The Analysis of the Position of Visual Artists

in the Czech Republic

Joint project of umbrella organisations of visual artists from the countries of the Visegrád Four

Introductory thesis – 2001/2002

0. Introduction

Visual art communities in all countries that shuffled out of the sphere of Soviet influence after 1989, made significant changes in their own organisation, but at the same time they had to face tasks they were not prepared to solve at the very moment of their formation and most definite impact. All umbrella organisations of visual artists were covering a huge number of subjects, the quantity of pressing tasks was big and the pressure upon their solution was strong. Those were the reasons why contacts among these organisations were infrequent in the first half of the 90's.

Their firs encounter was the IAA/AIAP European Regional Conference in Cracow (1995), dedicated to the matters of visual artists' position toward the UNESCO official document.

The first attempt at comparing the situation of all artist unions in the former Eastern bloc took place in Szödliget, Hungary, in 1999. However, the presence of representatives of artist unions was not representative, and upon the suggestion of the Slovak Visual Art Union (Slovenská výtvarná únia) the further efforts were oriented toward the visual art community.

Thanks to financial background created by our colleagues from the UVU from the Pilsen region, during the opening of the Central-European Drawing Biennale in Pilsen in the year 2000 a meeting took place, at which the representatives of visual artists' umbrella organisations from the V4 countries signed an agreement of co-operation and started the preparation of this document. At the following meetings in Moravany nad Váhom and in Bratislava during the year 2001 the introductory theses were further specified and the preparatory works in the individual countries co-ordinated.

The presented text closes the first, opening leg of the work, the main part of which is yet ahead of us and after the conclusion of which it may be possible to enforce significant legislation changes in the area, which is the target of our interest.

1. Professional organisations of visual artists

1.1 Umbrella organisations and their mission

In January 1990 the integral Union of Czech Visual Artists lapsed. After a very liberal bill on civic associations had been passed, The Visual Artists' Union was formed in May 1990 (since 1994 as the Union of Visual Artists of the Czech Republic - UVU ČR). It was not conceived any more as the uniform union with individual membership, but as an umbrella organisation (federation) of individual, legally independent professional organisations of miscellaneous orientation and different territorial operation. The regulations of the UVU ČR prescribe neither the size nor internal organisation structure of its member organisations, only the professional standard. That is given by not only by the members' education, but also by amenities (use) adopted by the first founding organisations of the UVU ČR.

The UVU ČR is presided by the Council, which is the national Committee of the IAA/AIAP (UNESCO) at the same time. Every member organisation (civic association, convention) has one vote. Internal affairs are decided by the majority vote, external affairs require consent or silent consent (absence from the session, vote withholding) of all member organisations. In case of not reaching unity in important matters, concord procedure is held and consensus is sought for. If it is not found, the problem is not presented as the communal interest of the UVU ČR and individual member organisations are free to act themselves in that matter.

The Union of Visual Artists of the Czech Republic protects professional interest of visual artists, provides information services, co-ordinates the operation of its member organisations. It is the representative of the profession in relation to the state and administration, member of higher national units (Council of artistic unions of the Czech Republic, RUO ČR – member of the European Artists' Council, ECA) and international units (IAA/AIAP). Information services are provided by means of corporations (in writing, by presentations at members' meetings), publishing on the internet ( and by direct information to members by e-mail (this service is still infant).

The organisation structure of the UVU ČR is flexible and since 1st April 1997 it has allowed also individual membership in a form of enrolment in the Register of professional visual artists active in the area of the Czech Republic. The Register is freely accessible on the internet ( and has an ambition to replace the official lists, which are administered by chambers formed by law for most free professions (with the exception of visual artists). The register automatically lists members of UVU ČR corporations, and furthermore artists who put up an application and meet the set conditions.

1.2 Specialised associations and their mission

1.2.1 Structure of the visual artists' union

Before 1990 about ten thousand persons, engaged in creation and realisation of artworks were registered in the system of social insurance in the Czech Republic. After the adoption of the Trade Law and the new Civil and Commercial codes approximately half of them left this system (craftsmen, realisers, collaborators, managers). Also architects (mainly interior architects, or decorators, display artists and others) they moved over o the Czech Chamber of Architects or started private enterprise.

These days, the visual artists' community consists of approx. 3,500 persons, main part of which are employed along with their artistic activities (they mainly work as pedagogues, others carry business – they have their studios and trades, agencies or they own or co-own firms). The number of freelance visual artists (so-called "on the loose") is not exactly statistically covered at the moment, but at a rough estimate it is about 10 % active visual artists, which covers also socially secured old-age pensioners.

1.2.2 Organisation features of the visual artists' community

The basic organisation units of the visual artists' community are legally independent professional civic associations, founded according to the Law on associating of citizens. Immediately after 1st May 1990, when this bill was passed, several traditional associations dismissed under political pressure in the second half of the 50's of the 20th century (Mánes, Jednota umělců výtvarných, Sdružení výtvarných umělců moravských – SVUM – in Hodonín, Umělecká beseda Praha – visual art section, Sdružení českých umělců grafiků HOLLAR, or later, after 1969 Sdružení “Q” Brno).

Firstly, there were new corporations – arisen from the artists' simple need to unite, and also because the structure of the UVU ČR was based on corporations. In the past twenty years there arose and functioned about one hundred such corporations in the Czech Republic, one third of which perished or is defunct these days. Three quarters of these corporations went through a membership in the UVU ČR, some of them resigned later, some waned. Some corporations never entered into the member relation with the UVU ČR, others did not meet the criteria of the members' professionalism and could not become members of the UVU ČR. In accord with the regulations of the IAA/AIAP, the professional visual artists' corporations do not cover associations of art theorists, associations of artwork restorers and photographers' associations. Individual theorist, restorers – if they pursue authorial artistic activities – and artistic photographers can become UVU ČR members without any obstacles.

