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Ljubiša Savanović: Societies that invest in culture are leaders both economically and in every other aspect


I observe culture in the broadest sense as everyday treatment of the world around us. It is important that we raise the bar of human, moral and decent every day.

TST: As an actor, are you satisfied with your social position, does your income as an actor enable you to have a pleasant, meaningful and high-quality life, or do you have to work even when you don’t feel like it??

Savanović: Of course I would like to work less. In fact, I would like to spend more time with my family and loved ones, less in the car and on the road. It’s not difficult for me to work, I enjoy my job because I never work with people I don’t like working with, I’ve learned to say “no” to what doesn’t give me some kind of satisfaction.

TST: What are the biggest challenges actors face today and are they the same for actors in the Western Balkans and for those in EU countries, such as France, England? 

Savanović: As for work, the challenge is always the same: when we open a new text to work on, we always start from scratch. It seems to me that on a global level, including here, there is an increased interest in the intimacy of others, especially people who perform public duties, and this is one of the pressures. Also, it is increasingly difficult to remain clean and unsullied by daily politics and filth that flood the media space.

TST: You were the artistic director of the National Theatre of Republika Srpska – what were the biggest challenges there?  

Savanović: I had a great collaboration with colleagues, especially with my generation that entered the theatre then, but also with older colleagues. The biggest challenge was to create a high-quality repertoire, while promoting our artists. The position of art director carries a lot of responsibility and it is difficult for everyone to be satisfied with their engagement, so that is also a kind of challenge.

TST: I assume that you know that the RS Government has reduced funds for culture by rebalancing the budget for 2023 – how do you see that?

Savanović: I know. I consider this a crime against my people and the Republika Srpska. I cannot believe that anyone can defend that act and justify it in any way. It is obvious that those who approved it are not up to their roles.

TST: Will this reduction of funds cause damage to culture and if so, how to rehabilitate them?

Savanović: As I said, it is a crime against one’s own people. In the same way that the Ministry of Education and Culture justified this act, they announce that they will find a way to correct this damage. Of course, it is clear to any normal person that this cannot be corrected. You can’t even explain to those who don’t understand, and those who wait will soon see that this level of primitivism and lack of culture that has overwhelmed us now is nothing compared to what awaits us and what is affirmed in the public space. Mark my words.

TST: Why is culture important for a society and what would you include in culture, what should culture include?

Savanović: I observe culture in the broadest sense as everyday treatment of the world around us. It is important that we raise the bar of human, moral and decent every day. It is important that we have respect for each other, for those who are different, for those weaker than us, the hungry, the powerless. Societies that invest in culture are leading both economically and in every other respect.

TST: If we were to talk about “current Serbian culture”, what would it be, whether and how it differs from others and who should preserve it, develop it?

Savanović: Current Serbian culture is what is created by all authors who consider themselves to belong to that culture. They should also preserve and develop it, right? But the countries where Serbs live should also be aware of the importance of that culture. It is certainly a very wide range of creators and works and, as everywhere, it differs in quality, influence, strength and above all in relation to the current social moment.

TST: If we talk about culture in the context of money – how would you describe the current moment? Is it possible to improve the situation with funds from the international market of ideas, is it even open to us, to “Serbian culture”?

Savanović: Yes. It’s open like for everyone else. There are funds that we don’t use enough, it seems to me. There is also a bad habit in our country that people expect the state and the local community to give them everything. If they don’t get what they think they should, they get angry. On the other hand, private projects have been subsidized by the state for years, unwitting efforts are being made to devalue the work of artists, and then we find ourselves in an unequal position in the fight with such artists. As for Republika Srpska, it seems to me that the problem is not in the money, but in the way it is distributed and this latest mutilation of the amount for the Ministry’s competition, which will probably extinguish associations in smaller communities or put a noose around their necks.

TST: Does politics abuse culture?

Savanović: We have several politicians here. Two or three. The rest are traders, buyers. This is how they behave towards culture and towards artists, who again are not much better as soon as they allow it. It’s surprising to me how disinterested my colleagues are in anything but their personal interests, how socially illiterate and clueless they are. They are easy to manipulate. We are not a better part of society, we are the same as other guilds.

TST: Do TV and social media destroy culture? 

Savanović: No, on the contrary. Like everything else, social networks, and especially television, have good and bad sides. Everyone uses the ones that suit them or, more often, the ones that they understand and understand how they work. It’s up to us again.

TST: Are tradition and history used in the right way in culture, and if not – what are the wrong ways of using them?

Savanović: I can’t generalize, but there are some examples. Culture is misused for daily political purposes by promoting various interpretations of history. Tradition is something else and I am one of the admirers of traditional values.

TST: If you had the opportunity to ideally organize the area of cultural activity in the RS – what would you do??

Savanović: First, I would separate the Ministry of Culture from the Ministry of Education. Then I would like that ministry to be led by a visionary and to be given a free hand. As long as we don’t have a system in which everyone involved in culture does not say clearly and loudly what is good and what is not, as long as cultural institutions are led by directors who do not want to enter into conflict with the Minister of Culture, because it is more important for them to preserve the position of director than that that the institution and the people who work there are being humiliated by the treatment of the competent ministry, as long as the institution of culture is treated like a factory line, there is no salvation for us.

TST: Is the culture of the RS separable from the culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina or from the Western Balkans?

Savanović: It’s not. I don’t know why we keep separating something? Let’s try to group together, get along, respect each other more often. Or we remain fools with bloody hands.

The Srpska Times



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