Wikimania 2019 bids/Prague
Besides being one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Prague is also a prominent Central European center of arts, culture, education, research and civic culture. Wikimedia already has a strong presence there - we collaborate with almost all institutions in Prague, including Parliament, heritage institute, zoo, all major libraries and more than a handful of NGOs. The office of Wikimedia Czech Republic is also located in Prague and the chapter in a phase of intensive growth and the volunteer community of people interested in Wikimedia activities is quickly expanding. Prague also hosts headquarters of several large IT companies which already sponsor our activities and could be interested in supporting Wikimania. We are more than thrilled to bring the international community to Central Europe and lead interesting discussions on the future of our movement on the background of Wikimedia activities already happening in Prague.
The Czech Wikimedia community is fairly large but surprisingly withdrawn from the outside world; we haven't had many Wikimedia events hosted here and only a few of our members/volunteers often take part in the international Wikimedia meetings such as Wikimania. At the same time, we know that attending international events is always a big motivational factor for our community members, who come back with fresh ideas and readily implement them. Exposing more people from our community to the 'world outside' would, in our opinion, hugely advance our development as a local community. We are also positive that our institutional partners - be it libraries, museums, universities, and others - would find the opportunity of attending Wikimania (or supporting it) very helpful.
Prague as a venue for Wikimania offers several possible "themes" to base our program on. Our chapter has historically been very strong in education activities, hosting events for students but also seniors and other groups of potential Wikipedians. In a broader sense, Prague is a centre of civic culture, with history tied to the democracy movement symbolised by Vaclav Havel. The role of Wikipedia and Wikimedia in promoting a world of freedom, justice and democracy could indeed be a very suitable theme for Wikimania.
Wikimedia Czech Republic is an experienced mid-sized chapter with a developed and dedicated volunteer community but also a stable and growing team of employees (executive director, two project managers, plus administrative contractors and project managing contractors). The chapter is lead by a stable board of trustees who are directly involved in discussions with WMF to host for Wikimania 2019, have been to many past Wikimanias, and are able to reach out to local partners and sponsors. We are also hiring a fundraiser, who could be helpful as the conference date is approaching.
- Previous experience
Wikimedia Czech Republic routinely hosts events for >100 people, including the annual Wikiconference where we are responsible for program selection, accommodation for some guests, travel arrangements, video streaming, refreshments and all other aspects of event organization. We have also hosted Wikimedia Education Kick-off meeting a few year ago where we directly helped with visa for guests. One member of our board has additional considerable experience with obtaining visas in the Czech environment.
- Current team members
I currently serve as chair of the board of Wikimedia Czech Republic. I have been a Wikipedian since 2007 and board member of our chapter since 2013. I spearheaded Czech efforts to start collaborations between Wikipedia and academia. These days I do all sorts of things, from grantmaking and fundraising to mentoring volunteers and employees.
I became active in Wikimedia Czech Republic in 2009, starting a (at that time) innovative and unique grant system for Wikipedians who love taking pictures. Wiki-photography has been a steady theme for me ever since. I am very active in the international movement, regularly participating in Wikimania but also in regional conferences such as CEE Meeting.
I have been working for Wikimedia Czech Republic since early 2016, after becoming the first employee our our chapter. I am a project manager for education and I coordinate efforts aiming to teach new people how to use Wikipedia (including classes for senior citizens). I also organized the Czech WikiConference 2017.
I work on a position of a 'project manager for multimedia' since mid-2017, supporting our flourishing community of wiki-photographers. My task is to keep the community happy, growing and supplied with fresh new ideas and photographic projects.
- Simple and cost-effective transport from all over the world
- Europe, regular: travel time to most of the European airports is 1-2h (1h FRA, MUC; 1,5h CDG, FCO, AMS; 2h LHR, SVO), apx. 5times per day each
- Europe lowcost: prague is hub of Ryanair and Wizzair with more than 20 flights per day, connection mainly with STN, FCO, BGY, there are also Norwegian flights to OSL and many more
- Eastern Europe: there is wide connection with Russia (SVO, SVX, LED, KGD, ROV etc.) operated by CSA and different Russians Airlines
- North America: there are directs every day to JFK, YUL, PHL around 8h. There are flights with connection to most of the airports operated by DL, KLM, AF, BA with one fast connection on their hubs with flight times around 9-12h
- South America mostly through CDG, OPO, AMS or North American airports, flight times more than 12h
- Asia: there is direct connection to DOH and DBX 4 times per day, from where are flights to Asia operated, flight times around 8-12h, there are also direct to China, Japan and South Korea
- Africa: most of the traffic goes through CDG, BCN and OPO or DOH and DXB, flight times 8-15h
- Close proximity to an international airport
- PRG, 30m driving distance from centre, connection to most European hubs (FRA, MUC, LHR, etc. 5 times per day), directs to JFK, YUL, PHL etc.
Prague has more availability in July and August than usual because schools are closed. It has been confirmed by convention services that there will be cheaper rates and more availability at either a congress center or hotels with conference facilities.
Czech Republic is part of the Schengen Zone, which is visa free for all European Nations (with the exception of Russia and Belarus), USA, Canada; Schengen visa can be obtained on every Schengen Country Embassy, if Czech Embassy is not in the country. We are additionally looking into getting back-up visa support for complicated cases from a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (similar to support in Italy in 2016).
Czech Republic is rated as one of the safest countries in the world, is arguably one of the most liberal countries in the region and is very welcoming to people coming from all over the world and from different backgrounds.
Prague is a place with a relatively low cost of living comparable to most Western European capitals (Price index 100, lower than all Western European capitals).
Both Wikimedia Czech Republic and Wikimedia Foundation are in informal contact with the Prague Convention Bureau over possible venues in Prague. Although there are several options, two stand out the most:
- Congress Centre Prague - the largest conference centre in Prague, can easily accommodate the large number of attendees expected for a Wikimania hosted in Europe. Has many smaller rooms to accommodate various specialized talks. Is very close to parks and restaurants and there are student dorms located in the vicinity (mostly empty during summer months). The WMF Events Manager has had recent conversations with them that were very productive. The Holiday Inn (3 star hotel) and Centre could work well. Included congress area + adjacent hotel and price could probably be negotiated. Has superb wifi networks, support for organizers, very good catering options. Easily accessible by underground line C from anywhere in the city (eg. direct route from train station - 5 min trip every 3 minutes). Beautiful views of the historical panorama of Prague.
- Hilton Prague - Hilton Prague offers main hall with capacity more than 1350 people, which you can divide to 3 smaller halls. Their conference center also offers many break out rooms with capacity from 10 to 200 people (). Hotel is located 5 minutes walking distance from transport hub Florenc, 5 minutes with metro B or C line to the city centre, there is main Coach and Train station located nearby. There are many other lodging options including student dorms Jednota 10 minutes walking which offers cheap accommodation option.