At present there are 42 corporations in the UVU ČR with approx. 2,200 members. Outside the UVU ČR there function about 15 major artistic associations, and the UVU ČR co-operates with some of them, with others it gradually makes formal contacts.

Aside of this legally binding structure, there appears and disappears again a number of other free artists' assemblies of miscellaneous names and different polarities. Their registration is difficult, for this purpose the UVU ČR has prepared space at the domain, which will offer and enable at least a simple account of these groups.

Other possibility is the index membership in Lege artis, which provides a direct connection of individual professional visual artists onto the UVU ČR and entry in the Register of professional visual artists active in the territory of the Czech Republic. The rules for the admission of an index member are precisely set and the entry takes place only in the official way by means of the UVU ČR Office.


2.1 Legal differentiation between the professional artist and the lay

There is no strict borderline with legal consequences set in the Czech Republic between a professional and amateur visual artist. The Authorial law as such cannot solve this problem, because authorship does not coincide with professionalism. From the taxation, social and health insurance points of view, the authorial artistic activity (creation) is covered by the category of independent earning activities.

The only possibility of differentiation is the autoregulation within the scope of the visual artists' community itself, which the UVU ČR aims at mainly by administering the Register of professional visual artists active in the territory of the Czech Republic. For entry criteria see point 2.6 below.

2.2 Authorial law

Many times upgraded Law No. 35/1965 Coll. On literary, scientific and artistic works, which originally solved the whole problem of creation, distribution and financing of artistic creation (Soviet funding model), was replaced from 1st December 2000 by a new Law No. 121/2000 from the Collection of Laws and regulations of the Czech Republic (Authorial Law), which has approximated the valid upgrade of authorial laws to the European Union standards and has become legal support for the activities of visual artists (or their representing agencies) with clients.

Both knowledge and application of the Authorial Law is low, because the position of visual artists toward their clients is not coequal in many cases (low volume of commissions, low solidarity within the artistic community, common competition, excessive freedom – arbitrariness – in price offers etc.). Only a small number of debatable cases have so far come to assize, therefore in the legal field there is no judicatory practice. Also lawyers specialised in this field and versant about the matter are yet lacking in the Czech Republic.

As far as the collective management of copyright is concerned, before 1990 it was not provided by any specialised organisation, such as in the case of dramatic, literary and musical works, but merely by the organisational section of the Czech Visual Arts Fund – the Authors' Protection Organisation (OOAS). That original handicap has been still evident in this field. On 14th September 1993 the whole Visual Artists' Union, together with the Architects' Union – at an electoral meeting of the Administrative and Supervisory boards of the Czech Fund of Visual Art, in a representative presence of all professional associations of visual artists active in the Czech Republic, i. e. also those who are now outside the Union of Visual Artists of the Czech Republic – founded the Protective Authors' Organisation, an association of visual art, architecture and audiovisual works visual component authors (OOA-S), which is a civic association and establishes the relevant international liaison. A little later arose Gestor ltd. organisation, later purposefully replaced by civic association of the same name, and this duality in the light of the new Authorial Law, which allows, in a quite unmarketable manner, administering of only single license for collective management of copyright, causes the whole matter remaining still unsolved. That also applies to the field of the so-called equitable settlement (droit de suite). The power of the UVU ČR to solve the problem, in which money plays the main role, is small.

2.3 Legislation of authors' protection (Artist's status, Law on Culture)

The commendation concerning the artist's position (Artist's status), as was formulated at the UNESCO General conference in Belgrade on 27th October 1980, has been generally respected in the Czech Republic, due to European tradition, during the whole time of its existence. At the World Congress aimed at the evaluation of the effect of this document and its further implementation (Paris 16th – 20th June 1997) the UVU ČR was already represented in the delegation of the Ministry of Culture. The document has not been thoroughly professionally analysed, because the very status of artists (and especially visual artists) has not been analysed in the Czech Republic, but it has been only glossed in a form of intuitive remarks. It has not resulted successful yet to make use of the adopted commendations to enforce more significant changes, but the documents are good aid in their preparation, to which the main orientation of the UVU ČR is inevitably heading at the moment.

The position of freelance artists (and therefore also visual artist) has not a clearly determined legal setting at the moment. There is no chamber founded on the basis of the law (which is not desirable due to the nature of visual art anyway).

One aid results from the Law of Income Tax (No. 566/1992 Coll.), where the artists are included together with businessmen and other taxpayers into the category of independent earners (§ 3, art. 1, letter b), but further this kind of income is specified as an income from use or administration of rights on industrial or other intellectual ownership, copyright etc. and it is differentiated from other kind of income by the amount of potential fixed lump sum depreciation of costs, which amounts to 30 % (in contrast to 50 % in agricultural production and 25 % in trade) - § 7, art. 2, letter a, art. 9, letter b. But that concerns to all authors, i.e. those who are not considered professionals. The significance of the artist's status formation is therefore only supportive.

A firmer aid to the constitution of the artist's freelance career as a legally relevant term is the provision of § 22 of the same law (income source), where artist's income ranks among income from independent earning activity (art. 1, letter f). However, the independent earning activity covers also activities of professions, in which their professional performance is subject to membership in chambers (architect, doctor, lawyer, engineer), therefore the "independent activity" term is wider than "freelance career", which is not conditioned by membership in a chamber.

Another aid is the collection of legal standards controlling the social, health and pension securities.

In the past twelve years there has not appeared single indication of an intention to legally codify the position of a visual artist, the freelance profession. And that was not only from the part of the state nor from the part of artists' unions. The Union of Visual Artists of the Czech Republic concentrated its efforts on the transformation of the non-governmental Visual Arts Fund into a foundation, and further on its internal problems (and there were not few) and on activities of corporations (symposia, plein airs, exhibition activities). Neither the uneasy going and indistinctively functioning Council of Artists' unions has not adopted this topic as an essential one.

