Central Europe Review: politics, society and culture in Central and Eastern Europe
Vol 2, No 13
3 April 2000

Cultural news from Poland C U L T U R E   R O U N D - U P:
Poland's Week in Culture

Wojtek Kość

This week's roundup takes on a slightly more serious matter of managing the state's financial resources in terms of culture. Also, we invite you to visit Poznań and Opole.

In this week's overview of cultural events in Poland we have:

Click on the appropiate heading or just scroll down to browse.

The State's Culture Resources

Culture has recently been shown much disrespect by parliamentary and governmental circles, as less than one per cent of Poland's budget is reserved for its development (with such money one should, perhaps, rather say for merely keeping it alive). It is all the more important then to sensibly manage those scarce resources in terms of culture.

Last week MPs in the Polish parliament, the Sejm, debated a new legislation project which is to set new standards in state's cultural policy. The project is based on assumption that the Polish cultural system would consist of "cultural institutions" (as the project puts it) - self-managing entities run by several subjects: state, local government or private persons. Running such institutions would guarantee numerous financial benefits, such as tax exemption. Private cultural institutions, if applying for public money, would be in a less privileged position than state and local government ones, as they could only count on the state's support for individual, carefully analyzed cultural projects.

The new legislation project introduces modern tools in the form of managers' contracts for cultural institutions' directors. Checking directors' qualifications poses some controversy however as this would be the responsibility of Minister of Culture. The problem is that directors are in thousands and the Minister's control over them would seem dubious.

Another controversy touches, of course, money allocation. The project says that the budget would grant money for the statutory activity of cultural institutions and that grants would not diminish - moreover, they would grow bigger annually, according to the inflation rate.

The project however says nothing about how those funds would be obtained, as, for instance, in the situation where last year's cultural subsidies were kept at the same level in only a few cultural institutions.

The final sticky issue is an idea of a State Culture Board, composed entirely of politicians, which would allocate this part of "cultural money" that would be left after granting donations for the most important, national cultural institutions, like the National Opera or the National Theater. There are fears that allocation might be done on political basis.

The project, if voted for in the Sejm, may indeed contribute to better managing of the state's scarce funds for culture. As with everything in any country's cultural policy, some of the points are bound to raise doubts. Let us hope this project will set a new beginning for Polish culture.

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Cultural Announcements

The 25th Theater Confrontations Klasyka Polska (Polish Classics) will be held in Opole from 2 April to 9 April. It will be an opportunity to see productions from most-talked-about theater director of recent years, Grzegorz Jarzyna, as well as the much praised Wesele (A Wedding) by Stanisław Wyspiański, directed by Janusz Grzegorzewski. 11 plays will be presented overall. Info: 0048 77 454 59 41.

The Poznań Music Spring will be held in, well, Poznań from 3 April to 7 April under a general slogan of Sacrum in Music. Info: 0048 61 851 81 01

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Compiled by Wojtek Kość




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