Musicians strike a chord at Prague train station in protest of arts underfunding

Musicians from various Czech orchestras gathered at Hlavní nádraží to ask for higher governmental subsidies for culture.


Written by ČTK Published on 09.10.2023 10:19:00 (updated on 09.10.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Around 150 musicians from various orchestras in the Czech Republic gathered at Prague’s main train station Hlavní nádraží yesterday to raise awareness about the underfinancing of culture in the country. 

Led by the president of the Union of Orchestral Musicians of the Czech Republic Jiří Dokoupil and representatives of the campaign Let's Not Let Culture Go Silent, the musicians urged the government not to reduce funding for cultural endeavors.

More money from state budget needed

In an open letter, the group called upon the government to fulfill its promise of allocating up to 1 percent of state spending to culture. However, the draft state budget for 2024, approved by the government, shows a decrease in funding for the Ministry of Culture, with a projected budget of CZK 16.58 billion compared to CZK 18.5 billion this year.

Dokoupil expressed concern over the significant cuts being made, saying that the posters were not merely asking for more money, but drawing attention to the "drastic reductions taking place." "Despite the government's commitment to bring state spending on culture closer to one percent of the state budget, the draft state budget for 2024 only allocates 0.64 percent. We have gathered here not only to advocate for increased funding but to ensure that culture does not suffer," Dokoupil said.

Notably, employees from two dozen major cultural institutions across the country have joined the Let's Not Let Culture Go Silent initiative, including the Czech Philharmonic, the National Museum, the National Theatre, the Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK, the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, the National Theatre Brno, the Brno Philharmonic, the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava, and the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Zlín.

The event at the main station included a concert lasting approximately 45 minutes, featuring performances of renowned compositions such as Bedřich Smetana's symphonic poem "Vltava" (Moldau), the fourth movement of Antonín Dvořák’s symphony "From the New World," and the Czech national anthem. Conducted by Vojtěch Jouza and Chuhei Iwasaki, the concert aimed to highlight the importance of Czech culture, with participants also carrying banners in support of their cause.


In addition to addressing the level of cultural funding, participants voiced their concerns about the proposed law on public cultural institutions. While Dokoupil acknowledged the need for changes in the law, he argued that the existing proposal does not effectively improve funding for institutions. "The law lacks the potential to generate increased funding within the public finance system," he stated.

The campaign seeks to draw attention to the essential role played by these institutions in preserving Czech culture and emphasizes the need for adequate financial support to ensure their continued existence and contribution to the nation's cultural heritage.

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