T H E C Z E C H R E P U B L I C
0. INTRODUCTION *
The Czech Republic lies in Central Europe. It has 10.3 million inhabitants (mid-1996), mostly of Czech nationality. The minorities, mainly Slovak, Polish, and German, account for about 5 per cent of the population. The official language is Czech, a West Slavonic language.
Being a former Eastern Bloc country, most of the people in the Czech Republic are atheists. The breakdown of the religions is as follows: atheists (40 per cent), Roman Catholic (39 per cent), Protestant (5 per cent), Orthodox (3 per cent), other (13 per cent).
Like the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic has also experienced a number of major changes after the 'velvet revolution'. As an independent state, it appeared on the world scene on 1 January 1993 after the division of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. In its democratic development it consistently follows the traditions of Czechoslovakia from the 1918 - 1938 period.
In addition to changing the previous system of national economic planning, the recent political and economic changes, have also reflected in the field of culture, as well as in the structure of responsible bodies and institutions. The Constitution of the Czech Republic guarantees extensive rights and liberties, including the rights and liberties of national minorities.
Although the concept of the new cultural policy has not yet been completed, some of its guiding principles are already known and are applied in practice. They include the following: a) the guarantee of cultural democracy for authors and performers, b) freedom of authentic (free) expression and the provision of conditions for creative work, c) the guarantee of conditions for artistic and cultural innovation.
These principles also include the guarantee of the creation of conditions for the preservation and development of the cultural identity of the Czech nation and the protection of both material and non-material cultural heritage.
The Czech cultural policy tries to make use of the advantages of the market economy to support and promote, and simultaneously also to protect, cultural values.
A well-planned process has been designed to eliminate the paternalistic role of the State as a general protector and patron providing subsidies and grants. This role will largely be taken over by newly formed public and private institutions and companies. The State tries to create the conditions for their establishment and operation.
The central administrative body responsible for cultural matters is the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. Its competencies include cultural and educational activities, art, cultural heritage, press, including non-periodical publications, cinematography, copyright and related matters, and churches. The Ministry's tasks are listed in detail and published in its Statute. The Minister of Culture is advised by a consultative body, whose members are appointed by him. The Ministry is organized into departments, which represent the basic level of management and decision making.
The Ministry was established by an act of Parliament of the Czech Republic. The Parliament has its own Committee for Science, Education and Culture, which monitors and discusses the realization of the government's programme and declaration on cultural matters.
The Czech Republic has an extensive network of cultural facilities and institutions. The central facilities and institutions are established by the Ministry, while local and regional institutions are usually established by the local or municipal administrations. The most important central facilities and institutions include the following:
The National Gallery in Prague, established in 1796. It administrates collections of ancient and modern art and a library of more than 50,000 volumes.
The National Museum in Prague, established in 1818. It publishes several journals and has large mineralogical and entomological collections. The National Museum includes also the Historical Museum, the Museum of Czech Music, the Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures, and the Central Office of Museology.
The National Library in Prague, established in 1958 through the merger of several public libraries operating since 1771. One of them was the Charles University Library founded in 1348. It holds about 6 million volumes and collections of old manuscripts and incunabula.
The National Theatre in Prague, opened in 1883. It was built with voluntary contributions by people and unions at the time of the Czech National Revival.
The Prague City Gallery, established in 1963. Collections: Pragensia, works by 19th and 20th century Czech artists, library with about 1,100 volumes.
Before 1989, cultural activities were financed mainly from the State Budget. The economic reform now under way also includes an attempt to develop alternative sources of financing. The new tax law provides for a greater use of sponsorship and private funding. There exist public funds to promote creativity in the sphere of literature, journalism, visual arts, music, and cinematography.
Various cultural institutions, organizations, funds, unions, and communities, often in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and other bodies (such as local, municipal, or regional authorities) organize a variety of cultural events, festivals, competitions, and prize contests and run cultural cooperation schemes with foreign partners. Also involved in the financing of culture are state and cooperative firms, trade unions, professional and other associations, banks, and the private sector.
As the newly independent Czech Republic came into being, the continuity of legal structures was ensured by taking over the laws of the former federation, unless they contradicted the new laws of the Czech Republic. At the same time, there began the complex process of creating new laws.
In its relations with foreign countries, the Czech Republic acknowledges all valid international agreements and obligations of the former Czechoslovakia.
In the field of culture in the year of 1993, there has occurred one of the most significant changes in the sphere of copyright.
Apart from the Ministry of Culture as the national administrative body responsible for the protection and promotion of cultural heritage, the responsible bodies at lower levels are local, municipal and regional offices. The most important professional body concerned with cultural heritage is the State Institute for the Care of Cultural Monuments in Prague. There are also local and regional centres for the same purpose.
Number of theatres established by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, Ministry of Education, Youth and Physical Training of the Czech Republic, other bodies of state administration and local government amounted to 53 in 1995. In the same year 3415 artistic workers were employed in various theatres. Total revenues of theatres in 1995 amounted to Kc 5 424 222, 000 what represents an increase of 176,2 per cent comparing to the year 1992. The percentage of self-financing of 29,8 shows a small decrease comparing to 1992 31,3 per cent.
The breakdown of the total number of theatres in 1995 by establishment is as follows:
Ministry of Culture of Czech Republic - 3, Ministry of Education, Youth and Physical Training - 3, other bodies of state administration - 5, Magistrate of the capital city of Prague - 13, Magistrate of the city of Plzen - 2, Magistrate of the city of Brno - 4, Magistrate of the city of Ostrava - 3, local government - 20.
