1. Cultural policy system
Last update: December, 2020
The contemporary cultural policy of the Republic of Poland is an intentional and systematic intervention of central and local governments in the field of culture and its industries. Cultural policy is based on the welfare state model and combines the state’s responsibility for fostering cultural development and preserving national heritage with market reality and digital revolution. It can be characterised by a high degree of decentralisation, in which a substantial amount of responsibility for supporting and financing culture lies with local authorities. The whole system provides a guarantee for a relatively stable operation of a high number of public cultural institutions.
Both the goals and principles of the cultural policy in Poland are formulated in accordance with standards established by democratic European states. As the other EU member states, Poland is free to develop cultural policies in its own way, without the unification of cultural institutions, setting their own goals and determining priorities. Poland implements this autonomy to the full extent, which can be especially observed in case of assigning new priorities to cultural policies, whose characteristics are strongly determined by the political programme of a ruling party in a given period.
The current goals of Polish cultural policy are:
- Preservation of national and cultural identity;
- Assurance of equal access to culture;
- Promotion of creative output and high-quality cultural goods and services;
- Diversification of cultural offer, taking into account the variety of social groups.
The current principles of Polish cultural policy are:
- Decentralisation of decision-making processes regarding the organisation and financing of cultural activities;
- Fostering community participation in decision-making processes by organising expert panels and initiating public discussions regarding possible solutions for key problems;
- Ensuring the transparency of decision-making processes;
- Applying the principle of subsidiarity: decisions concerning culture are made by those, to whom they pertain. Central authorities cannot make decisions concerning local affairs instead of local governments, unless they have been specifically authorised to do so.
We can identify two basic periods that characterise the development of Polish cultural policy in the last 75 years. Both are directly linked to the political system implemented in Poland during each period, i.e., the period 1945-1989 was characterised by real socialism and the period from 1989 onwards is characterised by parliamentary democracy and a market economy.
Distinguishing features of the first period include limited sovereignty, a one-party system and a planned economy. Cultural activities were organised under a system characterised by a high level of centralisation, institutionalisation and a monopoly of state property. The decision-making process regarding the development of cultural activities was strongly politicised and the creative arts were subject to political censorship. The principles of cultural policy were created by both the Ministry of Culture and Arts, and the Cultural Division of the Central Committee of the PZPR (Polish Communist Party). At the same time, the growth rate of public cultural expenditure was higher than the growth rate of the GDP, which gave the state legitimacy to act in this field. The "Fund of Development for Culture" was established in 1982 as a means to secure this position. Between 1982 and 1989, expenditure on culture within the overall state budget rose from 1.25% to 1.81%. This relatively high level of public funding for culture enabled wider access to cultural goods and services and a feeling that professional stabilisation for artists’ working conditions was being achieved.
In the beginning of the second period – since 1989 – Poland has undergone a process of political and economic transformations, while the state re-established its new responsibilities of a social nature. Those responsibilities were formulated in the preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland.
The major changes which have taken place in the cultural sector since 1989 revolve around the following principles:
- The implementation of the right of freedom of artistic creation, education and use of cultural assets, as well as to conduct scientific research and announce their results, granted by the Constitution (1997).
- The creation of a new legal framework, allowing to organise and conduct cultural activities within a market economy (Act on Organising and Conducting Cultural Activity of 25 October 1991, with later amendments and annexes; Act of Law on Associations of 7 April 1989, with later amendments and annexes; and a number of other legal solutions).
- Changes in the public responsibilities for culture came in the wake of a more general process of decentralisation of state powers and the subsequent reform of several laws.
- The decentralisation of power of the public administration concerning culture – transferring the majority of cultural institutions from the central government to local governments, operating at three levels: provincial (Voivodeship), district (Poviat) and municipal/communal (Gmina). The responsibility for local cultural activities and the establishment of local cultural institutions is shared between the provincial, district and municipal administrations.
- The privatisation of the majority of cultural industries, previously owned by the central (socialist) state.
- A true eruption of civic organisations in the cultural sector – in the 1990s, foundations and associations started to be formed. However, despite their growing potential, they are still not regarded as real partners of local government administrations or the state in the field of culture (e.g. as agencies to distribute public funds).
- Efforts were made to prepare Poland for gaining access to EU funds, especially the EU’s Structural Funds. In this context, emphasis has been placed on developing regional approaches to the development of culture (2003-2004).
