Prague’s cultural offerings, once a world-class mix of operas, classical performance, and live concerts taking place year round, have fallen victim to the coronavirus outbreak — and it’s predicted that many of them could disappear from the Czech cultural map altogether.
But while people can’t frequent their favorite venues due to quarantine, they can now buy a symbolic ticket — for a non-existent show, according to Hana Třeštíková, Prague councillor for culture who has announced a new way to help culture fans save their favorite theaters and clubs during a difficult time.
“Artists across the Czech Republic are struggling with the coronavirus crisis every day. Many of them are actively helping their communities, although their own income has basically fallen to zero day by day: theaters are closed, concerts are not held, galleries are not allowed, and online survival alone is not guaranteed,” she said in a statement yesterday.
The NIC2020 (Nothing 2020) initiative is set up to support these venues. It launched yesterday in cooperation with GoOut. And, no, despite the April 1 kick off, it’s no joke:
“It’s a serious thing,” Třeštíková said in a press release. “The idea came just after President Milos Zeman’s recent speech in which he unfairly criticized Czech artists. I want to show him that we are behind our artists. They are now helping as much as we can, we will help them.”
Proceeds will also help “Stand up for all the artists, sound engineers, stage-makers, and dress-makers who, day after day, were out of work and without us spectators,” she said.
The symbolic event is set to take place on May 1, in cooperation with cultural entities from all over the Czech Republic (though Prague and Brno currently dominate the offerings). The current list of institutions can be seen on GoOut; prices range from first row VIP for 5,000 CZK to balcony for 20 CZK.
There are already dozens of participating cultural institutions. Prague venues include Futurum Music Bar, Cross Club, Jatka78, as well as KinoDlabačov and Divadlo Archa are asking for support. Venues such as Lucerna Music Bar, Kasarna Karlin, and MeetFactory which frequently host international acts are also on the list.
“Although the event originated in Prague, it is nationwide. We are glad that we already have, for example, Brno’s Sono Centrum and Cabaret des Peches,” said Lukáš Jandač, GoOut Sales Director. “At the end of the event, each cultural institution receives money for tickets sold,” he said.
The event is intended primarily for cultural institutions that are private and receive most of their income from admission. “We, as contributory organizations, will not join this event because much of our budget comes from the city coffers. As a result, we are able to survive a difficult period. The money collected now needs mainly an independent culture, to which we want to be solidarity,” said Daniel Hrbek, director of the Švandovo Theater, commenting on the decision of Prague contributory organizations.
The festival will take place on May 1, 2020. “It’s a holiday of lovers, so we will symbolically show that we love culture on this day,” added Hana Třeštíková. Tickets can be purchased until 12pm on May 1.
There are other ways to support the arts in Prague and the Czech Republic. Locally, the Prague Shakespeare Company has launched the PSC Artist Relief Fund. The fund now covers any artist who has ever worked with PSC as well as other affected freelancers in the Prague arts scene. Over 560,000 CZK has been raised in a week. Information on how to donate can be found here.
Czech theaters, including the Czech National Theatre point out that tickets bought online are automatically refunded, and have instructions on their website on how to donate the money back, using a bank transfer and variable symbol. “In gratitude for your support, in the 2020/21 season we will reward you by granting you the benefits of the Benefactors’ Club members,” the National Theatre said.
This week Renée Fleming an international opera star with Czech roots teamed up with Prague-based pianist Evgeny Kissin to performed a song from her canceled tour encourage people to help artists in need.
For additional ways to support the arts in Prague and the Czech Republic see our article Support Prague artists: Donate directly to arts groups and don’t get a refund for canceled shows.