As far as the law on the public support of culture, the preparation of which is still infant. Contrary to sports, for the support of which the Parliament of the Czech Republic has already passed (the more or less proclamative) Act No. 115/2001 Coll., the bill on the public support of culture, as far as we know, was treated in an accommodating manner only by the Information and Consulting Centre for Local Culture (PhDr. Alena Mockovčiaková) and so far no way has been found (through the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, through an MP initiative etc.) hot to implement it into the legislative process.

2.4 Construction law

The construction law has never treated the problem of the commission of a work of art in architecture in the volume given by percentage from the bulk price. However, there was a decree, which set the conditions of the building permit procedure; part of the compulsory project documents was a budget, in which chapter V. treated the duty to set a part from the overall budget costs for artwork, commissioned by means of the monopoly companies Dílo or Architektonické služby. That mechanism was abolished, and with that naturally the artwork market got weaker, especially as the commissions are concerned. But we see no option in returning a similar regulation into the Construction law, but we consider more negotionable to assign this duty in public commissions (law on public commissioning).

2.5 Laws pertaining to the institutional sphere in the field of visual art

The valid legal codex has allowed continuation and origin of a number of institutions engaged in documentation and presentation of visual art and trade with visual art (business code, trade law, law on foundations, law on welfare societies, law on civilian associations).

Scientific documentation of visual art development is presently covered by state-governed organisations, municipal administration and private organisations.

State-governed is the Institute of Art History at the Science Academy of the Czech republic (law of the Science Academy of the Czech Republic), and the central art museums (The National Gallery, Museum of Arts and Crafts, Moravian Gallery); the regional administration took over the functioning network of the former state galleries (23 institutions).

Based on the law on the protection of art collections, the state created a central account of artworks regardless of ownership.

The law treats also the protection of important cultural monuments and the manner of artwork export. The exportation of artworks by living artists is not connected with problems.

The support of special art activities is provided, aside of organisations in the gestion of the Ministry of culture, also by some specialised stations (e.g. Design centrum ČR, organisation section of the state founded by the Ministry of Industry and Trade – Programme of support of design for small and middle-sized companies 2001 - 2004 etc.).

The commissioning of important artworks is treated by the law on public commissions. The duty of competition procedure is set for the commissions over 5 million CzK (= 161 290 €) without VAT, the commissions are published in printed media and at the

2.6 Chamber of visual artists

The founding of the Chamber of Artists based on law is unthinkable under the present political circumstances in the Czech Republic. This step is obstructed also by theoretical reasons – there is not a single reason, which would lead the state to regulation of this profession from the view of protection of common interests (exposure of the public etc.). The only effort to create the chamber as made at the beginning of the 90's of the 20th by the Association of restorers, but with no result. However, the restoration of artworks was included in the governance of the Trade Law, and the interest of the state in the quality of renovation performances is treated by this law on the one hand, on the other – as far as the monuments inscribed in on the state's list are concerned – by administering of several kinds of artwork restoration licenses by the state (Ministry of culture).

The convenient manner of defining a profession, in our opinion, is the autoregulation, which is formally provided by the UVU ČR with its Register of professional visual artists active in the territory of the Czech Republic.

2.7 Council of artists

Integration of representatives of all professional artistic organisations began right after 1990 and continued in the activity of the coordination council of artists' unions from 1968-69. The predecessor of today's Council of Artists' Unions in the Czech Republic was a consultative body of the minister of culture between 1990-1993. Due to the unfriendly attitude of minister Pavel Tigrid the functioning of this coordinative assembly was brought to standstill. A new impulse was the origin of the European Council Of Artists (ECA), to co-founder of which became also the today's Council of Artists' Unions in the Czech Republic (RUO). However, the ROU has not managed to regain the lost position of the official consultative body of the minister of culture, the position of the minister's respected partner.

2.8 Cultural policy of the state

After several years of improvising, the Ministry of Culture elaborated the concept of the cultural policy in the Czech Republic. The idem material was adopted under the name Strategy of a more efficient state support to culture (now called Cultural policy) on 28th April 1999 as the Government order No. 401. The text contains 67 articles, out which almost one third (22) concerns to professional visual arts sphere. The UVU ČR also had the chance to take part in the preparation of this document, and a single suggestion submitted by it was not pretermitted. Some tasks are already being accomplished – e.g. the Annual reports of the Ministry of Culture are elaborated and published, results of Art Section grant competition procedures are publicised (all on the internet site –

The document presumes that chapter 334 of the state budget – Culture (except expenses on churches and religious societies) should be increased to 1 % of state budget expenses. This way it was achieved for the first time to set the target volume of financial means the state should release especially by means of publicly declared subsidising cultural programmes. We presume that in the area of our interest the situation of non-commercial artistic activities will improve. As far as the visual art market is concerned, expect its spreading by publication of public anonymous artistic competitions in case of construction and restoration of buildings which belong into the public property, and in adaptations of concourses.

I article 1 the Ministry declares the wish and commitment to lead a regular dialogue with coordination bodies acting as umbrella organisations of non-governmental non-profit subjects. The Union of Visual Artists of the Czech Republic, independently as well as together with the Council of Artists' Unions of the Czech Republic is looking for the way of making effective use of this so far rather declared offer.

After having been adopted by the government, the text has become a basic medium-term prognostic material. Together with the UNESCO materials it is the main aid in the reaching of goals of the professional organisations. The order, however, lacks a more detailed schedule and manner of financial securing of the data for decision-making. That is the gravest handicap, due to which the UVU ČR has not accomplished e.g. the using of this material to enforce the desirable changes (that is what only librarians have reached so far, due to their highly concentrated pressure).

