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Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency


In addition to the strictly political aspect, the first Polish EU Council Presidency was also an opportunity to build a positive image of our country in the world and the image of the European Union in Poland. This task is successfully completed thanks to a specially drawn up for the occasion the Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency, which was coordinated by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. The programme consisted of nearly 1,000 of art projects in the country and 400 events abroad.

According to the decision of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of 5 August 2009, for the preparation and implementation of the National Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency responsible was the National Audiovisual Institute, and the task of preparing and implementing the International Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency was undertaken by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

With the ordinance of 11 August 2009 Minister of Culture and National Heritage established a Programme Council for the Cultural Settings of the Polish Presidency of the EU Council in 2011. The main task of the Programme Council was giving opinions and recommendations on projects and initiatives related to the Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency. The Council, headed by the Director of Department of International Relations, Ministry of Culture, was comprised of the directors of the following cultural institutions: the Book Institute, Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera, the National Centre for Culture, the National Audiovisual Institute, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute, Polish Film Institute, Adam Mickiewicz Institute and the Royal Castle in Warsaw.

The National Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency in 2011

The leading theme and also the main message of the National Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency in 2011 was “Art for Social Change. These words mean that today culture is an integral part of social process. Therefore, the programme was designed to encourage the public and the creators of art to take a creative approach, raising social and artistic awareness and undertaking a critical reflection on culture and civilization. Implementing this assumption the Programme emphasized the role of NGOs, grassroots initiatives, and also emphasized on the Eastern Partnership. The projects were implemented in close cooperation with the local organizations, NGOs and European partners. In addition, a very important assumption of the Programme was that it is interdisciplinary, which reflected not only in the merger and mutual penetration of the fields, but also in creating new links between high and popular culture. In this context, the aim of the Programme was to activate the local community, both artists and people without daily contact with the culture and to prevent various forms of social discrimination and exclusion.

The National Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency consisted of special projects implemented in the cities that host the high-level meetings: Sopot, Wroclaw, Krakow, Poznan and Warsaw, and also in Lublin, Bialystok, Katowice and Krasnogruda.

Krasnogruda - European Agora (30 June)

The day before the official start of the Polish Presidency of the EU Council, and also on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Czesław Miłosz, at the poet's former home manor in Krasnogruda the prominent European philosophers, poets and artists talked about the community in diversity.

Warsaw - The Inauguration of Polish Presidency of the EU Council (1 July)

At the Polish National Opera (Teatr Wielki) the premiere of the opera “King Roger” by Karol Szymanowski took place. It was directed by David Pountney. The performance was preceded by an official part, during which the speeches were given by Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek and President of the Council of the European Union, Herman Van Rompuy. Also the President of Poland Bronisław Komorowski and his wife, Anna Komorowska, members of the government and parliament, representatives of diplomatic corps, church authorities and prominent personalities from the world of politics and culture were present.

Many hours of live music inspired by the culture of European national and ethnic minorities (EUharmonic) and interdisciplinary scene for children (EUgene) already started at noon at the Mariensztat. Very popular were also: the alternative scene (Third Ear) in the Copernicus Science Centre and in the old power station “Powiśle”. Music lovers could spend the evening at the National Philharmonic listening to the 3rd Symphony of Paweł Mykietyn composed specially for the inauguration of the Polish Presidency. The concert was broadcast live on Polish Radio Channel 2. Inauguration Day ended with the final concert – WARSAW Talking, held at the Plac Defilad, during which national and international artists presented the most popular pieces of classical, film and entertainment music. A particular interest of the audience enjoyed the new English-language versions of Polish hits performed by the foreign stars. Concert ended with the fireworks accompanied by the music of Wojciech Kilar “Orava”. Broadcast live at the TVP1 gathered the audience of nearly 900 thousand. At four Warsaw stages and at the National Philharmonic performed in total over 250 artists.

Sopot - Open Culture Resort (3-31 July)

Within the Open Culture Resort project in Sopot 16 interdisciplinary artistic projects, local grassroots initiatives, have been completed. The audience was invited to take a ride on the ARTbus - city line bus turned into a mobile art gallery. On bus route, one could see the work of the Tri-City artists. Within the Open Culture Resort the Festival Open Source Art (OSA) was held and the conference “More culture. WE ARE MORE”, organized in cooperation with the Culture Action Europe, the largest European network of institutions and NGOs active in the cultural sphere. All projects carried out in Sopot were attended by over 150 artists, representing almost all fields of art and nearly 5000 of active participants.

