South Bohemian Creative Retreats

History

Peter Grosz founded Milkwood, s.r.o. in 1991 to foster opportunities for creative diversity in South Bohemia. As a result of a mixed history of state funding and oppression under Communism, Czechoslovakia experienced a wealth of public artistic activity while inspiring a rich underground of artistic-political resistance, including Charter 77 whose members included future President Vaclav Havel. It was the rapid fall of Communism in 1989, with the Velvet Revolution, that brought about a tremendous renaissance of open artistic expression in a country that had an even longer history of social commitment to intellectual and creative expression.

Mr. Grosz recognized an opportunity to promote international dialogues between Czech and foreign artists, by which both could learn and inspire. In the early nineties, few Czech artists had the resources to travel abroad beyond neighboring countries, and Milkwood set about developing a two-pronged strategy to foster international communication: one, by assisting Czechs with means to travel abroad, primarily through grants and research; and two, by generating interest and opportunities for foreign artists to live and create in the Czech Republic. Milkwood assisted Czech scholars and artists with such support opportunities as Fulbright grants and contacts with galleries and other artists in the United States. It also established ad hoc residencies and produced programs for foreign scholars and artists seeking time and space in the country. In just a few years, Milkwood was producing international jazz collaborations and concerts, violin master classes for young musicians, and theatrical fundraisers for privately run orphanages. Milkwood produced nationwide touring exhibitions of foreign photographers and painters. Milkwood also promoted local communities and produced a documentary surveying the contemporary cultural scene of South Bohemia's largest city, Ceske Budejovice.

Since 1999, when it acquired an historic home in the center of Cesky Krumlov, Milkwood has concentrated on providing residencies and services within this UNESCO-cited village.