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Public policies and support schemes

Government policy

The Ministry of Culture draws up the State Culture Policy once every five years, with the current plan covering 2015-2020. This is a strategic document that provides a general summary of the needs of, and goals for, cultural support in the Czech Republic. Neither contemporary circus nor street arts / arts in public space are established or even independent art forms with specific support areas. Instead these artistic areas are part of a wider policy of the Ministry of Culture that supports live art with grant programmes at a national level.

The independent Department of Arts, Literature and Libraries administers professional artistic funding, and once a year opens grant programmes in five areas, two of which apply to contemporary circus and streets arts: ‘Dance, movement and non-verbal theatre’ and ‘Theatre arts’. Street arts which overlap fine arts can apply in the ‘Fine art’ category, though it depends on the nature of the project. The amounts allocated to support individual areas have varied in the past few years; until 2014 they mostly decreased, and promises that 1% of the state budget for Culture would go to circus and street arts have not produced visible results. Contemporary circus projects are supported, though unsystematically, within the two categories mentioned. Cirk La Putyka and Losers Cirque Company consistently apply within theatre, while other artists, festivals and companies apply within professional dance and nonverbal theatre.

The Ministry of Culture’s Department of International Relations oversees the support of Czech cultural ‘exports’ and the presentation of Czech Culture abroad. In 2014 the total sum marked for this programme was 12 million CZK (approx. 450,000 EUR).

The State Fund of Culture is another national body that distributes cultural funding. Its budget is part of the state budget and is therefore approved by the Ministry of Finance and the Parliament of the Czech Republic. The State Fund of Culture supplements the grant programme of the Ministry of Culture; it has its own rules and expert committee. In 2014 it distributed 35,209,875 CZK (approx. 1,171,268 EUR) within its Art department:

Grant selection procedure results (from the 2014 annual report of the Czech Ministry of Culture)

MCCR Total Amount Number of Projects
Theatre art 33,281,000 CZK 68
Dance, movement and nonverbal theatre 18,860,000 CZK 54
Fine art 43,503,000 CZK 165
Programme for orchestras and choirs 83,900,000 CZK 27

Out of those figures 2,120,000 CZK (approx 78,388 EUR) went to circus and 1,950,000 CZK (approx 72,101 EUR) to street arts.

Prague City Hall

On the regional level, Prague City Hall is a great art funder and supporter. Prague City has a so-called Cultural Policy Concept. Prague offers different levels of cultural support. First of all it protects its own internal organisations, which are financed directly from the city’s own budget and therefore cut out a considerable chunk of the culture budget. Another element, however, is the Prague City Partnership, which invites applications from outstanding cultural events. The projects are viewed by the Prague City Committee for culture, historical monuments care, exhibitions, tourism and foreign affairs, and this programme is an important political tool for winning support for projects. A final and very important programme is the Grant Programme, which offers the possibility of one to four years of financial support. During the last five years there have been turbulent discussions over the grant system, with the commercial and artistic worlds in dispute.

In 2014, the city distributed Prague City Hall Grants totalling 208 million CZK (approx. 7,680,000 EUR), and Prague City Hall Partnership grants worth more than 29 million CZK (app. 1,070,000 EUR), according to the official results of Prague City Hall grant programme.

Departments Total Amount
Theatre art 128,225,000 CZK (approx. 4,730,000 EUR)
Dance, movement and nonverbal theatre 24,075,000 CZK (approx. 890,000 EUR)
Fine art 21,620,000 CZK (approx. 799,000 EUR)

Out of the above, 3,690,000 CZK (approx. 136,429 EUR) went to circus and 1,090,000 CZK (approx. 40,300 EUR) to street arts.

Pavla Petrová

— Director, Arts and Theatre Institute

What do you see as your most important task in circus/street arts in your country?
"The Arts and Theatre Institute is trying to define contemporary circus and mime among other genres of performing arts, which is a long-term strategic task. We have also been developing this work through international cooperation – by inviting foreign workshop lecturers or foreign promoters and curators to festivals and presentations of contemporary circus in the Czech Republic, or vice versa by sending representatives of the fields we represent on short-term trips. The Arts and Theatre Institute’s mission is to promote the Czech performing arts abroad, and contemporary circus, free as it often is of language barriers, has great potential for succeeding on the international stage. Contemporary circus representatives are therefore regular participants at international performing arts fairs where ATI ensures Czech participation. Contemporary circus is also represented in our printed and electronic publications, guides and for-export catalogues or expert studies. In the future we would like to promote the sector even more and build the theoretical background of the field by organising conferences and symposiums."