At the end of the country’s centenary events, the budget of the cultural sector will decrease slightly next year. The basic budget expenditure is planned for next year in the amount of 183 million euros, but in addition to the priorities, 30 of the requested almost 50 million euros have been allocated.
- The first priority in the field of culture is to increase the salaries of those working in the sector.
- It is planned to allocate 8 million euros to it in next year’s budget.
- The average salary in the industry will increase by 110 euros – to 1040 euros “on paper”.
- Council of Creative Unions: salaries must be raised; the NGO sector should not be forgotten.
- The second priority is Song Festival traditions, national book publishing and cinema.
- It is planned to allocate 11.2 million euros to this “trio” of national identity.
- The third priority is to increase the financing of the State Cultural Capital Fund (SCCF).
- The SCCF will be linked to excise and gambling tax revenues for the first year.
- Thus, funding will increase by 1.3 million euros or about 10%.
- The list of priorities of the Ministry of Culture also includes cultural education and media.
- An additional 2.6 million euros to support the Media Fund; lower VAT for books and the press.
The budget of the Latvian Ministry of Culture (MoC) this year is 226.6 million euros. This means that every inhabitant of Latvia has allocated 122 euros from his taxes to the cultural sector this year.
Culture budget plans for 2022 – higher salaries, lower VAT, more money for SCCF and mediaZane Ārmane
For comparison, the budget of the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture for 2021 is 336 million euros, thus each inhabitant of this country has allocated 120 euros per year to this sector. The budget of the Estonian Ministry of Culture in 2021 was 276.6 million euros. Unlike Latvia and Lithuania, in Estonia the budget of the Ministry of Culture also includes the sports sector, which in this year’s budget amounts to 48.6 million euros. Excluding expenditure on the sports sector, the budget for the cultural sector in Estonia this year is 228 million euros. They are 172 euros from each country’s wallet.
Comparing the situation in the other Baltic States, it can be seen that the range of problems is similar.
In Latvia, 2022 will be the first year when the main financing tool of non-governmental organizations in the field of culture – the State Cultural Capital Fund (SCCF) – will be attracted to excise and gambling tax revenues.
In Estonia, such a system is already in place. In turn, in Lithuania, as in Latvia, the issue of remuneration of cultural workers is topical. In this year’s budget, 14 million euros were allocated to the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, which has allowed to increase the salaries of cultural workers in our neighboring country by an average of 10%. However, this annex in Lithuania has not closed the gap between the average salary in public administration as a whole, as salaries have also been raised for those working in other sectors.
In Latvia, too, the Ministry of Culture (MoC) has set the alignment of remuneration with the average indicator in public administration as a priority. Salaries in the cultural sector increased by 16% in 2020, but this year the supplement was left out due to concessions in favor of doctors and educators.
“In this year’s budget, I said a resounding ‘no’, I can no longer afford to deviate from this goal in the name of solidarity, and those working in the cultural sector must come to the situation or the goal we are on, which is to achieve average pay in the public sector, and I I will not deviate from this goal, “said Minister of Culture Nauris Puntulis (National Union).
An additional eight million euros has been raised in next year’s budget for raising the salaries of cultural workers, which will allow almost 4,300 employees in cultural institutions to increase their current average monthly salary by 110 euros and it will reach 1,040 euros before taxes. However, similarly to Lithuania, the employees of the cultural sector are not the only ones who are promised a salary supplement – the government has agreed that next year the salaries of pedagogues, doctors and employees of the home affairs sector should also be increased, so it is likely that forthcoming annex.
Inga Brūvere, the head of the Latvian Creative Unions Council, pointed out that salaries in the sector should be raised, but the non-governmental sector should not be forgotten either. It employs a large number of self-employed and individual artists, who have been affected not only by the restrictions of the pandemic, but also by tax reforms, bringing with them both income cuts and some chaos.
“Of course, one of the [NVO sektora atbalsta instrumentiem] is the SCCF, where, in my opinion, there has been no increase in core funding for at least the last 7-8 years. The funding model will change next year, and there is a forecast that the funding will increase, but here again it must be understood – if NGOs receive 25-30% of the requested funding in tenders, then it is clear – no mention or guarantee of salary increase in the NGO sector at all possible, “said Brewer.
As an important support for artists, Bruvere also mentioned a targeted program to promote creativity by awarding monthly scholarships of 800 euros. Last year, 42 cultural workers received them, more than twice a year ago, and the Council of Creative Unions believes that both the amount of the scholarship and the number of recipients should be increased.
The Ministry of Culture has set national identity as the second priority, which includes both Song Festival traditions and national book and cinema. An additional € 11.2 million is earmarked for this “trio” next year.
The next year is expected to be very dynamic for choirs, dance groups and wind orchestras, said Signe Pujāte, the director of the Latvian National Cultural Center.
“The Latvian National Cultural Center, together with local governments, artistic groups and music professionals, is preparing for the Song and Dance Festival of 2023, which marks the 150th anniversary of the festival. – one and a half before the holiday is very closely connected with the acquisition of co-repertoire throughout Latvia and now for some time also in close cooperation with diasporas, “explained Pujāte.
From the additional funding, it is planned to pay cash prizes to the leaders of more than 1,600 artistic groups next year for successful preparation for the Song and Dance Festival.
The third priority in the cultural sector is the increase of SCCF funding. By linking it to tax revenues from excise goods and gambling, the fund’s funding will increase by 1.3 million euros or about 10% next year. Another two million funds will be supplemented by European Union (EU) funding.
The list of priorities follows cultural education and the media. Next year, an additional 2.6 million euros will be allocated to the Media Support Fund, while the print press and book publishing will receive support at the expense of reduced value added tax (VAT) next year – the tax for the printed press will decrease from 12% to 5%; for books, from 21% to 5%. According to Puntuulis, changes in media support policy would be needed so that support instruments would not be as fragmented as they are now.
“I have believed that media support should be linked to a specific tax, but this proposal of mine has not yet received support in the Saeima, so in some positions this fragmentation is noticeable – I would agree with that. But so far I have not succeeded. [panākt]that the media industry, like the SCCF, be tied to a particular type of tax or position. It ‘s not even as important to anyone, but to have this attraction, “said the Minister.
Compared to previous years, the expenditure of EU projects related to the end of the programming period has significantly decreased in the CFR budget. In turn, expenses for lease payments to State Real Estate have increased significantly – from 3.24 million in 2019 to 5.12 million in 2022.
In order to continue systematic work on the renewal and arrangement of cultural infrastructure, in 2022 the Ministry of Culture has requested an additional 13 million euros, of which only 3 million have been allocated. With these funds, the Ministry plans to maintain the Freedom Monument and the Brothers’ Cemetery Ensemble, which will be under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture from next year; there were a number of other intentions on the ministry’s wish list. However, the National Concert Hall is not among the current projects next year, as the debate on where it could take place is still ongoing.