High Season at Czech Centre in New York

Czech Centre in New York

Heads of Czech cultural centres from all over the world gathered this week in Prague for an annual meeting to discuss their strategies for the upcoming months. I spoke to Monika Koblerova, who is in charge of the Czech Centre in New York, about the highlights of this cultural season, and started by asking about the history of the Czech Centre in the US.

"Czech Centre New York was established in 1995 and we are working now in four and a half people and last year for example we organized more than one hundred cultural events not only in New York but also in the US. We are the only Czech centre in the Unites States."

In October you celebrate the Czech Independence Day so it's probably quite a busy month for you.

"It's really very busy month because on the first Saturday in October, for maybe nine years, we have the Czech Street Festival. We are closing the whole 83rd street between Madison Avenue and between Park Avenue. It's a presentation of Czech music, Czech food and Czech theatre. We are ending at about 12 o'clock. Usually we have a concert as an after-party. This year we bring from the CR two music groups, well have Support Lesbiens and the gipsy group Bengas.

Can you tell me something more about the upcoming programme? What other events take place in autumn?

"The main season from September until December and we have about 40 cultural events. Every week we have maybe two or three events. Every first Thursday we have "Dobry Den Party". It's a meeting of the friends of the Czech Republic from our Czech community and the American Public. Usually we have some special guests for this "Dobry Den Party". Next month, in October we start a really important event at Guggenheim museum. It's "Foto: Modernity at Central Europe" and at the Czech centre we prepare one special project "Meet Czech Modernism" and we'll have a presentation of Ladislav Sutnar. This season we will have presentation of Czech film, it's also very important for us. It is about 25 Czech films. It's a presentation of new Czech film. Special guests, director Jiri Menzel, the actress Klara Issova and we hope also Miroslav Ondricek."

Who actually comes to the centre? Is it Czechs who live in the States or rather Americans who are interested in Czech culture?

"Generally we are for American public and we are trying to organize events not only at the Czech Centre but at the main cultural institutions and to cooperate with them to promote the Czech Republic."

The Czech Centre will soon be changing its address. It is scheduled to move next year to the Czech National House (or Cesky narodni dum), a historical building of the Czech community, which was acquired by the Czech Republic in 2001 for the symbolic price of one dollar. The building has been undergoing a radical reconstruction and it is to become a new centre of Czech culture in the United States.