Report creation date: 14.10.2008 - 11:26
Countr(y/ies): Poland
Chapter(s): 1,2,21,22,23,24,241,242,243,244,245,246,3,31,32,33,4,41,42,421,422,423,424,425,426,427,428,429,4210,43,5,51,511,512,513,514,515,516,517,518,519,52,53,531,532,533,534,535,536,537,538,539,5310,6,61,62,63,64,7,71,72,73,8,81,811,812,813,82,821,822,83,831,832,84,841,842,9,91,92

Poland/ 1. Historical perspective: cultural policies and instruments

One can identify two basic periods which characterise the development of Polish cultural policy in the last 50 years. Distinguishing features of the first period - real socialism - include limited sovereignty, a one-party system and a planned economy. The second period - liberal democracy and market economy - recovered Polish independence, introduced parliamentary democracy and principles for a market economy. 1989 is the watershed year that marked the shift between these two periods and the year when the first democratic parliamentary election was held in post-communist Poland.Warsaw by Night

Before 1989, cultural activities were organised under a system characterised by a high level of centralisation, institutionalisation and a monopoly of state property. Decisions made on the development of cultural activities were strongly politicised and the creative arts were under 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. 

After 1989, Poland underwent a process of political and economical transformation and the state re-established its new responsibilities with a social character. Those responsibilities were formulated in the introduction to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. Article 73 directly refers to the field of culture and states that everyone is granted the right of freedom of creation, to conduct scientific research and announce their results, freedom of education and use of cultural assets.

The new principles for organising and financing cultural activities were formulated in 1993 and presented in the governmental document entitled The Principles of State Cultural Policy. According to this document, the Polish government should:

Cultural policy should therefore achieve the following goals:

These goals are in support of the principles formulated in 1993. In 2003, efforts were made to prepare Poland for gaining access to EU funds, especially Structural Funds. In this context, emphasis has been placed on developing regional approaches to the development of culture. Cultural identity and the protection of national heritage have been given top priority since 2005. The year 2006 saw a continuation of a significant shift in the overall state policy related to heritage and establishment of a "historical policy" commenced during the previous year.

Poland/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.1 Organisational structure (organigram) 

Poland/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.2 Overall description of the system

There are cultural administration bodies located at the central (state), regional (Voivodship*), provincial (poviat) and municipal (gmina) levels.

The central state administration is the main actor which sets cultural policy objectives and funding principles. The Ministry of Culture (former Ministry of Culture and National Heritage) is responsible for legislation, searching and securing new sources of non-public financing for culture, monitoring the implementation of cultural policy and keeping track of ongoing changes in the system. In other words, the main Ministerial tasks are to set the legal, financial and programme frameworks which facilitate the development of culture. The Ministry does not engage in the direct management of culture, even though it organises a few activities for the most important cultural institutions and provides financial support to cultural events of a regional or local character.

Local authorities (at all tiers: region, province and municipality) and - to a certain degree - non-governmental organisations have acquired an important role in cultural policy whether it be according to state set objectives or creating their own development strategies. In the latter case, it is important to underline the autonomy and independence of local governments.

The institutional picture of Polish culture is changing gradually. The main changes deal with a shift from the state monopoly over cultural institutions towards diversification of ownership (including changes to their legal status to private organisations, foundations or associations) and the creation of third sector institutions. There is a lack of arm's length culture institutions in Poland, which in other European countries play a key role in protecting the autonomy of decisions taken in the sphere of culture.

The Cultural Commissions 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:

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.

*             Voivodships were formerly part of the state. The new Voivodships are now part of both the state and local government (self-government) structure. Responsibility for culture is now in the hands of the self-governing Voivodships.

Poland/ 2. Competence, decision-making and administration

2.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

Since 1998, inter-ministerial co-operation in the field of culture has been extensively organised around the programmes devoted to the preparation of Poland for EU 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.

There are also a few examples of other intergovernmental cooperation:

Poland/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.1 Overview of main structures and trends

The overall character of Polish international cultural co-operation is determined by either specific geographical location or economic and political interest. The main groups that benefit from Polish cultural diplomacy tend to be part of influential and opinion-making circles throughout the world, mainly in the Member States of the EU. In recent years, the most important cultural projects were therefore realised in Belgium, Austria, France and Germany. On the other hand, Polish cultural diplomacy supports co-operation with countries on its Eastern border: Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, the latter via non-governmental bodies. Poland is also engaged in multilateral co-operation with regional organisations e.g. Visegrad Group and Ars Baltica. Another very visible focus of cultural co-operation is the USA, which is tied up with economic lobbying. Cultural links with Israel are also important due to the historical background of the Jewish Diaspora.

The most distinct change in foreign cultural policy has been fuelled by Poland's accession to the European Union and is aimed at strengthening relations with EU structures and West European countries. Simultaneously, there has been a visible set-back in former East-East relations. Over the past years, the significance of state bilateral co-operation has been decreasing and is being replaced by activities initiated by European organisations and initiatives undertaken by networks, institutions and individual artists who have pursued their own (direct) forms of co-operation.

There are two basic forms of co-operation:

  1. bilateral co-operation at the state level has its legal basis in inter-governmental agreements with various countries. Principles and conditions for co-operation and cultural exchange between countries are set out in formal agreements; and
  2. multilateral co-operation is carried out via;

The most important document concerning international cultural cooperation is a one which has been prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture entitled: Polish Foreign Cultural Policy - Priorities for the Period 2001-2003. Originally, a document was to be prepared every three years. Important implications for foreign cultural policy are also presented in a programme adopted by the Cabinet in the year 2000 entitled: A Government Framework Programme for Foreign Promotion of Polish Accession to the EU. In 2002, the Cabinet accepted the "Governmental Programme of Cooperation between Poland and Polish people living abroad" coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Poland/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

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 the Ministry of the Economy and other public or private institutions and organisations such as the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the International Centre of Culture, the Book Institute, the Polish National Tourist Office, the Polish Film Institute, and the Polish Information and Foreign Investments Agency.

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 (in October 2006 there were 68 binding agreements). 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 and the Department of Cultural Strategy and European Affairs. Both of these departments are mainly responsible for coordinating all the actions undertaken in the field of international cultural cooperation. The Ministry executes the operational programme Promotion of Poland Abroad. It is devoted to the creation and promotion of a positive image of Poland in other countries through the presentation of Polish culture, Polish creators and their activities and by international co-operation in the field of culture based on particular inter-governmental and inter-ministerial agreements.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs realises its tasks in the field of international cultural cooperation chiefly through the Polish Institutes based in other countries: Germany (Berlin, Düsseldorf, Lipsk), Slovakia (Bratislava), Hungary (Budapest), Romania (Bucharest), United Kingdom (London), France (Paris), Czech Republic (Prague), Italy (Rome), Bulgaria (Sofia), Sweden (Stockholm), Austria (Vienna), Lithuania (Vilnius), Israel (Tel Aviv), Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg), Ukraine (Kiev), United States of America (New York). Co-operation is also undertaken through Polish embassies and attachés (cultural and science attachés) and the departments of the Polish Academy of Science in Berlin, Paris, Rome and Vienna.

The programmes related to the promotion of Polish culture abroad and international cultural cooperation are mostly implemented by two national (governmental) institutions: The Centre of International Cultural Cooperation - Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw and the International Cultural Centre in Cracow.

In recent years, an increasing role in cultural relations has been carried out by cultural institutions founded by regional and local authorities as well as NGOs. Many of these institutes help to influence and shape Polish cultural relations with other countries e.g. Nadbałtyckie Centrum Kultury in Gdańsk and Ośrodek Pogranicze in Sejny (see also 2.4.5).