The Ministry of Culture sets also scientific tasks – in 2001 one of them was the research in the Position of a visual artist in society. The UVU ČR in co-operation with the Faculty of Social Studies at the Masaryk University in Brno has prepared a specialised sociological research, which could help solve some partial problems. If we acquire financial means, there is a hope that we will manage to present qualified materials and assert their reception.

2.9 Social and tax policy of the state pertaining to visual art

Since 1.1.1993 the tax reform has abolished all particularities and exceptions, which concerned to artists as well as use of artworks. Tax on turnover was replaced by the value added tax, while visual artwork has been loaded with the basic rate of 22 % (the concessional rate of 5 % in a comparable case is placed only on books). That is also the rate on all working materials artists have to purchase, with the exception of computer software (5 %).

Tax reliefs, which would relate to purchase of artwork and help the development of artwork market, are unimpressive. Purchase is possible only as a part of investment, such as interior furnishing. In a general course of the year such purchase is impossible to carry out as tax-deductible, not even in the case when the work is supposed to be placed in rooms open to public (waiting rooms, dealing rooms etc.) – and therefore they can be considered means of procurance and sustentation of income.

The so-called sponsoring is financially uninteresting for the donors – the stimuli are very low.

The only more significant possibility of financing of visual art activities is the usage of a work of art (visual event) for advertisement, which is a tax-deductible cost.

Visual artists as authors (creators), from the taxation point of view, are independent wage-earners; if they do not became accounting units, they can apply costs with lump depreciation 5 % higher than tradesmen (i.e. 30 %). That is insufficient in most cases (sculptures, design…) and artists cannot choose but keep single or double entry bookkeeping.

Also health insurance is compulsory and the minimum amount, annually adjusted, must be paid under the threat of penalty even in the case of not having had any income in the given period of time.

Only in the social insurance and only in artistic authorial activities there is a legitimate possibility of free choice whether to join in the system or not. If the artists decide for it, they must fully submit to the insurance regime also in the case of not having had any income in the given period of time. If they decide not to join the system, they have no duties (the presumption of their future provision are the emoluments derivable from the use of their works, or private forms of insurance).

2.10 Legislation pertaining to the financing of culture

Despite significant effort of the cultural public and careful studies of foreign examples (e.g. the Dutch foundation model) the prevailing part of cultural activities is still secured by means of the state budget, and from the budgets of regions (yet infant) and cities and municipalities.

Besides the financing of state facilities (contributory organisations, budget organisations, organisational sections of the state), there is also financing of events directly supported by the state (especially the participation at significant events abroad) and a system of uncliaiming grant procedures.

Two cultural state funds have been established, the functioning State fund for cinematography (the basic source is 1 CzK from a sold ticket) and the financial problems-haunted State fund for culture (there is no fixed source – as was e.g. the so-called cultural tax from sales of artworks, postcards, tickets etc.).

The establishment of the lat law on donations and gifts has no big significance, tax assignation for the benefit of culture (or otherwise) are impossible.

Functioning in culture is allowed by the foundation law, the law on non-profit societies and the law on associations of citizens (many benefits mainly from the tax respect).

Part of the income from privatisation was mandated to start foundation activities – the allocation of financial means has not been completed yet.


3.0 General issues of financing visual activities

The financing of visual art activities in the Czech Republic is more complicated than in other areas of artistic activities. While the musical or theatrical arts are connected onto the state- or local administration-financed institutions, in visual art only documentation facilities are institutionalised this way (art museums). In parallel with them there are commercial organisations functioning (sales galleries, marts), realising sporadically also the so-called non-commercial programmes. The costs on the realisations of artworks and concepts are charged onto the expense of the artist (hire of a studio or workshop, equipment, material, energy, technical and craft collaboration). Also events organised with professional associations (symposia, plein airs, exhibitions etc.) almost always lack the basic institutional support.

3.1 National funds, special funds

A significant part of the state-distributed financial means for the support of visual art passes through the state budget, exactly through the budget of the Ministry of culture (chapter 334), or through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The grant aid is non-requisitive, in the course of years the grant procedures have been refined and specified. Now the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic publishes grant programmes in several spheres (National and international workshops and symposia, Support of young artists and theorists - curators /exhibition projects/, Expert periodicals /magazines/, Professional non-periodicals /books/, Support of gallery activities and professional organisations working in the visual art branch, Support of annual exhibition programme, Support of attendance at international art fairs for galleries and professional organisations, presenting contemporary Czech art, Support of specific projects of professional organisations /e.g. conferences, seminars, annual reports from residential stays etc./, Interdisciplinary projects with the focus in visual art).

The decision lies within the competence of the head of the relevant section; it is made upon the recommendation of the grant commission with two years' functional period. The decision-making is an average of very subjective standpoints of individual members of the commission and lacks, with the exception of a formal application essentials verification, objective criteria the fulfilment of which would form a legal claim on the acquirement of the grant. We would like to add this source to the very significant ones in the sphere of visual arts, however the volume of means released does not allow us to do so (for instance 10,5 mil.Kč = 338 700 € were allocated to 78 projects in the year 2000).

The national culture fund lies under the direct administration of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic (state funds dept.) and is managed by a directorate elected by the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. The fund was founded vacant with no financial means and was supposed to gain the means by running a lottery (Lotynka). The result was a total indebtedness of the fund. After the consolidation (settlement of debts) another organisation began to run a similar game for the fund, and after 10 years of its existence (!), in 2001 the fund opened a grant procedure for all spheres of culture for the year 2002 in the volume of mere 5 million Czk (= 161 000 €).

By the new authorial law, the tenancy of copyright derived from the works of authors without heirs goes over to the State cultural fund, which is the only fixed, but uncertain source of income.

