Culture Minister Jiri Besser will propose that the state earmark half a billion crowns for support of film productions next year, compared to this year´s 300 million crowns, a sum that has been completely spent already. Speaking on Czech Television in Sunday, Mr Besser said he believed he would get 300 million crowns for film production during the 2012 budget bill debate, but would be demanding 500 million crowns. Economists say the state will benefit from such incentives, estimating profits of at least 18 to 20 percent for the state.
Prague’s National Gallery, one of the country’s most respected cultural institutions which includes a number of venues including Veletržní palace, has, along with other state-funded organisations, been told by the austerity government to save 15 percent of its budget next year. The cuts, following the earlier financial crisis, are expected to hit the gallery hard. While some steps have already been taken – a reduction in the number of exhibitions, a cutting back on acquisitions, a lowering of the number of staff – it is not likely to be enough.
The candidate for Minister of Culture, Jiří Besser of TOP 09, said Sunday that he would agree to across-the-board budget cuts that would apply to his portfolio. He also said that he would be able to find finances within the ministry and its institutions with the help of the finance minister. Speaking to Czech Television, Mr Besser said that the whole country cannot avoid budget cuts, and that the coalition was discussing ways to provide income for culture, including importing foreign work, exporting Czech work and preparing orderly grant systems. At the same time, he says he would like to strengthen the role of the Ministry of Culture.
Tuesday marks exactly 125 years since the opening of the National Theatre, one of the most important cultural institutions in the Czech Republic. The building was first opened in June 1881, but it was destroyed by fire and re-opened two years later, on the 18th of November 1883, to the sound of Bedřich Smetana’s Libuše. One year ago, the National Theatre launched an extensive renovation project; its first stage has just been completed. Earlier today, I asked the general director of the National Theatre, Ondřej Černý, to tell me what exactly was
Wednesday sees the opening of the 50th Smetana’s Litomyšl International Opera Festival. During the annual event, composer Bedřich Smetana’s home town in east Bohemia is transformed into a paradise for music lovers, and not only opera buffs – Smetana’s Litomyšl also takes in various other musical forms.
Theatres and other state-subsidised arts institutions were celebrating victory over Prague’s City Council this week after councillors scrapped a controversial new system of awarding subsidies. The system – under which Prague’s theatres were subsidised according to the number of tickets sold – sparked a wave of protest by arts organisations and even led to angry artists disrupting a meeting of the city council.
Prague Mayor Pavel Bém said he would like to change the controversial theatre subsidy system in the Czech capital. Earlier this year, Prague City Hall came up with a new system of financing Prague’s theatres and other art scenes which tied subsidies to ticket sales. The system has been criticized for not distinguishing between genuine art and commercial projects catering to tourists. Last month, many of Prague's theatres staged a week of protests against the programme and were also backed by playwright and former Czech President Václav Havel.
The former Czech president Václav Havel has largely refrained from interfering in or commenting on domestic politics since stepping down as president five years ago. But this weekend he seemed to cross that fine line between general philosophising on the state of society and making overtly political gestures, when he said people in Prague should not vote for the right-of-centre Civic Democrats in the forthcoming elections.
A meeting of Prague councilors was disrupted on Thursday when artists, unhappy with the way that culture is funded in the Czech capital, stormed Prague City Hall. The protest marks the end of a week of events titled ‘Dny neklidu’ (‘The Days of Unrest’), during which hundreds of artists demonstrated against what they considered to be flaws in the current arts’ funding system. Protesters were particularly unhappy with the way Prague’s theatres are funded, and the blanket ticket subsidies currently in place. In light of today’s upheaval at City Hall, councilors said that they were unwilling to change their stance on culture funding.