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The Warsaw Voice » Regional Voice » July 13, 2016
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New Space for Art
July 13, 2016   
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Rafał Dutkiewicz, mayor of Wrocław, talks to Barbara Deręgowska about how this southwestern Polish city has benefited from its role as a European Capital of Culture 2016.

We have reached the halfway point in a campaign to promote Wrocław as a European Capital of Culture 2016. What has the city gained from this role?

The events being held in Wrocław as part of it being a European Capital of Culture this year include some extremely interesting projects. This applies to both low-profile projects carried out by residents themselves in spaces between apartment buildings and in courtyards and big festivals, concerts and other projects that inspire and involve thousands of people. Residents have gained new spaces for meetings with art, such as the National Forum of Music and the modern Capitol Musical Theater. We will soon open the Zajezdnia Centre, the Museum of Theater and several new community centers. We want everyone to develop culturally to better understand the world around them and themselves. We all should read more, go to the theater, and visit museums and exhibitions more often. Thanks to the European Capital of Culture program, residents have more opportunities to experience culture.

Does the city care more about publicity in Europe or globally?

Wrocław is a European city and the European Capital of Culture program is a major European project. When promoting our city, we focus on Europe, but do not forget the wider world of which it is part.

In all, more than 400 projects with thousands of cultural events will be held to promote Wrocław. Which of these are of particular note?

It’s difficult to name a few. We have just seen a unique exhibition called The Seven Wonders of Wrocław and Lower Silesia. After a presentation in the Vatican and Berlin, residents in Wrocław can see an exhibition focusing on Cardinal Bolesław Kominek, the author of the Polish bishops’ 1965 address to German bishops in which the historic words “we forgive and ask for forgiveness” were spoken. The Coalition of Cities for Culture is another interesting project. I could not have imagined that cities can do so much together for culture to develop. I’m also looking forward to an event called Theater Olympics and to the spectacular red-carpet roll-out for the European Film Awards.

I’m partial to all projects connected with literature. I’m happy that, after many years, we have opened the Pan Tadeusz Museum [focusing on the celebrated verse epic by Polish Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz]. I am also waiting for the opening of the Museum of Theater and the Zajezdnia Center. The latter, housed in a tram depot, will tell visitors about Wrocław’s history and identity.
All these projects have been made possible by Wrocław being a European Capital of Culture 2016. Many other projects, such as work to modernize the Capitol Musical Theater and the construction of the National Forum of Music, would have taken much longer to complete without the European Capital of Culture program.

Which countries in Europe and beyond have been the most responsive to Wrocław’s promotional push in culture during the last six months? Have foreign visitors to the city taken an interest in Polish culture in general?

Spain is one of the countries where the response has been particularly strong. We have had many visitors, both tourists visiting our city and those coming here for business. But it is our neighbors who have shown the strongest, quite sensational, response to our efforts. We have been getting a very good press in the Czech Republic, though Germany is number one. Many Germans are drawn to Wrocław as a European city with a strong Polish feel to it.
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