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Czech Museum of Romani Culture could lose 13 % of its budget

Brno/Prague, 17.6.2014 19:56, (ROMEA)
The building of the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  Anglos, Wikimedia Commons)
The building of the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Anglos, Wikimedia Commons)

Organizations funded by the Czech Culture Ministry, including some of the biggest national cultural institutions, will be required to reduce their expenditures next year by 10 %, according to the current proposed budget for 2015. These organizations, however, are already working with bare-bones budgets, and a 10 % reduction could mean significant restrictions to the work they are tasked with undertaking by law.

The Museum of Romani Culture in Brno could be affected by as much as a 13 % budget reduction. The Culture Ministry is slated to save one billion crowns (EUR 36 million) next year. 

The ministry is insisting the organizations it has established restrict their operational costs, including wages. The "Brněnský deník" daily reports that the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno has already received a letter from the Culture Ministry informing it that its budget will be reduced by 13 %.   

"This is an enormous problem for us. We would have to close down the positions of the three lecturers who organize our educational programs. That would greatly restrict our work," the daily quotes museum director Jana Horváthová as saying. 

Wages for museum staff were last reduced three years ago. "The employees are already being paid the lowest salaries the law allows," Horváthová warned.

The civil society members of the Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs are against cutting the Museum of Romani Culture's budget. "The civil society section of the Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs is standing up for the Museum of Roma Culture and has sent a letter to the member representing the Finance Ministry calling on the ministry to abandon the idea of reducing the Musuem's budget and to preserve its budget at the 2014 level," David Beňák, Vice-Chair of the Inter-ministerial Commission, told news server Romea.cz.  

In the case of the National Gallery (NG), the reductions mean the monthly average pay for its employees will be reduced from CZK 18 500 to CZK 16 000 (EUR 674 - EUR 583). At the same time, however, the Government has been promising to increase state employees' pay. 

The average monthly wage in the country exceeded CZK 25 000 (EUR 911) last year. For the NG, a 10 % reduction in wage costs would mean approximately CZK 6 million (EUR 218 628) less to work with.

"That would require the letting go of more than 10 % of the organization's employees. The second option, a drastic across-the-board reduction in pay, will not be considered," Vít Vlnas, who has been entrusted with managing the NG, told the Czech News Agency. 

Vlnas said college-educated, internationally recognized experts cannot be expected to see their pay stagnate at minimum-wage level. According to statisticians, those working in culture have long been the second-worst paid group of employees in the public services and administration sector; the only people worse off are those who work in social services, where qualifications, of course, are essentially lower, as is the educational structure of those employed.

The National Library has also received a letter from the Culture Ministry's economic department proposing its state contribution for operations be reduced, including a reduction to wages. "We are currently verifying what sort of impacts the application of this budget would have on the National Library, whether, for
example, it would lead to our having to restrict the performance of some of our legally-required activities," library spokesperson Irena Maňáková told the Czech News Agency.

The National Film Archive also received a letter from the ministry on how it should enact savings next year. That institution, however, then received yet another letter at the end of last week assuring the archive that the ministry will attempt to increase its budget.

Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats - KDU-ČSL) assured representatives of his departments in mid-May that the ministry's budget will be the same next year. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, however, has cut his proposal by a billion crowns compared to this year's budget of CZK 9.9 billion (EUR 361 million).

In its coalition agreement, the Government pledged to propose measures for multiple sources of financing so the sum allocated to culture would approximate 1 % of the state budget. Governments have undertaken such a pledge for years, but the Culture Ministry's budget seems to be heading in the opposite direction.


ČTK, ryz, Brněnský deník, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Finance, ministerstvo financí, Ministerstvo kultury, Muzeum, Muzeum romské kultury



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