7. 4. 2017

Dear readers,

With this editorial I would like to draw your attention to our last annual conference Czech Republic: The Shape We’re In. It was the most important event of the year for the Aspen Institute Prague, which started an ambitious long-term evaluation of the state of the Czech Republic and the region. The underlying goal of the project is to generate ideas for improvement in the country’s policy-making and governance.

The conference, organized in cooperation with the Forbes magazine, took place on October 20, 2015, in Jatka78 to present the work of three expert working groups. In the months preceding the conference, they gathered regularly to prepare three studies on the Economic Potential, Quality of Life, and National Security of the Czech Republic. The quality of the reports was guaranteed by well-respected experts, namely Oldřich Bajer and Tomáš Víšek (Economic Potential), Michael Žantovský (Quality of Life), and Tomáš Pojar (National Security). The findings of these analyses were commented on by members of the government of the Czech Republic and discussed at three separate panels.

We were proud to welcome the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Bohuslav Sobotka, the Deputy Prime Minister for Science, Research, and Innovation Pavel Bělobrádek, and the Minister of the Interior Milan Chovanec, and hear their assessment of the most pressing issues for the Czech Republic as discussed in the studies. The unique opportunity of having government representatives react to our analyses attracted more than 300 guests. The conference was covered by the biggest national media and was streamed online by the Czech Television.

The Annual Gala Dinner followed the conference and was attended by many distinguished guests. Special guest of the evening was the President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who received the Aspen Prague Award 2015 for his outstanding contribution to democracy building and for helping maintain strong transatlantic relations and promoting regional cooperation between the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. All of these topics resonate strongly with the core values of the Aspen Institute Prague.

The choice of the annual conference venue was not a coincidence and resonated with our interest in creative placemaking. The unique concept of Jatka78 started with the transformation of a former slaughterhouse into a modern multifunctional theater, by means of community funding and cooperation with local authorities.

The project is a model example of using arts and creativity as a tool for social and economic revival of cities and regions. These and many more topics will be discussed at the Open Up! Creative Placemaking Festival 2015, which we are currently preparing with our partners from Pilsen 2015, European Capital of Culture. The event takes place on December 2–3 in Pilsen and Prague. Building on last year’s successful first edition, we hope that it will again attract a large number of visitors and contribute to the discussion about modern approaches to urban and cultural development and innovation driven by creativity.

In this issue, devoted to creative industries, you can learn more about projects similar to Jatka78. Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa Nicodemus write about examples of successful cooperation between cities and artists in the USA, contributing to the social and economic capital of the areas. Other authors share their experience with creative incubators and cultural centers in Central and Eastern Europe.

I believe that the activities of Aspen Institute Prague will continue to appeal to a wide audience and I am looking forward to meeting you at our upcoming events. Follow our website and social networks for the latest information and updates.

I wish you an inspiring reading.

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