page send page by email

Featured projects

The artist's corner features have surprised projects that through their vision and action have contributed to a change in the context for the arts and culture in the region. Visit the section's...

read the full story

Cultural Policy Education Group (CPEG)
© 2008  policies for culture  (ECUMEST Association & European Cultural Foundation)  
contact home page ECUMEST Association European Cultural Foundation