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Events to mark J. A. Baťa’s anniversary in 2018

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Zlin, South Moravia, Dec 20 (CTK) – A number of events will be held in Zlin and other towns on the occasion of the 120th birth anniversary of Jan Antonin Bata, Czech businessman and owner of a “shoemaking empire,” next year, J. A. Bata Endowment representative Zdenek Mikel told CTK on Wednesday.

The endowment will launch a series of events dubbed “11 Days with J. A. Bata” on February 27 by a debate with writer Marketa Pilatova, the author of the biographic novel With Bata in the Jungle, mapping his fate.

The celebrations will culminate with a conference on the building of the Bata factories and towns in Czechoslovakia and in the world to be held in Zlin and nearby Otrokovice on March 7-8. Economists, historians as well as the family members and representatives of the Tomas Bata Foundation will attend it, Mikel said.

“A number of accompanying events will be part of the conference. We are preparing an exhibition entitled Address: Bata, Zlin and we will unveil a commemorative plaque on Jan Antonin Bata’s villa. The Museum of South Moravia will host an exhibition about Bata’s colonisation in Brazil that has so far been presented in this Latin American country only,” Mikel said.

Besides, an art competition for elementary school children and a literary contest for secondary school students are underway, he added.

The endowment is also negotiating with the Czech Centres and embassies abroad about the screening of a documentary film by Dana Lipovska, Brazilian Traces of Jan Antonin Bata, and hosting the Address: Bata, Zlin exhibition there.

Other displays will be arranged in two buildings of the Bata complex as well as in some galleries and on other premises in Zlin.

Within the J. A. Bata 120 project, exhibitions will be also offered to the “Bata” towns in the former Czechoslovakia, where his plants were located.

Jan Antonin Bata (1895-1965), called The King of Shoes, was a step-brother of Tomas Bata, founder of a large shoe-making plant in Zlin. After Tomas died in an air accident in 1932, Jan Antonin replaced him as the firm’s head. The firm and the town of Zlin flourished under his management. He invited renowned architects to the town and established film studios and an art school there. In 1941, he left for Brazil where he lived until his death.

After the war, a Czechoslovak court labelled Jan Antonin Bata a traitor and collaborator in absentia and confiscated his property. He was rehabilitated by courts in 2007 only. Archive documents showed that Bata’s firms had financially supported the wartime Czechoslovak exile government in London and sent a lot of money for anti-Nazi activities.

Bata was also locked in lawsuits with other members of the family over the shoe-making company’s foreign branches. However, he lost them and the property went to Tomas Jan Bata, Tomas Bata’s son.

The Jan Antonin Bata Endowment, established in 2010, is a non-profit institution with the aim to increase the awareness of J. A. Bata and preserve and promote his legacy.

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