COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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Poland/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

Prior to 1989, cultural houses in Poland were leading institutions of the communist cultural politics. It was difficult to find their equivalent in democratic European countries. There were even problems with translating the term itself. No law defines cultural houses. The Act on Organising and Conducting Cultural Activity merely states that this is one of the possible forms of organising cultural activity but does not indicate differences or gives a description. However, cultural houses run by state enterprises were dismantled in the free market economy environment because their costs were seen as unjustified. Today, cultural houses and centres are creating a new image for themselves as a shelter for amateur art and various programmes aiming at broadening participation in cultural life, with a special accent put on those parts of the population which are "socially excluded". Together with libraries they are often the only cultural institutions in the Polish suburbs. Their activities are undertaken in co-operation with and financed by local governments, mostly the municipalities and communes.

The extent to which cultural houses and community cultural clubs are financed by the government and local administrations is presented in chapter 6.2.3.

Graph 4:   Number of cultural houses and centres and community culture clubs, 1999-2007

Source:    Central Statistics Office, Culture in 2008.

Graph 5:  Percentage of cultural houses, cultural centres and community culture clubs in urban and rural areas, 2009

Source:    Central Statistics Office information note: Cultural institutions in Poland in 2009.

In 2009, 4027 cultural houses, cultural centres and clubs were registered, 142 fewer than in 2007. Over a half are based in rural areas. Altogether, they organised 237 900 events for over 34 million participants (In 2007, there were 214 700 events for over 33.6 million participants). In this number, the bigger share was film screenings (22.3 %). There were less amateur music band performances (18 %) or seminars and meetings (14.7 %). The most popular were performances of professional artists which had over 10 million viewers. Hobby and artistic workshops were organised in 5 200 specialist studios, with the most popular being artistic (28%) and music (25.8%). There were 18 300 amateur artistic groups which involved 287 300 participants, of whom 156 000 were under the age of 15.

Table 15:  Activity of cultural houses, clubs and community centres, 2003-2012

 

In general

Of which in rural areas

2003

2005

2007

2009

2012

2003

2005

2007

2009

No. of institutions

3 716

3 937

4 169

4 027

3 900

2 195

2 320

2 548

2 375

No. of specialist studios

4 203

4 692

4 719

5 200

6 400

1 212

1 364

1 424

1 732

No. of events (in thousand)

208.4

208.9

214.7

237.9

195.1

65.5

58.7

57.6

63

Event participants (million, per yr)

30.2

32.3

33.6

34.5

31.5

6.9

7.1

7.0

7.4

No. of workshops organised

5 668

5 696

5 409

7 142

-

1 142

1 114

1 380

2 032

Workshop participants (per year)

94 200

91 500

96 300

115 300

-

18 400

20 500

24 000

29 000

of which under the age of 15

54 900

47 000

51 200

54 100

-

11 800

12 100

14 300

17 000

No. of amateur art instructors

7 221

7 458

7 458

-

-

1 831

1 908

2 099

-

Source:    Central Statistical Office, Culture in 2008, information note Cultural Institutions in Poland in 2009 and Culture in 2012 (GUS).

The activity of cultural houses and centres is at present a hot topic. Their low efficiency and insufficient level of adaptation to contemporary requirements is acknowledged. Several research reports with specific recommendations were published by NGOs.

An important programme has been launched by the National Centre for Culture. The Culture House + (Dom kultury +) aims at creating equal access to culture for the inhabitants of rural areas and improvement of participation in culture. The concept of the programme is to initiate the process of transformation of the existing culture houses into modern local culture centres. The programme consists of 3 priorities: Training, Development and Infrastructure. An important part of the programme is creating the Support Network – an interactive platform of cooperation and exchange for all culture houses. It aims at having development strategies created on the basis of socio-economic-cultural diagnosis of the given municipality or commune; actively animating the cultural life of local communities; creating possibilities for basic but universal cultural education, etc.


Chapter published: 20-08-2015

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