Kristýna Břečková: Industra is a unique space

Brno’s independent theater scene has gained more support recently. This may be seen also in the activities of the Industra STAGE theatre platform, which is part of the creative and communication space of Industra in Masná Street. By targeting independent projects and ambitions to function as a production house, Industra STAGE could bring Brno closer to other major towns in the Czech Republic. I interviewed the dramaturgist Kristýna Brečková to find out whether Industra STAGE has an ambition to influence more seriously the theater scene in Brno.

How do you perceive the situation in the Brno's independent theater scene?
I'm involved in the Feste Theater’s activities, so I can say that this situation touches me deeply. There are few entities on the independent scene which cannot compete with each other because of the differences in their focus. There is also a lack of freelance actors in Brno due to the fact that there are not many of us and our coverage is so diverse. And that is a problem we encounter everytime we do a casting for a new performance. Most actors who work with us are engaged in the municipal theaters.

Several years ago a transformation of municipal grant policy was carried out. What is the situation now?
Currently, another transformation is being undertaken. Furthermore, the means for the Brno culture have increased recently. However, the differences between the productions established by the state/municipalities and the others are still unbelievable. The rules on the use of subsidies (eg the possibility to pay the fees) have been amended as well, however, these are the changes that occur more or less in the march. Nevertheless, in the cultural parliament which we attend regularly, the discussions on other amendments that should be passed have taken place. However, their future depends mainly on the political composition of the municipality.

The alpha and omega of the continuous operation of the production house is to ensure steady financing. How does the Industra STAGE deal with this issue?
To be honest, it’s pretty tough. We were informed about the preliminary results from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic in the middle of December 2017 so now we know how much points we obtained. Having this information, we may assume, at least roughly, that we could receive a subsidy at a certain amount. We do not have any information from the Municipality of Brno yet. So, though we continue to work, whether we can fulfill our dramaturgy plan or not we will know at the end of February. Our operating team is limited and is not fully paid for its work because in the meantime, we are in a gray zone.

How does Industry STAGE benefit the Brno audience?
We do our best to present to the Brno’s audience the ensembles and the creators who bring creative work and progressive contemporary drama, improvisation and interesting international cooperation to the Czech theater environment. Our dramaturgy focuses on drama, movement theater and children's theater. The unique space of Industra offers the gallery, first-class coffee and theater in one place. No other such space may be found in Brno. I've heard from a few colleagues from the theater environment that thanks to this space we have a MeetFactory in Brno.

Do you count with a residential program for this year? On whom will it focus?
The Feste Theater has been the main resident here. It has moved its work from the Cabinet of the Muses. At the same time, the residencies of interesting artists are taking place within the Industra art project. Moreover, we plan to offer residency to one dance platform, as has recently become habitual. Its residency would be accompanied by workshops for the public. Unfortunately, as I have just mentioned, I do not know now if it will be possible to fulfill our dramaturgy plan as it is entirely dependent on the funds available in 2018. Newly, we will also develop a cooperation with young graduates from art schools who lack the space and background for their projects.

What has pleased you recently in the field of culture?
I am truly pleased that interesting cultural spaces are being opened and developed, above all in Prague. I am delighted with the production of Venus in Švehlovka. I am delighted that the X10 Theater has extended its scope to the DUP39 area thus creating a a unique place in the center of Prague. And I'm delighted that this trend has found its way even to the smaller towns like Znojmo or Kroměříž.
And obviously, I am delighted that even in the conditions that are by no means ideal, we work with great people who have common vision and step by step get closer and closer to their goal. Gradually, we try to equip the Industra so that it can host even more technically demanding productions. And what makes me most delighted is that the audience is coming to our production, both to the domestic performances (the Feste Theater) and the ones brought within the Stage.

What, on the contrary, has disappointed you?
The people in Brno are generally focused on the center. As if nothing out of the center existed. And that’s really disappointing for me. Actually, for me it’ s an expression of fear from new and unknown things. From a long term view, I really regret that independent culture is so under-funded. And that it has lots of difficulties with finding new donors from among the larger companies. What these big companies wish is to be advertised in a visible way as a reward for their sponsorship. And that is not feasible if a recipient can not afford to advertise in official channels. Actually, it is a vicious circle.

What are your wishes?
To have more money and to be able to pay adequately all our colleagues. You see, many of them actually do their work as volunteers or just for a symbolic reward. And the financial issues are more and more complicated. And it's not easy if a great colleague of yours comes to you because he can no longer cooperate with you because he doesn’t have enough money to pay his rent and thus has to go to work somewhere else.