Foreign cultural institutes such as the British Council and the Institute Français no longer play a major role as cultural operators, although they do organise a series of cultural projects which are the outcome of co-operation with Polish private and public institutions. The British Council organises a series of music shows entitled Soundbites which present various styles of modern music performed by British artists and a similar programme is organised by the Institute Français entitled La Republique de la Musique.They also run popular and respected language schools that educate both students and teachers.

Some of the bilateral agreements with other countries include the promotion of film co-production. This enables film-makers, who apply for funding in the framework of bilateral co-production, to receive state support. Poland is also a party to the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production (1994) and to the EURIMAGES FUND (1988) - the Council of Europe fund for the co-production, distribution and exhibition of European cinematographic works, which has currently 32 Member States. EURIMAGES aims to promote the European film industry by encouraging the production and distribution of films and fostering co-operation between professionals.

There are no official statistics in Poland for public spending on intercultural co-operation. However some calculations are available for the year 2000 which were prepared for the EFAH / INTERARTS study on the State of European Cultural Co-operation (Brussels, 2002). The expenditure of the Ministry of Culture on international cooperation in 2000 was estimated to be 18 349 000 PLN (4 624 000 euros), which constituted 1.7% of the budget of the Ministry of Culture (however this is regarded as a low estimate). As a more current example, in 2005 the expenditure of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute on the realisation of international cultural projects (e.g. Polish-German Year) amounted to 4 064 000 PLN. An additional sum of 3 700 000 PLN was earmarked for funding other tasks of the Institute connected with international co-operation. In 2005, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage's expenditure on the cultural operational programme entitled Promotion of Polish Culture abroad was 10 500 000 PLN.

Since 2006 a new operational programme established by The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage called Promotion of Polish Culture Abroad gives various institutions and organisations an opportunity to gain financial support for projects aimed at popularising Polish culture in other countries. According to the ministerial statistics, 7 million PLN was allocated in 2006.

Poland/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.3 European / international actors and programmes

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. As a result of these efforts two Polish cultural and natural sites were included on the prestigious World Heritage List two years later (in 1978) - Cracow Historical Centre and Wieliczka Salt Mine. In 2005, there were 12 Polish cultural and natural properties on the List, the latest being Muskauer Park in 2004.

The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was ratified in Poland in 2007. The Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage had declared earlier that the Convention would be ratified by the end of 2006 but this was not fulfilled. The late adoption of this important document can be partly explained by the lack of special coalitions of politicians, artists and UNESCO national commission representatives (similar to those in Germany, Canada and Switzerland) that could contribute to and benefit from a quick ratification of the convention within cultural circles. The convention was adopted through a simplified procedure by the government without parliamentary voting.

In the framework of co-operation with the Council of Europe, 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 and HEREIN. Poland has been involved in the organisation of the European Heritage Days since 1999. In 2000, Poland joined the European Network of Heritage "HEREIN" - a project aimed at creation of an Internet database of policies for the protection of monuments in Europe.

Polish presence in the Council of Europe has been strongly enhanced since its chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers from November 2004 until May 2005. Poland took the initiative to organise the opening conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the European Cultural Convention, which concluded with the adoption of the Wroclaw Declaration, a crucial document for the future of the Council of Europe-led collaboration in the areas of culture. In addition, the Third Summit of the Heads of State held in Warsaw in May 2005 adopted two important documents referring to the guidelines for future action in the area of European unity, European values and challenges for co-operation: the Warsaw Declaration and Action Plan.

Prior to taking up membership in the European Union in 2004, Poland had already participated in some of the EU funding programmes. Since EU accession, Poland has benefited from the Structural Funds.

As part of the preparatory activities for EU membership, Poland joined the SOCRATES programme in 1996 - which is aimed at expanding European co-operation in the domain of education. In 1998, Poland formally became an active member of SOCRATES. Polish participation in the programme's components - such as "Erasmus", "Commenius" and "Youth" - facilitates the participation of young people in various activities at the European level. In recent years, in particular, the exchange of students and academic professionals in the framework of the "Erasmus" programme has become a real tool for the encouragement of trans-national activities for young Polish people. The participation figures are growing constantly: only 1 426 students were involved in the university exchange programme in the school year 1998/1999, whereas in 2005/2006 the figure had risen to 9 974. For academic teachers, the participation rates rose from 678 in 2000/2001 to 1 740 in 2005/2006. Figures for admission to Polish universities under the programme also rose considerably from 220 in 1998/1999 to 3 063 in 2005/2006. In the first academic year of the Polish participation in the exchange programme only 46 Polish higher education institutions were involved while in the year 2005/2006 this number rose to 217. The total budget for the Polish students exchange programme in 2005/2006 amounted to 17.5 million euro and for academic lecturers it was 1.1 million.

The European Union Programme Culture 2000, which Poland joined in 2001, creates the possibility for the promotion of Polish culture via multilateral co-operation with cultural organisations from the other Member States. Polish participation in Culture 2000 is constantly growing: in 2001 Polish operators were involved in 14 projects, while this figure rose to 46 projects in 2005 - involving 79 Polish organisations. The total EU funding given to the projects which included Polish participants was 6 million euros in 2005.

EU Structural Funds: 217 projects were chosen in May 2006 by the voivodships to be funded under the Integrated Regional Operational Programme (IROP). The total budget of the projects was 1 282 981 749 PLN (c.a. 321 million euro). Most of the projects were placed within action 1.4. Development of Tourism and Culture (37.3% of all projects in the field of culture). The remaining projects in the field of culture fell into the following categories: 3.1. Rural Areas (24.9%); 3.2. Industry Regeneration Areas (14.3%); 3.3. Disadvantaged Metropolitan, Post-Industrial and Post-Military Areas (17.5%); 1.5. Information Society Infrastructure (3.2%); and 1.3.1. Regional Educational Infrastructure (2.8%).

The largest applications in the field of culture were chosen from the Śląskie voivodship - 149.75 million PLN, and the lowest total value from the Podlaskie voivodship - 30.83 million PLN.

Graph 1:    Classification of the types of projects funded, 2005

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 sharing cultural and intellectual values and common roots of religious traditions which they wish to preserve and further strengthen. All the V4 countries aspired to become members of the European Union, perceiving their integration in the EU as another step forward in the process of overcoming artificial dividing lines in Europe through mutual support. They reached this aim on 1 May 2004 when they all became members of EU.

All of the activities of the Visegrad Group are aimed at strengthening stability in the Central European region. The participating countries perceive their cooperation as a challenge and its success as the best proof of their ability to integrate into structures such as the European Union. In order to support multilateral co-operation the Visegrad Fund was established in 2000. The mission of the Fund is to promote the development of closer cooperation between the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia and strengthening of ties between these states. The fund supports the development of common cultural, scientific research, and educational projects, exchanges between young people, promotion of tourism and cross-border cooperation.

The budget of the Fund is created by equal annual contributions of the four Member States. Since 2005, Member States agreed to contribute euro 750 000 each, providing a total annual budget of euro 3 000 000. In 2006, the sum amounted to euro 5 million, thanks to the increased subscription of 1 250 000. The V4 Fund carries out a grant programme aimed at enhancing the co-operation between member countries and cultural projects particularly welcomed. There are three types of grants, each dedicated to projects of different dimensions. Another form of financial support to creativity and education is the Visegrad Scholarship Programme for students, with a budget of euro 1 306 000. The most recent grant from V4 addressed to cultural circles is the Artist Residencies Programme. It was created to facilitate artistic exchanges of artists from the Visegrad Group countries willing to implement artistic projects in the area. The programme covers 3 month stays and assures fees of 750 euro for visiting artists and the same amount for the hosting organisations.  