3.2 Communal resources, funds

Regions were brought to life in the Czech Republic only in 2001 and their income source (share on taxes) is not functional so far. This is why they do not realise the grant support on a larger scale at present, but they are a perspective source and the representatives of professional visual artists acting in regions, are trying, with the support of the UVU ČR, to get representation in the competent regional bodies by the form of naming of a Representative of the UVU ČR in the region.

Towns and municipalities carry out their own grant policy, the forms are simpler in state sources, the allocation is done either by members of councils, or civic grant commissions are set up, in which visual artists are represented very often.

3.3 Non – governmental resources, funds

Out of the important non-governmental funds, there are two active in the Czech Republic: The Czech Arts Fund Foundation and the (Soros) Foundation of the Contemporary Art Centre.

The Czech Arts Fund Foundation (NČFU) has originated on the basis of the law by transformation of the Czech Fund of Visual Arts (ČFVU). It is a property foundation, and every year it releases financial means to support projects from the sphere of visual art (1995 – 3 002 000 Kč / 96 839 €, 1996 - 2 864 000 Kč / 92 387 €, 1997 - 1 800 000 Kč / 58 065 €, 1999 - 1 700 000 Kč / 54 839 €, 2000 - 1 800 000 Kč / 58 065 €, 2001 - 954 000 Kč / 30 774 €). It is an important, and we hope also perspective source, in the management of which also the visual artists' community of the Czech Republic can exert some of its influence (the election of directorate and supervisory council of the foundation). The ČFU foundation contributed with a grant of 25 thousand CzK (ca 800 €) to the elaboration of this input analysis.

The Centre of Contemporary Art and its Foundation have the stock in artworks and allocate the means allotted by the founder, or gained from sponsors. They announce main grant programmes and every quarter of the year they administer the so-called complementary grants.

3.4 Mediated resources – tax deductions, social allowances

In the taxation sphere the income tax of individuals does not relate to scholarships from state budget, regional budgets and from the means of a university or college, and to contributions from the means of foundations, foundation funds and civic associations. Furthermore, there is income resulting in the form of authors' copies.

Professional civic associations are exempt from the tax on subscriptions. The subject of tax is not the income resulting from activities derived from their function, on the presumption that the costs on these activities are higher (there is a necessity to keep books on each activity separately). Tax exemption relates also to income from hire of real estate, which is part of the foundation's stock and is entered in the foundation register. The ratal for corporate bodies not founded for enterprise can be further reduced by 30 % (but the maximum of 1 000 000 CzK = 322 600 €) under the conditions given by the law.

VAT-exempted are the taxable performances carried out by subjects, which are not founded for enterprise, within the scope of their main activity.

Buildings, flats or independent non-residential premises owned by associations of citizens or generally non-profit companies (o.p.s.) are exempted from real estate tax.

Tax-exempted from the inheritance and donation taxes are the gratuitous acquisitions of property aimed at financing of facilities and humanitarian events in the cultural sphere. At the same time the donor can depreciate the value of the gift from the tax base only in the case if the gift was acquired by organising of a public collection according to the law and up to the limit set in a different manner for individuals and corporate bodies.

Social preferences, concerning to visual artists, were not indicated.

State commissions are not systematically assigned.

3.5 Professional association's own (financial) resources

Only sporadically some unions of visual artists have created their own income sources, mainly by running a sales gallery (Nový Jičín, Teplice).


4.1 National documentation, National arts archive

There is no integral central documentation centre for the contemporary visual art in the Czech Republic. Archive documentation of the institution and corporation activity is secured by the archive law. Documentation funds are being built by: The Institute of Art History at the Academy of Sciences in Prague (selective encyclopaedia published), Chagall Art Centre in Ostrava (republication of Toman's dictionary and release of the Dictionary of Czech and Slovak visual artists of XX. century) and the Society for contemporary art in Ostrava (electronic dictionary of visual artists 1800/1900 -).

Selective documentation is provided by the central art museums (The National Gallery Prague, the Museum of Arts and Crafts Prague, the Moravian Gallery in Brno, the National Technical Museum Prague – design) and by a network of regional galleries. Very valuable is the documentation of the Union of Visual Artists of the Czech Republic (and its legal predecessors, from 1950 to present) and the only issue published so far – Register of professional visual artists active in the territory of the Czech Republic (

On the turn of the 80's and 90's of the 20th century a selective video-documentation of authors of visual art was made by the then Czech Fund of Visual Arts (ČFVU). This documentation is now part of the Czech Arts Fund Foundation.

Documentation of designers and design is provided (also in co-operation with the UVU ČR) by Design centrum České republiky, organisational section of the state with its seat based in Brno.

4.2 Information, service and documentation centres

A specialised fund and documentation is built by the Centre for Contemporary Art (Soros, Information services are provided by individual professional associations according to their possibilities; on a limited level this service is offered centrally by the UVU ČR, by means of corporations – member organisations as well as by means of contact points. Yet infant is the distribution of information by e-mail to visual artists entered in the Register of professional visual artists active in the territory of the Czech Republic, also in selection by their discipline.

The visual artists' community in the Czech Republic has not its own information service and artists are dependent on the services of private providers (customs proceedings, material, services, legal assistance, tax consultancy etc.)

An ample private catalogue collection (Study archive of Galerie H) was built by Jiří Hůla in Kostelec nad Černými Lesy (it contains also duplicates of catalogues from the documentation of the former SČVU).

The collection of catalogues of the is located at the National Gallery in Prague, the library of the Union was used as the basis for the newly built library of the Visual Arts Faculty at the Technical University in Brno (FaVU VUT Brno).

4.3 Art museums, galleries – national, public and private

The system of state and regional galleries is stated under the paragraph 4.1. A number of important exhibition halls are financed by big cities – e.g. The House of the Arts of the City of Brno, Gallery of the Young in Brno etc.

