Four days of non-stop culture host over 300 artists and intellectuals from all over the world to explore the evolution of culture over the past and present
Follow the European Culture Congress debates online at culturecongress.eu, nina.gov.pl or uwaganakulture.pl.
The European Culture Congress takes its cue from the book by Zygmunt Bauman, written at the initiative of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. Professor Bauman explores the genesis of the notion of ‘culture’, analysing processes that culture was subject to both in the past and today, showing developmental threats and chances. Another theme is how the pace of changes – particularly such factors as new technologies, free market, economy, globalization and first of all “compulsive and obsessive ‘modernization’” – determines contemporary culture.
This diagnosis sets the tone for the intellectual framework of the European Culture Congress. Since old definitions miss lots of phenomena, legal and economic regulations lack connection with reality, and migrations within Europe lead to constant redefinitions of such notions as ‘identity’, ‘cultural status’ or ‘nationality’, we have to watch carefully processes we are witnessing and participating in. The Congress will not resolve all urgent problems – that is a long-term challenge – but to paraphrase Prof. Bauman’s words: questions are far more important than ready answers. Thus creation of a space for asking questions will be the main objective of the Congress.
Is ‘Europeanism’ just an intellectual construct? How culture can draw on the free market and not become its victim? How to lobby efficiently the European Parliament for culture? Is open culture really a benefit? What ‘original’ means in the contemporary art? How to reconcile the copyright law with the audience’s right to participate in culture? These are only few of the proposed themes that will be taken up in discussions and artistic projects. The European Culture Congress departs from the traditional path of debates and prefers the merge of theory and practice.
Besides discussions with European intellectuals and artists, the programme includes theatre and other performances, concerts, screenings, visual arts exhibitions, architectural presentations and design projects. The majority of events – in accordance with the Congress’ formula and the contemporary arts’ interdisciplinary nature – cross boundaries of just a single area. Apart from small and chamber projects, like experimental sound projections, there will be spectacular performances for a wider audience – a pyrotechnic outdoor show by the French Groupe F or concerts of well-known stars. The audience will have a chance to meet both authors with considerable achievements – like Krzysztof Penderecki, Krystian Lupa, Jan Fabre, Fatos Lubonja – and artists of the younger generation – Stefan Kaegi from the Rimini Protokoll, the designer group Kompott, or the British group Stornoway. Presented will be new format projects, actions that refer to the cultural heritage of Wrocław, and performances that on the one hand show the potential of independent cultural organizations, and on the other hand interfere in the social area and activate the audience.
The Programme of the ECC encourages the audience to active participation. Transferring the debate from a field accessible to specialists only to the social sphere is of special importance now. As Zygmunt Bauman noticed in his book written especially for the Congress, in Europe we talk a lot and eagerly about culture but nevertheless culture has weaker and weaker impact on the society. Motto of the National Cultural Programme for the Polish EU Presidency – ‘Focus on Culture!’ – reflects the conviction that art can be (an frequently is) a tool of social change, an instrument that boosts creativity in areas seemingly unconnected to culture. That’s why some events are programmed especially for the third sector that puts the idea of art as a tool of social change into action.
European Culture Congress
September 8-11, 2011
This event is part of Attention Culture!, the Cultural Program of the 2011 Polish EU Presidency, which comprises a six-month series of exceptional events and artistic projects, including the European Culture Congress, held as a part of the Polish presidency in the EU Council.
Local organizers Wrocław - the Meeting Place
Organizers National Audiovisual Institute, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland
ECC partners Centennial Hall, Feature Film Studios in Wrocław, European Culture Foundation