Support for international cultural cooperation in the democratic Czech Republic dates back to the early days of new grant instruments that have gradually been incorporated into new strategic government documents since the mid-1990s.
This support has been further refined over the years, while also gradually reaching lower levels of the public administration.
In the early 1990s, the development of new international cultural cooperation was kick-started by support provided by international foundations active in the Czech Republic, such as financier and philanthropist George Soros’s Open Society Fund Prague and Pro Helvetia-Antenne in Prague, a programme for Central and Eastern European countries, as well as foreign cultural institutions and embassies.
That initial wave of building the system of support for culture was followed by another step: support from the Czech non-profit and private sectors. In the new millennium, this support has stabilised around a group of regular supporters of culture that has remained largely constant.
Apart from the new funds and foundations established in the 1990s, support for some form of international cultural cooperation has also been among the priorities of corporate foundations and other private entities.
At the state level, art plays an important role in the presentation of the country and in cultural diplomacy. However, it has also become an increasingly significant contributor to the development of foreign markets. At the municipal and regional levels, the provision of subsidies for international cooperation is more often linked with the promotion of a particular municipality or region.
Looking at the total volume of financial backing provided to culture, the biggest contributions come from the government, or more specifically, the Ministry of Culture, which, however, sends a major part of these funds to its own organisations, national cultural institutions, to support their activity and international cultural cooperation.
These organisations include large art institutions, such as the National Theatre in Prague, the Czech Philharmonic and the National Gallery in Prague, as well as intermediary organisations, such as the Arts and Theatre Institute (ATI) or the Czech Literary Centre at the Moravian Library in Brno. Via these organisations, the government backs the promotion of Czech art abroad in the form of individual projects and participation in trade fairs and exhibitions abroad as well as by supporting residency stays and mobility.
Direct support for international cooperation of projects in the non-profit sector of culture is provided by the Ministry of Culture via subsidy award procedures and through two national funds: the State Culture Fund of the Czech Republic and the Czech Film Fund.