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Czech Republic/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.11 New technologies and digitalisation in the arts and culture

Since 2003 the Czech Statistical Office has conducted a survey on the use of information and communication technologies annually in households and among individuals.

In 2014 the share of households with Internet access exceeded 70% for the first time. In 2014, 74.2% of the population were Internet users.

Libraries have been the engine of the information society in the field of culture since the mid-1990s. In January 2012 the Government of the CR adopted the Concept for the Development of Libraries in the Czech Republic for 2011-2015, which includes bringing libraries online. This Concept aims to define the conditions for the provision and implementation of complex library services in the real and digital space. The Concept focuses on digitisation at different levels, but also deals with legislative, financial and methodological support. The objective is to create a conceptual solution for the long-term protection of digital documents and wide accessibility.

The system of libraries has been supported by the programme "Public Information Service for Libraries", with the main aim of innovation of public information services for libraries on the basis of information and communication technologies. The Ministry of Culture (MC) has also participated in the project of the Ministry of the Interior called the "Project of Internet Provision for Libraries", where setting up an internet connection in libraries and payment of the related fees were provided with the aim of establishing equal conditions for access to information. In 2009 the MC adopted the document "Digitisation of Cinemas in the CR", which defined the basic principles and directions for the transition to digital image and sound projection. Based on this document financial support was introduced for digitisation of cinemas provided by the State Cinematography Fund (see also chapter 3.2 and chapter 5.3.8).

In February 2009, the Film Council, which associates Czech professional film associations, festivals and institutions, set up a working group for the digitisation of Czech films, whose purpose was to devise proposals for making the "golden stock of Czech cinematography" digitally accessible both in cinemas and on other distribution channels in the best possible quality. The resulting document – Digitisation of Czech Film Works–Concept Proposal – was presented in April 2010. The digitisation of Czech films is also dealt with in the Concept of Support and Development of Czech Cinematography and the Czech Film Industry 2011-2016 (see also chapter 4.2.3).

The MC also participates in national and international activities connected with the digitisation of cultural content in relation to the initiative of the EC i2010: Digital Libraries.  In 2013 the Government of the Czech Republic adopted the Strategyfor the Digitisation of Culture for 2013-2020, whichlays out the strategic goals of digitisation and the goals of individual branches in the cultural sector. The Concept contains the following main strategic goals:

  • ensuring the professional and lay public has equal access to cultural content in digital format;
  • digitisation of cultural content and the collection of digital documents as a part of the cultural heritage;
  • the safe preservation of digital documents; and
  • creating the organisational and technical preconditions for the permanent storage of and access to digital documents including the formation of a special working group.

The Ministry for Regional Development, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs prepared the Integrated Operational Programme, which was approved by the European Commission in December 2007 and was part of the ERDF programme period 2007-2013. At the start of 2010, as part of the Integrated Operational Programme several projects relating to digitisation and cultural accessibility, such as the National Digital Library and the Information Cultural Portal Czechiana, which was designed as a national data aggregator for European. The National Digital Library was the only project selected out of the selection procedure. This is a project of the National Library of the CR and the Moravian Provincial Library in Brno, which focuses on the digitisation of books and periodicals. The project received support from the IOP with a sum of 255 million CZK and a sum of 45 million from the MC. Under this project, by 2019 approx. 300 000 volumes of, mainly, Czech books from the 19th and 21st centuries should be digitised. The project follows three main lines:

  • digitisation of important sections of Czech literary production on the territory of the CR, written in Czech or dealing with the Czech Republic;
  • long-term storage of documents in a secure digital depository; and
  • making digitised documents accessible in a uniform, user-friendly interface with user personalisation options.

The National Library also concluded an agreement with Google, which will digitise a further 200 000 works from historical and Slavic collections from the period of the 16th to 18th centuries.

In the Czech Republic, these programmes are not particularly intended for artists who work with new media and technologies. Artistic projects of this nature are supported under the grant selection procedures of the Ministry of Culture in the form, for instance, of showcases, exhibitions and other artistic projects. New media are introduced together with visual arts and photography under the grant systems operated by individual towns, such as the grants offered by the City of Prague. NGOs are however working intensively on this issue.

Chapter published: 28-01-2016

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