National Cultural Institutions Today

Prague welcomed 70 representatives of major cultural institutions from countries around Europe and the Eastern Partnership who came to attend the 16th Assembly of the authors of the Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, and a public forum titled Cultural Institutions Today. The subject of the meeting was the status and role of national cultural institutions in the contemporary socio-political context.

Last week Prague hosted the 16th Assembly of the authors of the Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, which culminated in a one-day public forum titled Cultural Institutions Today. The event was organised mainly by the Arts and Theatre Institute (ATI) with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and Prague City Hall. The event coincided with the occasion of the Czech Republic’s chairing of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

The Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe is a regularly updated web information and monitoring system that focuses on cultural policies, such policy instruments, discussions, and trends in Europe’, is how the project was described by Pavla Petrová, Director of the ATI, who is also the author of the Compendium’s national profile for the Czech Republic. The Compendium emerged in 1998 out of an initiative of the Council of Europe as a joint project with the independent non-profit organisation ERICarts (European Institute for Comparative Cultural Research) and is created on the basis of the shared experiences and partnerships of independent experts in cultural policy, non-governmental organisations, and national governments. The Compendium currently comprises national profiles for more than forty countries. 

The Prague Assembly, where the Compendium’s new governance model was introduced, welcomed almost 70 participants from countries in Europe and the Eastern Partnership. Experts in cultural policy came together in a closed meeting and discussed current issues facing cultural policy, such as culture and populism or gender equality.

The one-day public forum Cultural Institutions Today discussed the ‘Mission and Role of National Cultural Institutions in the Context of the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Nation-States in Central and Eastern Europe’. The forum was held on the premises of Prague Crossroads – St Anne’s Church, and it opened with a keynote speech from Professor Pascal Gielen of the Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts ARIA in Belgium, who put forth the original idea of cultural institutions being transformed into ‘con-stitutions’. This was followed by two discussion panels: ‘National Cultural Institutions – Instruments of Populism?’ and ‘Are National Cultural Institutions Losing Their Legitimacy?’ Representatives from the Czech Republic, Serbia, Hungary, Germany, Romania, and the Council of Europe participated in the panel. The public forum revisited a topic that in the 1990s was discussed primarily in connection with the democratic transformation in Central and Eastern Europe. The lively discussion the speakers elicited in the forum revealed there is a need to redefine what arts means to the state as a societal entity in a time when austerity measures and nationalistic tendencies are having ever stronger impacts.

A recording of the forum, including the opening speech by Professor Gielen, can be downloaded here:


Kompendia_foto: Adéla Vosičková

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Published date: Nov 24, 2017

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