Czechoslovakia was one of the foundation states of UNESCO and the Czech Republic (CR) has been a member since 1993. That same year it became a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the Council of Europe. Since 1995, the CR has been a member of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and the Restoration of Cultural Property. It has been an EU member since 2004.
The Ministry of Culture is responsible for the Creative Europe programme for 2014-2020. It also covers a portion of the financial involvement of subjects that had successful projects in the Culture sub-programme. The programme also supports the event Pilsen – European Capital of Culture 2015 (http://www.plzen2015.cz/).
The EEA and Norway Grants have become an important source of funding. In October 2003 the Government of the Czech Republic signed the Agreement on the Participation of the Czech Republic in the European Economic Area (EEA). Under this agreement a new financing mechanism was introduced wherein the EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) in 2004-2009 contributed to countries just joining the EEA for projects in the expanded internal market. Norway also contributed through the bilateral “special Norwegian financing mechanism” (Norskfinansieringsordning). Through this financial mechanism, states of the EEA and Norway committed to contributing to the economically weaker states in the EEA in the form of grants for investment and development projects in priority areas – and one priority area is the protection and renewal of cultural heritage and the total sum allocated for this area was 82 974 448 EUR.
In December 2009 the Czech Republic signed the Agreement on the Continuation of the EEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism. In the area of culture, a programme in the area of cultural heritage and the contemporary arts was adopted, specifically the Conservation and Revitalisation of Cultural and Natural Heritage programme area, and the Support for Cultural and Artistic Diversity in the Context of European Cultural Heritage.
The most financial support for the culture sector flowing from the EU to the CR comes from the European Structural and Investment Funds (SF). Support from these programmes is always tied to strengthening economic growth and employment. In the 2007-2013 programme term the Czech Republic used SF primarily to support cultural heritage in conjunction with tourism (Integrated Operational Programme), but through other programmes, such as those supporting education, other projects related to culture and the arts were also supported. Unlike many EU Member States however, the use of SF in the culture sector is still low in the Czech Republic.
The International Visegrad Fund was founded in 2000 by the governments of the Visegrad Four. The purpose of the fund is to support closer cooperation among participating countries using cultural, scientific and educational projects, exchange among young people, cross-border cooperation and the development of tourism. The fund also offers grant programmes and student and artistic residencies. The fund is frequently used in the CR.
The MC is charged with the ratification and implementation of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The Convention was ratified in the CR in July 2010 and in 2014 the Czech Republic submitted its first evaluation report. In 2015 a representative of the Czech Republic was elected to the International Committee for Diversity (see chapter 2.5.1).