Research on theatre forms the main area of research at the Arts and Theatre Institute (ATI). The ATI, and especially its Department of Czech Theatre Studies (DCTS), is currently the only research institution in this field in the Czech Republic that focuses on the history of the theatre and thus ensures the continuity and advancement of the study of Czech theatre history, i.e. the conservation and deepening of the historical record of an important phenomenon of Czech national culture.
The DCTS has been engaged in historical research on Czech theatre since it was founded in 1956. Until 1993 it was part of the Institute of Czech and World Literature at the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, when as part of the restructuring of the Academy it was closed there. In 1993 it (with half its original staff) became part of the Theatre Institute, which is now the Arts and Theatre Institute. The main long-term task of the DCTS is work on the large lexicographic project The Czech Theatre Encyclopaedia, which in a series of lexicons is gradually charting theatre culture in the Czech lands across history and genres.
Alongside work on this project, the DCTS is responsible for publishing Essays, Criticism, Analyses, a publishing series it launched and does the conceptual and editorial work on. The DCTS is a collective member of the International Federation for Theatre Research (FIRT/IFTR), in cooperation with which it organises the theatre research conference and it represents Czech theatre studies at the international forum.
Since 1990 it has put together and published the scholarly quarterly Czech Theatre Review, which is the only Czech theatre arts journal with a historical and theoretical focus that publishes not just the work of the DCTS but also of the Czech theatre studies community on the whole. This journal is included in the international databases of the European Science Foundation and European Reference Index for Humanities (ERIH) under no. C 0862-5409.
The DCTS takes part in domestic and foreign projects, encyclopaedic projects in particular, and works with foreign institutions. As part of its professional specialisation In conformity with their areas of expertise The department’s staff give lectures, do promotional work, teach, act as research supervisors and opponents of science and research work, engage in publishing projects, dissertation procedures, and so on, the department’s staff. The department’s researchers have worked on numerous completed research projects and are currently running research projects, many of which have been evaluated as outstanding and some of which have won awards.
Other research activity is conducted in other departments of the ATI, in the Publication Department, the Library of the Theatre Institute, the Information and Documentation Department, and the Department of Collections and Archives.
The ATI’s publishing activity focused on the field of theatre often has the character of research work. The ATI publishes original and translated work on theatre history, theory, and criticism in the publishing series Czech Theatre (which also includes the series Essays, Criticism, Analyses) and World Theatre and apart from these series. It also publishes two series focusing on dramatic works: Theatre Plays (collections of classic works of drama) and The Contemporary Play. It participates in the project Visegrad Drama and edits the magazine Czech Theatre, which is intended for foreign readers interested in Czech theatre.
The ATI issues publications that contain texts of strong scholarship, the writing and preparation for publication of which correspond in character to research work. In their work on the department’s important publishing projects, the lexicons and encyclopaedic type of works, and monographs (e.g. a monograph on Alfréd Radok) expert teams are required to solve terminological problems, integrate new phrases and phenomena into the terminological structure and hierarchy of Czech theatre arts, and fill in the gaps in theatre arts literature that arose during the period before 1989. Finally, it launches new titles created out of professional cooperation and consultation among the department’s editors. These works (especially the original series České divadlo [Czech Theatre] and Světové divadlo [World Theatre]) often represent the first discussion in Czech in the theatre arts of a given topic.
A specific area is the research conducted as part of documentation, archive, collection, and exhibition work. This primarily involves work in the field of state design, which is carried out by the staff of the Department of Collections and the Archive, when specific information or findings obtained as part of processing the collections is made directly available through exhibition work. An example is the series of exhibitions and accompanying lecture on the world-renowned stage designer J. Svoboda (2008 – Ljubljana, 2009 – Buenos Aires) or V. Havel (2008 – Warsaw and Budapest), the stage designer L. Hrůza (2008 – Prague and Stockholm), or the exhibitions Variations – Women Stage Designers at the Turn of the Millennium (2008 – Prague, 2009 – Brno) and Breaking through Space – Charting the Outer Margins of Theatre Design (2009 – Prague). One special outcome was the extensive monograph publication Josef Svoboda – Scenographer (2009). The preparation of exhibitions and catalogues is specialised work that mainly involves writing texts, literature searches, research on sources, preparing bibliographies, and more.
A unique outcome of the Information and Documentation Department is the historical database Theatre, which provides researchers with a basic source of information on theatre since 1945.
Another area of research at the ATI is research on the arts from the perspective of cultural policy. This work is undertaken by the department of the Arts Institute (AI), which was founded in 2005. The AI is currently working on two research projects in a programme of the Ministry of Culture CR: A Study on the State, Structure, Conditions, and Funding of the Arts in the CR (2006 - 2011) and The Socio-economic Potential of Cultural / Creative Industries in the CR (2007–2011). The AI’s research work ties in with analytical and conceptual projects successfully completed in the recent past. This includes, for instance, the project Preliminary Analysis of the Current Links of the Labour Market to the Cultural Sector and Defining the Basic Requirements for Strategic Planning for Employment in this Sector, supported by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs CR with technical assistance from the Operating Programme for the Advancement of Human Resources (OPRLZ) in 2008, and the proposal A Concept for the More Effective Support of the Arts for 2007–2013 from 2006, which was coordinated by the AI.
The AI also directs its research at cultural policy issues on the level of the European Union.
In 2008 the Ministry of Culture named the AI the National Coordination Centre for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue and the AI conducted the project Společně napříč kulturami / Together Across Cultures supported by the European Commission. Alongside other activities this project produced two important research outcomes from work done in cooperation with the People in Need Foundation: Programmes of Multicultural Education in the CR – Research and Analysis of the Effectiveness of Multicultural Education Programmes and Intercultural Education – Expanding and Updating the Manual for Teachers. During the Czech Presidency of the European Council in 2009 the AI secured the content side of an international conference titled ‘Forum for Creative Europe’ organised by the Ministry of Culture.
The individual departments of the AI (music, dance, and literature) also participate to an extent in research work and engage in cultural policy activities (e.g. the activities of the Czech Musical Council).
The AI’s experience and the expanding circle of experts on cultural policy and education that it works with form an important foundation and prerequisite for future work in the field of applied research on cultural policy and education.