The establishment of Kultura Nova Foundation marks one of the most significant steps forward in cultural policy in the period of past twenty years in Croatia.
Kultura Nova Foundation was founded as an answer to the existing situation within the system of culture with the aim of ensuring an efficient measure that would allow for the improvement and further development of the position of civil sector in culture.
In the period of the past twenty five years, civil society organizations active in the fields of contemporary arts and culture have played an important part in the cultural system of the Republic of Croatia. In their work they promoted contemporary artistic cultural and practice mostly unknown to the Croatian public. By encouraging interaction between various artistic, cultural, technological, political and social fields, they made a considerable contribution to the development of contemporary culture and the society on the whole. Such self-established organizations created a new space for social engagement, contributed to a greater intensity of intersectoral collaboration, and developed new models of networking. Besides their activities in Croatia, many organizations cooperated with different international institutions, and the number and diversity of such organizations helped place the sector of Croatian civil culture among the more developed in Europe. Their accomplishments and expansion were recognized on the international cultural level in the form of financial support from different foreign institutions and foundations, which was particularly important in the 1990s when the support from national and local governments was mostly inadequate.
With the beginning of the new millennium, certain steps that would have a positive impact on the development of this cultural field were made, however, these changes were not sufficient to secure the field’s sustainability. With the passing of the Law on Councils of Culture (2001), the Ministry of Culture founded the Council of Media Culture (the Council of New Media Culture from 2004 to 2013; the Council for Innovative Artistic and Cultural practices since 2013), which began financing programs of culture’s civil sector through the system of public needs in culture. The establishment of such committees, and, subsequently, councils on local levels, granted the organizations of civil society active in culture access to national as well as subnational sources of funding for their programmes. However, the changes in the general model of financing did not follow such opening of the cultural system and thus the model still cannot support self-established collectives in the civil sector nor provide answers to their needs in the same way it caters to public institutions in culture, which receive financial support for their operative costs and programmes on a yearly basis.
Not dealing with the systemic problems of the sector of civil culture (insufficient financing of programmes, the lack of adequate space for work, the non-existence of cyclical financing extending over several years, etc.), the lack of reforms in the public system and cultural system on the whole, as well as the ongoing crisis that is cause to cuts in the budgets for culture, became a key obstacle to the stabilization and further development of the organizations of civil society in the fields of contemporary arts and culture.
The reform of the cultural system requires a serious analytical backing, well-developed steps, principles and standards of implementation, as well as the methodology that would allow for a high degree of participation and inclusion of a wider specter of interested partakers in the process. Taking into consideration that the implementation of such all-encompassing, efficient and transparent transformation of the system understands a process that would take a number of years to implement, it was necessary to ensure efficient measures within the existing cultural model, i.e. system of financing, that would allow for the improvement of the position of the civil sector in culture as well as its further development and professionalization.
Due to the said situation, in 2004, a number of civil society organizations active in the fields of contemporary arts and culture began advocating the establishing of a separate foundation for the sector of civil culture that would serve as an additional source of funding within the financing system for culture. On several occasions, the reasons for establishing such foundation were presented and discussed at numerous public events (conferences, seminars, public debates, round tables, etc.). With the support of the Council of New Media Culture, the idea of a new foundation was presented to the Ministry of Culture, which, after careful consideration, instituted a working group responsible for developing a Draft of the Proposal of the Law on Kultura Nova Foundation. The founding of a special foundation for civil sector in culture was anticipated in the National Program for the Youth for 2009 – 2013 Period.
The process of founding Kultura Nova, extending over several years, included representatives of civil society organizations, different state administration bodies, public government bodies and experts, and its purpose, activities, core assets, financing, as well as other regulations concerning the foundation’s activities are defined by the Law on Kultura Nova Foundation which was adopted by the Croatian Parliament in 2011 (Official Gazette of the Republic of Croatia, No. 90/11). The establishment of Kultura Nova Foundation, as a new source of financial support for the organizations of civil society in the fields of contemporary arts and culture, marks one of the most significant steps forward in cultural policy in the period of past twenty years or so.