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Czech Republic/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

The Ministry of Culture started a statistical collection of data in the field of cultural facilities such as cultural houses, municipal culture centres, leisure time centres etc. through NIPOS (for the first time in 2007). Statistical monitoring is about addressing a specific number of news units. In 2010 a survey with questions on cross-border and international cultural cooperation and the hobby, educational, artistic, and extracurricular activities of ethnic minorities in the CR was carried out. Findings indicate that minorities have their own cultural organisations and participate in the cultural life of their ethnic community, for which, on top of their own resources, they obtain financial support from the municipalities and towns in which they work. 

In 2008, 295 subjects were investigated (252 of them were established by municipalities and towns, 7 were non-governmental organisations and 36 were in the category of business entities). In 2009 the survey recorded a total of 373 cultural facilities, 308 of which are run under the municipalities and the towns, 21 of which are non-profit and 44 are for-profit.

In 2009 a survey recorded a total of 373 cultural facilities, of which 308 were founded by the municipalities or towns, 21 were non-profits, and 44 fell within the category of business entities. In 2010 the survey recorded a total of 454 cultural facilities, of which 389 were founded by the municipalities or towns, 22 were non-profit, and 43 were business entities. In 2012 the survey recorded a total of 488 subjects, of which 424 were founded by municipalities or towns, 29 were non-profit, and 35 were business entities. Based on the findings, there are approximately 6 000 municipalities in the CR and all larger municipalities and towns have at least one cultural facility (and large towns have several dozen). There are indications that the cultural life in smaller municipalities and town districts may be increasingly organised by business entities (with the municipalities selling or leasing their cultural facilities), or by various traditional organisations (e.g. TJ Sokol, TJ Orel, Volunteer Firefighter Associations, Women's Unions, Rustic Rides) and associations, e.g. theatre companies, "community beautification"-type associations. These are primarily civic associations that are interested in and organise cultural, social, and sporting activities in the community with the aim of maintaining traditional ethnic and folklore customs (Carnival, feasts).

In the CR, there was a period in the late 19th and early 20th century when club life bloomed and during that time various kinds of clubs were founded – national houses, community clubs, and sporting associations (Sokol) etc., where people went not just for entertainment but also to get together. They evolved naturally, linked to community life, until the Communist regime seized power. The regime severed these links, nationalised property, quashed civil society, and seized control of entertainment. The old buildings used for these activities fell into decline; some were refurbished, but usually suffered from insensitive structural modifications. They were replaced by the mass construction of megalomaniacal cultural houses, which were also used by the political authorities for their own visibility. After 1989 some municipalities tried to get rid of these buildings by selling them, because they were expensive to operate and to maintain. But even in the 1990s municipal representatives already began to realise that without cultural houses and centres quality local community life would suffer, and there was a return to a naturally evolving process – see the NIPOS survey. Cultural houses and centres are run by various subjects: municipalities, municipal districts, and even civic associations and public benefit companies, joint-stock and limited-liability companies, and private subjects; none, however, are run by the state. The activities they offer can be divided into basic groups: artistic, non-artistic and educational activities, and other cultural services. 

The survey clearly indicates that cultural facilities primarily mediate amateur theatre activities. Choir companies often have an equally long, sometimes as long as a hundred and fifty years, tradition. Cultural activities are also influenced by traditional folk performances, primarily the number of folklore groups. The largest number of such groups tends to be in the South Moravian and Zlín regions. Non-artistic activities primarily include clubs and hobby groups devoted to nature, collecting activities, sports, tourism and other activities. Cultural houses are also the base for various ensembles, groups, clubs, and hobby groups intended for children and young people and primarily focused on particular hobby activities (most often in art, dance, and theatre).

Chapter published: 24-09-2014

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