Besides, there exist already established marts in the Czech Republic, private sales and exhibition galleries and art centres. Among them, higher ambitions are realised by the CHAGALL Visual Arts Centre in Ostrava (exhibition programme, profiled events, dictionary of visual artists). At present, there is an evident effort to create a union of such galleries, which would also be a partner of the professional Union of Visual Artists of the Czech Republic. By a joint advance the chances would increase to reach the change in legal regulations, which would lead to the activation of the visual art market with the works of the living artists.

4.4 Art schools system

Art schools have huge tradition in the Czech Republic. After 1990 the whole structure of studies changed, which is obvious also from the academic titles (academic painter and academic sculptor were replaced by BcA., MgrA.).

Beside the Academy of Visual Arts in Prague (AVU) and the College of Arts and Crafts in Prague (VŠUP) there appeared also the new FaVU (Faculty of Visual Arts) of the VUT Brno. Visual Arts disciplines are professionally taught at the Faculty of Applied Arts and Design of the newly established University of Jan Evangelista Purkyně (UJEP) in Ústí nad Labem, at the Technical University in Liberec, pedagogical faculties of the Charles University in Prague, the Western Bohemian University in Pilsen and at the Department of Visual Creations of the Pedagogical Faculty of the Ostrava University. Distance studies for artistic photographers were established at the University in Opava.

Visual art disciplines are taught at the Theatre Faculty (DAMU) and Film Faculty (FAMU) of the Academy of Musical Arts (AMU) in Prague.

The traditional capacities of professional education at pedagogical faculties in České Budějovice (Budweis), Brno, Olomouc and Ostrava have improved.

In secondary schools system secondary schools of arts and crafts in Prague, Brno and Uherské Hradiště and a number of other specialised schools (glass, pottery, textile, design) continue to prove excellent results.

The school network has spread by private schools, there has appeared for instance the Private Higher Graphical School and Secondary Graphical Art School in Jihlava or the Secondary Private Art School in Ostrava, excellent results are proved also by Restoration and Conservation Techniques Institute in Litomyšl.

To improve the functioning of the art schools network, an inter-departmental commission of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic, in which also the UVU ČR has its representation (section C).


5.1 Shows, festivals, presentations, fairs and other events documenting contemporary creation

5.1.1 Visual art shows

Large displays of visual art organised before 1989 have not found their continuation. The political order and purposefulness of those events was much too vivid. Exhibition possibilities improved enormously and allow a prevailing individual or group presentation.

Out of the excellent events lasting from the previous era, there is only Biennale (of graphic design) in Brno, a subject-oriented display founded in co-operation with the Moravian Gallery in Brno forty years ago, peaking this year with its XX. volume, connected with the international ICOGRADA congress.

The tradition of the pre-war salons organised with the support of the Baťa company is continued by the Zlín salons, which are a strictly selective, professionally conceived display of the contemporary visual art. We are glad to state that due to the care of the Union of Visual Artists in the Pilsen region there has arisen and this year enters its fourth volume the excellent Central-European Drawing Biennale (Pilsen). The Open universal endorsed Intersalon is successfully organised also by the Association of Southern-Bohemian Visual Artists in České Budějovice (Budweis).

There was an effort of the Czech Art Fund Foundation to continue the two large salons, organised by the SČVU in 1988 and 1989, by organising an Open Salon 2000 in the jubilee year. Out of the initiative of the civic association Salva Guarda in Litoměřice the Salon of Painters from Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia was organised that year as well, the second volume of which will take place this year. Guests of the 1st year were artists from Slovakia, this year the guests will be artists from Germany.

The Inter-Kontakt-Grafik (Prague civic association), founded on the background of the Association of free graphics, organises the International Graphics Triennale in Prague this year. Biennale of small graphics Grafix Břeclav was founded and organised by the Museum and gallery in Břeclav with the support of the UVU ČR (first volume in 2001). Every two years the SVUT Ostrava organises the Mail art 1300 mm2 in cooperation with the Ostrava Gallery. Most corporations organise a display of their members' and Guests' works (e.g. the representative salon of the artists of the Highlands in Jihlava in 2001, salons of interior architects etc.)

The Gallery of the Capital of Prague is the main organiser of the also strictly selective Biennale of Young Art (IV. volume between February and May 2002).

5.1.2 Art festivals

There are not many festivals in the Czech Republic, interconnecting all kinds of artistic activities. There is only the tradition of the Rowanberry feast in Žďár nad Sázavou, part of which is also a set of visual art exhibitions.

Most art museums (galleries) feature presentation cycles of contemporary visual art as parts of their programmes. Despite the documentation duty, there still prevail the general or individual opinions of the curator in the selection of authors, and sets presented this way (and collections formed from them) represent only some currents of visual expression, but they do not provide the objective professional (scientific) documentation of the entire spectrum of (not only professional) visual artistic activities in the given collection area.

5.1.3 Art prizes and awards

Trends of visual art are documented also by awards. In the Czech Republic there existed a system of awarding visual artists with honorary state titles (meritorious artist, national artist, state prize laureate). Political connotations discredited the whole system and it was abandoned after 1989. At present there is no state prize awarded in the sphere of visual art in the Czech Republic. Immediately in 1990 a civic association awarding the Jindřich Chalupecký prize to artists under 35 years of age, connected with scholarship stay in the USA. Prizes are awarded also by corporate (and other) towns, and they will also be awarded by regions. Also the UVU ČR prepares the status of its single visual art award per calendar year – however, the elaboration of documentation and acquisition of experts willing to collaborate in the nominating and selection process will yet take some time. Most prizes are awarded in connection with the discipline (or competitive) displays of applied art and design. The credit for this goes mainly to the Design centrum ČR, as well as the Architects' community. The architects, within the scope of the traditional Grand Prix, award also the prize for the visual artwork in architecture, Design centrum ČR awards the National prize for design, Excellent product of the year regard, and also (in collaboration with the UVU ČR) organises the competitions Interior of the year and Young cover. At both of these competitions also the UVU ČR Prize is awarded. The UVU ČR awards this prize also at the Brno Biennale, Central-European Drawing Biennale (Pilsen) and Intersalon AJV (Budweis). The UVU ČR (and its associations) also nominates for prizes in the rank of design, as well as for the awards of personalities – visual artists, theorists, managers, gallery keepers or visual art favourers (patrons).

