In the Culture of One World Randy Gener

A Global Media Project | Arts Economy, Cultural Diplomacy and Critical Thinking

Romania’s Cultural Institute under siege | Politics won. Leaders of Romanian Cultural Institute resign from their posts

BUCHAREST |  The siege is broken. The culture war in Romania is over. Politics won.  The leaders of the cultural institution responsible for putting Romanian arts and culture on the world map are stepping down.

Horia-Roman Patapievici, president of the Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR), announced that he and the entire of the ICR leadership will resign. The reasons? The original mission of the ICR has been officially altered. It is now under the political control of the Senate, a decision that the country’s Constitutional Court officially ruled as constitutional on July 31 — to the dismay of the current leaders of ICR.

Moreover, Romania’s Finance Ministry announced that ICR’s budget will be slashed by some 3.1 million euros, more than a third  —  a drastic budget cut that left planned projects and contractually engaged initiatives in the lurch.

Romanian Cultural Institute president Horia Roman Patapievici defends RCI from Romanian politicians

Romanian Cultural Institute president Horia Roman Patapievici defends RCI from Romanian politicians

In the wake of this seismic shift, ICR management, which has been in place since 2005, is organizing a press conference Thursday, August 2, 2012, at 11:00 am at its premises in Alley Alexandru no. 38 in Bucharest. Journalists are requested to confirm participation by e-mail to biroul.presa @ icr.ro, or telephone, at no. 7100 031 624.  It is expected that the current ICR leadership will make an effort to defend itself and lay out its position at this press conference.

With the regime change in Romania, newly elected government leaders passed on June 13 an emergency ordinance number 27/ 2012 which moves ICR under the Senate supervision and radically changes its mission. When the so-called “emergency” ordinance was issued, the leadership of ICR said it would step down if the ordinance was deemed constitutional. By law, the Senate will name the executive directors of ICR and its board within 15 days.

“The mission of the Romanian Cultural Institute will consist only in strengthening the national identity of Romanians from abroad, the preamble of the emergency ordinance which was declared constitutional today, and the statements of those who were at this change, i.e. the Minister of Culture, Haşotti,” Patapievici said on July 31, quoted by Agerpres.

Patapievici added that, in his opinion, although the name of ICR remains under the new dispensation, the institution that built it has “died.”  “This change of status of ICR consists of transforming it into a sort of national propaganda agency,” Patapievici said, as quoted by Agerpres.

Patapievici said the current ICR leadership will step down soon after “solving some management issues” related to the budget cuts.  The Romanian Ministry of Finance has asked ICR to stay within its budget of around 6.1 million euros this year, as approved at end 2011.  However, ICR has spent or has committed to spend some 6.9 million euros this year. Patapievici said that the new budget cuts were “an ad-hoc action” that was issued with no previous warning and no explicitly stated reason.

All the 17th branches of ICR around the world are now unable to function, Patapievici explained in an interview for Romania Libera: “With the cuts in the budget, I got to have 28.5 million lei, while we, with ongoing projects, already spent 29 million lei. We have thus a deficit of 500,000 lei. This means that we can not even lead to an end what we started. ”

The resignation of the current ICR leaders puts an end to a culture war that has been waged in Romania and abroad. Rumors of corruption and accusations of plagiarism against political and cultural leaders in the country abound. Meanwhile, both Romanians in the diaspora and Romania’s leading intellectuals were deeply divided.

Victor Ponta, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) since 2010, became the Prime Minister of Romania in May 2012.  This shift in political power resulted in Traian Băsescu, the President of Romania since 2004, being ousted; he was suspended from office on July 6, 2012.

The subordination of ICR to the new center-left government kicked up a debate within cultural diplomacy circles.  The new ordinance, now effective in 15 days, changes the mission of the cultural institute from representing Romanian culture abroad to serving the Romanian communities abroad. ICR will no longer promote Romanian culture to both Romanian and foreign audiences anymore. Instead it will bring Romanian culture to the Romanian diaspora in Romanian language.

Campaigns to save the current structure and leadership of ICR were waged. In addition to letters of support from international advocates, curators and NGOs, a group of prominent Romanian artists who directly benefited from ICR’s promotion of the country’s arts and culture abroad worked hard to drum up support. These artists include film director Cristi Puiu, a leading member of a new wave of Romanian directors that emerged after the country’s communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu fell in 1989. Joining Cristi Puiu in defending RCI were Andrei Şerban, Alexandru and Ada Solomon, Grigore Leşe, Dan Dediu, Mihai Mihalcea, Ada Milea, Voicu Rădescu, Irina Margareta Nistor and Doina Jelea, among others.

