Up to 1989 a state monopology existed in the visual arts that had to do, among other things, with the exercise of censorship. After 1990 the original cultural infrastructure in the visual arts was dismantled and gradually new infrastructure emerged in the form of new sales galleries, museums, agencies, and exhibition halls.
At the initiative of artists themselves the old national unions of artists were disbanded and new professional organisations began to emerge in the visual arts in their place. They are, however, at present quite weak compared to other areas of the arts and only a small number of the visual arts are part of these groups.
Public resources have been a long-term source of support for projects in the visual arts, which is provided in the form of scholarships/grants. Nevertheless, like in the performing arts and music, there is still no programme of state support for contemporary art and architecture in galleries and exhibition halls, which would among other things help to establish an acquisitions policy and financially support the purchase of works of art (see the Concept of Support for the Arts 2015-2020).
The Concept recommends reintroducing support for the creation of works of art in the public space. To this end it tries to get public architectural competitions to reserve a certain percentage of the commission for creating art works in public spaces; the professional organisation SpolekSkutek strives for this as well.
The MC administers two galleries devoted to the visual arts: the National Gallery in Prague and the Moravian Gallery in Brno. One part of another contributory organisation, the Czech Philharmonic, is Rudolfinum Gallery, an exhibition space that is also funded by the MC.
Until 1989 there were a number of enterprises and cooperatives that employed artists proficient in the arts and crafts. The most prominent ones were the Central Office of the Arts and Crafts and the Central Office of Traditional Folk Arts (ÚLUV), an organisation that was established by Act No. 56/1957 Coll., on work in the arts and crafts and traditional folk arts. There also existed enterprises such as Theatre Technology, Exhibition Management, and Štuko – a cooperative focusing on various arts and crafts required for the restoration of monuments in Prague, and many others. Upon fulfilling prescribed criteria skilled craftspeople were granted the title of authorised worker in the traditional folk arts or authorised craftsperson, or master of traditional folk arts or master craftsperson (Machátová, 2013).
In 1992, Act No. 56/1957 Col. was abolished, which meant the two main organisations administered by the MC were also dissolved and thereby the key employees in the arts and crafts were also disbanded. Most skilled craftspeople today are freelance workers with a trade licence.
Currently there are several associations in the field of the arts and crafts. The most prominent ones include Rudolfinea, which is a member of the Czech Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Blacksmiths, the Society for Education in the Arts and Crafts, the Bohemian-Moravian Tinkers Guild, and the Association of Creators and Producers of Traditional Handicrafts.
The MC is still the ministry responsible for the arts and crafts, especially with respect to cultural heritage. The MC also administers the National Institute of Folk Culture, which conducts research on cultural heritage in the field of traditional and folk culture, organises events devoted to folklore and education, and provides consultation and information services for all forms of folkore activities in the CR. As part of the Concept of More Effective Conservation of Traditional Folk Culture in the Czech Republic for 2016–2020, the MC provides a grant competition to support traditional folk arts and does so by awarding arts scholarships.
The Ministry of Defence administers the Ondráš Military Artistic Ensemble, which is engaged in the preservation and development of selected parts of traditional folk culture and cultural heritage.
In regard to the current situation of trades in the the arts and crafts that are still being practised, many of these trades lack qualified professionals and some lack an entire new generation of qualified craftspeople. Every year the MC hands out the award ‘Champion of the Folk Arts Tradition’, which recognises professionals who practise traditional crafts and trades, their skills, their knowledge of the methods and technologies of traditional folk arts, especially those that are at risk of being lost. With the award, the recipient is also granted the protected trademark ‘Recognised Practitioner of Tradition’, provided through a licensing agreement to individual producers. Information and a database relating to the folk arts and trades is provided on the portal Folk Arts and Crafts.
Source: Machátová, D. 2013. Studie o současné situaci uměleckých řemesel v ČR. Praha. IDU.