Central Europe Review: politics, society and culture in Central and Eastern Europe
Vol 1, No 21
15 November 1999

Cultural news from Poland C U L T U R E   R O U N D - U P:
Poland's Week in Culture

Wojtek Kosc

Gazeta Wyborcza daily revealed that the National Library (and, therefore, indirectly the Ministry of Culture) was going to take over a number of cultural magazines. In an article by Roman Pawlowski, it was reported that the take-over is to avoid the collapse of cultural magazines market, as 1999 has been their worst year since the beginning of the decade. Government subsidiaries were cut down by 50 per cent, to a mere USD 500,000. Many of the subsidised magazines received their donations as late as October or even November. The flawed Public Finance Act also contributed to the publications' trouble. According to this legislation, magazines issued by science institutes, universities or local authorities cannot be funded by the government.

Prominent titles, such as FA-Art (a literary magazine), have had their funds drastically limited. Even the Batory Foundation may not help them, as it plans to subsidise only those well-managed titles that have a chance of development, not just of mere vegetation. New independent magazines have to apply for money every year and usually get the leftovers whereas so-called patronage magazines receive money regularly.

No one questions their right to it as they are important for national culture, but the new ones need money all the more desperately, according to Pawlowski, because they have not established themselves on the market yet. The take-over of the 30 or so magazines by the National Library is likely to cause conflicts over which papers will be shortlisted for donations. Additionally, once they are under the National Library, they will be forced to rely on its distribution system, printing, etc. In other words, they will have secure funding but will not be free to develop.

Gazeta Wyborcza also questioned the fate of publications which are not on the list. That they are not known outside their locality or have low circulation is rejected by the daily as an argument for accepting their demise, since poets, writers and translators make their debuts in their pages, discussions not covered by mass media are run there and books of local authors are published with their help. The internationally respected Polish author Czeslaw Milosz said recently that those small magazines should especially be cherished as they give birth to new trends that are later adopted and accepted by widely understood national culture.

Other cultural news

Petr Zelenka Trion (featuring saxophonist Piotr Baron), Hradistian, Plastic People of the Universe, Garage, Psi Vojaci and Kormani (featuring Vlasta Tresnak) were among the bands that performed in Wroclaw during the Czech Culture Festival from 11 to 14 November.

The modern art gallery Art Bunker in Krakow is currently showing an exhibition of Maria Pininska-Beres. Sculptures made of paper, sponge or wood, painted in different shades of pink are the trademark of this artist who died half a year ago. The exhibition is open until 9 December. Info: 0048 12 421 38 40.

Dance Theatre Meetings took place in Lublin from 10 to 14 November and gave the audience an opportunity to see Ignomia Dance Theater (Russia), Tranzdanz (Hungary) and Compagne Stanislaw Wisniewski (France). Polish groups included artists from Kalisz, Krakow and Gdansk. Prorok Ilja (Prophet Ilya), a play by Tadeusz Slobodzianek, premiered in Nowy Teatr (New Theatre) in Lodz. The director was Mikolaj Grabowski. Prorok Ilja is considered one of the most interesting Polish contemporary plays. Info: 0048 42 636 08 47.

Wojtek Kosc, 15 November 1999



This week's theme Cities

Poland's Silesian Conurbation

in Prague

Building Politics in Berlin

Saving Sofia

Mall-land in Budapest

Interview: The Builder of Budapest

A Sustainable City?

Car Capital


Andrzej Wajda's Pan Tadeusz


Albanian Immigrants
in Greece

Nuclear Waste



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