http://www.culturalpolicies.net/_grafics/logoprintbw.gif
Report creation date: 14.10.2008 - 09:37
Countr(y/ies): Albania
Chapter(s): 1,2,21,22,23,24,241,242,243,244,245,246,3,31,32,33,4,41,42,421,422,423,424,425,426,427,428,429,4210,43,5,51,511,512,513,514,515,516,517,518,519,52,53,531,532,533,534,535,536,537,538,539,5310,6,61,62,63,64,7,71,72,73,8,81,811,812,813,82,821,822,83,831,832,84,841,842,9,91,92

Albania/ 1. Historical perspective: cultural policies and instruments

Albania is one of the oldest countries on the Balkan Peninsula and is at the cross roads of Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean and Illyria. Over the past fifty years, it has been under communist rule which isolated the country from the rest of Europe until the early 1990s when the regime collapsed and independence was achieved. Prior to 1944, there was a rapid development or National Renaissance of Albanian art and culture. Following the Second World War, art and culture were under a "socialist realism" ideology whose main aim was to create the "New Socialist Man". Large-scale performances, sponsored by the state, glorified their ideology and the new man of the Labour Party.

During the communist regime, Albanian cultural life was completely centralised and controlled by the state. Cultural events were mostly organised in the capital Tirana, which was also home to the Opera and Ballet Theatre, Popular Theatre, the Hall of State Variety Show, the Concert Hall of the Palace of Culture, the Hall of the High Institute of Arts.

In spite of the guiding political ideology and severe lack of funding, artistic and social progress was made and cultural infrastructure built up. For example, in 1946, the first Albanian Art School was founded and artists created their first professional organisation - Albanian Writers' and Artists' League - in 1952. A few years later, in 1954, the first National Art Gallery was opened which was an important institution to promote and protect the artistic heritage of both native and foreign artists. Despite limits placed on artistic freedom and freedom of movement, many young artists completed their studies and produced a variety of monuments and other monumental works of paintings, sculptures, design, photographs or applied arts.

The collapse of communism in Eastern European countries throughout the early 1990s gave rise to the free movement of citizens, and thus enabled Albanian artists to have direct contact with the world of art outside Albania. Since then, Albanian culture was "exported". A new generation of artists had their works performed and distributed in different regions of the world. Works by Albanian composers were broadcast by foreign channels which gave them access to a mass international audience for the first time. Independent artists groups, orchestras, chamber music ensembles, pop music and folklore groups were founded and were given an opportunity to perform both inside and outside the country.

Such progress, however, has been more or less limited to favourable market conditions found in Tirana with little influence on other Albanians towns. The number of musical events varies in different parts of the country according to the interests of the audience and their traditions. Although there are many cultural groups and associations throughout Albania, only eight of them are recorded in the 1998 catalogue of the Albanian Foundation of Civil Society.

In 1991, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) was decreed by the new President of the Republic whose aims was to bring the Albanian culture and sport institutions in line with European standards. A new cultural policy was created to help recover and develop Albanian cultural life and is based on the right of its citizens to participate in cultural life. In July 2000, a Guide to the cultural policy of the Albanian state was produced by the Ministry to set new goals for the country. Emphasis has been placed on national heritage as well as on the vital role of modernising Albanian society. Few pieces of legislation, have, however, been integrated as instruments in the day to day operations of the Ministry. After the political election in 2005, changes were made to the title and functions of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, which resulted in the formation of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports.

Albania/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.1 Organisational structure (organigram)

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Albania/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.2 Overall description of the system

Since the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports became the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports in 2005, there have been some changes in the apparatus. There are two Deputy Ministers now, instead of one. In addition, there are two General Directorates, the first in charge of "Tourism and Culture Policy" and the second in charge of "Supporting Services". Each shares about half of the "Directorates". The General Directorate of Tourism and Cultural Policy manages the Directorates of Culture and Arts, Cultural Heritage, Tourism Development, Youth Policy Coordination, Sports and Tourism Services. The General Directorate of Supporting Services manages the Directorates of Legal, Foreign and Integration Issues, Internal Services and Internal Audit.

In March 2007 after a series of changes in Albanian government, the structure has changed again and there are now five main General Directorates:

The two first are mainly responsible for policy areas which are related to art, culture, youth and sports. Under the General Directorate for Policies for Art, Culture & Youth are:

Under the General Directorate for Tourism & National Cultural Heritage is: the Section for Tourism Development, the Section for National Cultural Heritage, and the Section for the Coordination of Tourism & National Cultural Heritage.

Despite these changes, there is no concern, or specific programmes or structures designed for any group of interest, ethnic minority, immigrant community or any other community whatsoever.

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports (MTCYS) takes responsibility for all cultural departments while the Deputy Minister is in charge of sports.

The Minister's Cabinet is responsible for the implementation of policies and strategies and organises institutional contacts for the Minister in the country and abroad.

The Board of Advisers to the Minister observes all activities of the Ministry and supports him / her through advice and suggestions.

The Directorate of Cultural Heritage was created in July 1998 to reflect the increasing importance of the sector in terms of policy making and programme development. After the Ministry was joined with the Ministry of Tourism and Public Works on 6 September 2005, the Directorate was renamed the Directorate of Tourism and National Cultural Heritage. Its main objectives are:

The General Directorate for Arts, Youth and Sports formerly the Directorate of Culture and Arts is responsible for selecting artistic projects to be supported by the Ministry which are in line with cultural policies and programmes. It also manages exchange programmes and co-operation projects abroad. Projects are selected by an ad hoc group appointed by the Minister of Culture and are approved by the minister. The Book sector was created in July 1998 to protect the universal and constitutional right of citizens to information and education through books, and to develop policies for book distribution and the promotion of reading. It aims to create a climate favourable to private initiatives in the book market, and it is also responsible for libraries.

The Directory for the Co-ordination of Youth Policies was created in July 1998 to develop policies in the field of youth, with the special aim to promote the principles of an open, civil and democratic society among young people.

The General Directorate for Supporting Services, formerly the Directorate of Internal Services, is responsible for planning and monitoring the budget of the Ministry. The Personnel and Services Department develops and monitors procedures in the appointment of experts intended to co-operate with the different areas of the Ministry, organises and supervises the work of Ministry personnel and, in general, monitors how the laws and regulations of the government and of the Ministry are respected.

The Directory for Drafting and Approximating of Legislation and Juridical Services formerly the Department of Juridical Division and Copyright supports and advises the work of the ministry in all legal questions and monitors the application of legislation. It also drafts and proposes appropriate laws and legal frameworks in the cultural field.

The Directory Internal Audit supervises the way in which the state budget is used in accordance with the forms and the rules foreseen in the legislation of the Republic of Albania.

Albania/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

The most important decision-making structure is the Commission of Culture and Media at the Albanian Parliament which is also important for inter-ministerial co-ordination. There is a structure within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which has an important role in intergovernmental co-operation in the cultural field.

There are no specific inter-ministerial initiatives or structures with regard to intercultural dialogue. In 2005, the Albanian Ministry of Culture joined the newly formed Council of Ministers of Culture in South East Europe, but the agreement has produced no effects in the Albania so far.

Albania/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports (MTCYS) is responsible for international cultural cooperation. Except for cultural heritage and film production the Ministry has no strategy on international cultural co-operation.

There has been no significant change in international cultural co-operation in recent years. Unfortunately, culture itself was not a topic of the programme of the previous left-wing government and is not a topic of the current right-wing government's programme either. Even the "word" culture is missing in these documents. In this context, the Albanian government fails to fulfil obligations imposed by international agreements and conventions to which it adheres.

Intercultural projects are proposed and funded by international or foreign agencies.

Albania/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

Since the merger of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture, there has been a decrease in the government's interest (and funding) in cultural activities in general. No significant efforts have been seen to establish co-operation between the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The latter has announced a major plan aimed at setting up a network of "Albanian Institutions" abroad, but to date this is only, and merely, a statement.

Unlike Albanian public institutions, foreign cultural agencies have been increasingly active in promoting their respective national and European cultural values in Albania. Especially, the Italian Institute and the Alliance Franšaise have sponsored a wide range of activities, from translation and book publishing, to drama productions and live concerts. The Italian Institute is a promoter and major sponsor of "Allegretto Albania", a series of classical music concerts in major cities, while the Alliance Franšaise organises the annual French Cultural Festival, a multi-disciplinary event.

A major actor in this field remains the Swiss Cultural Council - Pro Helvetia, which also supports projects with a national or regional profile. Recently, the British Council has been expanding its services, including library and home video rentals.

The major instruments used in international cultural relations are bi-lateral co-operation agreements. A good example in this matter is the 2002 agreement between Albania and Italy, which paved the way for two co-productions of feature films, the first ever with Albanian and Italian money.

Another agreement, between the Albanian and Italian ministries of education, has allowed many Albanian students to study arts and culture at Italian universities. In addition, opera and classical music institutions from Italy, France, Germany and Austria, have been offering training courses and internships for Albanian singers and musicians, thus helping many of them to start an international career abroad.

Due to a lack of interest in international cultural co-operation, the Albanian government provides no specific funding programmes for projects of this kind. However, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture provides limited and decreasing funding, benefiting events such as international drama and film festivals or classical music summer festivals.