The current activity of the V4 Group in the field of culture is focused on matters connected with participation in EU bodies as well as on current issues like the protection of cultural heritage or the role and functioning of libraries. Presently, the V4 Group is seeking a platform of co-operation with partners from the Ukraine and Belarus.

Poland is also a member of Ars Baltica - 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 10 member countries at present including: Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden). A number of Polish cultural operators have been involved in projects such as the: Towns on the Baltic Coast and their Common Heritage and Baltic Culture and Tourism Fortresses' Route. The Secretariat of Ars Baltica is situated in the Polish institution Nadbałtyckie Centrum Kultury.

Poland is a member of CEEPUS - Central European Exchange Programme for University Studies which was established in 1993. The member states are: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, Hungary, and the Ukraine. In the framework of this programme, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage supports international exchange of students of from higher arts education institutions (high schools) and provides funding for study visits.

The scholarship programme of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Gaude Polonia, is aimed at young artists as well as translators of Polish literature from countries of Eastern Europe. Each six-month scholarship covers accommodation costs in Poland and artistic training. There is also a Polish government scholarship for foreign students, co-ordinated by the Ministry of Education, which supports international exchange in this area.

Poland/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.4 Direct professional co-operation

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 (see also 4.2.1 and 4.2.2) confirms the role of NGOs (Pro Cultura Foundation in this case) 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 - a small town near to the Lithuanian border - provides various programmes (together with the Centre Borderland of Arts, Cultures and Nations) for students, artists, cultural activists etc. Sejny is a town 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. In June 2005, the Foundation Pogranicze was one of the co-organisers of the 2nd Colloquium of Intercultural Dialogue which took place in Tbilisi, Georgia and gathered many specialists in cultural, social and religious affairs. 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.

In May 2006, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage established the Cultural Non-governmental Cultural Organisations Council - an advisory body appointed for a 4-year term of office. However, many NGO workers are disappointed as this body is composed of representatives of big associations representing interests of particular creative disciplines and artistic unions. Research organisations and innovative non-governmental projects had been neglected within the process of the council's establishment. The council's activity can hardly be noticed and no comprehensive information on its actions is presented by the ministerial sources.

Poland/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.5 Cross-border intercultural dialogue and co-operation

There are interesting cases of cross-border intercultural dialogue and cooperation involving Poland. Below is a "case of good practice" prepared by Rostyslav Kramar, senior lecturer, Warsaw University, the Faculty of Applied Linguistics and East Slavonic Studies, the Department of Ukrainian Studies.

Kiev-Warsaw - a Common Cause: The process of profound social changes in the Ukraine in autumn 2004 brought about the activation of Ukrainians and the pro-Ukrainians in Warsaw. The Kiev-Warsaw - a Common Cause concert, organised by Ukrainian and Polish civic initiatives, with the support from the Warsaw authorities, became a symbol of the phenomenal interest in Ukraine and of the solidarity with the Ukrainian democracy.

The initiative itself came from students: Poles and Ukrainians studying in Warsaw. From the students community, two youth groups emerged which then were transformed into the Free Ukraine (Wolna Ukraina,, created by the Poles and The Initiative "Our choice - Ukraine" (Inicjatywa "Nasz Wybór - Ukraina",, created by the Ukrainian students. The initiators addressed the city authorities with a proposal to organise jointly a concert of solidarity with the Ukrainian democracy. Polish music and TV stars, and social activists were invited. To underline the symbolic bond between Poland and Ukraine the event was organised at the Piłsudski Square (where the alliance between two great leaders Piłsudski and Petlura took place during the Bolshevik war).

In order to inform the Ukrainians about the event, it was decided that the Polish public television Channel 3 and the opposition Ukrainian channel 5 would organise jointly a transmission bridge between Warsaw and Kiev. The Warsaw authorities were in favour of this initiative. The Office of Theatre and Music, the Stołeczna Estrada and the city community services (transport, police) took part in the organisation of the event.

The efforts of the organisers, among which was also the Union of Ukrainians in Poland, made it possible to prepare the event in merely 48 hours. A day before the concert, a large media campaign was launched. It should be noted that also the commercial media joined the campaign on a non-profit basis. Popular actors and musicians, representing all age groups and styles, took part - from those known in the 1980s to hip-hop performers. For example the Ukrainian jazz singer Roksana Wikaluk, actors such as Daniel Olbrychski, Piotr Machalica, Stanisław Tym, Robert Kudelski, Michał Żebrowski, Agata Buzek, also the Rampa Theatre presented parts of the "Wielka Woda" play, Elektryczne Gitary, Gawęda and a folk group from Gdansk Chutir gave concerts, as well as many others. Robert Leszczyński, a well-known TV music presenter, hosted the concert. The event was opened by Lech Kaczyński, the then President of Warsaw.

The outdoor beams and live TV transmission from the Ukrainian capital were also a success. Two beams on the square showed, during breaks, what was happening in Kiev, whilst those gathered in Kiev could watch fragments of the Warsaw concert. Also during the concert there was a connection with those in the Independence square in Kiev. Victor Jushchenko's spokesperson Iryna Gerashchenko stressed the role Poland played in the negotiations between the Ukrainian opposition and the authorities. In spite of the cold rainy weather about 5 000 people attended the concert and the whole square was covered by the colour of the revolution - orange.

The fact that the success of the concert, a cultural undertaking with a very positive effect on the relationship between Poland and Ukraine (which not long ago was not very good), was a result of co-ordinated work and engagement of a Polish civic initiative, Ukrainian minority and the city authorities, is undoubtedly important.

European cultural meetings "Europe of neighbours: new prospects"

The idea of European Cultural Meetings is one of the results of an inter-ministerial conference which took place in Berlin in November 2004 where a "Berlin Declaration" was signed by cultural officials from several European countries, including Poland. In effect, regular meetings devoted to cultural co-operation, intercultural dialogue and the role of culture in European integration started to take place regularly in various cities.    

The latest conference was held in the city of Lublin on 12th - 13th October 2006. The subject was trans-border and intercultural co-operation and the issue of "new neighbourhoods" in the context of EU enlargement. Historically, Lublin is strongly connected with multiculturalism as it was situated on a trade route followed by many ethnic and cultural groups. Among invited guests were ministers responsible for culture and education from France, Denmark, Finland, Ukraine, Turkey, Slovakia, and Estonia, representatives of the Council of Europe and NGO activists. Special guests came from Belarus and discussed the difficult position of the non-governmental structures in their country. The general aim of the event was to widely discuss possible measures to build efficient cultural co-operation with the future members of the European community from the south-eastern part of the continent. In this context, factors such as new media, dialogue between cultures and religions were indicated as relevant.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section

Poland/ 2.4 International cultural co-operation

2.4.6 Other relevant issues

Regular co-operation with Polish Diaspora communities, which live mostly in the USA, Great Britain and France, as well as dissemination of information on Polish cultural heritage beyond the borders, is one of the major tasks of Polish foreign and cultural policy. Stowarzyszenie Wspólnota Polska (Association) gives funding to projects elaborated by associations or institutes established by the Polish Diaspora.

The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, as well as other institutions like the State Archives and the National Library, have been involved for many years in disseminating information on Polish heritage outside of Poland as well as safeguarding and protecting monuments, sites, archives e.g. in Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia and Estonia. Most of this activity is realised via bilateral agreements (MSZ). Poland financially supports the following areas in this field:

The Permanent Conference of Museums, Archives and Polish Libraries in the West involves 20 institutes operating in Canada, Great Britain, USA, Italy, France, etc., which can apply to the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage for funding of their projects via Polish partners since 2005.