- The awareness of the significance of culture as a development factor is increasing in the face of dynamic socio-economic and technological transformations. Categories such as cultural industries and creative industries appear. The concept of the creative economy is being defined, in order to highlight the creative component in production, not only for symbolic goods, i.e. cultural goods. The scope of public funding has been expanded. Currently, it refers to the main cultural domains together with cultural and creative industries. This can be seen, for example, in the subsidy programs of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.(2018).
- Since 2018, after years of absence in both government policy and public debate, the topic of developing a support system for artists, creators and performers is back on the agenda. Currently, government research-based work on a new law on professional artist rights is pending. It is worth noting the participatory nature, which means that artistic circles are broadly included in its development.
Main features of the current cultural policy model (in the profile authors’ opinion)
After 1989, culture and its management in Poland underwent substantial changes, as already touched upon above. In the 1990s, the transformation from planned to market economy, as well as administrative reforms, have extorted a series of adaptation processes within the cultural sector, many of which could be described as radical in their nature. Even though those processes could not be considered as the result of strategic thinking regarding cultural development, but rather as by-products of the administrative changes that Poland had undergone, they still brought many positive effects.
On the one hand, cultural stakeholders, such as artists, creators, performers and producers or managers, engage freely in the discussion regarding innovative methods of cultural management, cross-sectoral partnerships or the economic importance of culture. They operate and create within various cultural fields and industries, expressing their passion through civic engagement and activities, applying new technologies and constantly developing the third sector in Poland. Drawing examples from international models, they actively search for and utilise diverse financial resources, including EU funding and private donations. On the other hand, the decentralisation of cultural administration allowed all levels of local governments to focus on strategic planning in the area of cultural development.
Overall, Poland and its citizens have been successful in adapting to the new political, economic and administrative reality. They actively seek and implement solutions to such contemporary challenges as globalisation or the economic crisis, including those challenges arising from the notion of a globalised culture. Can we expect more? Perhaps yes, however, in the context of those changes, we certainly experience a great amount of satisfaction. Yet, when we look back from 2020’s perspective, many more systemic changes in the cultural sector could have been implemented in accordance with the original framework of Polish cultural policy and the new legal system.
Last update: December, 2020
Last update: December, 2020
The central state administration is the main actor which sets cultural policy objectives and funding principles. The main policy-maker is the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. Nevertheless, other ministers also have the authority to establish cultural institutions (for example, the Polish Army Museum is subordinated to the Ministry of National Defence).
The main tasks of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage include:
- The preparation of the draft state budget in part at the Minister's disposal;
- Taking care of the national fields of theatre, music, ballet, opera, stage art, fine arts, literature, museology, folk culture, cultural education, and the amateur art movement, and of the cultural exchange with foreign countries;
- Issuing opinions on draft legal acts and developing them in terms of formal and legal matters;
- The execution and coordination of the implementation of tasks resulting from government policy on the protection of monuments;
- Initiating activities to maintain and popularise the national and state traditions;
- The care and supervision of artistic education;
- Carrying out tasks in the field of audiovisual policy.
The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage includes the Minister's Political Cabinet and the following organisational units:
- Department of Cultural Heritage
- Department of Finance
- Department of European Funds and Affairs
- Department of State Patronage
- Department of National Cultural Institutions
- Department of Monuments Protection
- Department of Artistic and Cultural Education
- Department of International Cooperation
- Department of Intellectual Property and Media
- Department of Legislation
- Department of Cultural Heritage Abroad and War Losses
- Department of Corporate Supervision
- General Director’s Office
- Internal Audit and Control Office
- Human Resources and Training Office
- Information Centre of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage
The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage is the founding body and co-owner (with local government units) of 64 cultural institutions. These institutions are located in all sixteen voivodeships (provinces) and consist of theatres, operas, philharmonics, orchestras, museums, as well as cultural and art centres. Among them are institutions of special importance for the Polish heritage, culture and art, such as the Grand Theatre, the National Opera, the National Museum and the National Library (see 1.3.3 for more information).
The Minister of Culture and National Heritage also appoints specific cultural institutions that support a given field of culture. These are, for example: 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 and the Fryderyk Chopin Institute. These institutes conduct regranting and research activities, organise festivals and competitions, cooperate with different stakeholders and international partners, etc.
