The employees of the Olomouc Museum of Art called today morning the Minister of Culture Antonín Staněk to resign. The reason for this requirement is not the future form of the building of the Central European Forum Olomouc “SEFO” itself, not even the decision of the architectural competition to be or not to be reopened. The call is motivated by the steps and claims of the Minister which are directly contradicting the real situation in the Museum. The management of the Museum does have interest on continuing with the debates as they were led with previous ministers and fully respects the decision of Antonín Staněk to reopen the architectural competition; director of the Museum Michal Soukup and his team have been working on it since several months anyway. But, the Museum keeps pointing out constantly the fact that there is no adequate legal platform existing yet which could in the case of recalling the competition lead to a similar deadlock as it happened in 2009, when the Museum did not succeed in organising the competition. This core of the problem is being ignored by the Minister Staněk.
“I only had one single official meeting with the Minister on the topic of SEFO, which took place last year in September, without any ministry officials. On this occasion, the Minister claimed he is going to open a new architectural competition and he was not interested in any further details of this case at all,” said director of Olomouc Museum of Art Michal Soukup. “There was only one single public debate on this topic which took place after nine months since the Minister´s appointing this Monday in the National Gallery. None of the representatives of the Olomouc Museum of Art was invited to join the panel discussion; they even were not even given a chance to present their statement.”
“On the contrary, the Minister is preparing a justification for my suspension; so now instead of working on preparation of the competition, we have to deal with an audit which is to impeach all the work we have done in good faith together with seven previous Ministers – the preparation of the new building. The Museum definitely is ready to organise a new competition and is working on it intensively, but we want the debate and the competition to be acceptable for all stakeholders,” concluded Michal Soukup.
For the reasons mentioned above, the employees of the Olomouc Museum of Art believe, it is impossible for the management of the Museum to lead this debate with the current Minister of Culture Antonín Staněk. Therefore the Open Letter with call on his resignation was send to the Minister on March 21, 2019.
Open Letter to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Minister of Culture Antonín Staněk
Dear Prime Minister, dear Minister,
On Tuesday, March 20, 2019, the Press Office of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic published a press release concerning the course of the panel discussion titled “Central European Forum Olomouc SEFO and Legitimacy of Architectural Competitions Regarding Public Buildings in a Historical City Centre”. This debate was organised by the Ministry of Culture on March 18, 2019 in the Small Court of the Trade Fair Palace. The statutory representatives of the Olomouc Museum of Art were not invited to join this panel discussion.
The press release distorts the outcome of the whole panel discussion in an unacceptable way while it unprecedently insults its participants including the employees of the Olomouc Museum of Art. They are entitled to be “a group of activists”, who, if “feeling the weakness of their own arguments become more and more aggressive and emotionally accuse even those whom they should be thankful, including the Minister who finally hammered out the money for the project…”
The wording of the whole press release illustrates the arrogant behaviour of Minister Antonín Staněk acting from his powerful position which we as an institution are constantly facing. The text implies the Olomouc Museum of Art to be willing to illegitimately gain over 600 million Czech crowns for the building of SEFO only. This claim of the Ministry is questioning not only the legal personality and the liability of the Museum, but also the continuity of all previous steps of the Ministry of Culture itself. These statements are devaluating the role of a successful institution from the administrator of the state´s money to its receiver only.
Minister of Culture Antonín Staněk keeps vilifying the Olomouc Museum of Art constantly; he escalates the tensions and insecurity inside the institution. As he simply does not like their meaning, he keeps insulting the representatives of professional organisations, acknowledged professionals and responsible employees of the Museum intentionally.
Staněk´s reasoning that the Olomouc Museum of Art counteracts the reopening of the public architectural design competition on SEFO building is counterfeit. On the contrary, the management of the Museum keeps consistently and intensively working on a regular and legally and ethically acceptable form of the competition.
At this moment, the core of the problem is not only the visual form of the SEFO building itself anymore, not even the decision of the competition to be or not to be reopened. The situation is much more considerable: the whole conflict influences the very existence of an institution which was able to gain its independence thirty years ago and over time has become internationally acknowledged for its activities and significance.
The status quo is no more considering the Olomouc Museum of Art only. It negatively affects the cultural and political heading of the Czech Republic after 1989. For this reason, we call the Minister of Culture Antonín Staněk to resign.
Employees of the Olomouc Museum of Art
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