(1) Professionalization of staff in local environments.
What we need is an effective decentralization of [Slovenia] as regards professional and skilled staff working in the cultural and creative sectors. Educated young people mostly stay in the central region, where they concluded their studies, and do not return back to the local environment, or move from rural areas because these offer no professional culture. Consequently, there are few experts in local environments, and those who do stay or return do so out of enthusiasm. It is therefore necessary to systematically professionalize staff in local environments who would work in the field of international (cultural) cooperation.
In addition to the problem in the field of education, the cultural sphere (especially NGOs) is facing the issue of inhibited professionalization of staff due to a lack of dedicated funding or a systemic agreement, strategic document, etc., which would show that decision makers understand why staff professionalization is necessary. It is disastrous for the sector to operate in a non-professional environment at a level of work that requires professionalism.
A concrete and practical proposal could be the introduction of a voucher for culture available to all citizens, whereas a strategic approach would be the creation of a counseling body to design and implement a strategy for the professionalization of local environments with dedicated EU funds (also in cooperation with the sector of education).
(2) Limited access to audiences (cultural education) – also as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bringing culture to schools, including primary and (especially) secondary schools, in innovative, modern ways is crucial. However, this should not be understood in terms of simplifying the perception of art and thus banalizing it. On the contrary: this refers to education and practice in the field of education and the professionalization of what is on offer, especially in rural areas. In the context of formal education, it is necessary to ensure that quality provision in the various fields of culture and the arts is dispersed and accessible in all regions.
In this area, cross-sectoral integration is crucial, especially in the field of education, including the research sector. In-depth basic research in the field of cultural heritage, visual arts, architecture, design, etc., can be an excellent basis for generating content. At the same time, an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the history, art history, sociology and other circumstances of cultural creation is a necessary basis for creative activity.
New possibilities are also provided by modern technology, which enables the transfer of high-quality content to remote, small towns and communities, or enables accessibility for targeted communities or marginalized groups.
(3) Lack of national/regional mechanisms for co-financing international cultural cooperation.
International cultural projects supported by the EU programs urgently need an established system of co-financing at the national and local (regional) level, which is why it is necessary to create dedicated financial resources for international cultural cooperation (within the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, municipalities and other institutions). These mechanisms should have a strategic approach and follow/ complement EU guidelines for promoting cultural cooperation in EU international relations.
At the same time, it makes sense to design a system of small support packages to promote the mobility of professionals and artists, which can have a major impact. Once such example would be a scheme providing financial support for international study visits, preparatory meetings (which would simplify designing and implementing international projects), membership fees in international networks and/or organizations, artistic and working residencies, etc.