8.4 Promoting culture and cultural participation
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Access to culture is one of the priorities of the National Strategy for Development of Culture in Republic of Macedonia 2018-2022 (Национална стратегија за развој на културата во Македонија 2018-2022), i.e. one of the special goals is to enable accessibility and participation in cultural processes.
Aiming to not only reduce the obstacles to the audience, but also to keep it safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, many theaters across the country started broadcasting plays online for free.
As stated in the National Youth Strategy 2016-2025, the challenges of young people for access to culture are lack of cultural offer outside of the capital as well as geographical and financial obstacles for rural youth to be part of cultural events.
In order to provide de-metropolisation, dispersion of the culture, to spread it in the local environments, and to enrich cultural offer in different parts outside Skopje, in 2008 the Ministry of Culture introduced the programme “Hot cultural wave”.
Each year, the Ministry offers financial support to municipalities for development of cultural programmes during the summer period. The aim of the programme is to provide possibilities for cultural events for the citizens in order to raise their cultural awareness and values. The municipalities organize festivals and other cultural events of any kind, for example concerts, theater plays, exhibitions, debates etc.
Since 2017, the new Government made little changes in the scope of the programme, and gave it the new name “New cultural wave”. Instead of as it was outlined earlier, when the municipalities were the only organizers and applicants at the competition of the event, the intention is to encourage and activate the independent cultural scene, and in order to achieve such commitments, the right to participate and compete with projects for the event will have associations of citizens, foundations and individuals in the field of culture who should have a quality, aesthetically profiled and value-based offer. In this way, competitiveness, movement and inspiration of new and fresh impulses will be established in the design and improvement of the activity as a whole.
The municipalities in North Macedonia have an important role in the development of cultural offer. Each municipality is devoting one part of the municipal budget for the organization of cultural events on local level. These cultural events offered vary from concerts to food or film festivals. They are organized by the municipalities themselves, civil society organizations or private companies. The aim of these events is to offer leisure activities and entertainment for the local population, provide possibilities for social cohesion and as well as to support the local development. For example, every summer for the past year, many municipalities are organizing a so called ‘Cultural Summer’. Through concerts of various musicians from the country and abroad, outdoor theater performances, folk dances, municipal authorities want to enrich the cultural life of all generations, including young people. These cultural events throughout the country are supported by the Ministry of Culture and are free of charge, so they are accessible for those with financial obstacles.
In order to reduce financial obstacles for young people to participate in the cultural events, in 2014 the Government introduced a possibility for reduced price for national public transport. Namely, young people under 27, have 50% discount for traveling by train and the possibility to travel by train for free every third weekend in the month. Also, the orphans, the young people from social families and the students can travel for free each Thursday of the month (by train and city busses in Skopje). In 2016 this measure was extended, so instead of one, young people up to 27 years of age have the opportunity to use the services of Macedonian Railways, free of charge, every first and third weekend during the month. High school students can travel for free by train every Wednesday.
Another extension of the measure was made in 2016. So instead of free public transport in the capital for students (from state universities) only on Thursday, from 1 January 2016 students can use public transport for free every day in the week during the academic year, i.e. from 1 October till 30 of June.
In order to bring the theater closer to the students, a free Thursday was introduced in 2014, that is, every Thursday; the students can watch theater plays in the theaters across the country free of charge. Wednesday, meanwhile, is a day reserved for high school students, while the category of people up to 27 years old, for which the discount of 50 per cent was valid, was extended to persons up to 29 years of age.
However, in 2017, "Theater Comedy" decided to abolish the free Thursday and free Wednesday and instead introduced a 50% discount (150 MKD) for students.
There is no information about the existence of a national wide program to provide information about culture to young people.
The information about organization of one event is usually shared by the organizers through their means of communication such as website, social media etc. The public cultural institutions are publishing the information for events and offers on their communication channels: websites and social media. The Ministry of Culture is often publishing information concerning projects financed by the Ministry.
The National Institution Museum of the Macedonian Struggle - Skopje, in the frames of the project "Open Museums" and in order to promote inclusiveness, education, social justice and accessibility of museums, in October 2018 organized promotion of a guide for a museum program for children / persons with autism and their families and a seminar for museum workers. The main goal of the project is promotion of cultural heritage, improving the accessibility of museum contents and initiating future development of museum programs to improve the inclusiveness of vulnerable groups in society - children with autism and their families. The project is funded by the EU Delegation within the celebration of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage.
There are private initiatives for information about cultural offer, mostly through the internet. Namely, there are several websites that regroup the information for cultural offer such as: http://www.reborn.mk/; www.time.mk/nastani. These websites provide possibilities to identify all events taking place in North Macedonia, although most of the information provided is for the capital city.
One of the goals stated in the Annual Program of Activities of the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (Управа за заштита на културното наследство) is to engage young people in the protection and care of cultural heritage, as well as to introduce them to the work of the Directorate and cultural institutions from the field of heritage protection.
Municipalities throughout North Macedonia, the Ministry of Culture, the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, as well as other institutions and organizations, organize events aimed at promoting the cultural heritage and bringing it closer to young people. One of the main goals of Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage is to familiarize young population from an early age with the cultural properties of the Republic of North Macedonia, mainly promotional events in their organization target primary school students. Thus, on October 5, 2018, an educational lesson was held in Kursumli An in Skopje on the topic "I love and care for my cultural heritage", organized by the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, and in cooperation with the Primary School " Hristijan Todorovski Karpos "from Skopje, within the framework of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. The event is realized with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science and the Bureau for Development of Education of the Republic of North Macedonia.
From 5 to 9 May 2019, the European Week of Cultural Heritage Makers was celebrated in many European countries - a pilot initiative of "European Days of Cultural Heritage", aimed at children and young people. In 2019 North Macedonia is joining this important initiative for the first time. The project, launched as "Creators of Cultural Heritage" in Finland in 2013, and continued as a cross-border activity since 2014, was recognized by the EDCN assembly as an innovative and sustainable opportunity for active engagement of the youngest. The purpose of this initiative is to give children and young people a genuine and meaningful voice and thus to discover and encourage future European cultural heritage creators. During the European Cultural Heritage Week, young people are encouraged to explore their surroundings, learn about the cultural heritage that surrounds them, find a story of Europe in the heritage they have chosen, and then upload the story to the EDCN portal. The coordinator of this activity was the Museum of Macedonia.
There is no information about the existence of specific national wide program for discovery and appreciation of the cultural and artistic heritage of European countries among the young people.
 Annual programme of activities of the Directorate for Protection of Cultural Heritage, European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018- “Our Heritage – European Value!“ (Directorate for Protection of Cultural Heritage, 2018), p.3 http://uzkn.gov.mk/mk/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/DPCH-Programme-for-EYCH.pdf (Accessed December 18,2018)
 Ibid, p.2-3
http://uzkn.gov.mk/mk/%D0%B5%D0%B4%D1%83%D0%BA%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B8%D0%B2%D0%B5%D0%BD-%D1%87%D0%B0%D1%81-%D0%B3%D0%BE-%D1%81%D0%B0%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%BC-%D0%B8-%D1%81%D0%B5-%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B6%D0%B0%D0%BC-%D0%B7%D0%B0/ (Accessed December 18,2018)