Within the framework of regional cooperation, the Meeting of CEI Heads of Government held in Tirana on 23 November 2006 approved the Plan of Action for 2007-2009, which includes cultural cooperation. Since 1995, Albania is one of the members of this inter-regional initiative which aims to promote regional cooperation. The key elements of CEI cultural cooperation in the next years will be the development of projects related to intercultural dialogue and the preservation of cultural diversity in Central Europe, as well as the promotion of activities aiming at the conservation of cultural heritage, jointly with the transfer of know-how in cultural management. Additional activities aimed at advancing the ability of governments and civil society as a whole in the preparation, financing and implementation of cultural projects could be implemented especially in the following areas: support to cultural policies as a contribution to socio-economic development (cultural industries development; cultural tourism; sponsorship and donations to the arts) sponsoring cross-border cooperation in the field of arts, including the mobility of individuals and groups. Training programmes as well as seminars and workshops will be organised under the initiative of member countries with the aim of promoting various aspects of cultural dialogue, also aiming at the preservation of cultural diversity. Management of cultural institutions and the introduction of a modern administrative approach, including issues related to public subsidies, private sponsorship, ways and means of making culture especially attractive to the public, will be analysed in seminars and workshops organised by CEI member states, including Albania.

Albania/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

Albania is a full member of the Council of Europe and UNESCO, while, as a candidate country, it has been benefiting from EU programmes like Phare and CARDS.

Albania is also a country member of the Francophonie Community, benefiting from direct and indirect support from the French government.

The Albanian Parliament ratified the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions on 24 September 2006. The Ministry of Tourism and Culture will be in charge of monitoring the implementation of the Convention.

Few Albanian cultural and education institutions have affiliations with international, transnational or European organisations. Tirana Arts Academy is a member of ELIA, while there is a national centre of the Madrid-based Mediterranean Theatre Institute.

There is no partnership between Albania and the Nordic Council or the Anna Lindh Foundation Networks.

Albania/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.4 Direct professional co-operation

Trans-border exchanges with Serbia and Montenegro have been almost non-existent, due to political obstacles between the two countries. In recent years, Albania has tried to foster these exchanges with FYROM and Kosovo. With the latter, there has been distinguished progress, with cultural festivals, joint book fairs and exchange of concerts and drama tours. The current government has announced a plan to change an existing cultural centre into a theatre, with support from the Greek government, in the form of euro 2.5 million to finance the project.

Drama, opera and ballet have received grants from mandated agencies such as the Alliance Franšaise, the Italian Institute of Culture, the German Embassy, and the Austrian Embassy.

In the film industry, the French foundation Fond du Sud has played a key role, financing half of Albanian feature film productions.

In 2005, the "Artistet Shqiptare" online database on Albania artists from all arts sectors living in Albania and abroad was launched (http://www.artistetshqiptare.com/index.htm). Its main objective is to provide information for Albanian arts and media managers and international artists who are interested in collaborating with colleagues from Albania. It also aims at facilitating the contact among Albanian artists in Albania and abroad. The project is supported by the Open Society Foundation (SOROS) and the European Cultural Foundation.

Albania/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.5 Cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation

The Albanian government has no specific programmes to support cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation. The Ministry of Culture has signed bi-lateral agreements on cultural co-operation with its counterparts in Greece, FYROM and Kosovo. Except for Albania-Kosovo exchanges, these agreements have had a small impact.

In the third sector, there are some good examples of trans-national intercultural dialogue. The Albanian Centre of ITM (Mediterranean Institute of Theatre) organises an annual international drama festival in Butrint. The Albanian Section of ISCM (International Society of Contemporary Music) organises the annual New Chamber Music Festival and has recently launched its Centre for Balkan Music Documentation, the first project of this kind in Albania.

The annual International Tirana Film Festival of short films, animations and documentary films has a special focus on films from Albanian-speaking minorities in Kosovo, Macedonia and the Diaspora. The festival takes place every year in October and is organised by the Albanian Art Institute. All films receiving an award are screened on Albanian national TV. The web site of the Film Festival is available from: http://www.tiranafilmfest.com.

Butrint 2000 is an annual theatre festival that takes place on a historic site in the South-Albanian town of Butrinti, on the shore of Lake Butrint. The festival started in 2000 and has presented works by Albanian artists, as well as more than 50 companies coming from Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands, UK, USA, France, Russia, Sweden etc. It is also a measure to promote cultural tourism in Albania, as Butrinti is only a short ferry ride away from the island of Corfu.

Generally the Albania government support certain trans-national activities of young people or youth groups through the Directory of Youth Policy Coordination attached to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sport. Especially it provides fund for activities initiated by it according to the priorities defined at the National Youth Strategy and Plan of Action 2007-2013 approved by Albania government on 18 March 2007.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section.

Albania/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.6 Other relevant issues

Despite the fact that Albania has a considerable Diaspora, there have been no efforts from the government to support the creation of cultural centres or other structures to support the preservation of language and cultural identity among Albanian's living abroad.

Neither the Ministry of Culture, nor the Ministry of Labour and Social Issues, have even drafted "culture in development" programmes. In such cases, Albania relies on international funding.

Albania is open to European and international cultural co-operation and efforts are being made to promote the most important achievements of national culture abroad. The Council of Europe has been the most important partner in international cultural collaboration during the last decade.

Some examples of international exhibitions and festivals in Albania are:

The Tirana International Book Fair takes place every year in November with participants mainly from Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and France. Its main objective is to present the latest publications in Albania and translation from Albanian into other languages. The Book Fair is supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports and by the Open Society Foundation for Albania - Soros.

Albanian artists are now represented at international festivals abroad (e.g. Venice Biennale for visual arts, Film Festival of Venice, International Festival of Theatre in Cairo, International Festival of Poetry in Struga, Macedonia). Albanian writers have been on board the Literature Express Europe 2000, a literary train that crossed Europe in the summer of 2000.

The lack of financial means strongly hampers Albanian cultural activities abroad, so that the import of foreign culture into Albania outweighs the export of Albanian culture.

Albania was involved in the Mosaic Programme of the Council of Europe, which helped in the process of formulating principles for national cultural strategies. This programme is also an example of regional cultural co-operation of South Eastern European countries. For the last five years, Albania has been involved in the programme "European Heritage Days" organised by the Council of Europe and the European Union. The ancient city of Butrinti has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Albania is becoming part of the Regional Programme for Cultural and Natural Heritage of Southeast Europe, a joint programme between the EU and the Council of Europe. It aims to enhance cooperation among nine countries of the region in the area of preservation and rehabilitation of cultural and natural heritage by promoting sustainable development. The programme is composed of 3 Strands (A, B, C) and the Albanian Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sport participates through the Institute of Cultural Monuments in the first two components. Strand A is related to Institutional Capacity Building (ICBP) and is focused on increasing management skills to run projects or design strategies and policies on further development of cultural heritage. Furthermore, Strand B implies the Integrated Rehabilitation of Architectural and Archaeological Heritage (IRPP-SAAH), where the main aim is to fund the rescue of certain archaeological and architectural sites in Albania. This project is a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, through former president Romano Prodi in the framework of CULTURE 2000. Until now, the Ministry has fulfilled some of the requirements of the early stages in this project.

The Ministry has demonstrated its commitment to still continue with this heritage project even at the framework of EU Culture Programme 2007-2013 which has replaced the Culture 2000.

Albania/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.1 Main elements of the current cultural policy model

National cultural policy in Albania is built on European standards and models. The underlying goal of such a cultural policy is to "bring down the walls that isolated Albania from the rest of the world, especially the West". Culture and the arts, in this sense, are considered to be tools that will help to bring democratic development to the country and re-assert its cultural identity within the region and as an integral part of European cultural identity.

The main elements of Albanian cultural policy are:

Limited resources - human, technical and financial - however, hinder the full implementation of these objectives.

Decentralisation is being regarded as a top priority of Albania's transition towards a market economy. First political steps towards democratically elected municipal officials have been accomplished. Although their budgets are limited, they have a large degree of autonomy. Local cultural commissions have been set up and are attached to local assemblies.

A new Law on the Organisation and Functions of Local Government was adopted by the Parliament on 31 July 2000. The main principle of this law is the autonomy of local government. The present status of local government in Albania and the process of decentralising power are affected by the political, economic, and social aspects of the transition, combined with historic, traditional, social ad psychological factors. Before the transition, local governments had little political autonomy and high levels of social and economic responsibility. The central government body which controlled the activities of local government body was the Interior Ministry. The view that local government should have greater autonomy is gaining notable support.

Over the past three years efforts of decentralisation in the cultural field are being concentrated in the fields of cinema, theatre and books. In the 36 district centres, there are several libraries, houses of culture and local museums, however, their budgets and programmes continue to depend on the Ministry. To date, there are no specific guidelines for the decentralisation of cultural policy in Albania.

Albania/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.2 National definition of culture

A national definition of culture does not exist. During the communist regime, culture was defined as national Albanian identity, political identity and was, of course, promoting a socialist culture. Nowadays, cultural identity still includes protection and promotion of the Albanian language and cultural life.

In an administrative sense, the state budget which is managed by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports defines culture to include: cultural and arts institutions of creative and performing arts, cultural heritage, arts education and international cultural co-operation.

Albania/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.3 Cultural policy objectives

The cultural policy of the Ministry of Tourism Culture, Youth and Sports is to be seen in the framework of the efforts of the Albanian government towards the European integration of Albania. This is based on the principle that the cultural policy itself must become a key element of the general strategy of the development of Albania within the Balkans Stability Pact.

The recommendations of the Council of Europe are seen as a priority, especially in the book sector.