In varying degrees, all these gestures of support argued that ICR’s cultural mission ought to be independent from the whims of politics.

In issuing the emergency ordinance, however, Prime Minister Ponta has criticized ICR, saying it was “politicized and lacked transparency.” What was the urgency behind the ordinance? Ponta supporters argue that the feeling of national belonging within Romanian communities abroad has been permanently threatened by the current organization of ICR.

Indeed, among the many reasons that Romanian abroad are politically divided over the fate of ICR under Ponta has been the rising sense that not everybody in the Romanian diaspora has been directly served or promoted or given adequate financial support. Ponta’s ordinance, therefore, stoked hidden or buried resentments among Romanians who live outside of Romania who felt they were being marginalized by their own institution.

This is a line of reasoning that Patapievici has argued is not true. “Our philosophy has always been to have the Romanian Cultural Institute not as an agency of nationalistic propaganda but as a flexible mediator between the Romanian cultural market in all its diversity and the cultural international markets, where the Romanian arts wish to be affirmed,” Patapievici said.

Ion Caramitru, the internationally acclaimed actor and general manager of the National Theatre of Bucharest, agrees: “I know ICR’s work. I’m now back from a second U.S. tour in Romanian communities, because the ICR has a department for the Romanians abroad. So the idea that ICR does not take charge of Romanians from abroad is false.” As an example, Caramitru offered his performance of the poetry of Mihai Eminescu, which went to the U.S. and Budapest. The show, he said, “was, more or less, a sort of ambassador of the Romanian language. So the ICR has been on the job. What was the problem? It was a kind of attempt to choke an activity that had all the data to be appreciated, not condemned ”  –Randy Gener, in the theater of One World

 

Ion Caramitru, Romanian actor, director and general manager of National Theater of Bucharest

Ion Caramitru, Romanian actor, director and general manager of National Theater of Bucharest

 

About Randy Gener

Randy Gener is the Nathan Award-winning editor, writer, critic, playwright and visual artist in New York City. He is the author of the plays "Love Seats for Virginia Woolf," "Wait for Me at the Bottom of the Pool," "A Parliament of the Streets," and others. His conceptual installation, "In the Garden of One World" (designed by Nic Ularu), debuted in 2008 at La MaMa La Galleria in New York. He is a renowned lecturer and speaker in the arts and technology, appearing at such schools as the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center-Graduate Center, City University of New York, Montclair State University, University of South Carolina, Brooklyn College; U.S. and European festivals as Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Prague Quadrennial for World Scenography, William Inge Theatre Festival, Humana Festival of New American Plays; as well as such institutions as Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Hallmark Inc., Dramatists Guild of America, Odeon Theatre of Bucharest, Romanian Cultural Institute-New York, Long Wharf Theater Company, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre and La MaMa E.T.C.

2 comments on “Romania’s Cultural Institute under siege | Politics won. Leaders of Romanian Cultural Institute resign from their posts

  1. Pingback: GPS | ROMANIA: Horia-Roman Patapievici, curajos erou, a declarat că va demisiona de la conducerea Institutului Cultural Român” « in the theater of One World

  2. Pingback: Doina Jela: Vis recurent | Laurailica's Blog

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Categories

“From the Edge: Performance Design in the Divided States of America” at LaMaMa La Galleria

On Smart Power, International Cultural Exchange and Performance Design | An Interview by Amanda White Thietje

3 Interviews by AMANDA WHITE THIETJE:
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RANDY GENER and I met in Prague this summer, where we were both attending the 2011 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ). I was wandering through the exhibits, soaking up the inspiration and the beauty of the city; he was serving as both curatorial advisor of "From the Edge" (USITT’s USA National Pavilion) and Editor-In-Chief of this year’s PQ daily newspaper.
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Randy agreed to talk with me about the PQ, and there’s so much in this interview I want to share with you that I’m going to post it in three parts. Click on the titles of each article below so you can read each part of the interview:
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  • Interview – Part 1: "From the Edge"
  • Interview – Part 2: "Active Searching & The Value of the Prague Quadrennial"
  • Interview – Part 3: "A Ripple Effect."
  • -

