I have been referred to as a control freak and an ‘over-planner’ but only in Cyprus, where procrastination and lack of planning across many sectors seems to be the norm. I think without question, the prize should go to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture.
There are a few organisations in Cyprus, me being one of them, who believe that music, art and culture is an essential part of our well-being and necessary even under the most dire economic circumstances. In fact, there are so many reports, surveys and statistics from around the world which show that cultural and creative industries drive sustainable development and create job opportunities.
So why, does the Cyprus Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture not have any sort of long-term fiscal planning or even a plan about the future of the cultural sector?
Each year, cultural organisations and festivals, which rely on the funding of the ministry, have to prepare reams and reams of paperwork (all printed and copied numerous times creating a fail with regard to environmental awareness) to request validation of their programmes and ideas. It’s not the best solution, but understandable if at least they replied. The paperwork has to be in by November of the previous year. We are now in April 2017, and have not heard any results of whether our projects will be able to materialise. In fact, one of my projects scheduled for March had to be cancelled.
The frustration levels are exceptionally high for local organisations but we are also ashamed in front of our international guest artists. Top artists are booked years, yes years in advance, and dismiss other possibly bigger engagements if they are contracted for a festival. Furthermore, when we are trying to encourage a new tourist market (dare I say higher calibre and not be misunderstood…) in higher income groups, they too plan and see which are the best festivals to go to.
Last year, organisers were advised that new measures had been put into place to receive answers quickly. These promises have again not materialised.
My suggestion to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture is to eliminate the extensive paperwork which they can clearly not cope with, and instead implement a 3-5 year plan for the larger, more reliable festivals who already have a track record and history, to be allocated their funding so at least, they can do proper planning.