The cultural policy objectives set out by the Albanian governments are efforts to address the promotion of identity and diversity, support of creativity and participation in cultural life. Through a series of policy and financial instruments the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth & Sport aimed to interlink its own objectives by developing even innovative fiscal mechanisms to support culture and cultural heritage based on global best practices. Policy intervention initiatives are considered crucial to ensuring that the interdependent relationship between tourism, culture, youth activities and sport is developed and managed in a sustainable manner at the both national and local levels. Of the 37 conventions, protocols and agreements of a standard-setting nature issued by UNESCO, only 17 of these instruments have been ratified or accepted by the Albanian government. In this way the ratification and implementation of applicable international conventions for the protection of culture and cultural heritage is one of the most visible interventions that can be made.

Albania/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

The most important reforms in the field of culture took place after 1997. For the past 5 years, the main emphasis has been on developing legislation. The Albanian parliament has approved some important laws on cinema, theatres and libraries. The latter has been considered a cornerstone of cultural communication in Albania and, therefore, greater emphasis has been placed on the promotion of reading.

In preparation for the Council of Europe National Cultural Policy Review, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport organised a special seminar on decentralisation in Tirana in March 2000, a topic which has been neglected in the overall cultural policy strategy. Other recent debates have focussed on the legal, political and economic aspects of multicultural societies, creativity and networking. On 23 November 2005, the Albanian government approved the Integrated Planning System (IPS), which means a series of functional principles that guarantee an effective implementing process for public policies. It contains two important processes such as mid-term and long-term strategic planning, the so - called National Strategy for Development and Integration (NSDI) and the Mid-Term Budgeting Programme. On 16 March 2006, The Committee for Strategic Planning, the high level decision-making authority on the IPS, decided to include all the sectoral and intra-sectoral strategies of different ministries in the planning. These strategies have to meet the EU financial framework 2007-2013 period in order to facilitate the National Plan for SAA (Stabilisation and Association Agreement) that the Albanian government signed with the EU on 12 June 2006. The SAA has replaced the previous Trade and Cooperation Agreement of 14 May 1992 which established the institutional relationship between Albania and European Union. SAA is part of the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) that EU adapted for the Western Balkans countries during its own European Summit of 29 May 1999 in K÷ln. In this framework, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth & Sports is involved in the design and drafting of a series of strategies which are related to its own policy areas such as tourism, culture, youth and sport.

The draft Sectoral Strategy for Culture (2007-2013) is being prepared by a working group appointed by the Minister and is currently available for public consultation with all the stakeholders and groups of interest related to the field of arts and culture.

Albania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.1 Cultural minorities, groups and communities

Greeks, Macedonians, Vlachs and Roma are officially recognised cultural groups in Albania. Efforts are being made to add Muslim Bosnians to this list. Some media reports have stressed the fact that there is a growing community of Chinese immigrants.

However, there is no accurate data on their composition and size. The last census in Albania was in 1994, but matters like ethnicity, religion and language were not included.

Article 20 of the Albanian Constitution guarantees the rights of all ethnic minorities in Albania, including the right to preserve and develop their cultural, religious, ethnic and linguistic identity. However, the rights provided by the Albanian Constitution and several international agreements, have not yet translated into cultural policy issues. There is no specific law to support these minority groups, with regard to cultural identity.

Like all Albanian citizens, members of minority groups are free to acquire Albanian citizenship, to give it up or to hold dual citizenship.

Greeks have full minority status in South Albania, especially in the Gjirokastra and Saranda regions, where this community is concentrated. They have the right to education in their mother tongue, from elementary to high school level. The Greek community publish daily papers and have a share of programmes broadcast through public radio.

Since 1991, Greeks are represented in the Albanian Parliament, first by the Omonia Association and then by the Human Rights Union Party. The later has been a member of the left-wing coalition, led by the Socialist Party, in power until 2005, and is now a member of the right-wing coalition led by the Democratic Party (which came into power in 2005).

Many Greek politicians sit on city and county councils within the Gjirokastra and Saranda regions, as well as in the majority of local councils in most parts of the country.

To date, there are no arts programmes specifically targeted to cultural minorities living in Albania. While the Constitution guarantees their rights to, for example, publish literature in their mother tongues, there is no support systems to aid them to do so.

As regards cultural rights, Albania recognises three national minorities (Greek, Macedonian and Serbian-Montenegrin) and two ethno linguistic minorities (Aromanian and Roma). Generally, there prevails a climate of respect and tolerance regarding minority groups. The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions has now entered into force. Albania is endeavouring, within its budgetary limitations, to fulfil its commitments under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The government signed Memoranda of Understanding with local governments to promote the use of minority languages in relations with the administrative authorities and to display traditional place names in areas inhabited by persons belonging to national minorities. The Albanian Constitution provides that persons belonging to minorities have the right to be taught in their mother tongue in their curricula. Schools for members of the Greek and Macedonian minorities have significantly higher teacher-pupil ratios than the national average. On the other hand, the Ministry of Education and Science issued an instruction allowing Roma children to enrol in schools without being registered.

There are some radio and television operators that broadcast in minority languages, mainly Greek. Greek, Macedonian and Aromanian minorities have their own newspapers. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports supports the publication of a magazine focusing on the culture and social issues of the Roma and organises annual national festivals to promote the cultural heritage of all Albania's minorities. However it remains difficult to include subjects in some minority languages, particularly the Roma language in curricula. Albania has not signed the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages. The number of Roma children in schools has not substantially increased and the literacy rate of the Roma population remains low. The National Strategy for the Improvement of the Roma Living Conditions, approved on 22 March 2005 by the Albanian government, is being implemented. However, Albania is not participating in the 2005-2015 Decade of Roma Inclusion and the implementation of the national Roma strategy is slow and fragmented. Overall, there has been some progress on cultural rights but further improvement is needed. Further actions are required to overcome barriers to minority education, particularly for the Roma minority.

Albania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.2 Language issues and policies

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, the official language is Albanian, an Indo-European language, a single branch in the Indo-European tree. The Gheg dialect is spoken in Northern Albania by approximately 1 300 000 people, in Kosovo by 1 750 000, and in Macedonia by 600 000. Tosk has been the basis for the official dialect of standard Albanian, recognised officially in 1972, and is spoken by 3 400 000 people. In recent years the Ghegs have also started to use standard Albanian.

Greek is the second major language, spoken by a Greek minority of 60 000 people in the South of Albania and is used in Greek schools. Macedonian is spoken by 30 000, Romanian in the Vlach dialect is spoken by 50 000 people.

There are currently no specific cultural policies or measures to support the use and promotion of minority languages through culture (e.g. publications, radio stations, support for films etc).

Albania/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.3 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

Intercultural dialogue is not yet an issue of cultural policies in Albania. The Central Government, the Ministry of Culture or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do not have intercultural dialogue identified as part of their agendas.

The main actor in this field used to be the Open Society Institute for Albania - Soros Foundation, which was due to close down its activities at the end of 2006.Founded in 1992, the Open Society Foundation for Albania (OSFA) has now entered a new phase in its development. It is not more a programme-based and grant-giving foundation but worked out a new plan of action to contribute to the democratisation and further integration of the country with the EU. In this framework the grant-giving Art & Culture Programme which operated from 1993-2004 is now closed. OSFA interacts with the Network of Open Society for Albania (NOSA) representing the membership of eight non profit organisations and provides a part of the funding for their activity. The only programme of the Foundation which is expected to continue is the Roma Programme, dedicated to civil and social integration of Roma communities in Albania.

Other NGOs, like the so-called "Friendship" Associations, aimed at fostering bi-lateral relations, do not really focus on intercultural dialogue. Their primary target remains the promotion of cultural and social values of a given country in Albania e.g. French values promoted via the Albanian-French Friendship Association.

For more information, see:
Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue and our Intercultural Dialogue section.

Albania/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.4 Social cohesion and cultural policies

Unfortunately, social cohesion is not yet an issue of cultural policies and there are no plans or signs that it will become an issue in the near future.

Albania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.5 Media pluralism and content diversity

The law forbids shareholders to acquire more than 10% of a terrestrial broadcaster or to acquire a share of other broadcasters. In other words, a physical or juridical person may control no more than one terrestrial broadcaster. Recently, there has been a debate on whether the same rule should apply for digital terrestrial and digital satellite broadcasters.

While there is no official data regarding the share of imported media programmes in the domestic market, some surveys show that the Albanian media is heavily dependent on imported programmes. Estimates show that they make up around 80% of terrestrial and 95% of digital broadcasts.

There are no specific training programmes for cultural journalists. Culture remains a less important issue in editorial policy and media structures. On the other hand, cultural journalists consider their job as an "obligatory service"; a stepping stone to promotion as a journalist covering other sectors, such as the economy or politics.

The most important development in the Albanian media has been to secure freedom of expression which is currently guaranteed by the Albanian Constitution.

A structural reform of the national broadcasting system has started and new national television channels, such as Klan, TVA, Top Channel, Vizion Plus have been created. A new challenging development was the introduction of digital terrestrial and digital satellite pay TV platforms.

In addition to the daily news, a cultural news report has been created. The most important magazine in the cultural field is Klan, Spekter. Some professional journals on culture are: the Albanian Universe of Books, Aleph, Mehr Licht.

