In Poland, cultural institutions are functioning as public, private and non-profit entities. Non-profit organisations in culture are foundations, associations and trade unions. Private cultural institutions operate most often in the cultural and creative sectors. The prevailing majority of Polish cultural institutions are public. The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, as well as other ministries (e.g. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of National Defence) and local government units have the right to establish cultural institutions. In most cases, the responsibility to maintain funds for cultural institutions rests with local authorities. Cultural institutions, in accordance with the relevant law, create, popularise and protect culture, i.e. a cultural institution supports and promotes creativity, education and cultural education, cultural activities and initiatives, and finally implements tasks for the protection of monuments. For many (often the most well-known) cultural institutions, state subsidies are the most important or one of the most important sources of funds for statutory purposes and the maintenance of the institution.
At present, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage is responsible for co-leading with local government units 64 cultural institutions. These institutions are located in all sixteen voivodeships and include theatres, operas, philharmonics, orchestras, museums, as well as cultural and art centres. These are institutions of special importance for Polish heritage, culture and art such as the Grand Theatre – National Opera, the National Museum and the National Library. Among these 64 institutions are cultural institutes that support a given field of culture. Examples are: the Institute of Music and Dance, the Book Institute, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (responsible for the promotion of Polish culture abroad), the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute, the National Heritage Board of Poland or the Fryderyk Chopin Institute. These institutes conduct research activities, often award grants or organise competitions.
Among public institutions, units for which the local government is the founding body are the majority, hence the dominant position of local government expenditure on culture in this type of expenditure on the national scale (see also 7.1.2).
In Poland, there is an uneven geographical distribution of cultural institutions, and thus uneven access to culture. Almost one third of all cultural institutions are located in three voivodeships (Mazowieckie, Małopolskie and Śląskie). Theatres and music institutions, multiplexes and most museums, galleries and art salons are located in cities, and residents of rural areas have at their disposal, above all, common rooms and cultural centres and public libraries.