Country reports

CZECH REPUBLIC

Expert author: Pavla Petrová
Last update: July 14th

June/July

– The Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, in association with the Arts and Theatre Institute (ATI), announced the Extraordinary Call to Support Making Art Accessible through Digital Media. The Ministry’s call with a budget of 30 million CZK focuses on the interdisciplinary connection between live art and the audience through new technologies. The aim is to create and present cultural content for subjects in the sector of contemporary arts – theatre, dance, contemporary circus, visual art, literature, and multimedia platforms. The deadline for application was June 15th and more information can be found here.

– The act initiated by the Minister of Culture Lubomír Zaorálek has come into force. Due to the coronavirus epidemic, it provides organisers with the possibility to offer a voucher the customers can use for a substitute event or the same event on a different day and time, instead of refunding the ticket that has been already paid. People can ask the organisers for vouchers for events with an expected performance date of up to October 31st, 2020.

– Working under the auspices of the newly formed Česká Obec Hudební – ČOH (Czech Music Community), the #zazivouhudbu initiative has published an overview of the evolving situation in the music sector. According to published information, the platform has managed to establish contact with the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic (MK ČR) and formed a working group under the leadership of Deputy Minister of Culture Milan Němeček to address issues in the field of music. The music sector has also managed to create a voucher system that will extend the validity of festival tickets through 2021 and lowered VAT on tickets from 15% to 10% (discussed by the government, currently pending action by the Chamber of Deputies).

– The government has approved plans for a special grant programme for the cultural and creative industries prepared by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture. It aims to mitigate the negative effects of the coronavirus on entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries in the Czech Republic. It should also contribute to the stabilisation of this sector, create new collaborative partnership models and support the development of the creative economy. At the core of the programme is support for small clubs, festivals, unsubsidised theatres, etc. The assistance should be of a twofold nature: direct financial support and creative vouchers. Details of the grants and creative vouchers are available here.

– The Ministry of Culture’s Department of Art, Literature and Libraries has announced a special call for applications for support from the 2020 State Budget as part of the Cultural Activities for the Support of Projects in the Field of Professional Art programme with a budget of 440 million CZK. The call has been issued in response to the Czech government’s resolution of 9 April 2020 concerning measures to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cultural sector. This competitive grant programme aims to finance the year-round activities of non-subsidised institutions, which are currently facing revenue shortfalls as a result of government measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. The grants are intended to finance basic operational costs due to revenue shortfall and operational losses. The deadline to submit applications is July 15th and more details can be found here.

Responses to open letters. In recent weeks and in collaboration with ČOH, the Czech ITI centre has been in intensive communication with government authorities regarding clarification of conditions, for example the reopening measures. Responses from individual ministers and other government bodies are accessible here.

– ATI’s music office SoundCzech maintains an overview of regulations for organising music performances, festivals and similar events, both indoors and outdoors. SoundCzech’s website also contains information on regulations affecting foreign nationals’ travel to the Czech Republic in summer 2020.

May 24th

Based on the Resolution of the Government of the Czech Republic as of 23 April 2020, it is possible to reopen museum and galleries from Monday 11 May onwards. The Ministry of Culture has released an overview of hygienic measures in the document Ministry of Health’s recommendations for museums and galleries. The recommendations were written in cooperation with the methodical centers of the Ministry of Culture, Czech Committee of ICOM, Czech Associations of Museums and Galleries, Gallery Council of the Czech Republic, and Czech Association of Outdoor Museums. It is a set of recommendations, which only specifies general instructions from the Government of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Health. The recommendations are valid as of 6 April 2020 and will be regularly updated based on the provisions of the government and the Ministry of Health. (Source: website of the Ministry of Culture)

Libraries
The Ministry of Culture has also issued the Basic Recommendations for Libraries. The recommendations are linked to the above mentioned Resolution of the Government, which allows the opening of libraries since Monday 27 April (the final decision is up to the specific authority provided the library has implemented specific hygienic measures). The detailed methodology regarding the conditions of hygiene and the organisation in libraries will be issued by the National Library any time soon as the Central Library Board is finishing the paper. (Source: website of the Ministry of Culture)

Theatres
The following measures are still valid for opening theatres:

  • A maximum of 100 people in the audience and they should wear face masks
  • Face masks are compulsory backstage and if actors want to perform without face masks, they have to be tested on COVID-19 (a swab test should not be older than 4 days, after which testing will be done every two weeks)
  • No seats outside the auditorium
  • The audience sits in every second row, it is necessary that one row is free; there should be maximum of two people sitting together, they must be separated by a vacant seat from the others; if there is a homogeneous group, it is possible to buy three tickets next to each other
  • It is necessary to have a ‘bit by bit entry’ to the theatre halls and the auditorium, and to provide disinfection
  • No refreshments whatsoever

The updated schedule of general measures
The Ministries of Health, Industry and Trade, Education, Youth and Sports, and Labor and Social Affairs have prepared a plan how to gradually return to the pre-COVID life. It will be adjusted according to the development of the epidemic. The plan provides information about when particular shops, services, and school activities will return to normal if the situation allows it. More information can be found on the website of the Government of the Czech Republic here.