Overall, Albania has made some progress on freedom of expression and media development which have been considered a key European Partnership priority for the Albanian government. Freedom of expression and of the press is constitutionally guaranteed in Albania, but many media outlets remain subject to political or economic interests. The 2006 Decision to widen the composition of the National Council for Radio and Television (NCRT) and the Steering Committee of Albania Radio and Television, to include experts proposed by the parliamentary opposition, has been implemented. The NCRT signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Competition Authority on cooperation in promoting free competition in the electronic media field. Albania agreed to an Action Plan to develop new broadcasting legislation which involves consultation with stakeholders and the international community. On the other side, the Labour Code was amended to improve the status of journalists. The government initially proposed a Draft Digital Broadcasting Act without the agreed consultation, as an urgent anti-piracy measure. Further consultation led to a new law which largely takes into account European Commission and Council of Europe advice. Work on comprehensive new broadcasting legislation needs to continue and intensify, using the process agreed with the Commission and the Council of Europe.

Albania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.6 Culture industries: policies and programmes

There is no definition of the "cultural industries" in Albania. Given the production and consumption levels, one could not define any cultural activity in Albania as a "cultural industry". The only "cultural industry" is the piracy of film, drama and pop music!

Neither academic institutions, nor other institutions offer courses for culture industry professionals.

Internet

The first Internet connection in Albania was in 1995 and provided through a UNDP server which was installed for use by both governmental and non-governmental organisations. This collaboration provided university departments with email and Internet access. In 1997, the government started the Internet programme. At the beginning of 1999, over 500 terminals were estimated to be permanently on-line (access granted by the Telecom company) which also assists in providing independent newspapers and radio stations with web pages and email access. The Internet is of special importance for publishers as well as for researchers and students who could potentially participate in Open Distance Learning programmes.

Today, there are a dozen commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in business and Albanian Telecom has provided all subscribers with dial-up access to the Internet. The government is putting pressure on the company to apply cheaper tariffs for this service. Some ISPs also offer access to cable TV. However, no progress can be reported as regards information society services. Although a National Strategy on Information Society was approved on 27 June 2003, the legislation on electronic commerce, electronic signatures and conditional access has still to be adopted. Overall, preparations in the area of information society are at an early stage.

Film industry

The political and economic crisis at the beginning of the nineties seriously threatened the survival of Albanian cinema. The state-owned film studio "New Albania" was divided into 3 separate state companies and production fell dramatically to as little as 2 films per year, as state financing was no longer available. Alba Film Distribution went bankrupt and lost control over the network of cinemas. DhimitŰr Anagnosti, who became Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports in 1992 and who is a renowned Albanian film director, appointed a working group for the compilation of a draft Law on Cinematography, which passed Parliament in 1996. This law and the newly created government-run National Centre of Cinematography (NCC) finances film production in Albania. The NCC was created in 1997 to turn Albanian film production into a competitive system adapted to the free market economy.

The purpose of the NCC is to support, through governmental financing, the creation of new Albanian films. Given the limited financial means for NCC, co-productions are the only alternative for Albanian cinema at the moment. The four artistic films realised these last years are co-productions with French, Italian, Russian, Hungarian and Polish companies, while the services offered to the foreign producers have been few and not very profitable. The documentaries (7-8 films in a year) are mainly co-productions with Albanian state TV.

Despite these activities, the state of the film industry in Albania may still be considered as critical. Its film production companies are financially weak and are fighting to find partners for their projects. The film industry, in general, suffers from outdated technology and an insufficient infrastructure for distribution. The number of cinemas has fallen from 65 in 1991 to 25 in 2000.

Today, there is only one distribution company, which runs all 5 remaining cinema theatres.

International Distribution for Albania (IDA sh.a) is currently the only film distribution company in Albania. The goal of IDA is to provide a network of cinemas which will provide quality entertainment .Till now IDA has established Cinemas Millennium 2 in Tirana, Cinema Millennium in Elbasan Korce, SarandŰ and Shkodra. Actually they are working on the construction of Cinemas in Fier and Vlora. All these cinemas are very modern with the latest projection and sound equipment produced by Kinoton which is the best producer of cinema's equipment all over Europe, including Digital Dolby Surround Sound. The salon has been wrapped in the best acoustical material to ensure no distraction from the outside world. Cinemas Millennium brings to Albanian public the biggest and newest titles from the famous studious. Additionally to this company is operating the Network of the Imperial Cinema. They are made up of two Imperial Cinema (I, II) situated inside the area of Sheraton Hotel & Towers in Tirana with a capacity of 100 seats and another summer cinema, so-called Imperial Cinema III placed in the open air amphitheatre of the Academy of Fine Arts at the capital of Albania. It has a capacity for about 500 seats. All three cinemas provide about 36 artistic movies per year according to the contracts signed with the film-making companies.

Media

The Albanian press is still dominated by political conflicts and is more an extension of the political debate than of public opinion. Contrary to the lack of development in the print media, both radio and television broadcasting media have been improving under the new government which was elected in 1996. A Private Broadcasting Law was issued in March 1997 which allows private radio stations to operate. A new draft Broadcasting Law was adopted in the spring of 1998 with a similar mission. There are approximately 20 private radio stations throughout Albania and slightly fewer television stations, most of which are regional. News programmes are scarce however, (other than governmental news programmes broadcast by state TV RTSH) and pirated movies or music videos dominate the air waves. There is currently very little co-operation between the different media which would allow them to exchange information. Technical problems make it difficult to broadcast to all parts of the country, especially in mountainous regions. In addition to some progress in the area of audiovisual policy, the National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT) and its human and financial resources remain limited given its tasks, particularly as regards fighting copyright piracy and monitoring broadcasters. NCRT has yet to Draft a Strategy for the Development of the Radio and Television Sector and an up-to-date plan to regulate analogue and digital frequencies. The alignment of the Broadcasting Law with the European Convention on Trans-frontier Television and the Television without Frontiers Directive remains to be achieved.

Albania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.7 Employment policies for the cultural sector

There are no specific strategies to stimulate employment in the cultural sector in Albania. In the early 1990s, there were a considerable number of artists who immigrated mainly to the neighbouring countries, which is of great concern for the development of the sector.

Table 1 provides an overview of the current number of local cultural institutions, their geographical distribution throughout the country and the number of employees.

Table 1:     Local cultural institutions: geographic distribution and number of employees, 2005

Districts

Cultural centres

Libraries

Museums

Theatres

Archives

Cinemas

Total
employees

Tirana

1

7

2

2

1

2

50

Berati

1

1

1

0

1

0

40

Bulqiza

1

1

0

0

0

0

5

Delvina

1

1

0

0

0

0

5

Devolli

1

0

0

0

0

0

4

Dibra

1

0

0

0

0

1

32

Durresi

1

1

1

1

1

1

45

Elbasani

1

1

1

1

1

1

56

Fieri

1

1

1

1

1

1

44

Gramshi

1

1

0

1

0

0

10

Gjirokastra

1

1

1

1

1

0

45

Hasi

1

1

0

0

0

0

7

Kavaja

1

1

0

0

0

0

9

Kolonja

1

1

0

0

0

0

8

Korša

1

1

2

1

1

0

55

Kruja

1

1

2

1

0

0

9

Kušova

1

0

0

0

0

1

4

KukŰsi

1

1

0

0

0

0

25

Laši

1

1

0

0

0

0

6

Lezha

1

1

0

0

0

0

16

Librazhdi

1

1

0

0

0

0

12

Lushnja

1

1

0

0

0

0

30

MalŰsia e Madhe

1

1

0

0

0

0

4

Mallakastra

1

1

0

0

0

0

3

Mati

1

1

0

0

0

0

11

Mirdita

1

1

0

0

0

0

7

Peqini

1

1

0

0

0

0

12

PŰrmeti

1

1

0

0

0

0

24

Pogradeci

1

1

0

0

0

0

8

Puka

1

1

0

0

0

0

7

Saranda

1

1

0

0

0

0

12

Skrapari

1

1

0

0

0

0

28

Shkodra

1

1

0

0

0

0

9

Tepelena

1

1

0

0

0

0

12

Tropoja

1

1

0

0

0

0

25

Vlora

1

1

0

0

0

0

3

Shijaku

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

CŰrriku

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Patosi

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Rrogozhina

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Leskoviku

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

FushŰ Kruja

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Divjaka

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Memaliaj

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Source:      INSTAT, 2005.

As can be seen from the above table, employment in the cultural sector is well below the standards of other European countries. Many communities have no access to cultural services. One method of re-establishing the already devastated cultural infrastructure would be to use school environments and their simultaneous change into cultural centres, which might employ other people.

Albania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.8 New technologies and cultural policies

There have been occasional projects, but no special programmes or policies to promote the use of new technologies for cultural purposes. Projects include the digitalisation of library systems, some audio CDs with traditional music and the country's oldest stills archive, the Marubi Phototheque.

 

Albania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.9 Heritage issues and policies

Albania has been described as the last secret of Europe and its rich and diverse cultural heritage is undervalued within the country, much of it suppressed or neglected during the long years of isolation. The reality is very different: two current and three potential, UNESCO World Heritage Sites are complemented by extremely valuable intangible cultural heritage, such as iso-polyphonic singing traditions, distinctive textiles designs and exemplary inter-faith relations. Mosques, Muslim quarters, Orthodox and Catholic Churches, convents, Bektashi Teke, Byzantine walls, Roman and other ancient vestiges all testify to the meeting of different peoples and civilisation, and a history of peaceable co-existence over nearly three millennia. For that reason the Albania government approved the Strategy and Action Plan for the Development of Tourism based on Cultural and Environmental Tourism on 17 December 2005. It aims to rediscover Albania's cultural and historical identity and to take action to better protect, manage and promote its national patrimony. It is based upon the UNESCO report on "Cultural Patrimony in South - Eastern Europe: Albania" (No:3 : May 2004). On the other hand the strategy will be accompanied by current interventions being taken by agencies in Albania such as UNDP's Support to Eco and Cultural Tourism Development Programme (2006-2009), UNESCO's Centre for Restoration of Monument in Tirana (June 2005 -November 2009) and other initiatives related to the further safeguarding and promotion of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Albania.

