4.2.8 Social cohesion and cultural policies
In the CR culture and art have not yet become systematically anchored as tools of social inclusion. This situation is demonstrated by the content of the National Programme for the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, which was developed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the CR (MPSV) (http://www.EY2010.cz).
The National Programme sets out 5 priority areas:
None of the priorities took culture or art into account as tools for social inclusion. Even NAPSI (the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion in the CR) makes no mention of creative or artistic approaches to social inclusion or of the need to include them in the programmes of the Ministry of Culture (MK) or the MPSV.
The MLSA administers the Committee for Social Integration with representatives of various ministries (there is no representative of the Ministry of Culture on the Committee), the Office of the Government, the Office of the Public Defender of Rights, regions, municipalities, trade unions and non-governmental organisations. The Ministry also opens calls for two fields "Support for social integration and social services" and "Support for the social integration of the Roma people" within the European Social Fund of the CR, the operational programme Human Resources and Employment 2007-2013, priority axis 3 – Social Integration and Equal Opportunities. Social integration and equal opportunities are focused mostly on helping people at risk of social exclusion. Special focus is placed on members of Roma communities, migrants and other groups from different socio-cultural backgrounds. This topic is the subject of long-term discussions and studies in the CR.
In 2008 the Government of the Czech Republic created the Agency for Social Integration in Roma communities, specifically selecting 12 communities with the biggest problems to start with. It is now working with 24 communities. The aim of the Agency, which operates under the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic and is headed by the government human rights commissioner, is to bring about such a transformation of Roma "ghettoes" that will either end up getting rid of ghettoes or at least will improve the quality of life in these communities. It is an instrument of the Government of the Czech Republic for supporting municipalities in the process of social integration. The specific focus lies in the Strategy for Combating Social Exclusion for the period 2011-2015. However, it contains no mention of support for culture (http://www.socialni-zaclenovani.cz/).
In December 2009, the government adopted the Concept of Roma Integration 2010-2013. The document includes provisions for levelling chances and overcoming the initial disadvantage of Roma people that prevents them from full participation in the cultural, social, economic and political life of the majority. Adoption of this Concept is essential from the point of view of improving the situation for this minority, which is still not accepted by the majority and which faces higher levels of discrimination. The document is focused on Roma people from the perspective of fulfilling their cultural needs and it strives to preserve their cultural heritage, ensuring a dignified position for Roma culture and its integration alongside the majority culture of Czech society. The Concept aims to include the topic of Roma culture in the framework of educational programmes at schools, in research and educational materials and their popularisation in public media. It is also concerned with preserving the permanent memory of Roma holocaust victims. The Implementation Plan of the Concept of Roma Integration 2010-2013 has been prepared with tasks for individual projects and recommendations for regions and municipalities.
An updated strategy for the sustainable development of the Czech Republic was approved in January 2010 by the government. It is titled the Strategic Framework of Sustainable Development of the CR. One of the 5 global aims of the strategy is social coherence with cultural diversity – "It is necessary to use culture in the field of social integration with regard to its potential to mediate knowledge, social competences, moral values, healthy lifestyle and the opportunity for development of self-knowledge and the development of the personalities of socially excluded citizens; to support intercultural dialogue and intercultural cooperation with the aim of stimulating the integration of minorities in society; to prevent negative phenomena that influence social exclusion, especially of children and young people by providing access to good public cultural services; to increase the share of volunteers working with cultural organisations." (http://psur.mmr.cz/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=f3ca84ce-8ffd-4224-9518-581eabcc076c).
The National Cultural Policy 2009-2014 does not make a direct reference to social cohesion but we can find this in connection with tasks like support for projects that make access to cultural services easier for disadvantaged citizens and minorities and that strengthen volunteer activities for the protection, promotion and care of cultural heritage. The Ministry of Culture also announces specialised procedures within its grant programmes for cultural projects of national minorities and Roma people, and for projects in the field of supporting cultural activities for disabled people and older people and supporting disabled professional artists and their work in the CR.
In 2010 the Czech Office of the Culture Programme issued a publication titled "Artists and Society – Examples of Cultural Projects in the Field of Social Inclusion". The publication contains 23 Czech projects as examples of best practices, other foreign and international projects, links to websites, and strategic and funding programmes (http://www.programculture.cz/media/document/umelci-pro-spolecnost.pdf).