After the congress is… before Wroclaw2016
Prof. Adam Chmielewski, managing director of the municipal office of the European Capital of Culture, on "Wroclaw2016"
After the European Culture Congress in Wroclaw, 2010LAB.tv author Markus Krusch had a conversation with Polish philosopher and managing director of the municipal office of the European capital of culture "Wroclaw2016", Prof. Adam Chmielewski.
Professor, was the congress of any help for your institution?
It was more than that. The congress was very important as a platform to meet various representatives from diverse institutions. Due to the simple fact that it took place here in Wroclaw, it was a success per se – many people do not know the city, in spite of its size or because of its changeful history. There was this phenomenon, a certain aura of obscurity. Wroclaw was always close to the German border, you could say.
… have you been able to move it a bit into the focus? Could you tell us some examples of projects planned for "Wroclaw2016"?
As you know, 25% of all Polish castles and palaces are located in Lower Silesia. It is also our mission to remind people of the cultural assets these partially neglected monuments represent. And we are trying to get the programme “Beauty inside” funded. Shabby house blocks in the area of the market place – comparable to those pre-fabricated high-rises in the former German Democratic Republic – are improved by works of art.
It’s about avoiding social exclusion – representing the city appropriately during "Wroclaw2016" by showing it as an entity is also one of our missions. To accomplish this, we have also created a programme called "For a good start" – young families, for example, get a book package and a library card. It is a long process until 2016 – but it doesn’t just start that year nor does it stop there.
So the European culture congress 2011 and “Wroclaw2016“ are to be considered an historic time interval?
Well, sort of - in 2016, a congress is planned again. We want to use the opportunity to talk about the future, especially in insecure times where negative influences do also take their toll on culture. You could say that our programmes mainly have a social character because we have detected a crucial detail: a German spends about 1.600 Euros per year for culture, and a Pole just 300 Euros. We want the people to change their behaviour: away from mere culture consumption to an active participation in a social cultural life. That’s an ambitious goal for the years to come, especially considering the current crisis because it also complicates a long-term collaboration with sponsors, for example.
Which additional influences are decisive in your opinion – for example, is there any impact of other capitals of culture on your work?
We’re just back from a meeting of all former and current capitals of culture, and I have to say that we were received cordially. We are in contact with other representatives and hope to benefit from their experiences, too.
And of course we want to fall back on the expert knowledge of other countries. For example, it is important to us that Spain is our partner country. There may be a geographical distance between us and the Spanish capital of culture San Sebastian, but various subjects connect us.
An important project we want to realise is titled Borders (in)visible. It is easy to cross the „visible“ borders, but it is very hard to cross those that are invisible, such as language, cultural, and religious ones. And like I said before, to avoid exclusion, I refer to borders as something which has to be overcome.
But couldn’t that lead to the impending danger of the city commercialising its culture if all that will be realised?
That's right, we have also noticed that and it concerns us definitely. In our programme, we focus on the social aspect as you can take from the five main points of our programme. Many programmes are non-commercial, although I have to say that they have attracted the interest of sponsors who appreciate such events and do not only concentrate on their winnings, but on their social responsibility, which is the core meaning of such an event anyway.
I hope that some companies will sponsor us, even if they know that they won’t make money with it, but will help the people instead. For example, they could sponsor projects which allow people with a low income access to cultural events. We have to overcome the obscurity I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation – culture shouldn’t be considered as something obscure or mysterious.