Soon after Gjirokastra (a city in South Albania) qualified for UNESCO's List of World Heritage, there was a public debate with a cultural and political background, on whether Gjirokastra deserved to qualify ahead of Berati, another ancient city. In fact, Berati is much older than Gjirokastra, at around 2 300 years. A Lobby group from Berati argued that Gjirokastra had political support from the government, but professionals from the National Institute of Monuments replied that Gjirokastra's file was much more impressive to the board and that Berati could try again, since there are no national quotas in this matter. Following the debate, the Ministry announced it would provide substantial funding to cultural projects taking place in historical sites, with both heritage and tourism interest. The most interesting development in this direction was a series of concerts of classical music, held in ancient castles, churches and archaeological sites, from Butrinti in the extreme South, to Shkodra in the far North.

The protection of cultural heritage in Albania is a priority of the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport which shares responsibility for heritage with the Academy of Science. Within the Ministry, the Department of Cultural Heritage oversees the Institute of Monuments and the nine National Museums, and the Centre of Registration of Cultural Property. The Academy of Sciences has institutes relating to specific scientific fields including the Institute of Archaeology and the Institute of Popular Culture; the latter of which is mainly dealing with questions of folklore. The Academy of Science is partly responsible for the protection of the natural environment. The Cultural Heritage Act No 9048 approved on 7/04/2003 is the most important legal framework which includes all the activities in relation to the preserving, promoting and managing the Albanian national heritage. On 27/07/2006 certain amendments were made by Act No 9592, which introduced the National Committee of National Heritage as an advisory body. The Committee is composed of a series of senior officials who are directly responsible for the promotion of cultural heritage in Albania. Article 17 provides for the establishment of a National Council for Restorations which assumed the right to grant permission for any restoration of cultural heritage buildings or monuments. Taking into account the valuable experience and visible results of good management of the National Park of Butrinti, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sport took the decision to establish seven other Archaeological Parks in Albania in Apollonia, Antigonea, Amantia, Shkodra, Bylis, Finiq and Orikum. These are spread around the country and aim to further promote the historical and cultural heritage and provide sustainable development for the local economies concerned.

Architectural Cultural Heritage protection and restoration in Albania is carried out by the following institutions:

Following the destruction of several key built heritage sites in 1997, efforts have intensified in recent years to collect information about the state of protected buildings. Some of the major projects include the reconstruction of the administrative district in the centre of Tirana, restoration of the "Independence" building in VlorŰ, urban restoration in GjirokastŰr, and the Butrint archaeological project in the middle of a natural park (the only Albanian item on the UNESCO World Heritage list). The latter is receiving support from a host of partners including UNESCO, the European Union, the World Bank and the Butrint Foundation (which is an interesting example of national, intergovernmental and non-governmental co-operation in this field).

Albania/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

The State Committee on Equal Opportunities remains weak and the Gender Equality Act remains largely unimplemented. For that reason, further action is needed to facilitate the inclusion of women in the labour market and their participation in the decision - making process. Albania remains at an early stage in mainstreaming gender in employment as well as in other policies. There are no specific projects for women in the arts and media professions in Albania.

 

Albania/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.3 Other relevant issues and debates

The most important reforms in the field of culture have taken place since 1991. In particular, during the last five years, major emphasis has been placed on the development of legislation in the sector. The Albanian Parliament has approved several important laws on copyright, cinema, theatre and libraries. The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, for the first time, organised a workshop on decentralisation in Tirana in March 2000, an issue that had been neglected within the general strategy of cultural policies. Recent debates have focussed on the legal, political and economic aspects of creativity, particularly in relation to theatre. However, all these developments have been sporadic, partial and sector-based. Albania has not yet had an open, public, multi-dimensional and all-embracing debate on culture.

 

Albania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.1 Constitution

The current Albanian Constitution was approved by a referendum in 1998. With regard to culture, the following articles apply:

Article 8, paragraph 3, guarantees the right of Albanian citizens living abroad to preserve and develop their ties with their national cultural inheritance (heritage).

Article 58, paragraphs 1 and 2, sanctions the freedom of artistic creation and the right of creative artists to take profits from their copyrighted work.

Article 59, paragraph 1 G, provides support for the protection of the national cultural heritage and particular care for the Albanian language.

In accordance with these principles, the Parliament has passed the Laws on Copyright (first approved in 1992, amended in 2005), Cinema (1996 and 2005), Cultural Heritage (1994 and 2003), Museums (2005) etc.

Albania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.2 Division of jurisdiction

The Law on the Organisation and Operation of Local Governance (2000) provides for a clear division in public authority responsibility. According to this law, local authorities (city, county and district councils and their administrative bodies) operate along the principles of local autonomy. They have full control over all cultural institutions and infrastructures which are classified as "local" and fall under their respective jurisdiction, while the Central Government, via the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, has control over all institutions and infrastructures classified as "national", regardless of their location.

Local institutions should rely on subsidies provided by their respective governing authorities; however, they can apply for additional, usually project funding, from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

Albania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.3 Allocation of public funds

The allocation of public funds for culture is primarily made under the Law on the State Budget. This law sanctions the size and destination of subsidies from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, national cultural funding agencies (like the National Film Centre), as well as national institutions controlled by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (like the National Theatre).

The same law sanctions the distribution of public subsidies to all local governing bodies, which in their turn, can augment these subsidies through self-earned revenues. There is a defined exclusive right of each individual local authority to provide funding for local cultural institutions.

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture, via its Directorates, gives project grants, including capital grants, to benefit state or private institutions of national or local relevance. These grants are not subject to public tendering laws and regulations.

The Minister is the only decision-making authority in the cultural sector and this is something many people disagree with. Critics argue that all Directorates must hire experts as project board members and that these boards must have full authority.

Albania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.4 Social security frameworks

The institutional and regulatory framework in the area of labour legislation has been improved by the adoption of the Labour Inspection Act No 9634 approved on 30 /10/2006 and the establishment of the Labour Inspectorate, which has concluded cooperation agreements with the General Tax Department and the National Employment Service. However, the limited capacity of the regional labour offices and the Labour Inspectorate hampers the effective implementation of legislation. There has been no progress in establishing a modern framework approximated to the EU legislation as regards labour law. Albania is progressively approximating legislation on working conditions and equal opportunities to European standards as regards gender equality. However, the State Committee on Equal Opportunities remains weak and the Gender Equality Act remains largely unimplemented. For that reason further action is required to facilitate the inclusion of women in the labour market and their participation in the decision - making process. Albania remains at an early stage in mainstreaming gender in employment as well as in other policies. In the area of social protection, minimum wages and pensions have been increased. Contributions to the social security and pensions systems have been reduced in order to combat informal employment and increase social insurance collection rates. The core functions of the Social Insurance Institute have not been consolidated and there are no properly defined procedures for pensions and social contributions. The 7-year strategy for Social Assistance and the Social Inclusion Strategy (2007-2013) have not yet been finalised.

Social security services are no longer an exclusive domain of the state-owned Institute of Social Security. A law, introduced in 2004, allows Albanian and foreign private entities to invest and operate in this market. To date, there are two companies, one American and the other Albanian, which offer pension plans to Albanian citizens.

In 2005, there was a major controversy over the government's decision to raise the retirement age by five years. A coalition of Unions and advocacy groups asked for a referendum, filing a petition that was signed by more than 20 000 employees. The Constitutional Court, the country's highest court, rejected the request for a referendum. The retirement age will progressively increase by six months every year, until it reaches 65 for men and 60 for women; reaching these goals by 2012.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section.

Albania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.5 Tax laws

The Law on Sponsorship, amended in 2003, gives business companies the right to use up to 20% of their annual revenues as tax deductible donations or sponsorship. Despite these provisions, business sponsorship is very low, due to a high level of informality in the business sector in Albania. Companies would rather pay cash for services such as advertising, rather than provide "tax deductible donations".

Arts and culture companies or individuals, as a rule, do not enjoy any tax relief. They all pay VAT, customs, corporate tax and tax on individual revenue. However, there are two exceptions: the VAT on book sales is zero and corporate tax does not apply for film production companies. Both changes took effect in 2006.

Albania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.6 Labour laws

Relations between employers and employees are regulated by the Code of Labour, first approved in 1995 and amended in 1996 and 2004. The law reflects the Constitutional principles, as well as basic principles of international conventions on labour, trade unions, prevention of discrimination etc. The Code is widely considered as a fair and effective law.

The Decision of Council of Ministers on the Minimum Salary at National Level from 26 April 2006 provided the increase of such salary till to 18%. It was considered not compatible for a more flexible employment especially at the private cultural media institutions. The system of salaries for those working in the public sector is unified and regulated by the law and several decisions of the Council of the Ministers. At the same time since 1995 existed the Employment Promotion Act No 7995 20/09/1995 which is aimed to foster the employment of vulnerable groups. However, Albania has not yet adopted a culture sector approach to further stimulate job opportunities and make proper use of its growing labour force. As regards labour rights, Albanian legislation gives workers right to form trade unions. Since 1993 the Ministry of Justice approved the Autonom Trade Union of the Artist, Writers and the Culture's Workers headed by Mr. Minella Kureta. But generally the employer's organisations are very weak due to the legacy of the trade unions movement in the country which is not so strong. On the other hand the main body for social dialogue is the National Council of Labour where the government, trade unions and employees are represented and it constitutes the proper authorities to set the criteria on the standardised collective bargaining agreements used when negotiating contracts only with state run cultural media institutions. In the meantime, Albania has established a state mediation network covering twelve districts to help solve collective labour disputes but there is not yet created a National Social and Economic Council. Albania's denial of the right to strike to some state employees is not in line with the European Social Charter but the artists are not included amongst these sectors. Meanwhile in Albania legislation there aren't yet specific provisions concerning the involvement of volunteers.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section.