Katowice - YES! Katowice – Temporary Cultural Action, OFF Festival (July-September)

YES! combined projects bordering on architecture, design and contemporary music. Artists performed a series of actions / interventions within five cycles: art, design, workshops, concerts and lectures on the living tissue of the city. They showed the diversity of Silesia, provoked to ask questions and seek answers about the stereotypes associated with Silesia. Within the framework of the National Cultural Programme also the sixth edition of the OFF Festival was included, the largest alternative music festival in Central and Eastern Europe, which attracted nearly 50 000 participants. Festival received the prestigious European Festival Award for Best Medium Sized Festival in 2011.

Białystok - Journey to the East (5 August-30 September)

5 August in the Arsenal Gallery in Białystok the exhibition “Journey to the East”, presenting contemporary art from the Eastern Partnership countries, was officially opened. The curator of the exhibition invited to participate in this project a total of nearly 50 artists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Poland. The exhibition attracted over 300 thousand people. It was also presented during the Art-Kyiv Contemporary and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków (MOCAK).

Warsaw - Pavilion of Olafur Eliasson (September-November)

6 September, in the square at the intersection of the Krakowskie Przedmieście street and Karowa street in Warsaw the official unveiling of the installation of Danish artist Olafur Eliasson took place. The design “Your Reality Machine”, which broke the conventional perception of the historical environment in which it is located, while being easy to remember a spatial, sensual and sculptural in form mark.

Wrocław - European Culture Congress (ECC) (8-11 September)

One of the main tasks of the Congress was to create a space for discussion on the changing definition of culture and scenarios of its development. Debates regarding the most actual problems of modern culture were accompanied by an interdisciplinary art projects implemented under the Socio-Cultural Festival. The Congress programme was based on four pillars: meeting of the Ministers for Audiovisual Affairs of EU countries, meetings and discussions of leading European intellectuals, debates within the initiative “A Soul for Europe” and artistic events. At the Congress met theoreticians and practitioners, masters and alternative artists, representatives of the highest national authorities, European institutions and NGOs, and journalists, entertainers and activists from Poland and abroad.

The Congress held a total of 13 debates, more than 100 interdisciplinary projects were completed, with outstanding approach to the problem of culture and interdisciplinary formula. The programme, co-created by 550 curators and artists, covered a variety of unique artistic ventures. Brian Eno has prepared a multimedia project “Future Perfect” presented at the Wrocław Fountain, Mirosław Bałka has created an installation entitled “Wege zur Behandlung von Schmerzen”, during an unprecedented meetings of Krzysztof Penderecki with Jonny Greenwood and Aphex Twin sounded world premieres of compositions: Aphex Twin “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima remix” and “Polymorphia Reloaded”, and Jonny Greenwood – “48 Responses to Polymorphia”.

The accreditation system of ECC registered about 15 thousand people. In addition, the tickets took 5000 people, and all events of the congress were attended by nearly 200 thousand participants. The organization of the Congress involved nearly 100 NGOs from Poland and Europe and more than 550 volunteers.

Lublin Mindware. Technologies of Dialogue” / “The Oldest Songs of Europe - Tradition and Avant-garde” / International Festival “Theatre Confrontations” (September-October)

The programme implemented in Lublin consisted of joint projects of artists, animators and NGOs representing local institutions and partners from Lvov, Vilnius, Minsk, Kiev and Tbilisi. Cooperation was to a large degree the exchange of artists, and its theme was a reflection on the borders of Europe. The “Mindware. Technologies of Dialogue” consisted of three parts: residential, public presentation of works of art, and theoretical lectures, seminars, meetings and discussions with artists and experts dedicated to artistic reflection on the social communication in public urban space. To the Lublin part of the National Cultural Programme have also been included the sixteenth edition of the festival “Theatrical Confrontations” devoted to the analysis of changes in the Russian theatre and theatres of former Soviet republics (over 20 thousand people) and a special edition of the festival “The Oldest Songs of Europe - Tradition and avant-garde” (nearly 3000 people).

