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The Warsaw Voice » Other » October 14, 2009
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More Cash for Culture Demanded
October 14, 2009   
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This year's Congress of Polish Culture was held in the Auditorium Maximum of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow Sept. 23-25. The findings of the five plenary sessions, 26 symposiums, and the many lectures, discussions and meetings were later published in a Report on the State of Culture. That this was an important occasion was evident from the guest list. Major cultural figures and educators from Poland and abroad took part, including Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, film directors Andrzej Wajda and Agnieszka Holland, and composer Krzysztof Penderecki.

This is an exceptional year in which to hold the Congress of Polish Culture, marking 20 years of social, economic and political change in Poland after the collapse of communism and five years since the country joined the European Union. The place and the role of culture in this historical process was discussed, as was its development and the position of national culture within a united Europe and a globalized world.

Program Committee Chairman Prof. Piotr Sztompka said, "There is an awful lot hanging on the qualities a citizen has in a democracy. Intellectual, educational, but also spiritual qualities... That is why the business of this congress is something more than merely a cultural affair. It concerns the future of Polish democracy in every sense of the word."

Those present presented their findings at the end of the summit. Polish citizens are, in their view, entitled to sponsorship of art and culture by their national and local governments, and more money should be spent on culture.

Congress participants called on the government to allocate one percent of its annual budget to cultural activity. Many of those who took part in the congress sessions signed an open letter to that effect. The government currently allocates 0.6 percent of the national budget to culture. One of the signatories to the letter, art historian Anda Rottenberg, added that money for culture should be allocated by those at the cultural coalface, rather than politicians.

Meanwhile, film director Holland criticized the situation in the public media. In Holland's view, the government either appropriates the media or abandons it.

The Congress of Polish Culture was initiated and held under the aegis of the Minister for Culture and National Heritage Bogdan Zdrojewski.

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