Albania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

Protection of copyright was introduced in 1993, and in 1994 Albania signed the Berne Convention. The absence of copyright under the communist state resulted in some unusual cases; for example the best known and most translated Albanian writer abroad is Ismail KadarÚ, but the ceding of rights to his works was handled by the state with no provision for the payment of royalties to the author. Payment to authors is usually done on a lump sum basis and the figure is generally very low, the same applies to translators. Publishers themselves are the ones who declare how little they pay. As far as school text books are concerned, the authors are paid by the Ministry, based on a varying, and decreasing, percentage: 5% for the first edition, 4% for the second and so on. This system prevents the development of genuine professional figures, especially in the field of translation and it should be noted that about 50% of the annual production of general books consists of translations. Since 1991, as in the whole central-eastern European region, there have been a relatively high number of writers in exile whose works were censored by the previous regime.

Musician's rights are handled by the "Albautor" Association and other international copyright organisations such as SACEM, SIAEI etc. There has been some progress in the area of intellectual property rights. As regards legislative development, Albania ratified the Hague Agreement of 1960 on 19 February 2007 and ratified 1999 Geneva Act on 23 March 2000 on the international registration of industrial designs. The Copyright Office, provided for under the Copyright and Related Rights Act No9380/28/05 2005, has become operational with 12 staff. The office has established working relations with the two collecting societies operating in Albania, namely ALBAUTOR, which protects music copyrights and FMMA which protects the copyrights of audiovisual works. In April 2006, the National Council for Radio and Television (NCRT) signed a memorandum of understanding with the cinematography centre (NCC) aimed at fighting piracy and copyright law.

However, further strengthening of the capacity of the Copyright Office is still required. Piracy remains widespread and the enforcement of intellectual property rights is hampered by the lack of appropriate experience and qualifications of the Albanian courts in this field. The general level of knowledge about intellectual property rights and infringements remains poor and it is associated with the lack of a national strategy in this field. Under the Interim Agreement (entered in force on 1 December 2006, after Albania signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU on 12 June 2006), Albania has made significant commitments in the area of intellectual property rights but the preparations in this field remain at early stage.

Albania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.8 Data protection laws

There are no data protection laws in Albania. However, there has been some limited progress in this area. The Ministry of Justice is revising the 1999 Law on Protection of Personal Data to bring it into line with the EU legislation and Council of Europe standards. However, an independent data protection supervisory authority with sufficient powers over the public and private sectors and sufficient resources is not yet in place. Preparations in the field of data protection are at an early stage in Albania.

Albania/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.9 Language laws

There are no special language laws in the Republic of Albania relating to the culture industries. For more information, see http://www.culturalpolicies.net/web/icons/intern.gifchapter 4.2.2.

Albania/ 5.2 Legislation on culture

In 1998, the Council of Ministers approved of a list of institutions which fall under the responsibility of the municipalities. These include, for example, cultural centres, cultural houses, local libraries, local arts galleries, museums and cinemas. In 1993, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports had a list of national institutions approved which fall under its remit.

The Ministry has embarked on a thorough and far-reaching legislative reform of legal frameworks for culture in Albania which is aimed at bringing their laws in line with current legislation in other European countries and in accordance with their Constitution.

Table 2:     Legislation pertaining to cultural policy and cultural administration in Albania

Title

Year approved

Comments

Law on Libraries

2000

Legal base that supports and co-ordinates the activity of library services.

Law on the Protection of Cultural Goods

1994

Considered to be too general. Hopes are pinned to the adoption of a new law.

Author's Rights

1992

Law reviewed by the Parliament in 1995. To protect copyright of literary and artistic works.

Cinema Act

1996

Considered to be too general.

Theatre Act

Performing Arts' Act

2000

2006

The Theatre Act was never implemented by the left-wing government. The current right-wing majority in the parliament abolished it and introduced a new draft which was passed on October 23, 2006. The new law is expected to take full effect in 2007.

Law on Cultural Heritage

2003

This Law provides for the declaration and the protection of the cultural heritage within the territory of the Republic of Albania. The law comprises the value system for cultural heritage and provides rules for its protection and the duties and responsibilities of the bodies operating in this field.

Law on Books

2006

No comments

Law on Youth

In process

No comments

Film Distribution Law

Expected

No comments

Albania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.1 Visual and applied arts

There is no specific legislation covering the visual and applied arts in Albania.

Albania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.2 Performing arts and music

The highly controversial Theatre Act of 2000 (that was never implemented), has been replaced by a new one: Performing Arts Act No 9631, approved on 30/10/2006, which is another important development and established the National Centre for the Performing Arts, managed by a selected Board. After this legal and institutional change, the Ministry is committed to provide the annual Performing Arts Fund which has to be allocated on a project basis.

Albania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.3 Cultural heritage

The Cultural Heritage Act No 9048, approved on 7/04/2003, provides the most important legal framework for all the activities in relation to preserving, promoting and managing the Albanian national heritage. On 27/07/2006, certain amendments were made by Act No 9592, which introduced the National Committee of National Heritage as an advisory body. This Committee is composed of a series of senior officials who are directly responsible for the promotion of cultural heritage in Albania. Article 17 provides for the establishment of a National Council for Restoration, which controls permission for any interventions to cultural heritage buildings or monuments. Amongst others it aims to solve some important issues in the sector, for example:

Since the collapse of the old regime, owners of buildings (private persons, religious groups) can reclaim possession of their property. A Commission for the Restitution of Properties to deal with this question was established in 1994. According to the current legislation, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports either keeps the private buildings and pays an appropriate rent to the proprietors or it dispossesses the proprietors.

Administrative responsibilities for the built heritage and cultural environment have yet to be allocated between state, regional and municipal authorities. On the other hand, Museum Act No 9386, approved on 04/05/2005, aimed to create the necessary legal framework to support the local and national networks of museums in Albania. Article 5 created the State Committee for Museums as an advisory and decision-making structure, which plays an important role in defining the policies and rules on museum management. On 23 November 2005, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports launched a Document entitled "Towards a Strategy of Cultural and Ecological Tourism Development". It was followed on 17 December 2005 by the Strategy and Plan of Action for Cultural and Environmental Tourism Development. Within this framework, cultural heritage is seen as the main attraction and is expected to receive a stronger funding commitment by the government for the archaeological and architectural sites of Albania.

Albania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.4 Literature and libraries

A Law on the Compulsory Donation of Books was approved in 1992. The Law provides a legal basis that supports and co-ordinates the activities of libraries. Publishers are obliged to deposit five copies of each of their publications at the National Library.

The development of libraries in Albania must be widely based on the Constitutional right of the citizens to have free access to information (Article 23 of the Constitution), also reformulating the rights of users in compliance with the International Convention on Human Rights.

Library Act No 8576, approved on 3/02/2000, provides the legislative and the institutional framework relating to the funding and management of public libraries in Albania. It has been perceived as a unique law in the whole national system of libraries; the scope of its operation is broad and comprehensive. The law provides for the functioning of libraries as a unique national network and also considers them to be an integral part of the national system of information.

The law recognises the particular responsibility and role of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to provide strategies and policies for the development of the national system of libraries, regardless of which other authority or agency is responsible for them.

According to Library Act No 8576 03/02/2000, Article 14, amended on the 08 April 2004 by the Act No 9217, Article 5, provides for the establishment of the National Council of Libraries as the advisory body to the Minister. It provides advice and recommendations related to the training of librarians, infrastructure needs of public libraries, as well as setting the norms and rules regarding the standardisation of library services in Albania. The National Council of Libraries assists the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports to draft and implement strategies and policies, as well as to follow the activities of the libraries nationally. The Council consists of representatives from all levels of the national system or network of libraries.

Special legal provision is targeted at public libraries in particular, which considers them to be important local centres, placing a wide range of knowledge and information at the disposal of the users, so that citizens can exercise their democratic rights and play an active role in society.

The law also guarantees fair relations between the centralised government system and the autonomy of public libraries, setting concrete obligations on the governing bodies of both central and local government.

Special attention is paid to the legal regulation of the activity and the status of the National Library as the major domestic institution in this field. On 30 May 2007, the Draft Strategy and Action Plan for Public Library Development was presented at the National Council of the Libraries. The strategy takes an important step forward in this field and has to be supported by the necessary legal framework and the establishment of a National Registry for Libraries.

In this framework, Book Act No 9616 approved on 27 September 2006 is another effort to institutionalise and set the rules for the publishing industry which had a fast growth especially after the 1990s. The National Council for Book and Reading Promotion is an advisory structure introduced by Article 8 & 9 and refers to the possibility of more policy commitment towards book publishing, distribution and reading. The establishment of the Register of Publishers, which is provided by this law, is a step towards formalising this market. Within this framework, publishers are enforced to depose all contracts for publishing, editing, translation and distribution of books at the Albanian Office for Copyright which was created by Copyright Act No 9380/ 28/04/2005. The National Fund for Books provides an opportunity for different authors, writers or editors to be supported in their publishing activities.

