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The Austrian society for cultural economics and policy studies (FOKUS) was founded in 1997 in order to establish a platform for the exchange of ideas and the co-ordination of new research projects as well as to serve as a nexus between academia, the arts, civil servants and governments. The mission of FOKUS is to provide a forum for presentations and discussions of current research and recent developments in cultural policy as well as in the academic field. During the past ten years FOKUS held a number of international symposia, workshops and debate series. These events brought together specialists from within Austria and from abroad to discuss specific aspects of cultural policy. The symposia intend to stimulate the exchange of ideas between active participants as well as to provide a constructive contribution to public discourse.
Since its founding, FOKUS is working as a non-profit association, relying on voluntary work by it’s members and a strong backing by the Faculty of Economics at Graz University and the Institute of Cultural Management and Cultural Studies at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.
In 2001, the FOKUS project line was installed as a framework for research activities. The first project carried out within this new structure was “de-fine arts. The Uses of Definitions in Cultural Economics”. The project consisted of a series of internal discussions followed by an international symposium in Vienna and the presentation of the results at the 12th ACEI conference in Rotterdam. In the following years a number of international conferences were organised focusing on subsidies for the arts and on the creative industries. In 2004 FOKUS was asked to edit the 4th issue of the journal Kurswechsel titled Bedeutung als Ware: Kultur und Ökonomie. In 2005 and 2006 FOKUS prepared the conferences of the Association for Cultural Economics International (ACEI) and the Conference on Social Theory Politics and the Arts (STP&A) which where held back to back in July 2006 at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. In total, 300 papers on cultural economics and policy studies where presented at these conferences.
Since 2007 FOKUS endeavors to establish a more elaborate discourse on copyright issues. The main goal is to promote a discourse on intellectual property rights, which is often neglected in cultural policy.