Romanian Cultural Institute’s New Mandate Draws Protests in Europe and United States
Over the past five years or so, the Romanian Cultural Institute has become an important force in global cultural exchanges, promoting writers, artists and especially the critically acclaimed cinema movement known as the Romanian New Wave. But the coalition government that recently came to power in Romania has ordered an end to that international focus as it tightens its political control over the institute, actions that have set off protests among arts groups throughout Europe and the United States.
Under an “emergency decree” handed down on June 14, the institute, a non-partisan entity that formerly reported directly to the president, now responds to a Senate riven by partisanship. Its new mandate: to direct its activities at the Romanian diaspora community. As a result, collaborations with American arts institutions — including Lincoln Center, co-sponsor of an annual Romanian film festival, and publishing houses specializing in translated literature — could be in jeopardy. And in recent days, organizations including the Museum of Modern Art, Film Forum and Melville House have sent letters to the new prime minister and other government authorities, urging them rescind the measure....
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