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"We hope, that Prague will play an important role on a European scale in the future"

"We hope, that Prague will play an important role on a European scale in the future"
Foto: © Jens Thomas

We were in Prague. Super great city great people it was so beautiful and worth writing that down here without a dot or comma. In Prague we presented Creative City Berlin as a platform before cultural actors and Prague politics - at the Museum of Decorative Arts. The city of Prague wants to build a network like Creative City Berlin of his own. We wanted to know: What’s the situation in Prague like? Which artistic structures can be found, which ought to be there? What does Prague have that Berlin doesn't have and vice versa? - A conversation at minus 3 degrees in the sunshine with Jana Adamcová, Naďa Machková Prajzová and Petr Perinka from the project team of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
 

INTERVIEW Jens Thomas
 


CCB Magazin: Hello Jana, Naďa and Petrwe’ve been happy to present Creative City Berlin as a platform in Prague. It was great fun. Thanks for that! Now you’re planning to create your own platform the like of Creative City Berlin in Prague - why did you contact us? 

Jana, Naďa, Petr:Hello Jens, thank you for coming. It was very interesting for all of us to see how you work and how a platform like Creative City Berlin evolves. Yes, we want to build a similar platform. We are a project team of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and we are commissioned to develop a government strategy for cultural actors in Prague. Within the framework of the project (EU funded) we had the opportunity to visit numerous countries, including the Netherlands, Austria, Slovakia and Germany. We visited individual competence centers in the countries and Creative City Berlin was recommended to us. During our conversation in Berlin, we had the idea to present Creative City Berlin in Prague.

CCB Magazin: In Berlin, there are around 200,000 creative actors, up to 10,000 artists, almost 200 museums, around 400 galleries, and up to 150 project spaces. How is the situation in Prague? Can Prague be compared to Berlin? 

Jana, Naďa, Petr:In Prague, there are more than 20,000 creative actors, individuals and companies. We also have 95 museums, around 180 galleries, and up to 100 creative spaces, including community centers, coworking spaces, etc. Prague is similar to Berlin in many ways. As the capital and most populous city in the Czech Republic with more than 1.2 million inhabitants, there is a high concentration of young, aspiring cultural actors and institutions. Prague is definitely a place where artists and creative people can find a home. On the other hand, compared to Berlin, Prague does not have this variety of experimentation, not this freedom. Above all, many independent artists and creatives are struggling to finance their projects and put them on a solid long-term footing. 

In Prague is a high concentration of young, aspiring cultural actors and institutions. Prague is definitely a place where artists and creative people can find a home. On the other hand, compared to Berlin, Prague does not have this variety of experimentation, not this freedom

CCB Magazin: In Berlin, over 400 million is spent each year on public cultural funding, but competition for public funding pools is also high because more and more artists are coming to Berlin and applying for funding. Is there a similar situation in Prague? 

Jana, Naďa, Petr:The city of Prague spends around 1 billion Czech crowns a year, which is the equivalent of around 37 million euros for public cultural funding. Together with state cultural funding, this amounts to around 2.8 billion CZK and 140 million CZK respectively. The majority of funds in Prague, however, go to established institutions in the theatre sector (27 percent), museums (27 percent) and libraries (26 percent). The demand for public support is enormously high. This is why we are currently looking for ways to better link our cultural policy strategies with the current subsidy system. The aim is to optimize public funding in such a way as to facilitate long-term planning. For smaller companies, artists, and individual creatives, we want to create an infrastructure in the city through new networking activities and promote new services.  

In a good mood, believe in The Big Good Future in Prague: Naďa Machková and Jana Adamcová from the project team of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. Photo: Jens Thomas


CCB Magazin: In Prague we talked about the Creative Industries and also about the interlocking of art, culture, and economy. In Berlin, we have for years a discourse about whether art should be financially independent and how economically focused art and culture are allowed to be. Are there similar debates in Prague and do you also have a creative cluster that brings together the most diverse sectors - there are 12 in Berlin - from design and music to the fine arts? 

Jana, Naďa, Petr:Oh, I see here many parallels to Berlin - different cities, same debates. I think, that a city like Prague should basically be open for experiments - as part of its policy it should also test and support "out of the world" ideas if they work. And that also means that non-profit artists and creative companies can form expedient alliances. Especially in Prague, there are now many examples of cooperation between creative companies and coworking spaces. Art District 7, for example, is probably the only Prague district that would fall into a creative cluster. We are also currently working on a new joint project called AD7. AD7 brings creative institutions together with the city and the district in hip districts such as Holesovice or Letna. We are currently working on a similar project in the most touristic part of the city. The aim is to support local artists and designers. We want artists and designers to stay in the historical core of the city, to be able to work and help shaping it. Incidentally, this is only possible if they are strengthened economically. 

CCB Magazin: Four central themes currently dominate Berlin: free and affordable spaces, the debate about public funding and the financial viability of projects, the topic of digitization and how to deal with the latest technologies, and how to act entrepreneurially - ecologically or socially. What are the trends and debates in Prague? 

Jana, Naďa, Petr:Money first. Financing continues to dominate the public debate, which is not necessarily bad. Unfortunately, however, we still have difficulties in mobilizing the entire ecosystem of the cultural sector in such a way that our demands are also heard at national level. In addition to funding, we are also talking about affordable areas. The housing situation is not as tense as in Berlin, but here too many young creative people can no longer afford an apartment or a job. One solution we are currently discussing is the concept of so-called creative centers. This means that the government is making targeted investments in these centers. The first positive examples already exist, even right in the heart of Prague, on the Altstädter Ring. Here, creative people can apply for a room in the Prague Creative Centre of the Prague Institute for Planning and Strategy Development. These centers then provide reduced rents for cultural and educational activities and help to strengthen synergies among themselves. 

We estimate, or hope, that in 10 years we will be surprised at how innovative Prague has become and how many exciting topics the Prague creative industry has launched

CCB Magazin: Looking to the future: What will art, culture, and the Creative Industry look like in Prague in five or ten years? And how do you intend to build a network like Creative City Berlin in a city like Prague? 

Jana, Naďa, Petr:We estimate, or hope, that in 10 years we will be surprised at how innovative Prague has become and how many exciting topics the Prague creative industry has launched. We currently have a new city council in Prague that is open to new ideas and above all not only thinks profitably, but also targets projects and cultural activities that allow experiments and new approaches to production. We hope, that Prague will play an important role on a European scale in the future. Prague should become an important creative hub on the European map. As part of UNESCO, our capital has historically also all the prerequisites to develop an appropriate standard and to attract European talents from abroad - Prague is predestined for its geographical location and high quality of life. Through public funding we want to create an environment for contemporary content, cultural activities, and new places, and a platform and network like Creative City Berlin is a good example of how it can work. You started more than 10 years ago and have taken many small steps that have a big impact today. That's what we're trying to do as well. 

CCB Magazin: Jana, Naďa, Petr, thank you and a big good future!

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