We bring you the summary of last month’s action when the cultural and creative sectors of the Czech Republic were lobbying for financial support from the National Recovery Plan.
As a reaction to COVID-19 related crises, the European Union has introduced the Next Generation EU initiative for social and economical recovery. The Recovery Fund is part of this initiative. The aim is to have a greener, more digital, and more resistant Europe after the crisis subsides. In September 2020, the European Parliament adopted the Resolution on Cultural Recovery of Europe, setting a vision for the European institutions and the Member States to address the recovery of the cultural and creative sectors, and recognising the importance of culture as a driver in Europe’s post-pandemic recovery. The amount of CZK 171 billion has been earmarked for the Czech National Recovery Plan.
The cultural and creative sectors (CCS) of the Czech Republic joined their forces to attain financial support from the National Recovery Plan. In the past three months, representatives of the CCS and cultural supporters from numerous cities and regions have come together. The enormous significance of culture and the key role it plays when society recovers from a crisis have been emphasized. Thanks to the shared effort the Czech government has granted a decent 4 percent of the National Recovery Plan for culture.
On February 1, 2021, the Prime Minister and all the government members have received an open letter from the CCS representatives demanding approval of the proposal of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic to grant CZK 8,234 billion from the National Recovery Plan to the cultural and creative sectors. The letter was signed by professional associations, cultural organizations, regions, cities, universities as well as individuals.
The call for support was initiated by the CCS representatives who were introduced by the Ministry of Culture to a newly formed strategy for boosting and supporting the cultural and creative industries in the Czech Republic and a plan to finance some of the supporting schemes using the National Recovery Plan. The coordination was lead by the Creative Czechia (Kreativní Česko) platform that disseminates information and examples of good practices from the cultural and creative fields and connects the sector (www.kreativnicesko.cz, Arts and Theatre Institute project).
More than 630 signatories from the business, non-profit and public sphere supported the open letter. This also includes many associations that represent many individuals and smaller organizations.
A web page www.zakreativnicesko.cz (only in the Czech language) has been created to collect signatures and to explain the cause. The letter together with arguments supporting cultural impact (fact sheet), the content of requirements in the National Recovery Plan, press releases, and details for a social media campaign are part of the web page. The signatories can join online meetings taking place on a weekly basis where all the main goals and news are presented and discussed.
Ambassadors representing all the main fields of arts (music, theater, movie, regions, universities, cultural policy, creative innovations) shared and promoted the initiative. Meeting of the ambassadors and the coordinators with the representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic that manages the National Recovery Plan and presents its final version to the government was held at the beginning of March. The main arguments underlining the need to support culture were presented. The Ministry of Industry and Trade asked for clear and more specified arguments in the Ministry of Culture’s requirements. This incentive leads to forming of an improvised group of ambassadors who got in detail through the requirements with a representative of the Ministry of Culture. The comments were subsequently made available to the signatories.
The Ministry of Culture consulted its plan with the European Commission representatives and presented the final version on its web page. The National Recovery Plan was discussed within both chambers of the Parliament but the Ministry of Industry and Trade has repeatedly allocated a much smaller amount for culture than was called for. That changed at the end of March when the Ministry of Industry and Trade presented the National Recovery Plan including the required amount for culture CZK 8,1 billion for the first time and the threat of cuts was avoided.
Waiting for the result
CZK 8,150 billion is granted to the cultural and creative sectors. This will support the National Cinematography Fund transformation, digitization, technological modernization, creative vouchers, the status of the artist, networking, and research. The plan is currently going through an official comment procedure and it should be endorsed by the end of April and passed on to Brussels.
The cultural and creative sectors in the Czech Republic have united and fought for mutual cause for the first time since 1989.