Open letter from the Czech Association of Festivals to the Government of the Czech Republic and the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic

Open letter from the Czech Association of Festivals to the Government of the Czech Republic and the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic

We live in a free democratic society, in which the role of the state is to create the environment and conditions for the development of creativity and creative potential, being aware that today's living art creates cultural heritage for the future.

Art is a pillar of free, open society that is getting rid of prejudice, it is its mirror and an engine of its further development, brings valuable impulses, experiences and values to citizens that cannot be substituted by anything.

The Programme Declaration of the Government of the Czech Republic of 27 June 2018 confirms these facts: "We consider culture one of the most important factors in the healthy development of a society that fundamentally affects all its aspects. Culture in a variety of forms contributes significantly to the shaping of the image of our society abroad. Cultural expressions and artefacts are part of cultural heritage and reflect the fundamental values of society..."

In utter contradiction with the above declaration is the fact that when discussing the framework of the State Budget for the year 2020, the budget of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic was proposed to be cut by CZK 424 million. By reducing the draft budget for the year 2020, the government is fundamentally breaching its own Program Declaration, which states:

“We will increase the budget of the Ministry of Culture. We will focus on simplifying the agenda and on electronic processing and evaluation of applications with the administrative burden for applicants as low as possible... We will prepare a long-term programme of investment support and co-financing of cultural infrastructure projects that would allow the construction of new cultural facilities for the provision of public cultural services throughout the country and in accordance with contemporary worldwide trends and standards.... In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, we will create a subsidy programme to support artistic and creative education."

We appeal to the government to honour its own Programme Declaration. We are asking: how will the government do so if it cuts the Ministry of Culture budget? The Ministry has not yet had the resources to invest in cultural infrastructure (except state institutions) and for the second year in a row it has been promising a subsidy programme for the much-needed creative education. From what is it going to finance it all? How will it ensure the development of living art as part of cultural activities that are deeply underfunded in the long term, if the funds are cut? How will it meet its commitments to increase salaries of employees in culture?

We appeal to the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic not to accept the existing framework of the budget of the Ministry of Culture and to insist on its increase adequately matching the needs of living art and the entire society.

We are also deeply concerned about the situation at the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, which destabilises the cultural sphere and together with the budget cuts, a very serious crisis threatens throughout the culture sector. This situation endangers the vast majority of events and organisations that bring culture, but also good name of the Czech Republic abroad.

We urgently appeal to the Czech Government and the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic to remedy this alarming situation.

Michal Schmidt, President

David Dittrich, Vice President

Yvona Kreuzmannová, Vice President

Marek Vrabec, Vice President

Archive photo/ Jiří Sláma

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Editorial

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