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).
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 Committee’s role was significantly reinforced following the adoption of the Strategy for Social Inclusion 2014–2020 (Government Resolution No. 24 of 8 January 2014). 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.
According to a study of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in 2006 there was approximately 80 000 people living in excluded localities, almost one-quarter of whom are not Roma. Yet according to official estimates there are around 170 000 Roma living in the Czech Republic. The situation of the Roma minority has been one of the most pressing issues in Czech society since 1989; approximately one-third of Roma suffer from social exclusion and from a low level of education, qualifications, long-term unemployment, and poverty. On the other hand, it is important to note the fact that in the Czech Republic social exclusion is to some extent ethnicised. Being a member of another ethnicity (usually Roma) is frequently viewed in negative terms by the majority society and is the source of some discrimination, usually in the labour market, in education, and even in housing.
In 2008 the Government of the Czech Republic created the Agency for Social Integration in Roma Communities, specifically selecting 14 communities with the biggest problems to start with. The Agency for Social Inclusion has been established by the Ministry of the Regional Development of the Czech Republic to provide support to local governments in the process of social inclusion. It is now working with 71 communities. The Agency operates under the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic and is headed by the Government Human Rights Commissioner. 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 2016-2020. However, it contains no mention of support for culture
In December 2009, the government adopted the Concept of Roma Integration 2010-2013. In February 2015 a new Concept of Roma Integration 2015-2020 was adopted that ties in with the previous concept and its objective is to reverse negative trends in the situation of the Roma in the Czech Republic by 2020, most notably in education, employment, housing, and on a social level. Another goal is to initiate and accelerate positive changes and achieve progress in eliminating unjustified and unacceptable differences between many Roma and the majority population. Equally it aims to establish effective means of defending the Roma against discrimination and promote the advancement of Roma culture and the Roma language.
The State Cultural Policy for 2015–2020 also takes into account persons at risk of or already suffering from social exclusion (including members of the Roma minority) through specific projects supporting inclusion that reflect the needs of these citizens for self-realisation, the needs of registered clients at branches of the labour office, or the needs of disabled persons and the needs of the cultural sector. These are foremost projects designed to support forms of intercultural dialogue for instance through cultural activities involving people with disabilities, Roma festivals, and so forth.
This cultural policy also seeks to appropriately support the development of requalification opportunities in fields relating to culture for the aforementioned groups of citizens and projects in which they can apply these qualifications. Of key importance is the creation of tools of cooperation between all relevant partners, most notably fostering collaboration between providers of public cultural services and public employment services, and ensuring quality training for target groups and permanent professional oversight during the implementation of projects.
In 2010 the Czech Office of the EU 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 practice, other foreign and international projects, links to websites, and strategic and funding programmes.
Source: Švec, J. (ed.): Příručka pro sociální integraci, Úřad vlády ČR, odbor pro sociální začleňování v romských lokalitách, 2010 [Handbook forSocialIntegration. Office of the Government of the Czech Republic, Department of Social Integration in Roma Neighbourhoods.