    “From the Edge: Performance Design in the Divided States of America,” the USA national pavilion at Prague National Gallery

    From the Edge: Performance Design in the Divided States of America

    Reflections on curating and creating national expositions in an international art-based mega-exhibition in Prague
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  • Curatorial essay: "Exhibiting a country on the edge: a U.S. approach to performance design"
  • USA exposition returns from Prague: "American performing garage under the sign of Obama"
  • Prague diaries: "Philadelphia theater-makers talk about how performance design affected their works and processes."
  • Interview with curators: "Curators speak about the thrills, challenges and obstacles of staging national expositions of design."
  • -

    Praise and Commendations

    >> "A first-rate writer and editor. Randy Gener understands culture in the widest sense: as news, as art, as politics, as media," Margo Jefferson, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer.
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    >> "Mr. Randy Gener’s 'in the theater of One World,' a showcase of his own individual work, is taking up the slack that print journalism is leaving behind. You won’t find this in your local papers," Superfluities Redux.
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    >> "The visionary," Instinct Magazine.
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    >> "An internationalist, a champion of cultural exchange and dialogue," The New York Daily News.
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    >> "Randy Gener's command of theatrical subjects is unequalled among his contemporaries," American Theatre magazine/Theatre Communications Group.
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    >> "Randy Gener sheds light into censorship and repression of the arts," Judges of the Deadline Club Award, New York chapter of Society of Professional Journalists.
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    >> "Randy Gener is one of the most compelling voices of our era of globalization," Ioana Ieronim, author, poet and Fulbright Program Director of Fulbright Commission Romania.
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    >> "Gener draws our attention to largely ignored voices and visions on the international theatrical scene," Judges of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.
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    >> "Mr. Gener holds himself to a high standard in his long-form journalism — perhaps a model for young journalists," Superfluities Redux.
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    >> "Gener’s writing on theater, especially as it interacts with LGBT lives, is beautifully done, knowledgeable and almost lyrical in its language,” Judges of NLGJA Journalist of the Year.
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    >> "Randy Gener demonstrates the ripple effect that spotlighting artistic passion can have," Judges of the Deadline Club Award, New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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    >> "Randy Gener's 'Love Seats for Virginia Woolf' is a meditative homage. Gener has staged his play with a subtle grace that complements the art objects' sedentary ingenuity. Never has Virginia's room of one's own been so suggestively furnished,” The Village Voice
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    >> "Gener's accumulation of words in his play 'Love Seats for Virginia Woolf' are the feathery evanescence of the butterfly's wings clamped together with the bolts of iron that are the four loveseat sculptures. The actors become words personified. I was left astonished,” The Virginia Woolf Miscellany of the International Virginia Woolf Society.
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    >> "His essays wed critical intelligence with a love of the telling and unruly fact," Judges of George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.
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    >> "Gener went above and beyond with regard to enterprise, resourcefulness and overcoming of obstacles in the pursuit of the story," Judges of Deadline Club Award, New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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    >> "Randy Gener has been a tremendous asset to American Theatre ever since he was selected as a Jerome Foundation Affiliated Writer back in 1995-96, and especially since he joined the staff full-time in 2001," American Theatre magazine/Theatre Communications Group.
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    >> "One of the leaders of the Asian American community," The New York Daily News.
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    >> "In conferring the Pamana ng Pilipino (Legacy of the Filipino Nation) Presidential Award to Randy Gener, the President recognizes Gener's excellence in the field of theater arts and creativity, and diligence in promoting Filipino-American interests and accomplishments to mainstream audiences in Europe and the United States of America," His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines.
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    Biography

    Randy Gener is the Nathan Award-winning editor, writer, critic, curator, playwright and visual artist in New York City.
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    His conceptual installation, "in the garden of One World," debuted at La MaMa La Galleria in New York. He is the author of "Love Seats for Virginia Woolf," and other plays.
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    For his editorial work and critical essays as the senior editor of American Theatre magazine, Gener has received the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, the highest accolade for excellence in dramatic criticism in the United States; the Deadline Club Award for Best Arts Reporting from the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists; five media awards for excellence in travel-writing from the annual North American Travel Journalists Association Awards competition; and the NLGJA Journalist of the Year 2010.

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