5.1.4 Fine art fairs

An effort at starting a visual arts fair was made by the Brno Fairs and Exhibitions (BVV) at the beginning of the 90's of the 20th century, but with sparing success. The destruction of the Dílo monopoly and origin of many private, though financially weak galleries did not allow massive financial input to successfully start a similar event. Moreover, with the opening of the borders many artists got the impression that the world was waiting just for their works and thoughtlessly assailed at adventurous exhibitions, which often led to disaster and loss of consigned artworks.

In the 2nd half of the 90's the visual art market began to settle down and a group of prestigious galleries arose (especially in Prague), a number of galleries and art centres of excellent stature also outside Prague (Zlín, Ostrava, Brno) and also several marts are doing very well (Prague, Brno). However, the UVU ČR has not managed yet to find any suitable partner – an association of galleries and marts.

A new attempt at a fair has been lately tried the fair management of Terinvest Praha at its autumn event TENDENCE 2002 (Profi-interiors, Silicium Bohemica, Art expo) in the new exhibition centre in Prague – Letňany. The results are yet constrained, the UVU ČR is interested in the origin of such an event, but it will not be possible to create it on the European level without the interest of businessmen.

On the verge of June/July 2002 there was the 1st ART PRAGUE in the Mánes gallery in Prague – another attempt at founding a contemporary art fair in Prague, however aimed only at galleries developing also non-standard exhibition activities along with art trade.

5.2 Symposia, open – air workshops, working sessions

Also the organising of symposia in the Czech Republic continued in some traditional events from the era before 1989. It was the symposium on pottery and ceramics in Bechyně (organised in co-operation with the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Prague), furthermore the Hořice symposium abolished after 1969 (statues of stone) and a large-format symposium on metal (Ostrava). The changed circumstances led to the termination of some of these events (e.g. Hořice was limited in space or location of statues on St. Gotthard's knoll and in 2001 it finished for good, the Ostrava symposium had one sequel, but lost the backing of the prosperous metallurgic plants and perished.

Immediately after 1990 a number of new symposia appeared, initiated by individuals or corporations. Most of them did not last for long because had insufficient financial coverage and the organisers soon understood that it was more convenient to go to symposia than to organise them. Still, some of the events that had a good professional basis remained and are now pride of the UVU ČR and its corporations. It is mainly the painters' Large Format symposium in Valtice (10 m2, this year already 7th volume), sculptors' symposium Wooden Sculpture (Žďár nad Sázavou – in a perfect symbiosis with the city there arose a gallery of almost 100 statues in the area of the whole town), the enamel symposium in Frýdlant nad Ostravicí (Email art). Useful encounters were organised by the Brno Association of Ceramists (Lithuania, Canada, Israel, Japan, China, Korea) and the international symposium aimed at a didactic toy. Among the significant events the UVU ČR helped found, it is the Mikulov symposium, sculptors' symposium on clay slate in Hředle u Rakovníka etc. A number of small symposia and workshops was organised by UVU ČR corporations (Karlovy Vary, Pardubice) or associates (Sgrafito in Náměšť na Hané, Olomouc).


6.1 Periodicals dealing with visual art

At the end of the 80's the SČVU issued a prestigious magazine Výtvarná kultura (Visual art culture) and began to publish also the bi-monthly Ateliér (Studio). The successional UVU ČR was not capable of financing both magazines without the state's subsidy and so it initiated their independence in the form of civic associations and delimitation of property. Visual art culture returned to its original name Visual Art and published as a bimonthly, now with irregular periodicity. Until the end of 2000 an excellent quarterly Umění a řemesla (Arts and Crafts) was also published.

The bi-monthly Ateliér has been kept running without interruption at the price of significant sacrifices of the editorial collective. By having become an independent subject, the direct bond to the artistic community and union has been broken and the magazine is no more an informative bulletin, but a magazine with strong orientation on a specific group of artwork creators as well as consumers.

The UVU ČR is not financially capable of issuing its own periodical and only uses the internal information system (contact points and corporations) and the developing system of electronic information spreading.

In the 90's other professional magazines appeared, which reflect the contemporary visual art processes, such as Prostor Zlín, Umělec etc. The association Inter-Kontakt-Grafik publishes an exclusive Grapheion magazine.

The Bulletin of the Design centrum ČR and a representative quarterly Design trend are oriented on the applied arts spheres.

Individual corporations publish their own information bulletins in the form of intermittent issues (AUM, Q, SBB, AJV) or use their member meetings to spread information, or gatherings at exhibition openings etc.

The UVU ČR covers the distribution of important information and offers by other subjects and makes use of those occasions to attach brief information on the actual problems of the visual artists' community.

6.2 Visual art presentations on the internet

The presentation of visual art on the internet is developing in a promising manner. Specialised websites were created (architects -, a dictionary of visual artists is also available, the UVU ČR has its own website and the Register of professional visual artists active in the territory of the Czech Republic is published on it, many artists have their own presentations.

Documentation of most important events remains accessible on the internet (e.g. Salon 2000 –, Intersalons AJV -, Central-European Drawing Biennale in Pilsen, Sculptors' symposium in Žďár nad Sázavou and others.

