Czech arts & culture a major facet of upcoming EU presidency


With only a couple of weeks remaining before the end of the 2008, anticipation is growing over the Czech Republic’s upcoming EU presidency: for six months the country will garner unprecedented attention and it is an unrivalled opportunity to present some of the most important facets of Czech arts and culture. In fact, the country’s Czech centres and other institutions have organised some 700 different events worldwide.

The eyes of the world will be on the Czech Republic come January when the country takes up the six-month EU presidency and organisers promoting the nation’s arts and culture knew in advance this is was an unrivalled opportunity. A chance, the Czech daily Lidové noviny writes, to present the country as a cultural “powerhouse”. Jana Součková, the head of the programme section at the Czech Centre Prague, agrees:

“There’s no question that we will be in the spotlight and that this is an opportunity for us to show our best. For that reason, much of the focus is on original and surprising contemporary artwork. Some 700 events have been organised with partners and other Czech centres. One emphasis is to show developments in the Czech Republic over the last 20 years since the fall of communism. Next year’s is an important anniversary.”

For that reason, one of the events will be an exhibition of illustrations and text from Petr Sís’s award-winning children’s book “The Wall: Growing up behind the Iron Curtain”. Another is a show highlighting posters from 1989. Of course, there is much, much more. Jana Součková again:

“We also want to present the newest generation of animators who successfully completed Prague’s FAMU film academy and are now quite established. Interestingly, some of them are even better known abroad than at home. The works of five, including Václav Švankmajer, Michal Žabka and others, will be featured. As for more traditional items: for example, there is Czech glass, but we are not presenting it in a traditional light but rather how it is used in modern Czech design.”

Concerts will also be held, celebrating among others the works of the great Czech composer Martinů and others. And the Czech Philharmonic will also perform a major concert in Brussels at the end of the Czech presidency. As Jana Součková says, the next six months will be quite an undertaking. The Czech Centre has 23 branches in Europe, the US, and Asia and you can find more information about events near you at the Czech centre website.