Albania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.5 Architecture and environment

Information is currently not available.

Albania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.6 Film, video and photography

The Cinematography Act No 8096, approved on 21/03/1996, was a challenge to the existing system of the state-owned film industry, and encouraged prospects for the development of this industry in Albania. The law provides that one per cent of the income resulting from the selling of tickets must be invested to support Albanian films produced by the National Centre of Cinematography (NCC). Film producers are also expected to direct twenty per cent of the income which they gain from selling films to cinemas or TV companies to the NCC. This commitment is not always realised by the film producers due to certain reasons. Mainly it is related to the lack of well organised and operational film distribution network which create a lot of obstacles for the producers to generate the necessary incomes and then transfer 20 % of them to the NCC.

Albania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.7 Culture industries

The only existing law in the field of the culture industries is the Cinematography Act approved on 21/03/1996. In fact, the definition of "culture industries" in Albania remains unclear. It was only after 1991 that independent companies were allowed to open. Prior to 1991, in the field of publishing for example, there were three state publishers which controlled the entire book market. To date, it has been very difficult for independent companies to operate according to market criteria. The new publishing houses, for example, were set up by people who had been working in the state industry and were not able to adjust to market conditions. The book sector still functions mainly through funding from NGOs or Foundations (Soros, Fan Noli Fondation).

The Cinema Law was passed in 1997. The law was a challenge to the existing system of a state-owned film industry and it opened up new prospects for the industry. The law stipulates that 1% of the income derived from ticket sales is to be reinvested in new Albanian films produced by the National Centre of Cinema (NCC). Film producers are also expected to direct 20% of the revenue they earn from the sale of their films to cinema houses or television companies to the NCC.

A new Law on Film Distribution is expected.

Regarding the book sectors on 27 November 2007 the Parliament approved the Book Act No 9616. Meanwhile there isn't yet any specific law on the phonographic works. Any issues related to this sector is covered by the Archives Act No 9154 06/11/2003 and partially by the Copyright Act No9380 28/04/2005.

Albania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.8 Mass media

The most important development in the Albanian media has been to secure freedom of expression which is currently guaranteed by the Albanian Constitution.

A structural reform of the national broadcasting system has started and new national television channels, such as Klan, TVA, have been created. In addition to the daily news, they have created a cultural news report. The most important magazine in the cultural field is KULT. Some professional journals on culture are: Albanian Universe of Book, Aleph, Mehr Licht.

The National Council of Televisions controls the TV sector and provides television licences. There are currently no quotas for national or minority programming.

Albania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.9 Legislation for self-employed artists

There is no special legislation on the status of the artist in Albania.

The introduction of a coherent tax system to increase state finances and combat tax evasion (estimated at 50%) is still the primary objective of tax policy. The relationship of trust between the citizen and the state, which is the basis for a functioning tax system, is still suffering from the disturbances caused by the "pyramid" financing collapse on savings and investment and consequently on gross domestic product and tax revenue. In September 1997, the new government set up a tax system which introduced indirect taxes (on alcohol, tobacco and fuel) and entrusted a special office with the collection of taxes.

The application of a single VAT rate, which was raised from 12.5% to 20% in September 1997, is debatable especially from the point of view of the book market. According to the Association of Albanian Publishers, only 5 or 6 publishing houses pay their VAT regularly. This evasion is an indirect form of unfair competition affecting decisions on book prices. Duty on paper and other imported materials is also set at 20%. The cost of paper (and of production costs in general) appears to be comparatively higher than the European average. Albania has still not signed the Florence Accord, which stipulates that imports of cultural products should be tax exempt.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section.

Albania/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.10 Other areas of relevant legislation

Information is currently not available.

Albania/ 6. Financing of culture

6.1 Short overview

The state budget for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports amounts to 1 % of the entire state budget, which is largely derived from foreign sources. From 1991 to 1994, foreign investments were 14 times greater than domestic resources. In 1996, there was a reduction in foreign funding and an increase in internal sources, until 1997, when national funding was cut in half. However, this time, foreign investment did not rise.

The main multilateral donors in Albania are the European Union and the World Bank, while the largest bilateral donors have been (until 1998): Italy, 14%; USA, 10% and Germany, 10%. During the Kosovo crisis in 1999, 32 cultural projects and different restoration projects of institutions were financed with a total 1 525 854 USD. The Soros Foundation has also provided funding for the arts and culture in Albania via the Open Society Foundation.

The budget of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports for the year 2007 is 2 651 000 000 ALL. 75% of the budget is reserved for tourism, arts and culture, while the remaining 25% is for sports. Experts are appointed by the Minister to advise on the allocation of artistic project grants.

Albania/ 6. Financing of culture

6.2 Public cultural expenditure per capita

Information is currently not available.

Albania/ 6. Financing of culture

6.3 Public cultural expenditure broken down by level of government

Table 3:     Public cultural expenditure: by level of government, in ALL, 2007

Central / state level

Expenditure

% share of total

Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports

2 651 000 000

100%

Staff (salaries, social security)

725 000 000

 

Operating expenses (including project financing)

539 000 000

 

Investments

1 387 000 000

 

Investment from the state to the municipalities

-

0%

Total

2 651 000 000

100%

Source:      Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports, 2007.

Albania/ 6. Financing of culture

6.4 Sector breakdown

Table 4:     State cultural expenditure: sector breakdown, in ALL, 2007

Field / Domain / Sub-domain

Expenditure figures

% share of total

Cultural Heritage:

Monuments, Museums, Libraries

439 210 000

16.6

National Arts Institutions:

National Opera, Art Gallery, National Theatre, etc

1 634 250 000

61.6

Ministry

129 000 000

4.9

Sports

244 540 000

9.2

Tourism

69 000 000

2.6

Special artistic projects

135 000 000

5.1

Total

2 651 000 000

100.0

Source:      Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, 2007.

Albania/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.1 Re-allocation of public responsibilities

With the implementation of the Law on the Organisation and Functioning of Local Government (2000), public responsibility for management of local cultural institutions and infrastructure falls under the jurisdiction of the respective city councils. The councils have full control of local institutions and this includes the right to privatise them. However, the re-allocation of responsibility has been the only change to date. No local institutions or cultural infrastructure have been privatised since then.

 

Albania/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.2 Status/role and development of major cultural institutions

The majority of cultural institutions such as the National Art Gallery, the National Library or the National Centre for Cinematography fall under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and answer directly to the Minister. Institutes have been set up, such as the Institute for Monuments of Culture, to work directly with the relevant departments within the Ministry and are, in some cases, involved in preparing new pieces of legislation. The National Board of Theatre was set up as one of the only arm's length agencies of the Ministry.

All national institutions of the Albanian culture system are "budgetary institutions", a term that refers to the Western notion of a "government agency". They are fully controlled by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. Even with the newly approved Law on Performing Arts (October 2006), all national theatres, including the National Centre for Performing Arts, remain as budgetary institutions.

Albania/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.3 Emerging partnerships or collaborations

The emerging partnership with foundations has become important for the development of the cultural sector in Albania. There are three main foundations which sponsor large cultural events including, Soros (Open Society Fund), the Velija Foundation and the Fan Noli Foundation. In addition, they finance travel expenses for artists, scholarships, participation in various international conferences, etc.

For many years, the Soros Foundation has been the biggest donor to cultural institutions, arts organisations and individuals. During the 1990s, the Soros Foundation was even bigger than the Ministry of Culture. After the closure of the Arts and Culture Programme, in 2005, the Foundation will now close all remaining programmes, except for the Roma Programme, which will function as a spin-off organisation.

Collaboration between businesses and arts and cultural institutions has always been based on specific projects. In fact, businesses do not like the point that Albanian cultural institutions are state-owned agencies. In addition, they do not profit much in tax deductions from their sponsorship or donations. Nevertheless, big businesses, like mobile operators and insurance companies, are more interested now in beating the competition, even in the entertainment business. In October 2006, the National Opera announced a new partnership agreement with Vodafone. This is the first long-term sponsorship scheme between a private business and a state cultural institution.

Albania/ 8. Support to creativity and participation

8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

In 1999, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports supported over 100 arts projects amounting to approximately ALL 60 million. The allocation of artists grants (for large scale events and individual projects) are decided upon by the Minister himself following advice from an ad hoc group which he appoints. Information about the grants is made available from the homepage of the Ministry, Department of Arts Projects.

There are no support schemes that benefit individual artists. Unemployed artists are treated as any other unemployed worker and there have been no efforts to create more jobs in the arts and culture system.

In 2005, the Ministry launched a new grant scheme, designed for the first-time for theatre directors. The scheme provides production grants up to euro 5 000, for a total of six drama projects.

Albania/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.1 Special artists funds

The President of the Republic grants pension supplements to certain artists who have been recommended by a body of experts from the Ministry of Culture. Otherwise, there are no special state support funds for artists in Albania.

Lack of information and experience has been a major obstacle for Albanian artists in their efforts to profit from international and / or European funding programmes, but lately there is a growing interest in this kind of funding. Film producers offer a good example to their colleagues from other genres. Unsatisfied with the Ministry's approach towards private initiatives in arts and culture, individuals and organisations working in other arts fields are increasingly trying to get sponsorships from EU programmes, like CARDS and Phare, or even USAID programmes.

There are no levies on book lending or sales, or audiovisual products or any other markets. Piracy remains a major issue in the Albanian cultural sector. In April 2006, the government approved a special Act on the Establishment of the "Albanian Office of Copyright", but the office has not been set up yet.