Overview of support for entrepreneurs and the self-employed
The Ministry of Industry and Trade keeps updating the means of support for entrepreneurs and the self-employed in their overview.

Instead of ticket refunds, organisers will be able to give customers vouchers for upcoming cultural events
According to the Ministry of Culture, the government approved the draft act of the Minister of Culture Lubomír Zaorálek at the government meeting on 30 April. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the act allows organisers to offer vouchers instead of refunding the ticket. Customers can use the voucher for a substitute event or the same event at a different time and date. People can contact the organisers regarding vouchers for events that were supposed to take place until 31 October 2020. Before the act comes into force, it must first pass the Parliament and the President. (Source: website of the Ministry of Culture)

Information from the Department of Arts, Literature and Libraries at the Ministry of Culture about the set of measures for professional arts
On 9 April 2020, the Resolution of the Government No. 408 was issued, which includes some measures to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on culture. The Department of Arts is going to prepare specific grant tender in the course of May. Those continually providing public cultural services, which have been granted the subsidy from the Ministry of Culture at least once in the past three years, will be able to apply for complementing the funding of operation costs (including salaries and overhead costs). The goal of the Ministry of Culture is to compensate the cut of income from activities for independent non-profit organisations, not to saturate the drop in co-funding from local authorities. The planned deadline for applications is the end of June or July 2020 (after easing the current limitations in arts).

Prague has prepared a benefit programme for culture and local tourists
Prague will support affected culture and tourism with another CZK 250 million. Theatres and other cultural institutions will be able to get the special-purpose subsidy. Contributory organisations which have been affected by the drop in fee revenues will get help as well. Prague will also invest CZK 100 million in a campaign to attract local tourists and a benefit programme including entrance fee discounts. The measures have been already discussed by the economic board with the necessary representatives of different sectors and organisations and will now be approved by the municipal council.

Czech Music Community has launched #zazivouhudbu (#insupportoflivemusic)
The emergency state has provided space for Česká obec hudební/Czech Music Community (CMC), a new platform for professionals in popular and classical music. The CMC has launched the project #zazivouhudbu, with the following proposals for measures: no VAT for music sales, lower VAT for tickets (10%), the continuation of state support for the self-employed, a system of interest-free loans, or a foundation of the National Music Fund for dealing with damages.

The Czech Music Community was initiated by SoundCzech under the Arts and Theatre Institute. The free association aims to enforce interests of 130,000 people in popular and classical music, as well as adjacent services, with artists, authors, programmers, promoters, festivals, clubs, music journalists, and professional technicians. The initiative includes: Association of Audiovision Programmers (ADA), Independent Music Association (ANH), Association of Promoters and Producers in Culture (APPOK), Association of Musical Instrument Producers (AVHN), Brno Club Music Association (BACH), Czech Music Council (ČHR), DILIA, Festival Association (FESTAS), INTERGRAM (Independent Association of Performing Artists and Producers of Audio and Audio-visual Recordings), Music Managers Forum (MMF – CZ), Ochranný svaz autorský (OSA), Association of Classic Music Artists (SUK), Platform for Independent Czech Producers of Sound Recordings, Association of Authors and Performers (SAI). 

Survey The Coronavirus and its Impacts on the Cultural Sector
The research team of the The Coronavirus and its Impacts on the Cultural Sector includes the Arts Management Department at the University of Economics, the Department of Production DAMU and the Arts and Theatre Institute (ATI). The team is processing detailed results of the first round of the survey. After finishing and verification, the conclusion from anonymized data will be aggregated and provided to respondents and professional associations.

Respondents according to disciplines
Theatre and dance – individuals / employees, self-employed, including freelancers
384
Theatre and dance – organisations
151
Music – individuals / employees, self-employed, including freelancers
415
Music – organisations, bands, institutions, concert halls
108
Visual arts – individuals / employees, self-employed, including freelancers
64
Visual arts – organisations including museums
80
Overall number of respondents
1202


The second round of data collection in the form of a short and innovated questionnaire started on Monday 11 May 2020 and inquired about data from April. The team aims at collecting the data in monthly, later quarterly, intervals and will map a longer period of time.
Final data will be provided to all respondents and other participating institutions, and will be made available on the ATI website. For more information, please click here.

 

April 16th

Based on the current state and the outlook for cultural events related to the corona virus pandemic, the Ministry of Culture prepared The Proposal of Some Measures to Mitigate the Impact of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic on the Cultural Sector, which was amended by the government on April 9th. The main goal of the proposed measures is to maintain the professional non-profit cultural infrastructure as it has no financial reserves. The total amount assigned to this programme is CZK 1.07 billion.

Subjects in the independent arts (primarily those in the all-year subsidy groups of dance, theatre, music, visual arts, and small publishers) that have been providing public cultural services in the Czech Republic for at least 3 years without interruption can apply for the support, provided that they have been successful at least once in the Ministry’s grant procedures in the past three years (2018-2020). The Ministry will also announce the subsidy tender in the programme Cultural Activities. The government endorsed the amount of CZK 440 billion.