Poland/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.1 Main elements of the current cultural policy model

When developing the new model for Polish cultural policy, various systems were considered. First, the old social democratic / social democracy approach was examined, but was quickly rejected as a basic model because it was demanding and related too much to the Communist era. During the first three years of transformation, there was strong support for a more neo-liberal approach, but it was then dismissed as an option for the future. Today the "third way" has become a popular approach. It is based on the welfare state model and advocates partnership between the state and an active civil society. Despite the potential role of third sector organisations - foundations or associations - they are still not regarded as real partners of local authorities or state in the field of culture (e.g. as cultural managers or as agencies to distribute public funds).

In summary, the major changes which have taken place in the cultural sector since 1989 revolve around 6 main axes:

Today, the Polish cultural policy model is characterised by a high level of decentralisation, which emphasises the important position and role of local authorities.

The process of decentralisation for the management and financing of culture is connected to the introduction of various legal acts which initiated an overall reform of the national political system and transferred many competencies in the field of culture to local authorities and their administration. For example, the 1990 Act on Local Authorities states that responsibility for libraries and other institutions aimed at the local dissemination of culture is to be devolved to local authorities.

As a result of the second phase in the overall administrative reform, two new tiers of local level management were established: provincial and voivodship. These two new levels became legally obligated to provide public activity within the area of "culture and protection of its goods". Responsibility for local culture activity and the establishment of local cultural institutions, once the sole domain of municipalities, is now shared between the provincial, Voivodship and municipal administrations.

The gradual assumption of responsibility for culture by local authorities was accompanied by a revamped of funding strategy, with local authorities allocated 78.1% of public funds for culture in 2004 (79.4% in 2003; 81.1% in 2002).

Changes in the public responsibility for culture came in the wake of a more general process of decentralisation of state powers and the subsequent reform of several laws. For example, overall tax law reforms and amendments which introduced relief and exemptions for people making charitable donations were also applicable to the cultural sector. One of the assumptions has been that the overall reforms will automatically be beneficial to the needs of the cultural sector and therefore it has not been actively involved in shaping, but rather adapting to the new realities in Poland. In the last two years the adaptation process has continued and has been aimed at assisting Polish culture to benefit from European Union funds.

In the second half of 2002, the Minister of Culture, Andrzej Celiński, made an unsuccessful attempt to reform the general system of financing and organising the cultural sector.

The policy of the next Minister Waldemar Dąbrowski was focused on an opportunity to co-finance Polish culture from EU resources, especially from the Structural Funds. It should be also noticed that Minister Dąbrowski made significant efforts to elaborate a new financing system for Polish cinematography. Unfortunately, Dąbrowski did not manage to carry out an eagerly awaited reform of Polish cultural policy. Neither did his successor Kazimierz Michał Ujazdowski. He has been in office since the beginning of the Kaczyński's governance (2005). As his party lost the election a few days ago, Ujazdowski has to resign. However his governance effected an increase in public expenditure for cultural purposes, which was 22% more in 2006 than in the previous year. The cultural priority set by the government was the protection of national heritage, therefore Ujazdowski's policy successfully contributed to an improvement in this field which had been seriously neglected by previous governments. Still, Polish cultural policy suffers from a lack of systemic reform.

(One should notice that the information presented above is directly connected with the issues described in 4.1. To understand the topic completely please read 3.1 and 4.1).

Poland/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.2 National definition of culture

An official definition of culture in the Republic of Poland is still being debated. Unofficially, culture is being defined as both "an area of social life which helps to create values" and as "a field in which artistic creation has a major role". These two aspects are presented in several government documents such as "Cultural Policy of the State in a New Historical Situation", a speech of the Minister of Culture at the conference entitled "The Situation of Polish Culture at the Time of Transformation 1989 - 1997".

In reality, the problem is not the definition of culture, but the scope of state responsibilities for culture and the interests of the Ministry of Culture (see 2.2).

The emphasis being placed on national heritage, for example, is on the one hand easy to understand in the light of globalisation and European integration processes. On the other hand it generates fears of a traditional understanding of culture and raises questions about support for contemporary cultural issues and activities.

A new attitude towards culture can also be noticed. One example is the effort being made to stress the economic value of culture. The latter is, however, creating a separation between subsidised culture, which is a central objective of state cultural policy, and its industries. More and more objections are being voiced regarding this separation. This new way of defining culture is reflected in the 2004 government document, The Strategy for Development of Culture 2004-2007. In this document, culture is defined as one of the elementary factors of development, the basis of intellectual capital, while it also encourages equal opportunities in access to culture and promotes economic growth through rising investment attractiveness of particular territorial units and Poland as a whole culture is also the basic determinant in defining the metropolitan functions of cities in a spatial, economic and social context.

Poland/ 3. General objectives and principles of cultural policy

3.3 Cultural policy objectives

Contemporary cultural policy of the Republic of Poland reflects the major objectives of the Council of Europe policy dealing with: decentralisation and democratisation of the decision making processes, observing the principle of transparency of the decision making, compliance with the rules of diversity and subsidiarity and departing from the idea of placing culture on the periphery of public administration. Of course, it is easier to comply with the rules in a declarative manner rather than applying them.

However, it is important to keep in mind that while it may be popular to adopt commonly defined democratic principles and cultural policy objectives, the way in which these principles are formulated and implemented can not be harmonised. In this context, Poland has the ambition to find its own cultural policy model rather than merely replicating established models and solutions from Western European countries. 

Poland/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

According to the position of the Polish government laid out in the "The Principles of the Cultural Policy" and adopted by the Council of Ministers in 1993, the cultural policy objectives of the state are:

Cultural policy priorities established by the Ministry of Culture for the newly established democracy were published in 1995. The three most important areas for state support were identified as books, the protection of national heritage and cultural education.

In 1998, a general framework was presented which identified the major directions and activities of the Ministry of Culture and Arts in the following areas:

In 1999, the "Directions of Cultural Policy of the State / Government" were published and described the basic duties of the state in the following areas:

Priorities established in 1998 and 1999 were carried out by the government with different levels of success. There were some concerns voiced over the long list of priorities and that they were being mixed up with principles. In fact, while there were several priorities listed, in practice, there were no priorities at all.

The years 2001 and 2002 can be considered a turning point when the Culture Minister Andrzej Celiński's programme of reforms became the subject of consultations. The programme included comprehensive changes in the organisational and financial system for Polish culture. A principal objective of the programme was to make changes to the legislation concerning the organisation of cultural activities and state support to the field of cinematography. New sources of financing for culture were also proposed including financing culture from state lottery funds which was eventually introduced.

The following Minister of Culture, Waldemar Dąbrowski, specified new priorities for 2003 as follows:

In 2004, encouraging access to European Union funds was a priority for the Ministry of Culture. The Minister created the Plenipotentiary for Structural Funds and an extensive document entitled The National Strategy for the Development of Culture (NSRK) for 2004-2007 was developed. The NSRK was accepted by the Polish government on 21st September 2004 and contains: a detailed analysis of the condition of Polish culture, a new mission for the development of culture in Poland, aims and a plan to achieve these aims. Operative programmes for the realisation of the development strategy for culture were also implemented.

The strategic aim of the NSRK is "balanced development of culture in the regions". The strategy was created centrally for the fully territory of Poland but it defines coherent horizontal actions that are to be realised in the regions.

Three instruments which were deemed essential for the implementation of the NSRK were accepted:

The NSRK defines financial sources for the strategy, taking Structural Funds and other European funds into consideration.

The arrival of the National Development Programme for 2007-2013 forced the Minister of Culture to extend the period of the National Culture Development Strategy. As a result, a document extending the strategy was prepared entitled the "National Development Strategy Supplement for 2004-2020".

