soon we will celebrate the Aspen Institute Prague’s first anniversary. In a less than twelve months, we managed to fulfill all goals set for the first year, including the plan to establish Aspen Prague in the international environment, which makes us particularly happy.
In early April, we have organized already a second event in Slovakia. Forum on Security of Critical Infrastructure, which took place in the framework of the GLOBSEC 2013 conference, brought to one table representatives of business and public administration from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Experts from the ICT, nuclear energy and transmission grids companies pointed out to physical and cyber threats that seriously endanger the security of states, businesses and citizens. Stephan Lechner, the European Commission representative and the Director of the Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen, stressed the need for closer cooperation between public and private sectors. His counterparts from Poland, Slovakia and Hungary completed the picture with examples of good practice from Central Europe, while high representatives of Microsoft, Cisco and T-SOFT shared their interest to cooperate on conceptual governmental planning and consumers’ protection. Recent attacks of hackers show us it is high time to engage in concrete public-partnership projects.
On May 3, the 14th edition of the NGO Market took place at the National Library of Technology in Prague, and it was obvious for our Institute to engage actively in the biggest Czech fair of non-profit organizations. At our stand, we offered an interactive presentation using a Twitter wall (my thanks goes to all who took part in the on-line discussion) and we prepared an inspirational lecture on leadership in the non-profit sector for the fair’s visitors. The speech was given by one of the most experienced coaches and authors in that field, our co-founder and the Supervisory Board member, Pepper de Callier. Pepper supported us twice in a short period of time. In Zlín, he gave a speech at a conference on project management, which was organized by students of the Tomáš Baťa University. I am grateful to Pepper for his eagerness to help the Aspen Prague team.
In May, we also organized the first event overseas. The symposium on financing of culture and arts in Central Europe and the United States was made possible thanks to cooperation with Pavla Niklová, Director of the Czech Centre New York. Into the historical premises of the Bohemian National Hall we brought gallery directors (Petr Hájek from The Chemistry Gallery) and arts foundations (Fritzie Brown, CEC ArtsLink), philanthropists (Augusto Razetto from the Eleutheria Foundation, Wendy W. Luers from the Foundation of Václav Havel Library), curators (Benjamin Barber from Graduate Center, CUNY) and diplomats (Jan Bondy from the Czech Foreign Ministry), who discussed ways of funding culture and its possible deployment in public diplomacy strategies. In the hall full of friends of culture, the speakers described current situation in Central Europe, which is defined by the lack of effective cooperation between cultural institutions, foundations and public administration. They also pointed to the excessive dependence on the philanthropists’ support. Concrete examples from the USA (Art Institute of Chicago, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Aspen Institute Arts Program), but also from the Czech Republic and Poland (DOX, Chemistry, Art&Business magazine) of successful art projects were mentioned at the symposium. You can watch the whole discussion on our YouTube channel.
The spring of 2013 was marked by meetings with other branches of the Aspen Institute. Two Board Members, Ambassador Michael Žantovský, and Ivan Hodač, Secretary General of the Association for the Automotive Industry, together with a Member of our Supervisory Board, the businessman and philanthropist Zdeněk Bakala, joined the Spring Board meeting of the entire Aspen network. My Deputy had the chance to learn about the work of the Japanese Aspen, and in April, we both visited our colleagues in Madrid. The Spanish Institute invited us to participate in the traditional Socrates Seminar, whose focus this time was the global middle class (“The New Global Middle Class: How Will Rising Global Consumption Transform Innovation, Trade, and Markets?”) and the legal aspects of freedom of the Internet (“The Deciders: How Google and Facebook Are Shaping the Future of Privacy and Free Speech”). The visit in Spain was also fruitful in making valuable professional connections with experts, whom we want to cooperate within our part of Europe.
Most of our attention in the coming months will be consumed by the preparation of our first anniversary. Combined with the annual conference, the event will again be the opportunity to hear world known politicians, businesspeople and artists. The conference will focus on removing all-types of barriers that constrain successful ideas to be realized. We will touch upon challenges facing democratic governments in increasingly globalized world as well as legal and economic instruments necessary for the free market to thrive, such as free trade agreements. During the conference, we also aspire to elaborate on the values that a successful person or company generates for the society. Since this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the independent Czech Republic, the conference panels will feature Czech personalities known from culture, business and industry, who established renowned Czech brands and created thousands of jobs. Doings so, the Aspen Institute will combine the evaluation of past two decades with the debate oriented at the future of transatlantic community. I do hope you will join our efforts.
I wish you an enjoyable reading and an agreeable summer break.
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