Subjects of independent non-established theatre, classical and alternative music, and dance and motion art will be able to apply for the support for making culture available through digital media, using multimedia platforms. The applicant shall submit the description of the project, including the budget. The evaluation criteria are the quality of the project. The Ministry of Culture has put aside CZK 30 million for this project.

Professional theatres, orchestras, and choirs may apply for support from the Ministry of Culture if they are perpetually part of the State Support Programme for Professional Theatres and Permanent Professional Symphony Orchestras and Choirs. Museums and galleries, which are not state-budget organisations, can also apply for the support if their collections are part of the Central Register of Collections and are accessible for the public in the long term. The applicant shall submit the budget of the project, including the cost assessment, the description of the extent of activity restriction, and the way of dealing with the cut. The Ministry of Culture has CZK 300 million for this support.

The first calls for these subsidy programmes will be announced by the Ministry of Culture within weeks.

Apart from the set of measures, the Ministry of Culture has reimbursed subsidies of CZK 750 million for 2020. If events will not take place as scheduled, preparation costs covered by the subsidy shall not be returned. The Ministry of Culture shall see the costs as realised.

State help for commercial profit subjects, such as commercial theatres, some of the summer events, and big publishers, needs to be coordinated at the government level because other sectors (gastronomy, tourism) are affected in the same way. They – like other entrepreneurs – can get help from the already government-approved programmes, e.g. the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (Antivirus) and the Ministry of Industry and Trade (COVID loans, suspension of rents). (Source: Press release of the Ministry of Culture, 9 April 2020.)

The Ministry of Culture has also prepared an overview of government measures associated with people in the cultural sector (employees, freelancers, self-employed, companies, etc.). These measures can be utilized now or shall be available for cultural subjects and individuals after the Chamber of Deputies passes it in the upcoming days or weeks. The list is available here.

The Ministry of Culture has also released information from the Department of Art, Literature, and Libraries, concerning the current state of and conditions for subsidies.

Reactions to the present state

  • Czech Centre of ITI (International Theatre Institute) sent the government representatives a letter with a request to release money from the EU Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative. “As culture and the arts are among the sectors hit the hardest by the current crisis, we request that, apart from the measures planned by the Czech government, they receive support through the Instrument as soon as possible.”
  • Representatives of Czech music industry have issued the statement and proposals for efficient and conceptual solutions to help the music sector.
  • The National Theatre Drama reacted to the current state as well and issued a declaration with hashtags #kulturajenarod #atzijedivadlo #atzijiknizky.

Mapping the losses

The Arts and Theatre Institute, the University of Economics and the Dramatic Academy in Prague AMU prepared “The Coronavirus and its Impacts on the Cultural Sector”, focused on the collection of data about the impacts of COVID-19 and subsequent measures for all areas of live art. The methodology was being consulted with the Ministry of Culture and the cultural sector as well. The data collection is associated with the hashtags #kulturnidata and #stojimezakulturou.

The survey will aim at all subjects (institutions and individuals) within the field of theatre, dance, music, and visual arts, and will map the financial impacts in March, as well as estimations for the following months. It was distributed among professionals on Tuesday 14 April and the survey had to be completed within 7 days thereafter. Also see https://www.idu.cz/covid.

The government restrictions applied regarding COVID-19 have affected show business as well. It is a rather broad sector, which cannot be easily defined, with the goal to be commercially successful in entertainment, leisure time and presentation of products and services. It is part of the culture and media domains and due to the business and advertising principle of the world today, it is also linked to other fields of the economic and social life – from industry, agriculture, tourism, education, health care, science, and research, to the state administration, local administration and political parties. All these sectors communicate and present themselves publicly through various kinds of events. According to Jan Kubinec, the head of the Czech Event Association (CEA), there are from 50 to 85 thousand people in the event business. The association started to monitor the crisis right at the beginning, with 416 respondents having taken part in the quick survey in March – that represents about 11–20% of the event market.

The situation of the show business in theatre and dance is monitored by Jana Návratová (ATI, DCEF) for the Dance Career Endowment Fund’s blog (DCEF). The whole article can be accessed here.

 

March 19th

In the Czech Republic, from March 10th onwards all cultural events with more than 100 people were forbidden, which was brought back to 30 people from March 13th onwards. Since March 16th, everything is closed for the public and all citizens have a restriction on free movement.

The Arts and Theatre Institute collected data related to the impact of these measures between March 12th and March 16th from representatives of umbrella organisations, professional associations and individuals.

Based on their research, the Arts and Theatre Institute established the basic needs for cross-disciplinary measures, which can be divided into four categories: 1) The classic, existing selective grant systems operated by the state or by cities (e.g. the possibility to apply the costs of services rendered or cancelled in the statement of contributions already allocated); 2) Indirect instruments (e.g. the postponement or reduction of all salary deductions); 3) Compensation or other financial support in connection with cancelled activities (e.g the creation of a relief fund within culture – or alternatively in collaboration with the public and private sectors); and 4) Other (e.g. the creation of a clear web interface (and forums) for arts and culture workers, where information on the extraordinary measures and their impact on the arts scene will be continuously updated).

For a complete summary of the results, please click here