The supplement included:

At the end of 2005, Michał Ujazdowski became Minister of Culture. The name of the Ministry was changed from the Ministry of Culture to the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. On the 17th of December 2005, during a press conference, the Minister presented guidelines for the cultural policy and protection of heritage programme. These were then included in a document: Policy on Support to the Field of Culture and National Heritage. The new Minister underlined the necessity of continuing the policy of his predecessor, especially as regards benefiting from the EU funds. At the same time he stressed the need to introduce a new priority into cultural policy - the broadly defined cultural heritage. The points of the programme are:

On the basis of the new guidelines, a list of priorities has been created which formed the National Operational Culture Programmes for 2006:

A résumé of Minister Ujazdowski's governance had been included in a document entitled Full-scale Patronage. Cultural Policy of the State in the Years 2005-2006. This is not a programme-shaping document however firm stress is laid on the new "patriotic" approach to national culture. National institutions of culture are listed there and some of the Minister's achievements named. Although national martyrology. We understand national martyrology as putting traditional values, history (especially its chapters related to the struggle against foreign invasions and protection of the national values) and homage to those who fought for the country's independence on the top of the list of the priorities.  still seems to be the focal point of the current cultural policy model, it must be emphasised that thanks to the current approach an improvement in the field of preservation of the assets and development of projects related to the national heritage must be considered. Nonetheless, the aforementioned paper presents a rather one-sided vision of Polish cultural policies, focused on re-thinking and reformulating the image of the national culture. It also illustrates a decrease in the level of decentralisation and confirms the Ministry's role as the main governing body in the field of culture.

Poland/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.1 Cultural minorities, groups and communities

Between 3 and 4% of the Polish population are national minorities including: Germans, Ukrainians (including Łemkowie), Belarussians, Latvians, Slovaks, Roma, Jews and Czechs. Descendants of Karaims, Ormians and Tatars also live in Poland and reflect its diverse history.

Article 35 of the Polish Constitution ensures that national and ethnic minorities retain freedom to practice their own traditions and customs, and to use their national language.

The Department of Culture for National Minorities located within the Ministry of Culture (until the end of 2004), was responsible for supporting the cultural activities of minorities. For example, the Department financially supported magazines of individual minority groups: Belarussian "Niva", Ukrainian "Our word", German "Schlesisches Wochenblatt" or Jewish "Dos Idyshe Wort". Local radio broadcasters present programmes prepared in the language of different minority groups. Several festivals and competitions are also organised by the state and local authorities such as: the Festival of Ukrainian Culture, Belarussian Song, Latvian Saskrydis, Festival Białystok - Grodno, International Festival of Church Slavonik Music in Hajnowka. In January 2005 the cultural affairs of minorities became the responsibility of the National and Ethnic Minorities' Cultural Affairs Group within the Ministry of the Interior and Administration. This unit is responsible for supporting cultural, educational and linguistic activities of minorities. Dissemination of information about minorities is also one of the group's main purposes.

The National and Ethnic Minorities and Regional Languages Act was adopted by the Polish Parliament on 6th January 2005. This is the first legal document that gives a precise definition of national and ethnic minorities in Poland. This Act describes "national minorities" as those groups who identify themselves with an established country / nation i.e., Germans, Ukrainians, Jews etc. It also defines "ethnic minorities" as those who do not have their own country - those who are state-less such as the Roma people. Other points of the legal definition are common for both types of minorities.

This Act is perceived as controversial by many experts, politicians and social activists. Some of its items provoked a discussion about the situation of new minorities e.g. the Vietnamese. The National and Ethnic Minorities and Regional Languages Act emphasises that a foreign community can only be recognised as a national and ethnic minority if its ancestors had lived in Poland for at least a hundred years. Currently, the Vietnamese are a significant and continually increasing community in major Polish cities. They do not, however, enjoy equal rights with other, officially acknowledged minorities. The law has been criticised for not including such communities.

The only minority group with parliamentary representation are the Germans (two deputies in the Lower Chamber). Other communities have their representatives in local governments. In a few communes in various regions of the country, German and Lithuanian obtained a status of "auxiliary languages" and public information is published both in Polish and German or Lithuanian.

Other examples of locally supported activities are: the protection of cultural monuments representing minorities, inventory and restoration of Jewish cemeteries and the conservation of icons and polychrome in Orthodox churches located in Sanok and Komańcza. The 2005 National and Ethnic Minorities and Regional Languages Act foresees concentration of all these issues, including cultural matters, within the competence of a Minister responsible for religious, national and ethnic minority affairs.

Roma People

An inter-institutional governmental programme was set up in 2003 by a Decision of the Council of Ministers to address the issue of the Roma community in Poland. It established a common platform involving the Ministry of Interior and Administration, the Ministry of National Education and Sport as well as local authorities, NGOs and Roma associations. Its fundamental goal is to lead the Roma to full participation in public life and to address the divisions that exist between this group and the rest of society. Integrated action will be taken on different levels in the domains of education, employment, health, living conditions, and how the Roma function within the civic society.

One of the programme's objectives is to take action in the area of culture and preservation of the Roma identity, especially aimed at supporting Roma artistic initiatives. Support is given for actions that carry out scientific research concerning the Roma culture and history, that help to create new music groups, prepare cultural events, and enhance publishing activity etc. In accordance with the data included in the report on the realisation of the Programme in 2006, the total public funding of activities organised on behalf of the Roma community amounted to more than 9 million PLN (5 million PLN in 2005). The Programme received support from extra budgetary sources - more than 5 million PLN (2 million PLN in 2005). The 2006 breakdown of expenses shows that 445 000 PLN was earmarked for scholarships for Roma students and young people with artistic abilities (127 000 PLN in 2005). The highest amount set aside for realisation of activities co-funded from the programme resources was expended in Małopolskie Voivodship. Dolnośląskie and Śląskie Voivodships ranked second and third. The recent results of the Programme are promising in terms of the Roma participation figures in educational and cultural actions.

Roma associations participated actively in all these actions. They constituted 28% of the total number of organisations involved in these activities.

City of Warsaw

In 2004-2005, a comprehensive study was conducted on multiculturalism in the city of Warsaw as part of a larger European project "Metropolis of Europe: Diversity in Urban Cultural Life" co-financed by the European Commission and co-ordinated by the CIRCLE network. The forms of cultural diversity examined in the context of this study were: ethnically-marked cultural differences associated with the international movement of peoples across and within national territories; and claims to difference associated with the protracted struggles of in situ minorities to maintain their identity and specificity in the face of the homogenising force of national cultures.

The study describes Warsaw as a city which lost its multicultural face due to dramatic events of the twentieth century. After 1989, a new social setting was created that provided the opportunity for a multicultural revival in Warsaw. The systemic breakthrough provided minorities with the legal freedom of cultural creativity. Increasing numbers of immigrants significantly enriched the cultural offer in the Polish capital city. The majority of minorities in Warsaw engage in cultural activities which focus on "preserving" an identity and, occasionally, "presenting" it to the general public. City policy supports such cultural practices rather than "multiculturalism" or "cultural diversity". The cultural reality of Warsaw is still in many ways based on a mono-cultural model of the ethnic majority, national culture being simply an extension of the ethnic majority culture. Sometimes those cultural events which are organised (or co-organised) by minorities acquire a political significance, which is usually oriented toward their country of origin or national affiliation, e.g. in the case of the "orange revolution" in Ukraine, events in the countries of the Caucasus, the struggle for human rights in Vietnam etc. The report calls on the development of a cultural policy for minority cultures that goes beyond religious rites and the marketplace. Warsaw is still waiting for a coherent and well meant policy aimed at integrating minorities; a policy to be addressed to both the Warsaw Polish majority and minorities and aimed at promoting dialogue as well as the creative co-existence of cultures. Political will as well as collaboration on all levels of local government, the Ministry of Culture, artistic communities and, last but not least, minorities' representatives, are required. The city civil servants responsible for culture should be more flexible in their views on multiculturalism and, in fact, they are daily becoming more and more so and are engaged in working out programmes favouring multicultural development.