The UVU ČR expects to be operating a website oriented on the live contemporary art on the whole (the domain is reserved for this purpose) with the connection onto presentations of sales galleries, marts etc. At the moment some addresses are already available with the names of artists entered in the Register.

Out of the visual artists entered in the Register about 15 % presently dispose of internet connection.


7.1 National umbrella organisations and their incorporation into the international network – IAA/AIAP, UNESCO organizations, ECA ...

The UVU ČR as the legal successor of the SČVU took over the representation of the visual artists' community of the Czech Republic at the IAA/AIAP (UNESCO). The UVU ČR Council is at the same time the National committee of the IAA/AIAP, the president of the UVU ČR Council is at the same time the president of the National Committee of the IAA/AIAP Council. The UVU ČR fulfils this higher position with the effort to reflect and represent interest of the whole artists' community on the one hand, on the other by running the Register of professional visual artists active in the territory of the Czech Republic open also to members of professional associations which are not member organisations of the UVU ČR as well as to qualified individuals.

From the previous era (until 1990) the UVU ČR took over also the membership in some specialised international non-governmental organisations – FIDEM, ICSID, IFI, ICOGRADA, AICA. The last-mentioned is designed for visual art theorists, has individual membership and became inappropriate for the UVU ČR. The membership in other aforementioned organisations is transferred by the UVU ČR gradually onto its member organisations, according to their professional orientation. That already happened in the case of ICOGRADA (transferred onto the Biennale Brno association, member organisation of the UVU ČR). The transfer is awaiting for other organisations. The payments to FIDEM have so far been made by the AUM with the financial support of the UVU ČR, the continuation of membership in the ICSID and IFI has not been solved yet. The Czech Union of Cartoonists (FECO) and Toy Association (ICCP - UNESCO) are independently tacked with other inter international organisations.

The UVU ČR is a member of the Council of Artistic Communities of the Czech Republic (RUO ČR) and therefore also of the European Council of Artists (ECA). IAA/AIAP and ECA are the only assemblies, where the UVU ČR will further keep its membership due to the universal operation. It also quits memberships in specialised organisations and does not enter new ones (e.g. BEDA) – however, the UVU ČR does not oppose the fulfilment of information services in the form of a non-contributory connection to those organisations in any form, which does not contradict internal regulations of those organisations.

7.2 Validity of the international ID card of a professional visual artists -IAA/AIAP (UNESCO) member

The membership in the UVU ČR and entry in the Register of professional visual artists active in the territory of the Czech Republic is connected with the issue of an ID card of an IAA/AIAP professional visual artist and a membership card of the UVU ČR. This card with marked membership in the professional association (corporation) has been issued by the UVU ČR Council in the function of the National Committee of IAA/AIAP since 1996 to all the Union members, for one or two years at the most, depending on the settlement of the membership fee. The ID card is considered an unofficial document the authority of which we are trying to reinforce in negotiations with (tax, customs and other) authorities as well as clients.

We understand the use of the ID for free or reduced fee entries as a facultative, yet significant part of its strength. In the situation when the state ingerence in the Czech Republic is growing weaker we are trying make this document accepted in art museums financed from public sources. Three biggest art museums accept it (the National Gallery in Prague – reduced entry fee, The Museum of Arts and Crafts in Prague and the Moravian Gallery in Brno – free entry). Also almost all bigger regional galleries (former state galleries) allow the cardholders free entry. The only problem among the more important galleries arose at the Gallery of the capital of Prague, with which the negotiation about the acceptance of the cards has not been positively concluded yet.

The acceptance of these ID cards of our foreign colleagues is guaranteed under the same conditions. We expect that the revitalisation of the IAA/AIAP after the European members' conference in Heidelberg (May 2002) and after the congress in Athens (October 2002) will reinforce the significance of the card and will enable its application in the countries where it has been almost unaccepted, chiefly in Italy, and mainly at the Venice Biennale.


8.1 TV and radio broadcasting, national periodical press

The position of visual art in media is rather weak. In addition, the picture is rather distorted by the publishing of works and opinions of excellent, but sometimes eccentric or controversial individuals, or by a selection connected subjectively with the redactors' taste.

Culture on the whole is not conceptually presented in the public media (radio, television), and even less in private stations and in owner-intransparent press representing and advocating problematically illegible interests. News from the cultural sphere are scattered in various broadcasts, with the exception of the morning issue of Kulturní mozaika (Cultural mosaic) broadcast by the Czech national broadcasting company on the Vltava station.

Especially in the public media where an independent sports report issue is traditionally presented, there lacks an equally ample well-researched cultural broadcast, which would be an everyday part of all types of news reports.

The whole affair, though, is enormously delicate and complex; any serious conclusions can only be made on the basis of long-term expert programme analyses, which are not available on the topic of visual art at the moment.



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This introductory study describing the situation in the Czech Republic was originated in 2001 at the expense of the Union of Visual Artists of the Czech Republic with the support of the Czech Arts Fund Foundation. The work on the text was accomplished in February 2002.

© PhDr. Oskar Brůža, elaborator and chief editor

Further collaborated on the text: Václav Kubát, President of the UVU ČR Council and Mgr. Vít Weber, Executive Vice-President of the UVU ČR Council.

The text was revised in March 2002 by Vice-Presidents of the UVU ČR Council akad. mal. Jan Pospíšil, akad. arch. Jan Tatoušek and akad. mal. Jaroslav Zapletal. Their comments were incorporated in the text.

The overall concept of the study and each individual part is covered by copyright. Copying of the entire study or its individual parts without the author's consent is prohibited. Use in professional texts is possible only in the form of a due quotation.

Translated © by Mgr. Ivory Rodriguez, Brno, Czech Republic, mailto: