COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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Poland/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

The main institutional actors in the promotion of Polish culture abroad are the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Other ministries and agencies that also play an important role in this field are the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of the Economy and other public or private institutions and organisations such as the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the International Centre of Culture, the Book Institute, the Polish National Tourist Office, the Polish Film Institute, and the Polish Information and Foreign Investments Agency.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs realises its tasks in the field of international cultural cooperation chiefly through the Polish Institutes based in other countries, among others: Germany (Berlin, Düsseldorf, Lipsk), France (Paris), Bulgaria (Sofia), Sweden (Stockholm), Israel (Tel Aviv), Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg), and the United States of America (New York). Co-operation is also undertaken through Polish embassies and attachés (cultural and science attachés) and the departments of the Polish Academy of Science in Berlin, Paris, Rome and Vienna.

The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are responsible for working out the priorities of foreign state cultural policy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs ratifies the cultural agreements on the government level. Poland has many bilateral agreements with countries from all over the world (in October 2006 there were 68 binding agreements). The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage supervises the application of these agreements and the implementation of cultural cooperation programmes.

In the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, international cultural cooperation is the responsibility of the Department of International Relations. The main task of the Department is to coordinate international cooperation in the field of culture. It also has the role of cooperating with Polish organisations abroad and of realising international agreements. The Department also supervises the work of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and the International Cultural Centre in Krakow.

  • The Adam Mickiewicz Institute is a state cultural institution which aims to popularise Polish culture around the world and cooperate on cultural projects with other countries. The Institute was founded on 1 March 2000 on the basis of a directive issued by the then Minister of Culture and Art. The goal of the Institute's activity is to promote Poland abroad by popularising the historical and contemporary achievements of Polish culture, in accordance with the fundamental guidelines of Poland's foreign policy and cultural policy. From 2001-2007, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute carried out promotional projects in 25 countries, including Russia, the Benelux Countries, Spain, Austria, Sweden, France, Germany, Ukraine, Lithuania, as well as Algeria, Morocco, India and China; some of these projects will be continued in the future. In 2008/2009 the Polish Year took place in Israel and in 2009/2010 it has been organised in the UK (see Polska Year website: http://www.polskayear.pl/en/). In projects completed to date, the IAM presented more than 2 500 cultural events, watched by 14 million people. Information about these projects was published in more than 500 European and world-wide publications and electronic media. The websites run by the IAM are visited by users from more than 120 countries around the world. The total number of site visits to http://www.culture.pl since the inception of this web portal has exceeded 10 million, and the total number of site hits so far is 20 million (for more information see http://www.iam.pl/en/about-us/about-the-institute).
  • The International Centre of Culture was founded on 29 May 1991 during the CSCE symposium in Cracow. This was the first meeting of the East and West dedicated to culture and cultural heritage since the memorable year of 1989. Thus, the new institution with a clear mission made its mark on the international forum from its very inception. The core ideals of the Centre are inter-cultural communication and building a common Europe which bridges political, ideological and religious divides. Projects run by the Centre revolve around such issues as: the essence of European civilisation; national stereotypes; national identity in the face of globalisation; collective memory; the multicultural character of Central Europe; Poland in Europe; cultural heritage and a new philosophy for its preservation; the concept of the historic city; culture and development; and the place of culture in society. The International Cultural Centre is an expert research institution that stages exhibitions, organises promotions, and is active in publishing and education. It successfully blends modernity with tradition, which is best exemplified by the Centre's base, the Ravens House, with its historical interiors fitted with state-of-the-art technical equipment. It is a forum where the wider public can meet scholars, artists and politicians, where young people hold debates with eminent intellectuals, and there is a dedicated space to enjoy early and modern art.(for more information see: http://www.mck.krakow.pl).

In recent years, an increasing role in cultural relations has been carried out by cultural institutions founded by local government administrations as well as NGOs. Many of these institutions help to influence and shape Polish cultural relations with other countries e.g. Nadbałtyckie Centrum Kultury in Gdańskand Ośrodek Pogranicze in Sejny (see also chapter 3.4.5).

Foreign cultural institutes such as the British Council and the Institute Français no longer play a major role as cultural operators, although they do organise a series of cultural projects which are the outcome of co-operation with Polish private and public institutions.

Some of the bilateral agreements with other countries include the promotion of film co-production. This enables film-makers, who apply for funding in the framework of bilateral co-production, to receive state support. Poland is also a party to the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production (1994) and to the EURIMAGES FUND (1988) - the Council of Europe fund for the co-production, distribution and exhibition of European cinematographic works, which has currently 32 Member States. EURIMAGES aims to promote the European film industry by encouraging the production and distribution of films and fostering co-operation between professionals.

There are no official statistics in Poland for public spending on intercultural co-operation.

Since 2006 a new operational programme established by The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage called Promotion of Polish Culture Abroad (currently Polish Culture Abroad) gives various institutions and organisations an opportunity to gain financial support for projects aimed at popularising Polish culture in other countries. In 2010, according to the Polish Presidency of the EU for 2011, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage established a new programme entitled Polish Presidency – Promesa for projects dedicated to promotion of Polish culture abroad. The Minister of Culture allocated a budget of 20 million PLN for this purpose.


Chapter published: 20-08-2015

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