Published on December 16, 2021

Network of creative spots to drive transformation of the North-Bohemian coal region

by Václava Marková, Centre for Transport and Energy

A new project foresees the establishment of a network of creative centres in the Czech north-western Ústí nad Labem Region, aiming to support the local cultural and creative sectors and the just transition process.

Up to 15 spots could participate in the transformation of the Ústí Region by offering a supportive space and consultancy to people working in the creative area. Each of these creative hubs is supposed to be based in a different town, and together they should function as a creative network covering the whole region.

Besides general consultancy services offered in all centres, each will specifically concentrate on one selected area, be it the gaming industry, handicrafts or the fine arts. The exact operation of each of the centres is still to be established. The financial support could be provided from European Just Transition Fund.

You can’t use up creativity

The idea to build a creative network comes from the platform consisting of people from the non-profit, governmental as well as private sectors. They teamed up to support the cultural and creative development of the region. As a result, they launched the website kreativní.uk with the ambition to facilitate the transition of the coal region through the support of creativity.

“As we quote on our website, you can’t use up creativity, the more you use, the more you have. It would be a mistake not to engage this unique source in the transition of the structurally disadvantaged regions”, said Lucie Podrápská, project manager of the Innovation Centre of the Ústí nad Labem Region (ICUK) which participates in developing the creative platform.

Besides the Innovation Centre, other stakeholders cooperating on the development of the kreativní.uk platform and the creative centres project include representatives of the Ústí Region, local branches of the CzechInvest agency, the Veřejný sál Hraničář – cultural centre of Ústí nad Labem, which is to become the heart of the whole network, and more than 15 other partners from the whole region.

A need to invest in people

The support of culture and the creative industry has the potential to prevent young people from leaving the region, create new jobs and contribute to the region’s GDP. “The cultural and creative sectors have been positively transforming European industrial regions on a long-term basis, and when it comes to GDP, they produce at least the same economic benefit as traditional industries,” explained Jiří Řehák, Deputy President of the region for culture and tourism.

“If we want young people to stay in the region, we need to offer them possibilities to fulfil their ambitions. Everyone talks about investing in people instead of cement, and this is exactly the case where initial support of the activities of local talents can be recouped many times over”, the Deputy President added.

Besides the Ústí nad Labem Region, there are two more coal-mining regions in the Czech Republic: the Karlovy Vary Region and the Moravian-Silesian Region. All of them are going to share the support of CZK 43 billion (€1.7 billion) from the Just Transition Fund.

This year, representatives of the regions were choosing “strategic projects” which would be able to contribute significantly to their region’s transformation. Although the creative centres project received good evaluation with high transformation potential, in the end, the Region’s leaders have decided not to label it as “strategic”. Therefore, its authors want to make use of the Just Transition Operational Programme calls.