Kraków - IETM Meeting / Kraków Theatrical Reminiscences / Unsound Festival (October)

Among Kraków's events of the Programme was, held for the first time in Poland, the congress International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts, the largest organization in Europe, consisted of institutions involved in performing arts. Nearly 400 participants of the congress, professionals representing Polish and foreign cultural institutions, took part in performances of Kraków Theatrical Reminiscences. In Kraków was also held the first open meeting of East European Performing Arts Platform (EEPAP), an international exchange platform for artists and curators of performing arts in Central and Eastern Europe. The third event of Kraków presidential programme was the ninth festival of progressive music and related visual arts Unsound Festival.

Poznań - Poznań Baroque. Festival of Early Music / Old Music - New Dance (November)

Poznań Baroque Festival is largely based on the idea of ​​cooperation of young artists with the great figures of the early music world. An important assumption of the festival was to build deep and lasting relationships between artists from Poland and other countries in this particular field, which is the early music. The programme had a very strong educational aspect, not only because of the recruitment of young Polish musicians to the formation of Generation Baroque, but also free access to all concerts for the public. In total, the concerts were attended by 10 000 listeners.

The ultimate ambition underlying the creation of the dance programme “Old Music New Dance” was to make the old music a source of inspiration for the latest research within the contemporary choreography. The creative combination of the two seemingly distant fields and aesthetics, has resulted in three dance premieres under the guidance of artists from Cyprus, Poland and Denmark.

In addition to special projects described above, the composition of the National Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency included about 60 major Polish festivals and more than 60 projects recommended by the Programme Council for Cultural Settings of the Polish Presidency of the EU Council.

International Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency in 2011

International Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency in 2011 included 400 events organized in the 10 capitals of the world: Brussels, Berlin, London, Paris, Madrid, Moscow, Kiev, Minsk, Tokyo and Beijing. The programme was carried out in cooperation with foreign partners, the Polish cultural institutions as well as the Polish diplomatic posts and Polish Institutes. Important parts of the programme were the projects selected under the programme of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage “Polish Presidency 2011 – Promise.”

The main programme, which ran under the slogan I, Culture. Made in the EU. Powered by Poland, formed six pillars, which included the icons of contemporary Polish culture. Stanislaw Lem's prose was an inspiration to the creation of an outdoor performance of Planet Lem prepared by the Travel Agency Theatre. Its premiere took place on 1 July 2011 at the festival Watch This Space at the National Theatre in London. Subsequent performances took place in Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Madrid, Kiev, Minsk and Moscow. The presentation has been seen by 10.5 thousand people. Into the hands of the readers came the comic book based on two stories of the famous “Robot Fairy Tales”, prepared by the cartoonist Andrzej Klimowski and Danuta Szejbal.

In cooperation with the Polish Institutes and the Polish diplomatic posts the project Czesław Miłosz - Audiobook was created. Selected poems of the poet sounded in ten languages ​​performed by stars of the world of film and theatre (Stephen Fry, Toru Watanabe, Barbara Nusse, Tang Gougiang, Sergey Jursky, Jose Luis Gomez and Aitane Sanchez Gijon), and writers and poets (Sergiej Żadan, Taras Prohaśko, Andriej Chadanowicz, Benno Barnard). Audiobooks were the inserts in newspapers (El Pais), magazines (Magazine Littéraire, Times Literary Suplement, Ukraińskij Tyżdeń, Inostrannaja Literatura, Dialog, Krytyka, Gendaishi-techo, Poetry) or volumes of poetry Czesław Miłosz - Gedichten's (Netherlands). Audiobooks reached nearly half a million customers. Poems in all languages ​​are available in MP3 format for listening on the portal www.culture.pl and websites of the Polish Institutes and embassies of the 10 priority capitals. Audiobooks are also presented on the occasion of events supported by the Polish Institutes in the Year of Czesław Miłosz.

Karol Szymanowski, one of the greatest Polish composers, was another icon of the Polish Presidency. The staging of the opera “King Roger” directed by David Pountney at the Grand Theatre-National Opera in Warsaw was the solemn inauguration of the Presidency. Concert and chamber music performances of the compositions in the concert halls sounded in Brussels (the La Monnaie, the Palais des Beaux-Arts), Berlin (Berliner Philharmonie), Minsk (Belarusian National Philharmonic), Kiev (National Philharmonic and the Taras Shevchenko National Opera of Ukraine), London (Royal Festival Hall, Cadogan Hall), Madrid (Teatro real), Paris (the Theatre de Chatelet, the Salle Pleyel), Warsaw (Warsaw Philharmonic), Beijing (Beijing Central Conservatory) and Tokyo (Asahi Concert Hall). The concert was attended by 45 000 spectators.

