Taking Flight: Three Prague-Based Cultural Organizations Team Up to Crowdfund a New Beginning

The Vzlet cultural center – visualization (source: TZ)

A former movie theater called Vzlet (which means “to take flight” in Czech) founded by the Sokol organization during the First Republic era, will turn into a cultural center in the spring of 2021. This new performance space is the brainchild of three renowned independent performance troupes – the Vosto5 theater, the Baroque orchestra Collegium 1704 and the Vršovice-based Pilotů cinema. This week saw the launch of a crowdfunding campaign on the Czech platform called Donio.

The center, which is to retain the name originally attached to it by Sokol, seeks not only to be a leading center for live performance not just on the local level, but also on the international level. The crowdsourcing campaign – which was given the name “Ready. Set. Vzlet!” – will allow the public to help the new cultural center open, mainly to buy sound and light equipment and amenities for the café. It will be possible to contribute until mid-December.  

During its nearly century-long existence, the building called Vzlet was a successful First Republic movie theater, a worn storage facility, and a multi-functional performance space. In recent years, it has remained unused. It is currently going through its final renovation and waiting to open in the year 2021 under the auspices of three renowned partners.

“At first glance, it may seem that, under normal circumstances, Prague is overwhelmed with cultural activities of all sorts and that it would be difficult to develop new and meaningful projects in this area. When we look closer, however, we find that almost all consequential cultural activities are happening within the historical center, ignoring the considerable potential of the broader historical center, let alone the peripheries. And yet districts like Vinohrady or Vršovice have a fascinating history and an unmistakable genius loci. I’m convinced that this new cultural center which is to open on the border of these two quarters, and which will offer top-level performances and a diverse program, has the potential to become a cultural hot-spot on the map of Prague,” said  Václav Luks, founder and artistic director of Collegium 1704.

Petr Prokop, the director of Vzlet and member of the Vosto5 theater, explained the purpose of the crowdfunding campaign: “We have ideas, we have a team, we have a rental contract with the district, but we don’t yet have the necessary recourses to adequately equip our new cultural center. Today’s theater, and really all live performance including music, is often dependent on the use of expensive scenic technologies, like light and sound technology or video equipment. We therefore turn to our viewers and supporters for help. We’re doing this mainly for our fans and, with their help, Vzlet will belong to all of us!”

“Vzlet presents an opportunity to strengthen the status of the Vršovice district, where we run our Pilotů cinema as one of Prague’s centers of indie culture. What’s more, joining forces with similarly-inclined partners who have a deep knowledge of various aspects of art and culture, we have the opportunity to create an explosive combination open to various original ideas and projects,” added the manager of the cinema Jan Macola.

The Vzlet cultural center will host a diverse program. Alongside its own projects, it wishes to actively seek-out and co-produce high-quality cultural projects which will fit into the overall program of the center. Viewers can look forward to plays by the Vosto5 theater, music in various genres (including open rehearsals and concerts by the co-founder, Collegium 1704), festivals, arts education projects, important cultural and social events, conferences and public projects. The various segments of the program will be overseen by the following people: conductor Václav Luks and music producer Veronika Hyksová will manage the music devision, director and screenwriter Jiří Havelka and dramaturge Marta Ljubková will manage the section dedicated to theater, actor and moderator Ondřej Cihlář will manage talk shows, and producer and manager of the Pilotů movie theater Jan Macola will oversee lectures, research, and media.

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