Several gallery owners in Podgorica, asked by BIRN about the situation in the art market, said the problem was that real art lovers can rarely afford to purchase. It said the Ministry of Culture also favoured just a few publishing houses, which had all received state money for decades, even though the country has over 50 registered publishing houses. Popadic has declined to comment for BIRN, while parliament, where the ruling coalition has a comfortable majority, insists that everything was done by the books. In the sharp contrast to Petrusic, other artists and writers are all to close to the ruling elite and the Democratic Party of Socialist,led by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. Whether or not it was because of the author's political profile, both love poem collections were the most wanted books last year at City Bookstore, the main bookstore in the capital, which is unusual for a poetry collection.
Writer Balsa Brkovic Political loyalty is often the main criterion for success and recognition, just as it is in business, education and science, Brkovic claims. The political connections of the author were raised. Some have been recognized outside Montenegro on the art scene in Europe and the United States but still get no help in their own country. Their work is regularly covered by the pro-government media, they have the best exhibition spaces, they perform at the national theatres, and their paintings, often sold for tens of thousands of euros, hang on the walls of the government institutions. The two other filmmakers, Branko Baletic and Sehad Cekic, whose projects also obtained the highest sums in the state contest in April, could not be reached for comment. The former Prime Minister, Igor Luksic, is a published poet. Such sums are only a dream for most artists and can be reached only occasionally by some of the most prominent Balkan painters, such as Vojo Stanic and Dado Djuric. In a country of only , people, where the poems of former Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister Igor Lukisc are a best-seller, political loyalty is almost mandatory as a condition for winning state support, says writer Balsa Brkovic. Popadic has declined to comment for BIRN, while parliament, where the ruling coalition has a comfortable majority, insists that everything was done by the books. She was been banned by Montenegro from representing the former Yugoslavia at the Venice Biennale in The publisher and political activist Milorad Mijo Popovic received twice as much as all other publishers together, 63, euro. The only compromise he makes when it comes to art is to do some commissions for the wealthy Russians who frequent the Montenegrin coast. Several gallery owners in Podgorica, asked by BIRN about the situation in the art market, said the problem was that real art lovers can rarely afford to purchase. Brkovic, who is also a human rights activist, says this approach is often justified by the claim that Montenegro's national identity, nine years after independence, remains threatened by external factors. Raonic said that of the available 1,, euro, three film and theatre directors, Marija Perovic, Branko Baletic and Sehad Cekic received a total of , euro. Criticism of the Ministry of Culture and allocation of state funds, he said, is seen as an attack on the state itself. Fourteen years later, when she had become globally recognized, the Montenegrin government tried to correct that mistake and made an official apology, asking Abramovic to represent the country at the Biennale. Following a public competition announced earlier this year, the Ministry of Culture in April released a list of projects that will be supported by state funds. Political loyalty gets you far: Favoured artists get most cash: Popadic's painting at the Montenegrin parliament Popadic's painting at the Montenegrin parliament Questions followed over the amount of money it cost and why there was no public tender. The decision drew criticism from the largest association of publishers in the country. On his rare breaks, he goes fishing with the local fishermen. A piece by the extraordinary painter Jovan Zonjic, a pioneer of modern Montenegrin art, can be purchased for euros. Personal and political ties also dictate the prices of artworks, critic and art historian Alexander Cilkov claims. Boris Raonic, from the local watchdog Civic Alliance, said that nearly two-thirds of the funds have since been distributed to only four persons, all close to the political elite and Djukanovic, while the rest was split among projects. It says the criteria for selecting state-supported projects are public:
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