Poland/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.2 Language issues and policies

The official national language is Polish. The national interest in protecting the Polish language was expressed through the adoption of The Polish Language Act in 1999 (see also 5.1.9).

There is currently no debate on minority languages in Poland. Particular projects focused on sustaining minority traditions and languages are financially supported by the Ministry of Culture, for example the publication of periodicals.

Poland/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.3 Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes

Intercultural dialogue is becoming more and more identified as one of the priorities of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Up to now, a lot of work undertaken on issues of dialogue with recognised national and ethnic minority groups has been done through local organisations and institutions.

The following cases of good practice were presented in the project "Metropolises of Europe: Diversity in Urban Cultural Life" (see also 4.2.1). The first two cases were elaborated by Rostyslav Kramar, senior lecturer, Warsaw University, the Faculty of Applied Linguistics and East Slavonic Studies, the Department of Ukrainian Studies. The third case study was prepared by Wanda Górska, Head of Bielany District Cultural Unit.

The "Koka" music company: The initiators of "Koka" are young persons from the Ukrainian community, which took part in the 1980s ferment comprised of Polish inspirations and western counter-culture with the discovery of their own ethnic roots. One of the expressions of this ferment was the creation of a rock band Oseledec (which gave concerts in Warsaw) and a low-edition periodical "Widryżka", published in Warsaw. Among the most important accomplishments of "Koka" were: the Polish edition of a long-play of a popular British group "The Ukrainians", the co-organisation of events such as the above mentioned youth festival and the Independent Ukrainian Music Festival (with the participation of the Warsaw "Postregiment" group) in Lvov in 1995. Moreover, "Koka" published many long-play recordings and cassettes with various kinds of Ukrainian music - from folk music to rock avant-garde and organised concert tours of Ukrainian artists. According to the company manager's estimates, ethnic Ukrainians made up one fifth of the buyers. The rest were the young Poles with a growing interest in Ukrainian music. In February 1999 the Polish pop magazine "Machina" published a large article on Ukrainian music in the Polish scene and attached to each issue a CD compilation of Ukrainian music, prepared by "Koka". Taking into consideration the large edition that the paper had at the time (about 70 000 copies), it can be said that it was the first presentation of young Ukrainian culture in Poland on such a large scale. Regrettably, the sad reality of the market did not allow "Koka" to continue its intense cultural activities in the following years, which demonstrates the existence of real barriers hindering valuable cultural activity of minorities.

The municipal Cultural Centre in the Bielany district: Several years ago, the Warsaw district of Bielany realised a series of events entitled: "Let's Get to Know the Culture and Customs of other Nations" (Poznajemy Kulturę i Obyczaje Innych Narodów). Once every two months, the Bielany Cultural Centre organised a space where "free crossing of borders" was made possible to its audiences. It included: lectures, films, artistic performances, orientation courses on culture and civilisation of a chosen country, meetings with diplomats, artists, travellers, photo and art exhibitions, etc. The advantage of these events, organised in local communities, was that participation was free and all were welcome. One can not underestimate the cognitive and educational value of such international events.

The main aim of this initiative was mutual cognition, becoming acquainted with differences and similarities, as well as cultural specifics, eliminating stereotypes and disenchanting commonplace opinions and prejudices, such as: a "cold Swede", "phlegmatic Englishman". The choice of the thematic evenings does not result from precise programming. Nor is there any censorship on the preference of one country above another. We meet with everyone - sometimes even to set a justification of matters that appear to be controversial when based only on the information distributed by the mass-media. Soon after the evening on South Korea, one on North Korea was organised. After a Cuban evening there was a Colombian one. China was a guest, and a few months later so was a group demanding Tibet's independence. It also happened that the institution was surrounded by a cordon of security guards as the Israeli evening was organised at the time of the escalation of the armed conflicts in the Near East. Discussions on the discrimination of women carried on till late in the night at the Iranian meeting. Thanks to such confrontations, numerous participants had the opportunity to get together and enlarge their knowledge of the complex modern world.

Another form of the Bielany district authorities activity for tolerance and understanding is the organisation of the National Days. During the annual Bielany Days of Culture the events have a more celebratory character, the attendance is higher and there is access to wider information on different sorts of workshops, exhibitions, concerts, performances of artists from foreign countries. During the Week of Japanese Culture, organised twice already, several hundreds of people took part in calligraphy workshops, ikebana and tea ceremonies. Many people participated in concerts, exhibitions, reciting evenings and theatre performances. The Dni Kresowe Polish Eastern Borderlands Days, held for the past several years in March, presented the modern artistic activity of acknowledged Lithuanian and Ukrainian artists and the borderland holiday traditions. All the mentioned activities were initiated and financed by the local authorities and implemented, with full commitment, by the Bielany Cultural Centre. They are one of the ways of how to lead activities aimed at building integration on the local level by a local and public cultural institution.

Another example of an initiative connected with intercultural dialogue is the internet portal "Kontynent Warszawa - Warszawa wielu kultur"* ("Continent Warsaw - Warsaw of many cultures" It is a project carried out by Fundacja Inna Przestrzeń (Other Space Foundation) and was started in December 2006. The portal was established thanks to the financial support of the Warsaw Municipality. This is the first Polish portal which provides rich and extended information on national and ethnic minorities in Warsaw. "Kontynent Warszawa" is a cultural guide to (and providing media patronage to) artistic, scientific and entertainment events related to multiculturalism, tolerance and communication between cultures. The main aim of the portal is to present Warsaw's cultural variety in a professional and original way. The portal is particularly focused on promoting such activities, places or institutions that are not widely known by the audiences. Moreover, the portal promotes Warsaw as a lively and ethnically varied metropolis. The aim of Kontynent Warszawa is to promote the complexity and variety of the phenomenon which is multiculturalism.

The idea of multiculturalism is also promoted by various events organised and co-organised by the portal editors' team. Among the many projects are: Dzień Jedności Afryki (African Unity Day), Ludzie z Kontynentu (People from the Continent), Cały Świat w Warszawie - Warszawskie Wielokulturowe Street Party (The Whole World in Warsaw - Warsaw Multicultural Street Party), El Mundo Hispano.

"Kontynent Warszawa" also publishes a printed bulletin focused on ethnic and cultural minorities' issues. This publication also includes an event calendar. One can obtain a copy in Warsaw clubs, cafes, restaurants and galleries.

The portal and the publication are addressed to all people living in the Polish capital as well as tourists visiting the city. The portal is available in Polish, English, French and Russian language versions.

For more information, see:
Database of Good Practice on Intercultural Dialogue and our Intercultural Dialogue section.

For more information on the government's National Strategy for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue please see:

Poland/ 4.3 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.4 Social cohesion and cultural policies

The National Strategy of Social Integration for Poland is a government document which was produced to tackle social cohesion. The strategy was prepared by the Task-Force for Social Reintegration, established by the Prime Minister in 2003. The team worked under the leadership of the Minister of the Economy, Work and Social Policy - J.Hausner. The aim of the team's work was to help Poland realise the second Lisbon Strategy goal, in other words, to participate in the modernisation of the European social model, investing in people and fighting social exclusion. Social exclusion was defined in the document as a "lack or limitation of possibilities for inclusion and of influencing or profiting from the basic public institutions and markets, which should be available to everyone, especially the poor". Such a definition shows that poverty was a special point of reference in this document. Issues related to culture were raised in the Strategy by Mr. Krzysztofek:" (...)

