Charter 77 Foundation hopes to raise millions for the disabled in a charity auction

Frantisek Janouch

For close to ten years, the Charter 77 foundation has been raising funds under a project called "Barriers" to help the disabled in the Czech Republic. One of their main regular fund-raising events is an auction of works of some of the country's most renowned artists. In the past five auctions, over 15 million Czech crowns were collected. The foundation hopes to make another fortune this Sunday, when several hundred works worth over 6.5 million Czech crowns from artists such as Jiri Kolar, Stanislav Libensky, and Jiri Anderle will be auctioned in Prague. David Vaughan spoke to one of the founders of the Charter 77 foundation, Frantisek Janouch:

"We first make an exhibition, which is in a very privileged exhibition hall. It is an old Gothic space in the Karolinum, the oldest historical seat of Charles University. Then, after two weeks of the exhibition, the donations are auctioned off. We usually get several million Czech crowns, which are then used for our projects. We not only have the several million crowns. Every month, about thirty to forty thousand people have been contributing twenty crowns regularly for almost ten years. This is a fantastic solidarity."

That is a huge amount of money. What sort of projects do they go into?

"We have many programmes. First we have assistance to disabled people. We also have a project we are doing to help disabled people use computers and integrate them into normal life. We have many people, who are getting software and hardware and can work from home. They don't need to go to offices and go through all sorts of problems. It is very successful. We have programmes, which give fellowships for disabled people to continue their studies or to study abroad. We also have programmes, which were very popular some five or six years ago, contributing money for the building of barrier-free access to public places, schools and public buildings."

And at the same time you are also supporting Czech and international artists to get them better known.

"Yes, of course. This is what I call giving and getting something in return. This is in fact the first time that we started this. The people were a little bit sceptical about it. But then, when they saw the donations from other artists, they came and they asked to exchange some of the things because they thought they were not good enough and now it is almost a privilege to be invited to this auction. Six times, over 300 people donated several hundred creations of art."

And David Vaughan was speaking there to Frantisek Janouch from the Charter 77 foundation about the "Barriers" project aimed at aiding the disabled...