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.
In the 1990s significant financial support was provided by foreign cultural institutions and foundations. Some foreign institutes, like the British Council or Pro Helvetia, reduced their activities in the field of culture after the CR joined the EU; the consequence was a general decrease in possible sources of funding for support in this field.
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 subprogramme. The programme also supported the event Pilsen – European Capital of Culture 2015.
After 2000 the EEA and Norway Grants have become an important source of funding. The EEA and Norway Grants represent the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to reducing economic and social disparities and to strengthening bilateral relations with 15 EU countries in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics.
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). During the first operating period of this funding from 2004-2009 the area of culture that focuses on the protection and renewal of cultural heritage received 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 for the period 2009-2014. 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. Three calls were announced and 21 490 000 EUR was distributed. The programme was terminated in April 2017.
The third programme term of the EEA and Norway Grants is currently in progress (2014-2021). In the cultural sector the programme is aimed at supporting restoration and innovative use of cultural heritage, cultural and creative activities, art criticism, and the capacity building of umbrella associations, networks, and platforms.
In this programme term specific focus has been placed again on the area of culture. The CR has long been faced with several issues relating to human rights. For example, the UN has recommended that the integration of Roma citizens into society should be improved, and measures should be taken to combat racism and xenophobia. Projects in the area of the contemporary arts therefore emphasise support for the cultural production of minorities, including Roma, and address the issue of inclusion, including access to culture for minorities (e.g. Roma minority). The promotion of the cultural heritage of minorities, including Roma cultural heritage and inclusive activities, is emphasised in related open calls and directly supported through the predefined project (The building of a memorial to the victims of the Roma holocaust in Lety).
The greatest 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, support also went to other projects relating to culture and the arts. In the next programme term in 2014-2020 no operational programme existed that was specifically devoted to culture. Subjects in the sphere of culture could apply for support from the programmes of other ministries, such as the Operational Programme – Enterprise and Innovation for Competitiveness (MIT) or the Operational Programme – Research, Development, Education (MEYS). Unlike many EU Member States, however, use of SF in the culture sector is still low in the CR.
The International Visegrad Fund was founded in 2000 by the governments of the Visegrad Four (CR, Slovak Republic, Hungary and Poland). The purpose of the fund is to support closer cooperation among participating countries using cultural, scientific, and educational projects, exchanges 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 (finished in 2019) (see also chapter 2.5.1.).