Czech Performing Arts in Quarantine
Mapping Losses and Set of Measure to Save the Culture
Extraordinary measures connected with the SARS-CoV-19 have been introduced on 11 March 2020 by the Czech Government. The Arts and Theatre Institute in Prague has been mapping their impact on cultural sector since 12 March 2020. First data was collected from organisations and individuals that work in the independent arts scene (check for details here). Subsequently a methodology for mapping losses in the cultural sector was developed by the University of Economics, Academy of Performing Arts, and the Arts and Theatre Institute that aims to calculate the economic impact on selected cultural sectors. First results will be available after 5 May 2020. Besides the measures to mitigate the economic impacts issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Czech Government has passed Minister Zaorálek’s set of measures to save the culture on 9 April. The total amount assigned to this program is 1.07 billion CZK.
Dancers and Austerity of Movement
The majority of dancers, across all genres and styles, train at home on just a few square metres. Many post their daily training on social media as a motivation for others, or as targeted lessons for their students. The internet cannot replace live teacher-student contact, but online lessons help to maintain both community ties and the participants’ conditioning and at least somewhat offset the economic difficulties affecting the entire arts sector. With a big success the National Theatre’s ballet filmed a video featuring dancers’ home rehearsals and streamed an online ballet Easter gala. Many independent venues specialized in contemporary dance, nonverbal theatre and new circus such as Ponec – the Dance Venue or Cirk La Putyka use virtual spaces to promote their performances and to keep contact with their audiences. Huge support has come from TV Mall in collaboration with the crowdfunding platform Donio project which allows spectators to view broadcasts and send their contributions directly to specific artists and companies. Prague’s Councillor for Culture has launched the an initiative called Festival NIC 2020 (Festival of Nothing 2020) in collaboration with the theatre’s ticket sales web portal GoOut under a humorous slogan: “Buy a ticket to nothing.”
Theatre on Screen
Czech theatres, like their counterparts elsewhere, are delivering theatrical experiences to their spectators at least remotely, at first through live broadcasts of closed performances and, increasingly, through the form of archive recordings of past and current productions. Some theatres are also offering improvised talk shows, messages from actors and serialised readings. Last but not least, as all schools are also closed to the public, theatres are producing educational videos focused on the classics of dramatic literature, such as the National Theatre’s “Tahák” series, as well as online workshops, such as those offered by the Cirqueon Centre for Contemporary Circus and other programmes for children and young people produced by puppet theatres. The Chrudim Puppetry Museum is offering online tours in Czech and English and the National Museum provides a digital access to the exhibition “Kindly Enter the Theatre.” Online resources, stories and an educational platform PQ Studio offers on its webpage Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. Apart from creative activities, Czech theatre artists are highly involved with other volunteer activities. The spontaneous initiative of Zlín City Theatre inspired theatres across the country to engage their costume workshops in the sewing of protective masks required by hospitals, social services and individuals. Spectators may also take part in these activities, but can also support theatres through donations or by refusing refunds for cancelled events.
Martina Pecková Černá, Jana Návratová, Michal Zahálka