Landmark "Obecni Dum" to offer new services incl. use of historic billiards room
No one would question the cultural importance of Prague's Obecni Dum - the city's historic Municipal House dating back to the early 20th century. The famous Art Nouveau building was the site of the proclamation of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918 and was the site for meetings between dissidents including Vaclav Havel and the outgoing communist leadership in November 1989. As a site it is regularly enjoyed by the public for its café, restaurant, exhibition spaces, and famous concert hall. Now, under a new director, Obecni Dum should offer even more.
"Obecni Dum is one of the most important landmarks in Prague: sure a lot goes on here even now, from concerts to all kinds of events, but we want to improve the quality of the services. The new billiards room - 200 square metres - was only used a mere ten hours last year for a special event. It should be part of the changes. My hope is to offer an affordable but unique place to meet, to play pool and have a coffee."
"In short, there are more rooms here which until now were only used for storage, their doors locked. We went through the building from the basement to the attic to uncover what could be uncovered, to see how some spaces could be used in the future."
The Municipal House - owned by the city of Prague - brings in annual revenues of more than 100 million crowns. That said, not everyone will be happy with all the planned changes: under the new director roughly half of 75 full-time staff, from cleaning to maintenance, will have to go, their jobs to be outsourced. According to Mr Vacek and others it will be better for the landmark Municipal House to employ some people only when they are needed; after concerts, after hours, not full-time. As for the public face of Obecni Dum with the reopening of its billiards room and other areas, Mr Vacek has said that he hopes to see some of those changes by this summer.