Music enjoys a special position in the Czech Republic, due to the long musical tradition and Prague's position as a major European musical centre. Music is taught at two music academies and seven conservatories. In addition, it is also taught in primary schools, together with other arts, for instance, visual arts, and even in kindergartens.
See paragraph 5.3 below.
As regards the mass media, there is a strong desire to make them absolutely independent of the executive power. The Broadcasting Council has been established, which is responsible only to the Parliament of the Czech Republic. The State retains only a few administrative functions (for example, the compulsory registration of publishers), and creates the conditions for the free operation of the mass media.
The number of consumers of some products of cultural industries has gone up in the 1990s as regards both the type of products and the amount of time spent. The book and gramophone record business has suffered a substantial reduction in spite of the considerable improvement of supply compared to the period before 1990, mainly owing to the growing prices. The shift towards the modern media (CDs, magnetic tapes and video tapes) continues with much greater intensity than before.
The Fund for Cinematography has been established to support film-making in the Czech Republic.
The cultures of Central Europe, including Czech culture, are characterized by multinationalism and multilingualism, and often also multireligiousness. Different cultural influences have been at work over the centuries. In the Czech lands these included especially the German influence, as well as French and Italian. The idea of Pan-Slavism in the 19th century united the intellectuals of the Central and Eastern European countries and significantly influenced also cultural development in the East.
A common characteristic of the Central and Eastern European cultures was the development of parallel cultures during the totalitarian period. The 'Samizdat' literature flourished. In Czechoslovakia also clandestine theatre was performed.
After the initial drop in attendance at theatre and classical music performances in 1990-1991, the attendance slowly increased in 1992. Visits to museums and galleries went up considerably. Attendance at cinema performances dropped significantly owing to increased satellite broadcasting.
Some negative trends in the cultural sphere resulting from the pressures to commercialize culture are expected to be reversed by the mid-nineties.
The basic directions of the Czech Republic's international cultural policy are laid down by the Ministry of Culture. The basic principle of cultural policy towards foreign countries is openness to cultural cooperation in all fields of culture and art and at all levels.
State support is available for particularly important projects. Czech cultural and information centres have been established in some countries.
The Czech Republic is a member of UNESCO, and Czech organisations, institutions and individuals are members of more than 100 different international non-governmental organisations of cultural orientation.
The Czech Republic recognizes all 74 cultural agreements and programmes of bilateral cooperation concluded by the former federation. It also acknowledges the former Czechoslovakia's multilateral agreements and conventions, such as the European Cultural Convention, General Convention on Copyright, and many others. Its cultural traditions and geographical position make the Czech Republic a suitable mediator and a bridge between the cultures of the West and those of the East.
8. ADDRESSES 1
Cultural Policy and Administration in Europe: 42 outlines. Vienna, Österreichische Kulturdokumentation, Internationales Archiv für Kulturanalysen, 1996, pp. 43-46
Guide du cinéma et de l'audiovisuel en Europe centrale et orientale, chapter on Czech and Slovak Republic, Paris, Eurocréation Production, Idate, Institut d'études slaves, 1992.
Handbook of Cultural Affairs in Europe. Baden-Baden, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 1995, pp. 213-222.
Novotny, Oskar. The philosophy of the model of economy of culture for the Slovak and Czech Federal Republic for the 90ies and the early new millennium: some comments, in: Participation in Cultural Life in Europe: Current Trends and Future Strategies. The Situation in Czechoslovakia. European Round Table on Cultural Research, Moscow, April 1991, pp. 1-6.
Novotny, Oskar. Prognosis for the development of the general situation in the economy of culture in the Slovak and Czech Republic during the 90ies and the early new millennium. An essay of the model solution in a new cultural and economic situation (with special reference to the role of the State and State grant allocation policies in general), in: Participation in Cultural Life in Europe: Current Trends and Future Strategies. The Situation in Czechoslovakia. European Round Table on Cultural Research, Moscow, April 1991, pp. 6-15.
Novotny, Oskar. Long-term Participation Trends of the Population in Cultural Life in the CSFR: Quantitative Evolution and Structural Changes, in: . Participation in Cultural Life. Moscow, April 1991, published by Zentrum für Kulturforschung in cooperation with C.I.R.C.L.E. Papers presented to the European Round Table on Cultural Research. Bonn, Kultur & Wissenschaft, Band 8, ARCult, 1991, pp. 62-75.
Polí ticas culturales en los procesos de cambio: apuntes sobre la Repú blica Checha, in: Actas del III congreso "Cultura Europea", Pamplona, 26-29 October 1994. Pamplona, Centro de estudios europeos/Universidad de Navarra, 1996, pp. 211-226.
Preservation and Development of Cultural Life in the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe: country papers - Czech Republic. International conference, Budapest, 23-25 January 1997, 96 pp. + Annex
Situation and Trends in Cultural Policy in the Member States of Europe: Czechoslovakia World Conference on Cultural Policies, Mexico City, 26 July - 6 August 1982. Paris, UNESCO, 1982, pp. 24-29. CLT-82/MONDIACULT/REF.1/EUR.
The Czech Republic. Paper presented at the CIRCLE European Round Table, Budapest, 21-22 March 1994, 6 pp.
The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1997. Mahwah, New Jersey, World Almanac Books, 1997.
10. FOOTNOTES* This monograph is based on a selection of data from the Cultural Policies Data Bank and on documents collected by the Documentation Centre for Cultural Development and Cooperation, Culturelink. The original draft, written by Zrinjka Perusko Culek, has been revised in 1995 by the Czech Ministry of Culture, and in 1997 by Daniela Angelina Jelincic.