Film exhibitors must pay 5% of their box office revenues to the National Film Centre, which in turn, must invest them in film production; however, this means very little to the Albanian film industry.

Albania/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.2 Grants, awards, scholarships

In addition to project grants, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports issues five national prizes in the field of literature, amounting to 1 200 USD each (2005 figures), for poetry, prose, non-fiction, translation of works into Albanian and translation of works from Albanian into other languages. A selection committee of five members is made up of representatives from the Ministry, the National Library and professional associations. In addition, there is a special prize for children's literature including stories, poetry, works of non-fiction and illustrations. The selection is carried out through a similar committee, which also includes a psychologist and a painter.

Ten national prizes are awarded by KULT magazine, supported by the Ministry.

A prize for booksellers is planned for the future.

Except for the young theatre directors scheme (see http://www.culturalpolicies.net/web/icons/intern.gifchapter 8.1), there are no other programmes or grant schemes designed for start-ups or newcomers, scholarships for further training, travel bursaries or residency programmes.

Albania/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.3 Support to professional artists associations or unions

There are very few artists' associations in Albania, all of which are struggling for survival. The biggest is the Writers' League, once the country's only artists' association, which survives only due to the rental of its facilities. Film artists have established three associations but they all function as lobby organisations for film producers; none of the existing associations provide any support for their members.

Unions do not operate in Albania.

Albania/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.1 Trends and figures

According to a report by the Council of Europe for the book sector in Albania, theatrical, musical and cinema performances have practically come to a standstill in recent years and specific government help is needed. As a result, the main media for the dissemination of information and culture are radio, television, books and magazines. The growing number of satellite dishes in Albanian towns makes television to be by far the leading medium.

Today, there are 28 daily newspapers, but their individual circulation ranges from 500 to 20 000 copies. While the number of newspapers has doubled over the last five years, their total circulation has fallen by around 30%. The newest daily, "Shqip", which was launched in March 2006, is actually the biggest. "Shqip" is an affiliate of the country's biggest media group, Top Media, which controls the leading Top Channel TV, Top Albania Radio and Digitalb platform for satellite and terrestrial digital paid programmes.

Experts say that the crisis in the printed media market is due to newspaper editorial policies. In recent years, many big business companies have invested in this market, but they have tried to use the power of their media to put pressure on, or even blackmail the government. Other media have been explicitly backing the government. There is a growing concern in society that the media is being abused by their owners, often suspected to have links with the underworld, in their power games. As a result, more Albanians abstain from reading daily papers. Publishers may offer prices as low as 10 ALL (8 cents of a euro) per paper, which is half of the lowest price applied to any paper in 2000, or may offer the paper plus a music CD for 100 ALL (0.8 euro) or 200 ALL (1.6 euro) for the paper plus a bestselling book. Nevertheless, sales continue to fall and more readers prefer to read any paper offered for free from their favourite coffee bar!

The situation with regard to book reading is little different. Readership figures are generally low and even the leading best sellers sell fewer than 2 000 copies over a two-three year period (according to publisher's statements). Various interviews on this subject produced the following responses:

All the interviewees emphasised that until the 1990s, reading was the predominant cultural activity and had no competition from other media. This explains both the age range and the preferences of dedicated readers. Nowadays the purchase of books is held back for economic reasons, even for this readership group, while, at the same time, public access to books is hampered by the terrible state of the libraries around the country, many of which were damaged during the crisis of 1997.

Recent reports from the Book Publishers' Association show a slight increase in book sales, mainly during book fairs. The book fairs may be considered as the "new fashion" in the book sector in Albania. At the end of October 2006, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture organised a three-day book fair, offering free exhibition space for all Albanian publishers and free admission for all visitors. The following week, the Book Publishers' Association organised its privately managed book fair.

To date there have been no surveys and thus, there is no statistical data regarding the participation of national minority or immigrant groups in cultural life.

Albania/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.2 Policies and programmes

There have been no significant changes in cultural policies involving other issues of civic participation, citizenship, civil society development / cohesion.

University students are entitled to a 50% discount on admission fees to all state-owned cultural institutions. Other than that, there are no programmes or special provisions to promote public participation in cultural activities.

Albania/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.1 Arts education

Albania has signed the Bologna Declaration, although the process stopped there. Sources from the Ministry of Education and Science say that the process will resume only after the elections of all academic institution directors, which will happen in 2007. The election process itself has been delayed for more than a year now, because the new government, which came into power in mid 2005, announced the plan to introduce a new Law on Higher Education. The Parliament passed the Higher Education Act on 21 May 2007 which includes the follow -up to the Bologna process. A master plan for higher education, including the arts, covering the period until 2016, has been launched by the Ministry of Education and Science. Albania is taking measures to reinforce the leadership, management and governance of the education system, improve the conditions of teaching and learning, improve and rationalise the education infrastructure and pave the way for higher education reform. Although there are a lot of non-public or private high schools in Albania, the Academy of Fine Arts continues to remain the only institution which provides higher education in this area. So, a stronger commitment is still required by the government to increase the percentage of the state budget for universities in general and especially for a school such as the Academy of Fine Arts.

At present, the levels of arts education are far from adequate which is having a negative influence on overall cultural development. Though many efforts are being made to install a contemporary and well-organised curriculum for the arts, there has not been much progress, mainly because of economic difficulties. For this reason many students are studying abroad.

The National Library is the centre for professional training of Albanian librarians. The first 2-year part-time training course was opened in this library in 1969, and continues to attract new librarians today. In addition to providing the basic skills to future librarians, the course publishes and distributes various training handbooks, classification tables, and other professional materials, including the journal Buletini i bibliotekave (Library Bulletin) which is published twice a year.

Albania/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.2 Intercultural education

Intercultural education is a totally unknown concept in Albanian academic institutions. With the exception of some occasional joint-projects, involving guest artists and art educators from abroad, intercultural dialogue is missing in Albania's academic life.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section.

Albania/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.1 Amateur arts

Amateur arts in Albania have a long-standing tradition, especially in the field of music. Folk groups are active in all Albanian towns and several music associations have been established. The Ministry of Culture finances a nation-wide folk festival in Gjirokastra, in which minority groups can also participate.

In fact, folklore, especially folk songs and dances, have always been considered a matter for amateurs in Albania. Under Communism, amateur groups of all genres and art forms could count on financial and technical support from central and local government. Nowadays, the only amateur groups to get some project funding are folk ensembles (occasional support for recording and CDs) and Tirana high school students, who participate in an annual amateur festival for teens.

Albania/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

Most of the cultural centres are located in Tirana. The Italian Institute of Culture, the British Council, the Alliance Franšaise, the Goethe Institute and USIS have opened reading rooms and also offer book and DVD or VHS lending. Apart from public libraries, there are no public or state-owned cultural clubs for youth or other communities or groups.

Unfortunately, community cultural centres or intercultural centres are not yet a cultural issue in Albania.

The table below provides an overview of the number of music associations in Albania, which are very important aspect of the country's cultural life.

Table 5:     List of music associations and number of members

Name of association

Number of members

Association of Piano Teachers and Professors

400

Friends of Talented Children

400

Albanian Section of CIOFF

16 associations

Association of New Albanian Music

55

Albanian Association Frederic Chopin

55

Tirana Association

2 000

Polyphony

320

Association of Creative Intellectuals

100

Source:      Directory of Art, Culture and Sports published by the Albanian Foundation of Civil Society

Albania/ 9. Sources and Links

9.1 Key documents on cultural policy

Feri, Xhevdet: Why do reforms stop? A controversial study on cultural policies in the fields of theatre and cinema in Albania. Available in English. Can be downloaded from http://www.policiesforculture.org/administration/upload/Albania_FinalReport_Nov2003.pdf

Politika kulturore ne Shqiperi / The Cultural Politic in Albania (speeches), a bi-lingual publication. Editor "Naim Frasheri". ISBN 99927-38-26-X.

Council of Europe: Cultural Policy in Albania (Part I, Contribution from the Albanian authorities and Part II, review of the cultural policy in Albania), Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 2000. http://www.coe.int/t/e/cultural_co-operation/culture/policies/reviews/CC-CULT(2000)54A_EN.pdf?L=EN

Albania/ 9. Sources and Links

9.2 Key organisations and portals

Cultural policy making bodies:

Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports
http://www.mtkrs.gov.al

National Film Centre
http://www.nationalfilmcenter.gov.al

Professional associations:

National Theatre
http://www.teatrikombetar.info

Tirana International Film Festival
http://www.tiranafilmfest.com

National Institute of Monuments
http://www.imk.gov.al/index_en.htm

Grant-giving bodies:

Noli Foundation
http://www.fannoli.org

Butrinti Foundation
http://www.butrintfound.dial.pipex.com

Cultural research and statistics:

Studies on Albanian literature and drama
http://www.elsie.de

National Film Archive
http://www.aqshf.gov.al/?gj=en

National Library
http://www.bksh.al/index.htm

Culture / arts portals:

A database of Albanian artists of all disciplines
http://www.artistetshqiptare.com

A database of Albanian and Balkan playwrights, still under construction
http://www.balkatheatre.com

Arts and Literature
http://www.albacenter.it

Music
http://www.albmuzika.com

Theatre
http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/albania/theatre/albanian_theatre.html

Arts
http://www.albaniaartinstitute.org

Visual Arts
http://www.albanianarts.com/aart

 


The Council of Europe/ERICarts "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 9th edition", 2008