The region of South Moravia stretches throughout south and southwest Moravia, its counties including Blansko, Brno-město, Brno-venkov, Hodonín, Vyškov, and Znojmo. Its southeastern part borders Austria and Slovakia. The regional capital is Brno, which is an important train and communications hub with good connections to Prague and Olomouc, as well as to Bratislava and Vienna. The Czech-Moravian Highlands and the Moravian Karst form the region’s west and northwest; the Carpathians lie to the east, and to the south is the Podyjí and Pálava. The region is one of the most populous in Czechi, and Brno is the largest regional capital after Prague. It is a significant center whose influence in the sphere of culture, as well as environmental, civic and other initiatives, transcends regional borders. Brno is home to many important cultural and educational institutions — in the fine arts, there is the Moravian Gallery, the Brno House of Arts, the Fine Arts Faculty of the Technical University, the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts, among others. Private and independent galleries and initiatives provide a certain counterweight to these classical institutions — the Fait Gallery, Industra, OFF/FORMAT, Terén, Vašulka Kitchen Brno, in addition to others. The Nadace Veronica, Nesehnutí and Hnutí Duha cultivate environmental and social spheres.
Brno also plays a major role in the region as a whole, where smaller towns usually offer museum and gallery institutions of local significance. The afore-mentioned Galerie Města Blanska, which has even become well known outside the region, despite working from a town with weak cultural tendencies. Some cities also hold festivals, summer schools, artistic symposia, and the like; Boskovice’s music-literary-artistic Festival pro židovskou čtvrť comes to mind. As part of our survey, respondents repeatedly indicated that recent years have brought increased demand for richer cultural production which expand the range of the locally popular though commercially oriented programs (Boskovice, Znojmo, Blansko). This goes hand in hand with initiatives which aim to create spaces for more alternative culture, and also develop community activities and improve the quality of shared public space (Prostor in Boskovice, Umění do Znojma and its GaP project, ČSOP in Kyjov). One of the reasons for this shift can be found in the displacement of Brno’s working people into the areas surrounding the wider metropolis, the coming of age of the next generation, as well as shifts in political representation.
One of the environmental topics which has gained wider traction is global warming and the resulting drying-out and degradation of the soil. The conservation (or lack thereof) of the “Moravian Amazon” at Soutok, and Brno’s zoning plans, which presume the liquidation of the gardening colonies in the city center. Barbora Lungová has worked in the sphere of ecology for a long time and, apart from leading various cultural activities, she herself has often initiated caretaking projects of select natural localities around Kyjov. The artist Tomáš Šenkyřík has been working in acoustic ecology, identifying environmental problems through an acoustic approach. Kateřina Šedá has worked on community projects both in and outside Brno, and the Nadace Veronika and the Jihomoravská komunitní nadace have worked with artist Sonya Darrow. There are also numerous other artists who have initiated various civic projects (Jan Karpíšek, Hynek Skoták, et al.) and occasional interventions (Global Genocide Inc. at the Moravský Písek gravel pits).
South Moravia is not a region known for its massive ecological or social problems, and the cultural happenings of its rural areas is most often connected with traditional folklore. Despite this, or perhaps due thereto, there is much open space for initiatives and individuals who connect contemporary art with cultivating the quality of the shared living space.