The Minister's programmes are aimed at co-financing project-related tasks in the field of culture, excluding the permanent cultural activity of entities. These programmes are meant for cultural institutions, non-governmental organisations, film institutions, schools and universities, local government units, business entities, churches and religious associations. Natural persons are not entitled to submit applications, except for the Monument Protection programme.
The programmes for 2021 covered four main areas: national heritage, education, cultural sectors, and creative sectors. There are 32 programmes, including art education, cultural infrastructure, literature, composing orders, protection of cultural heritage abroad, and film. The projected amount of expenditure in these grant programmes is PLN 225 977 500.00, which is about EUR 49 884 657,80.
Together with the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage is responsible for arts education at all levels of education.
At the turn of 2020/2021, changes in the structure of the Polish government are planned. The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Ministry of Sport will be formally merged. Sport matters will be handled by a dedicated office - the National Sports Centre - reporting to the Minister of Culture, National Heritage and Sport.
The Cultural Commissions that are located in two houses/chambers of the Parliament of the Republic of Poland (Sejm and Senat) are responsible for legislation in the field of culture. Their role is to:
- Propose candidates for positions in the state cultural policy administration;
- Amend, consider and present opinions for legalisation or legal acts;
- Consider reports and communications of the Minister of Culture;
- Analyse activities in the cultural field; and
- Prepare responses on budget related requests.
The Commission of Culture and Mass Media of the Sejm specifically deals with issues arising in the following fields: creativity, dissemination of culture, protection of cultural heritage, press, radio and television, publishing houses, socio-cultural movement and cultural co-operation on the international forum/foreign cultural co-operation.
Last update: December, 2020
There are cultural administration bodies located at the voivodeship (regional), poviat (district) and municipal levels.
Each level of local government has a statutory obligation to undertake activities in the area of culture and the protection and care of monuments. The most important element of this obligation is the financing of local government cultural institutions and defining their own cultural policy.
The catalog of initiatives implemented by local governments is wide, including:
- International cooperation in the field of culture;
- Carrying out tasks and projects supporting cultural phenomena, supporting creativity and cultural potentials, and promoting the culture and national heritage sector;
- Coordinating and organising cultural exchange in cooperation with domestic and foreign regions;
- Supporting tasks carried out by institutions and organisations of the cultural sector and entities acting for the protection of monuments;
- Organising various events, competitions (including grant and prize competitions) and projects.
The most common forms of financing culture by local government units include: subsidies; grants; material or financial assistance; granting patronage; organisation of competitions; public procurement; civic budgets; village council funds; and district funds.
Please find the available information on this subject in 1.2.3.
Last update: December, 2020
There are no QUANGO-type organisations in Poland. However, civil society organisations are involved in creating cultural policy.
The Council of Non-governmental Culture Organisations
In March 2007, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage established the Council of Non-governmental Culture Organisations. The Council is a consultative and advisory body for the Minister. The main aims of the Council are to submit proposals and opinions on collaboration forms between the Ministry and the NGOs as well as judgement of legal acts important for NGOs operating in the cultural sector. The Council also prepares the proposals for the use of European Funds in the culture sector. However, many NGO workers are disappointed as this body is composed of representatives of big associations representing the interests of particular creative disciplines and artistic unions. Research organisations and innovative non-governmental projects were neglected within the process of the Council's establishment. The Council’s activity is not transparent at all and and no comprehensive information on its actions is presented by the ministerial sources.
Many non-governmental organisations and institutions act for the benefit of local societies. They aim at increasing the level of participation in culture and activation of citizens through raising awareness and knowledge as well as supporting creativity. The examples below show the diversity of the actions.
There are multiple advocacy groups functioning in Poland, e.g.: Polish Filmmakers' Association; Polish Music Council; Polish Composers' Union; Polish Performing Artists' Union; Polish Visual Artists' Union; Polish Folk Artists' Association; Polish Writers' Union; The Authors' Society; Music Export Poland; and the Coalition of the Summer Literary Festivals. Their main purpose is to associate artists, authors and creators of different professions, to take care of their interests, promote their branches and manage copyright issues.
Social Dialogue Commissions for Culture at the municipal/communal (gmina) levels
The Social Dialogue or Culture Commissions are created by non-governmental organisations and the local authorities as part of the "Cooperation Programme". The role of the Commissions is to act as an initiating and advisory body for local authorities as well as opinion making for major legal acts considering the functioning of NGOs, setting up action programme priorities of collaboration between the NGOs and the local authorities and nomination of councils' experts responsible for decisions of grants giving bodies on the local level.