Guide to the Poles is a series of documentary films (Beats of Freedom, Political Dress, Toys, Art of Freedom, Art of Disappearing) that take viewers on a documentary journey to the sources of the phenomenon of contemporary Polish freedom and creativity. The films were prepared to show the world the Poles and their achievements in an attractive and yet surprising way. Films were presented, among others, at the festivals in Minsk, Tokyo, Madrid and Paris. So far, the screenings were attended by over 10 thousand spectators.

I, CULTURE Puzzle is an interactive multimedia project carried out in public space in 12 capitals (Berlin, Brussels, Kiev, Copenhagen, London, Madrid, Minsk, Moscow, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo and Warsaw), where people sewed together a giant puzzle consisting of 12 squares embroidered with the local pattern. The combined puzzles formed the words I, CULTURE. An important part of the project was the research and the attempt to answer the question about the role of crafts in the modern world and contemporary culture. I, Culture Puzzle played a large role in society too. Communities initiated by volunteers and the artistic actions initiatives in the public spaces of cities emerged around the project. The project was the summary of international and intercultural initiative of the Polish Presidency, proclaiming the largest Polish national assets, such as creativity, steadfastness, openness and solidarity. The action, animated by the artist Monika Jakubiak, was attended by over 12 thousand people and 240 volunteers, and the whole was available to watch online.

I, CULTURE Orchestra, is the first such initiative created under the Eastern Partnership. It is comprised of 110 young musicians from Poland, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The first concerts were played by the orchestra in Gdansk - a city of “Solidarity” and in Stockholm. The honorary patron of the autumn tour was the President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski. The orchestra played in the Kiev National Philharmonic, Berliner Philharmonie, the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles, the Royal Festival Hall in London, the Teatro Real in Madrid and the National Philharmonic in Warsaw – during all concerts the conductors were Sir Neville Marriner and Paweł Kotla. Works by Karol Szymanowski were also included in all concerts, listened by more than 10 thousand people.

In addition to the flagship projects, performances of the most interesting spectacles, films, classical and modern music concerts and exhibitions and projects realised in public space were included in the programme. Many of the projects prepared especially for the Polish Presidency has gained enormous recognition of spectators and critics, as the exhibition The Power of Fantasy. Modern and Contemporary Art from Poland in BOZAR in Brussels recognized by the Financial Times as the event of the year, the exhibition Side by Side. Poland-Germany. A 1000 Years of Art and History in the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin, the exhibition Golden times of the Republic of Poland in the Royal Palace in Madrid, or exhibitions of Alina Szapocznikow (Art Center Wiels, Brussels) and Wilhelm Sasnal (Whitechapel, London).

Polish projects were presented at places known and appreciated by foreign audiences as: BOZAR (Brussels), the Palacio Real, Teatro Real (Madrid), Royal Festival Hall, Barbican (London), Club Pid Inn, Ahashi Concert Hall (Tokyo), the Conservatory of Beijing, National Philharmonic (Kiev, Minsk), Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and Meyerhold Center (Moscow). The interdisciplinary projects and projects in public space, presented in the central parts of cities or in the subway, allowed to reach a broad audience.

For the time of the Presidency the website Culture.pl was transformed into the official website of National and International Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency. One could find not only the announcement of current events, but also richly illustrated reports being one of the strengths of the portal. Its audience grew steadily - from July to December increased sixfold. In total it was visited at that time by nearly one million users around the world. There were also user-friendly application Hot Culture launched for iPad and iPhone.

In addition to the portal Culture.pl websites were also launched of the National Programme for Culture (uwaganakulture.pl), a special website dedicated to the European Culture Congress (culturecongress.eu) and websites of the major projects of the Programme, such as orchestra.iam.pl or przewodnikdopolakow.pl.

During the Presidency there were more than 7.5 thousand pieces of information in the European, Chinese and Japanese media about Polish cultural events, including such titles as: “Der Tagespiegel”, “Le Soir”, “The Independent”, “The Times”, “El Kultura”, “El Pais”, “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, “The Telegraph”, “El Mundo”, “Afisza”, “Rossiyskaya Gazeta”, “Libération”, “Le Figaroscope” and “Jazz Tokyo”.

Prepared by the Department of International Relations, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, in cooperation with National Audiovisual Institute and Adam Mickiewicz Institute.