The pan-European online magazine Political Critique has issued a call for solidarity with artists and other cultural producers in Poland, as they face repression by the country’s far-right government. In particular, far-right forces have targeted the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw, a public cultural institution, for staging performance that they claims offend religious and national sentiment. For more info on the political and cultural situation in Poland, read an excerpt from the call below, or the full text here.
In 2015 however, the equilibrium in Polish culture war swung sharply to the “illiberal side”. The Polish Law and Justice party and its Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. – immediately after having won total majority in Polish parliament in October 2015 elections – openly demanded the transformation of Polish culture, so would mirror the party’s patriotic fervor and Christian values rooted in the traditional heteronormative family. For two years members of the ruling party have executed their cultural visions by means of the political apparatus – launching new cultural institutions aimed at promoting acceptable values, changing directors of institutions directly subordinated to the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, dominating the public media, and limiting financial support for cultural civil society organisations who do not share their far-right worldview. Polish culture is turning barren.
Simultaneously, people haved presented resistance to those actions and cultivated limitless creativity, social engagement through culture, artivism as well as free and critical arts. In October 2016 over 3000 participants came to Warsaw for Citizens Culture Congress. It was a two day feast of cultural democracy with over 140 working groups. Powszechny Theatre played a crucial role in organisition of the Congress following its own approach of combining artistic productions, collaboration which civil society organisations and independent culture makers, social movements and neighbourhood associations.
In 2017, new social movements defending culture against the political designs of the far-right are flourishing – the Independent Culture movement has released a list of demands related to cultural freedoms, addressed to the government and signed by over six thousand citizens; artists are self-organising in guilds; trade unions (like Workers’ Initiative) are meeting regularly to discuss tactics to counter the transformation of the cultural field by focusing on culture workers labour conditions.
Image of Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw via Polish Theatre Journal.