Last update: December, 2020
From 1998 until Poland’s accession into the EU in 2004, inter-ministerial co-operation in the field of culture has been extensively organised around the programmes devoted to the preparation of Poland for its membership. The European Committee of the Council of Ministers was formed in March 2004 to operate as a decision-making forum and is responsible for drafting EU integration policy. Afterwards, the transversal co-operation was devoted to the preparation of a few cities in Poland for the competition for the title of European Capital of Culture 2016, which was eventually won by Wrocław.
Other types of cooperation include the International Centre for Training and Research on Cultural Heritage in Danger, which is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Ministry of National Defence. This cooperation was initiated by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage in 2017. In the second quarter of 2020, a specialised military centre was launched in Garrison Wrocław, providing training for civilians and military personnel involved in the protection of cultural heritage in an armed conflict. The centre follows the traditions of Poland's involvement in multinational missions, carried out under the patronage of international organisations for the sake of endangered cultural heritage.
Agreements on cooperation in the promotion of Polish culture abroad between the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs entered into force at the beginning of 2019. In the first year of its operation, over PLN 6 million was allocated to the creation of a new programme addressed to national and co-led cultural institutions. Under the programme, projects will be implemented in key countries from the point of view of Polish foreign policy. Under the agreement, both ministries will also coordinate activities under their own financial support mechanisms, as well as strengthen joint communication activities. Moreover, both ministries will conduct training together and ensure the best possible flow of information between their subordinate units.
A programme for digitisation of municipal cultural centres is co-led by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Ministry of Digitisation. Its main postulate is broadband Internet in each Municipal Cultural Centre. In 2019, only about a thousand facilities — mainly in the larger centres — had access to the high-speed network; another thousand required connection, retrofitting with equipment and training in digital competences. Almost PLN 20 million (EUR 4,4 milion) have been allocated for this purpose.
The Institute of Solidarity Heritage is a new cultural institution established in 2019 by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Independent Self-governing Trade Union "Solidarity" (NSZZ Solidarność). The mission of the new institution will be to popularise the phenomenon and meaning of "Solidarity" and to research and protect its history and authentic heritage.
Last update: December, 2020
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.
Last update: December, 2020
Cultural institutions, by sector and domain (2018 - 2019)
|Domain||Cultural institutions (subdomains)||Public (2018)||Private (2018)||Public (2019)||Private (2019)||Growth|
|Visual arts||Public art galleries / exhibition halls||198||127||195||132||0,62%|
|Performing arts||Theatre and music institutions having a permanent artistic team||152||37||163||25||-0,53%|
|Interdisciplinary||Socio-cultural centres / cultural houses||3936||3001||3949||306||0,42%|
Central Statistical Office
Public cultural institutions, by level of government (2018- 2019)
|Domain||Cultural institutions (subdomains)||State (2018)||Regional and local (2018)||State (2019)||Regional and local (2019)|
|Visual arts||Public art galleries / exhibition halls||13,6%||86,4%||12,8%||87,2%|
|Performing arts||Theatre and music institutions having a permanent artistic team||6,9%||93,1%||8,0%||92,0%|
|Interdisciplinary||Socio-cultural centres / cultural houses||0,1%||99,9%||0,1%||99,9%|
Central Statistical Office
Last update: December, 2020
The state is the founding body of national cultural institutions and the local government administration (voivodeship, districts and municipalities) of local cultural institutions.
There are 64 national cultural institutions that are led or co-organised by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The full register of the National Institutions of Culture led by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage is available on its website.
It is clearly visible that local government entities are the dominant founder of cultural institutions in Poland. The state runs a relatively small number of units, focusing primarily on the activities of museums. When it comes to theatres, the overwhelming majority is owned by local governments, mainly cities with poviat rights and voivodships. Libraries are almost exclusively run by local governments, mainly municipal governments. The ownership of galleries and exhibition institutions is distributed among local governments, in particular cities with poviat status, and private ownership. Galleries, next to cinemas, are the most privatized cultural institutions. Local government cinemas are mostly run by municipalities; the same is the case for community centers and related institutions.
The situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic creates additional threats to the functioning of cultural institutions. At the time of writing, a second lockdown of the cultural sector exacerbates the existing shortages of funds for culture. The process of unfreezing and recovering the full capacity to operate depends not only on the epidemiological situation or the demand for the services offered, but above all on the amount of subsidy funds that may be included in the budget plans of the founders of cultural institutions for 2021.