There are no governmental programmes on the state level in Poland devoted to fighting exclusion through the promotion of participation in culture, because there is no general coherent cultural policy. Lack or insufficient level of access to culture is not treated in Poland as exclusion. In a situation where the fulfilment of basic life needs (nutrition and accommodation) is problematic, the higher needs - affiliation, appreciation, status and self-realisation - have no importance or are lower in the hierarchy. Such a situation, currently present in Poland, can be viewed as a threat: an individual's cultural needs that do not have a chance to be satisfied, might simply vanish.

Exclusion in the field of access to culture in Poland only refers to the following social "sub-category" which includes the homeless, a substantial part of the unemployed and the inhabitants of former communist collective farm areas. This "sub-category" is excluded from almost everything and is socially degraded. Other social groups affected by inequalities are not considered to be really excluded.

In the National Strategy for Cultural Development 2004-2007 there were no direct references to the issue of social cohesion. Indirectly, this issue is addressed in the main goal of the Strategy - the balanced development of culture in the regions. Another document of the Ministry of Culture, the Supplement to the NSCD 2004-2020, touches on the issue of building a community support system, including the assurance of local assistance for those people who experience or are threatened by exclusion.

Volunteer Sector

Research published in the year 2005 by the Klon / Jawor Association entitled "The state of non-governmental organisations in Poland in 2004" includes the following information on voluntary work in Poland (based on a sample of 4 000 persons): in 2004 voluntary workers between 18 and 25 years old made up 23.4% of volunteers in general and their number is growing. The percentage of the elderly who work as volunteers is also growing (increasing from 9% in 2003 to 14% a year later). Nevertheless it is still students and school pupils who constitute the largest group of voluntary workers (30%). Among those most actively involved in voluntary work are people with a good education (26%).

The above mentioned research also included philanthropy. Thus, in 2004, the majority of donations in Poland were given to foundations taking care of the homeless and the poor. Half of all Poles donated less then 50 PLN, while every third donation was between 50 and 200 PLN; 3% of the donations were over 400 PLN. The donors usually gave money to those who addressed them directly (34%) or gave in under the influence of media campaigns (26%). As much as 89.9% of donators engage themselves in supporting chosen organisations as they believe it is right to do so.

Nearly 80% of the target group did not devote time or funds to those in need or to charity organisations, possibly due to the efforts required to care for their own families. In November 2004, over 18% of the researched group declared that they transferred 1% of their income tax to NGO's (only to those organisations that according to Polish law can obtain such transfer from donors). 29% of the people in the group have not heard of this measure, and 40% did not wish to avail of it. In the following years, billboards and flyers encouraging people to transfer 1% of their income tax to the public benefit organisations were organised. The campaigns brought positive effects.

There are about 5 500 NGOs in Poland which are active in the field of culture and art. They constitute about 11.5% of the overall number of Polish NGOs. Their actions concerns are mainly in the following sectors: (the following percentages do not sum up in 100% because many organisations are engaged in various areas of activity at the same time):

40% of Polish NGOs also operate in other spheres of culture.

The cultural non-governmental sector is mainly concentrated in big cities (73% of all NGOs and about 80% of culture-oriented ones are located in large cities). Foundations and associations which represent this sector often join international networks and federations and also co-operate with foreign partners. However, they employ a relatively small number of people (75% of them do not have any registered workers). A significant percentage of employees working in cultural NGOs have higher education degrees and the majority of them are women (one could speak of a feminisation trend among those working for cultural NGOs).

The income of NGOs' is usually generated from membership fees (56% of cultural organisations) but also from donations made by:

About 75% of all organisations declare an intention to apply for EU financial support via projects.

Half of the Polish cultural NGOs have a rather modest budget - about 8 500 PLN (sector average is 13 000 PLN). In 2003, almost 30% had an income lower than 1 000 PLN.

Cultural NGOs maintain frequent contacts and co-operation with the media which is not characteristic for the entire sector. They also prevail in collaboration with academic and scientific circles. Still, cultural organisations' main partners are local communities and authorities. About 33% declare that they only undertake actions on a nationwide or an international level.

Poland/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.5 Media pluralism and content diversity

The major responsibilities of the National Broadcasting Council are set out in the Broadcasting Act and are twofold: to award broadcasting frequencies to public radio and television stations and to share income from the license fees between different public broadcasters.

Public radio and television are financed from two basic sources - advertising and license fees - which gives them a comparative advantage over commercial broadcasters who do not receive income from license fees.

Several complaints against public broadcasters have been issued which argue that they do not fulfil their public function to support independent and ambitious producers or young creators.

In 2005, TVP S.A. presented 14 860.6 hours of broadcast material. The data in the table below concerns two major channels with nationwide coverage including TVP1 and TVP2.

Table 1:     Programme type in % of total air time, 2005

Programme type

% share of total air time







Feature films










Classical music


Pop music


Theatrical performances


Promotional trailers


Commercials and payable programmes


Source:      National Broadcasting Council

In 2006, the total time for all TVP S.A. broadcasts was 15 571.5 hours. The thematic structure of the two major channels TVP1 and TVP2 was as follows:

Table 2:     TVP1, % breakdown of programming content, 2006

Programme type

% share of total air time







Feature films










Classical music


Pop music


Theatrical performances


Promotional trailers


Commercials and payable programmes


Source:      National Broadcasting Council

Table 3:     TVP2, % breakdown of programming content, 2006

Programme type

% share of total air time







Feature films










Classical music


Pop music


Theatrical performances


Promotional trailers


Commercials and payable programmes


Source:      National Broadcasting Council

The participants of the Congress on Polish Culture, held in December 2000, made a proposal to create a "culture channel". TVP Kultura channel was launched on 24th April 2005. It is aimed at the promotion of various cultural activities, including non commercial artistic projects. In the first version of the programme structure, specific disciplines were assigned to particular days of the week (literature on Mondays, theatre on Tuesdays, fine arts and science on Wednesdays, music on Thursdays, film on Fridays, folklore on Saturdays and meetings with special guests on Sundays). However, TVP finally decided that this formula should be changed and now half of the channel's broadcast material is based on Polish Public Television's (TVP) archival programmes. The rest consists of programmes bought from foreign broadcasting companies (35%), e.g. Arte television and TVP Kultura's own productions (15%). The channel is still facing significant financial problems (there is no additional support from national authorities). Moreover, TVP Kultura does not attract huge audiences. The channel is still developing and actions to enhance its formula are being regularly undertaken but repeatable reshuffles and a lack of financial resources make its position unstable. In spite of all the problems, in September 2006 TVP Kultura won the Hot Bird Award for the best European satellite thematic channel in the category of culture and education, beating Deutsche Welle and Rai Sat Nettuno.

TVP Kultura is a satellite and cable television station and it is accessible to approximately 4 million people in Poland.

In 2006, TVP Kultura broadcast 5 978.1 hours of programming. The table below presents the thematic structure of the channel's output.

Table 4:     TVP Kultura, % breakdown of total airtime, 2006

Programme type

% share of total air time

Feature films






Pop music


Classical music




Promotional trailers


Theatrical performances


Commercials and payable programmes


Source:      National Broadcasting Council

Anti-monopoly actions lie in the competence of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. All projects that fall under this jurisdiction must be notified to the Competition Office if the applicant had an annual turnover of more than 50 thousand Euros in the previous budgetary year. Under the Broadcasting Act (1992), the Head of the National Broadcasting Council can refuse to grant a license to a broadcaster who might dominate the market.

Nevertheless, media concentration remains a topic of animated debate. Strong political influence on Polish public broadcasting institutions is also very visible and commonly discussed.

For information on the programming quota system in accordance with European Community regulations see 5.3.8.

Poland/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.6 Culture industries: policies and programmes

State intervention in the functioning of the culture industries is limited to regulating access of different producers to the marketplace, providing direct subsidies to selected activities and introducing tax incentives and allowances which could facilitate the development of different areas of the industry.

