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September 14, 2018

Argentina's Culture Ministry Staff Declare "Cultural Emergency" after Budget Slashes

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA—Employees of Argentina’s Ministry of Culture released a statement declaring a “state of cultural emergency” after President Mauricio Macri announced earlier this month that budgets would be slashed for the agency, according to La Nota. Among the changes in the restructuring include the implementation of fees for special exhibitions at the twenty-four national museums operating under the Ministry of Culture, starting September 25. In addition to new taxes on exports, Macri’s austerity measure—occasioned by a steep decrease in value for the peso—will see thirteen ministries sliced up or merged. In addition to culture, agencies for science, energy, agriculture, and tourism will no longer exist as standalone entities.

“Access to culture is a fundamental human right of the people and must be guaranteed by the state,” staff said in the statement, which denounced minister of culture Pablo Avelluto’s choices—eradicating programs, cutting the budget, and laying off staff—since taking office in 2015. Museum workers assembled at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes last Friday to protest the merging of the culture ministry. “With this measure they are putting a clear barrier to the people as a whole for their access to culture and cultural assets. The situation is very serious, we cannot let it stand,” Nicolás Rodríguez Saa, a member of the Ministry of Culture’s internal board, told newspaper Página/12. The recent participation of Buenos Aires—whose art scene has floundered amid the country’s budget cuts—with the new Art Basel Cities project was not impacted by the ministerial reshuffling.

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