Apart from the current problems, there are systemic issues as well. The financing system of cultural institutions focuses on public expenditure on culture and treats financing from private sources as complementary. The implemented forms of support for culture under this model led to an increase in its structural disease, i.e. the dependence of the functioning of the cultural sector on short-term subsidies and grants, which results in the lack of stability and the possibility of long-term planning in culture.
Many postulates regarding the financing of cultural institutions were verbalized during a series of debates of the National Conference for Culture (OKK) in 2017, attended by representatives of the artistic and scientific communities and representatives of the government. The mainstream of the debate was related to the joint efforts of the artistic community to ensure financial stability of public cultural institutions in the perspective longer than the financial year, the permanence of the autonomy of the institutions and the need for cooperation of all entities of the organisers. There was a demand to create a new law, and the newly drafted act should take into account the specificity of various types of cultural institutions.
Last update: December, 2020
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 other public or private institutions and organisations such as the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, 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. Co-operation is also undertaken through Polish embassies and (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. 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.
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.
There are no official statistics in Poland for public spending on intercultural co-operation.
Last update: December, 2020
Poland became a party to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1976. Since then, it has been involved in the work of the World Heritage Committee aimed at the preservation and conservation of cultural properties.
In the framework of co-operation with the Council of Europe, the Polish activity is aimed at the enhancement of the protection of monuments on the international level. This means comprehensive Polish involvement in some important Council of Europe projects: European Heritage Days (since 1999) and HEREIN (since 2000).
The European Union Programme Culture 2000, which Poland joined in 2001, created the possibility for the promotion of Polish culture via multilateral co-operation with cultural organisations from other Member States.
Poland is a member of Visegrad Group (V4), which reflects the efforts of the countries of the Central European region to work together in a number of fields of common interest relating to European integration. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have historically been part of one civilisation. They share cultural and intellectual values and common roots of religious traditions which they wish to preserve and further strengthen.
Poland is also a member of Ars Baltica, which was created in 1989 as a forum for multilateral cultural co-operation with an emphasis on common projects within the Baltic Sea Region. It gives priority to art, culture and cultural history. The intention of Ars Baltica is to enhance cultural identity in the Baltic Sea Region and also to realise projects of European significance. Its goal is to implement common projects, with the intention that they will become regular networks of individuals and organisations. Co-operation between the members is carried out by meetings, exchanges of information and joint projects. There are ten member countries: Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden.
Last update: December, 2020
Polish NGOs are the main institutions that devote attention to the issue of intercultural dialogue. Moreover, in some cases, they are more committed to the process of establishing partnerships with foreign institutions than with local governmental bodies. The project Metropolises of Europe confirms the role of NGOs in introducing and implementing modern research in the broad field of culture, including the theme of multiculturalism which seemed to be neglected in Polish cultural policy. The resulting publication entitled "Metropolises of Europe. Diversity in Urban Cultural Life" is a good example of the involvement of a Polish NGO in the subject of intercultural dialogue.
The Foundation Pogranicze (Borderland), situated in Sejny, provides various programmes (together with the Centre Borderland of Arts, Cultures and Nations) for students, artists, cultural activists etc. Sejny is a small town near the Lithuanian border where the atmosphere of multiculturalism is still vibrant. (In the past it was a village inhabited by Jews, Poles, Lithuanians, Russians and Germans - a perfect example of the cultural blend that was characteristic of Poland before World War II). The Foundation is very interested in extending its projects that result in co-operation with European and world organisations involved in intercultural and trans-national issues. Sejny-based institutions are very active and give support to many initiatives aimed at promoting tolerance and peaceful co-existence of many ethnic and national groups.
Since Polish accession to the EU, direct professional cooperation has been fostered. The various NGOs still play a key role, yet the participation of other entities (e.g. schools, private companies) in international cultural projects is more active. There is a visible trend in recent years regarding cooperation with Eastern European countries (eg. Members of the Eastern Partnership Programme) and also Middle- and Far-East countries. The Euro 2012 was an important incentive for the development of cultural cooperation with Ukraine. This concerns both official programmes realised within the Culture Stadium project and private initiatives. Cultural cooperation with non-EU European countries is supported via Swiss Grants and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, which are an important source of co-financing of activities based on bilateral cooperation with Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.