From the Benefits of Centralised Culture to Artists on Benefits: How Has the State Support of the Arts Changed after 1989?

In the summer of 1989, the playwright and dissident Václav Havel articulated the demands of the opposition in a petition signed by more than forty thousand people. The petitioners were asking the communist government (among other things) to put an end to the persecution of independent associations and the censorship of media and culture. Only one year later, Havel was democratically elected as president and the state supervision of culture ceased. Already in January 1990, the Central Association of Czech Visual Artists perished, and a new law was passed that legalized the free establishment of independent unions, clubs and movements.
However, the initial euphoria caused by the newly gained freedom of expression was soon met with the limited cultural funding available in the newly founded market economy, and in the past thirty years has been replaced with disenchantment arising from precarious working conditions. The conference focused on the strategies and criteria that have been – and could have been – deployed by the post-Communist state to support the arts that does not simply comply with the principles of consumerist culture. In her paper, Slovenian researcher Vesna Čopič compares the development of the state cultural policy in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc, focusing on the decline or perpetuation of socialist structures. The expert on cultural policy, Eva Žáková, and the curator of OFF-Biennale, Hajnalka Somogyi, outlines in more detail the development of cultural policies in relation to the visual arts support in the Czech Republic and Hungary. The final debate, hosted by Anežka Bartlová, discuss the particular measures that could be adopted by the state to improve the working conditions of visual artists nowadays.

The discussion forum of the fotograf festival #9 was held on October 18th 2019 in The Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.

01 Vesna Čopič - From Artists to Cultural Entrepreneurs: Neoliberalism instead of Democratisation?

The presentation outlines the results of the transfer of power from the state as the supporter of art(ists) in the socialist era to the new competitive market dominated era. According to these results the challenges which are relevant for our future will be addressed. But what a future? The one when culture and arts are still a public good, or the future when culture and arts are only a commodity as any other? The status of artists is a litmus paper to test the answer.

02 Hajnalka Somogyi - Old Habits Die Hard

Looking back to the funding (and control) mechanisms of post-Stalinist socialism in Hungary with the help of Miklós Haraszti’s 1980 samizdat book ’The Velvet Prison’, the presentation will briefly look into how our present government controls art funding, following old patterns and employing mechanisms still deeply ingrained in public unconsciousness, even among radically different political, economical and infotechnological conditions, with surprising success.

03 Eva Žáková - Výtvarné umění z perspektivy kulturní politiky ČR

Příspěvek bude věnován poznatkům ze studií a analýz, které byly zpracovány v rámci IDU v posledních 10 letech. Připomene skutečnost, že se v 90. letech 20. století česká výtvarná scéna, její provoz a trh s uměním nastavoval od nuly. Zaměří se na následující vývoj a především současné postavení a specifikům výtvarného umění  v rámci ostatních oborů. Pokusí se odpovědět především na otázku: Jaké jsou současné potřeby výtvarné scény v ČR a jak je lze prosadit?

04 Diskuse - Od stranické podpory umění k umělcům na podpoře: Jak se proměnila státní podpora činnosti výtvarných umělců po roce 1989?