Galleries after year 1991

In spite of this that the culture has been always undervalued and on the edge of interest in the past new institutions also arose, the galleries gained their residences, they purchased works into the collection funds, they built expositions, and they professionalized and improved the quality of their activity. They functioned as allowance organizations and their establishers -these ones have been predominantly the National Committees – which satisfied the substantial part of principally always modest budget inclusive of contribution for activity and especially of contribution for acquisitions. So it was happened often by form of various compensations and by redistribution of saved financial means at the end of year. In the past thanks to this the growths in the collection fund fluctuated in hundreds of pieces yearly, however, from beginning of the nineties they were counted only in tens, and it often concerned the gifts or the in terms of price less demanding visual art/graphic or plastic techniques.

In 1991 a delimitation of all cultural institutions controlled directly by National Committees at various levels under Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic passed off. The period that should set up strategies of their further functioning in new conditions of transforming society with a vision into the future has been a wasted chance. Except for the establishment of State Fund of Culture “Pro Slovakia” (1991) as a special-purpose fund for support of development of culture and art no necessary legislative and economical means have been created for functioning of culture and for a system of multisource financing for example from urban, municipal or private resources.
Finally in 1996 after five years the Ministry of Culture returned the institutions by form of a “historic experiment” through Regional Cultural Centres (RCC) at the district level, with interconnection of financial flows on the regional authorities. The decentralization came off without a supporting legislative and brought also the loss of juridical subjectivity of institutions. The RCC, originally declared as economic and business service, overstepped their competencies they entered specialized and personal decisions and they became a tool of power of governmental party. They brought no declared savings, on contrary: they pumped off all financial reserves. This over two-years persisting experiment has lead to loss of economic and specialized status of galleries. The improvement happened after RCC cancellation and subsequent delimitation under regional authorities in 1999. The departments of culture occupied by specialists tried for betterment of material and technical conditions. The galleries regained the juridical subjectivity.

The last delimitation of cultural institutions passed off in connection with new territorial and administrative division in 2002 (the Central Slovakian Gallery in Banská Bystrica and the East-Slovak Gallery in Košice have been delimited only in year 2006). In the present day from 25 registered galleries there are sixteen galleries in establisher´s scope of authority of seven self-governmental regions (the Bratislava region does not establish a gallery). However, the delimitation has been premature and the new-arisen self-governmental regions solved a lot of new problems connected with own existence. They took charge of establisher´s function so that they only took over the mechanism of previous years and without analysis and regard to meaning and quality of work of particular institutions they only redistributed adequately the contributions. With this already in that time the contribution covered for the most part only wage and operating costs, in some cases not even this. Only in exceptional cases the establisher contributed in essence by symbolic sums for acquisition activity. They saturated their specialized activity of gallery from grant programme of the Ministry of Culture, from Fund for Art Support respectively, alternatively from other resources (EU funds, International Vyšehrad Fund and others). After 2009 the situation was worsened yet in connection with economic crisis and it is problematic up to now what makes the conceptual building of the collection fund also a specialized work impossible to the galleries; i.e. specialized treatment, scientific and research activity, exposition activity, educational and publication activities, implementing the new technologies but also next personal and institutional development. It all happens in spite of the fact that the Museum and Gallery Law delimited as an obligation of establisher to secure the gallery activity in a financial and specialized way.

Since 1990 the galleries passed through various alterations. Frequent delimitations do not be beneficial to them, the oldest galleries had up to establishers for period of their functioning. The numbers of employees were markedly reduced what brought a high cumulation of functions. Also evaluation of the labour, which they put in some work, is problem. Frequent exchanges of statutory persons destabilize their functioning, in some galleries it came to a change in this position up to ten times since 1990 and that concerned often changes by other reasons than specialized ones. The galleries act in variously adjusted environment the situation is different according to individual regions and establishers. Their status is influenced by cultural policy and political culture of individual self-governments, by their philosophy and preferences in determining of own budgets but also by legislative being accepted at level of particular regions. Some galleries were transformed from allowance organizations into the budget ones.

In the past up to 2009 the Ministry of Culture of the SR by means of SNG secured processing of annual reports on the galleries activity. In the present day from side of MC SR and establishers the interest in the common way of evaluation of conditions and performances of particular institutions does not exist. Competent organs resigned from monitoring of emerging disproportions which express themselves for example in amount of establisher´s contribution for current expenditures in ratio to the total budget. An exploration of the Council of Galleries of Slovakia showed for year 2011 that in some regions the establisher´s contribution covered more than 90 percent of budget (Trenčín/Nitra/Trnava regions) while in other regions it has been also less than 70 % or 60 % (Košice/Žilina regions).

Disproportion in contribution of establisher calculated per 1 m2 of exhibition area or per one visitor or collection object has been yet more surprising where the sum differences are ten times as large as this. Such data would deserve a regular and deeper analysis also from side of individual establishers since there are significant differences also within institutions which are established by them.

In spite of a complicated situation in long terms the galleries are able mostly to fill up all areas of their activity conceptually and meaningfully. The analyses of collection funds brought new strategies into the creation and appreciation of collection funds in favour of quality. The galleries reassessed ad corrected their collector´s focusing they concentrated attention on completion of gaps incurred by incorrect acquisition policy of past periods and on the works of contemporary art. Collections of new media arose. The galleries gain the art works also thanks to cyclically being arranged projects, symposia, art residences, quality presents and, especially to means from subsidy programmes. They obtain them in a substantially lesser degree from capital means of establisher.

Also infrastructure of majority of galleries undergone some changes especially in relation to the safe depositing and presenting of works. From subsidy programmes of “MK SR” and “FP” the galleries equipped their depositories with specialized fundus, fire-fighting elements, the whole objects with alarm and camera systems, they equipped the expositions with new lighting, mobile air-conditioning units and the like. Some galleries acquired new premises, new exhibitions emerged (GJK Trnava, GMAB Trenčín, OG Dolný Kubín, PGU Žilina and others). More expositions went through reinstallations, new content and conceptual changes   (LGPMB Liptovský Mikuláš, GUS Spišská Nová Ves, GUEZ Nové Zámky, GMB Bratislava and others). Even an institution of overregional meaning arose (MMUAW in Medzilaborce). 

The galleries implemented plenty of interesting and revealing author´s and thematic exhibiting activities they cooperate and are confronted with gallery´s events and with the art from behind frontiers: they map the youngest visual art scene. In spite of everything they did not resign even for editing activity. Perhaps the educational activities were strengthened most distinctly. In last period the galleries underwent progress of new defining of their mission in society and of looking-for answers to question in which way to enter specific communication between the work of art and spectator. But after 1990, especially after 2000 educational departments in majority of galleries arose, almost every gallery has already a position created for gallery´s pedagogue today. In dramaturgy even conceptually being prepared exhibitions of contemporary art and other projects with multilayer interpretation levels and with education dimension (SSG Banská Bystrica, GMB Bratislava and other) appear. At the same time the galleries strive for a bigger opening to the public, in effort for building the public they offer also new kinds of cultural and artistic activities.

But the people, specialists who support the institutions are the most important capital. Successful functioning of galleries is into large extent a result of enthusiasm and personal involvement in interest of preservation and enhancement of quality. The belief in the fact that the society will be constantly more aware of significance of values which are preserved, protected and spread by their activity for quality of our common existence is their main motivation.