idea / why congress?

Attention Culture!

AAA

Michał Merczyński

Attention Culture! This message should accompany each of us in our daily hurry, amidst excessive information and stimuli, where culture does not come to the fore and acts on hidden territories.

Even though it rarely hits the headlines, that it rarely makes the breaking news on TV and in newspapers (or in their nowadays more and more important online versions), culture still remains the basic and universal platform of expression, providing a tool to reflect on the world and live in a conscious manner.

Cultural programme will be a significant value added to the first Polish Presidency of the EU. Through numerous projects involving the citizens of Europe in the culture of Poland we want to produce a critical mass – a demand that the focus on culture should not be limited to extraordinary events unconnected with other areas of our social life.

One of the most important events within the National Cultural Programme for the Polish EU Presidency will be the European Culture Congress. Sceptics may say that another such meeting will change nothing, that it is just a repetition of an old-established ritual that preserves the status quo. But this Congress is exceptional. Already at the starting point and in the basic programme assumptions it goes beyond its name and formula. Its idea and guiding principle calls for activity and heralds the possibility of changes to come. Art for social change is an attitude that everybody can adopt – we just have to just discern in this approach the potential for social change. By undertaking creative activity, by viewing ourselves and our actions from a broader perspective, we can treat culture and arts as a powerful value deeply rooted in the real world, a value that enters into discussion with that world.

The idea of art for social change naturally permeates each and every key elements of the European Culture Congress:

  • the colloquium gathering researchers and activists in various fields – artists, culture theoreticians, but also journalists, economists, programmers;
  • the artistic performance prepared at the grass roots by non-institutional circles which create culture on their own principles, and thus bring into it a new quality and the potential of diversity;
  • the cultural policies related section composed – as we hope – of the international meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the EU member countries, and of an initiative by the all-European group of advocates for A Soul for Europe, who contribute to the implementation of specific legislative solutions that are beneficial to culture.

All of the congressional events – those created both by artists, theoreticians and first of all by the audience – will cross safe but continuously fading boundaries between the old/young, on/off, highbrow/popular culture, and what is theoretical and what is practical.

The inaugural lecture by Zygmunt Bauman will have an extraordinary and symbolic dimension. This outstanding Polish philosopher and sociologist, attentive participant and observer of culture, will deliver in this exceptional place – the Centennial Hall in Wrocław – a lecture on new strategies for the European culture. The future of our culture is also the subject of the professor’s book published in Poland and the UK especially on the occasion of the European Culture Congress; it is also a question for all of us, a question that needs to be answered.

Four days and three nights of the ECC should create a space for unique meetings, as Masters will meet at the peeks of the Polish artistic culture and the European pop culture. Krzysztof Penderecki, Grzegorz Jarzyna, Krystian Lupa, Jonny Greenwood, Brian Eno and Aphex Twin will present their own projects prepared especially for this occasion.

Ladies and Gentlemen, attention culture!

Michał Merczyński, Director of the National Audiovisual Institute

 

Translated by Maciej Kositorny 

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    An effective Congress would be foonwlilg up on its own subpoenas and pursuing impeachment. This one is too much impressed by the example of what happened to Newt Gingrich after "shutting down" the government. The Dems are sitting on a three-touchdown lead (bad economy, bad war, opinion polls, campaign money, open seats, 70% "derangement") and they're running out the clock until 2008. Not very inspiring, no. Prevent defense, yes. But let's not pretend we can't fathom the Democrats' "inactivity" and "incompetence." This is the plan. And it will work. Maybe another plan might have worked even better, but this is the plan.

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