For example in the field of publishing the major instrument used to support the book market is the 0% VAT rate for publishing and printing, domestic sale of books, newspapers and periodicals bearing ISSN and ISBN numbers, and publications in Braille. A 7% VAT rate has been introduced for items not bearing these symbols and on books, magazines and printed goods imported from abroad (see also 7.3).

In 2003, the Ministry of Culture initiated a 3-year "Reading Programme", to help combat the growing functional illiteracy in Polish society. In its first year, the Programme concentrated on reading habits in families, with special attention paid to youth. Actions such as, Huge Reading on the Small Screen in which famous Polish actors took part, or Poland Reads to its Children, served this purpose. The second year of the Program will aim at improving the situation of libraries' and to elevate their status as cultural institutions. The third and final year of the programme will concentrate on new technologies.

Poland/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.7 Employment policies for the cultural sector

Despite the dangerously high levels of unemployment at 19.52 in 2004 (19.90% in 2003; 16.21% in 2001), cultural policy makers have not yet made any comprehensive efforts to create strategies that would stimulate employment in the cultural sector in Poland.

There are, however, some training programmes developed by the state for cultural managers, leaders in local administrations, individual artists, amateur arts teachers and cultural animators promoting cultural education and cultural participation. These programmes are carried out in co-operation with the National Centre of Culture (previously by the Centre for Cultural Promotion) and are aimed at providing participants with knowledge on the legal and financial aspects of cultural management, negotiation techniques, culture and arts marketing, etc. In the year 2003, activities under the "Polish regions in the European cultural space" programme were launched including training courses on EU structural funds.

In 2002, the monthly average salary in the public sector was equal to PLN 2 149. In the field of education it was PLN 2 073, in the health sector PLN 1 716. There has not been any recent or comprehensive analysis made on the salary levels of employees working in public cultural institutions. However, we can examine some data on persons working in certain institutions. For example, according to a Report on Polish Theatre (ZASP, Warsaw, 2003) the average salary for those working in public drama theatres was equal to PLN 2 131 in 2001.

Poland/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.8 New technologies and cultural policies

Libraries quickly acknowledged that the new technologies would be able to reduce their costs and increase the public's access to their collections. A standard classification system (MARC 21) was introduced in 1993 which helped to harmonise the different library catalogues and to facilitate the exchange of data between different libraries.

There are around 100 out of 1 200 scientific and academic libraries providing their catalogues via the Internet in Poland. The central catalogue run by the Library of Warsaw University currently has more than 500 000 records, including 50 000 in the Kaba language, which are compatible with the US Library of Congress Subject Headings.

State support for the development of widespread access to the Internet is deployed through measures such as a reduced 7% VAT rate for Internet connections (the basic VAT rate is 22%) and education programmes introduced at the school level.

In December 2003, the Ministry of Scientific Research and Information Technology in co-operation with other ministries drew up a Strategy for the Introduction of Information Technology in the Republic of Poland 2004-2006 - ePolska; a document based on the EU initiative eEurope. A number of activities have been foreseen within the framework of the Strategy, some of which are aimed at ensuring access of citizens to the new information and communication technology in the field of culture. More specific references have been made to:

Poland/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.9 Heritage issues and policies

Heritage issues were a top priority in 2006. This resulted in a rise in financial resources devoted to the protection of national heritage and placing it in a privileged position. According to the ministerial document entitled Full-scale Patronage. Cultural Policy of the State in the Years 2005-2006, about 100 million PLN was dedicated to the protection of historical monuments in the state budget for the year 2007 (referring to the same source, in 2005 the sum was only about 24.5 million PLN). One of the most visible examples of this history-oriented approach was a wide promotion of the Patriotism of Tomorrow operational programme in outdoor advertising and the press. It represented the first ministerial programme to be advertised like a commercial product.

The process of political and economic transformation started in 1990 and was finished on the 1st of January 1999. At this time, local authorities became partners of the Polish Service for the Protection of Monuments in projects to enhance cultural heritage and assets.

At the regional level, the protection of cultural heritage is expressed in three - among five - major objectives of the voivodship's overall strategy:

In 2000, the Minister of Culture established a new institution, the Institute of National Heritage, which was focused on the promotion of Polish national heritage both internally and abroad. However, in 2002 it was transformed into the National Centre of Culture including a new structure called the Centre of Cultural Animation.

Strategies to develop digital heritage are included in the ePolska Programme co-ordinated by the State Committee for Scientific Research and as part of the overall information society plan.

More and more attention is being drawn to the connections between cultural heritage and tourism. This trend is clearly linked with the Polish accession to the EU, or to be more specific, with the opportunity to benefit from structural funds.

The National Strategy for the Development of Culture (NSRK) emphasizes the need for establishing modern solutions to protect and promote Polish heritage. The National Centre of Research and Documentation of Monuments is an institution responsible for such actions (including the protection of 12 Polish cultural heritage objects placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List).

In 2005, several new initiatives on the promotion of heritage were undertaken. In January, the former Minister of Culture Waldemar Dąbrowski, the former President of Warsaw Mr. Lech Kaczyński and a representative of the Jewish Historical Institute (Prof. Jerzy Tomaszewski) signed an agreement on the establishment of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

On 9th September 2006, the final contract for the architectural project (elaborated by Rainer Mahlamäki and Ilmar Lahdelma) of the museum was signed by the municipal authorities. A website for the museum has been launched ( which provides information on the project's aims. While the opening of the museum is planned for 2009, some projects have already been started. In September 2006 an installation entitled "Ohel" was officially opened. It fulfils several functions simultaneously: it is the information centre on the progress of the museum's construction process and it holds artistic performances and exhibitions. The Museum of the History of Polish Jews is one of the very few projects being carried out through a public-private partnership. There is a need for further development of this form of co-operation of  bodies operating in the cultural sector.

The need for enhancing the regional and national collections of modern art has also been discussed by the authorities. The main initiative in the field is the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. On 30th October 2006, an agreement between the Warsaw Municipality and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage was signed and the museum was named a national institution of culture co-led by the Ministry and the city authorities. It will be the largest national institution to present Polish and foreign contemporary art in an attractive, innovative form. Still, many doubts have been expressed by people connected with arts about the future of the museum. Since 2006 there has been a serious conflict between two structures within the museum: the Programme Council and the Museum Council. The former had been opting for a more distinct image for the museum, following the examples of great artistic institutions that reorganise the public space and strongly influence the image of cities elsewhere in the world, while the vision of the latter, however not very different on the ideological level, prefer a rather more modest approach. Actually, the architectural project (authored by Christian Kerez) chosen in the voting by the decision-makers and all the bodies existing within the museum was rejected by most of the programme council members. There have also been many personal changes in the governing structures of the project (e.g. former director Tadeusz Zielniewicz resigned from office after the result of the architectural competition). Another problem is the model of functioning of the institution. Neither the city of Warsaw nor the bodies acting on the nation-wide level can afford to purchase expensive pieces of art to establish a considerable collection as it is planned. A number of experts have been recommending regular lending of works of acknowledged creators rather than buying less known artistic items.

The network of museums and galleries in Poland and the number of exhibitions is increasing. There were 13 more registered museums in 2006 than the previous year. In spite of the revival in this field, numerous institutions encounter difficulties with finding convenient exhibition space and remain unable to present the whole of their collections (e.g. the National Museum in Warsaw). Furthermore, many Polish public museums require renovation and modernisation. Urgent digitalisation of their collections is needed, yet hard to implement, particularly in smaller towns and villages. The process of digitalisation is only partly financed by the EU (it concerns not only exhibition institutions, but also libraries and Polish national archives).

The new government formed in 2005 draws much attention to the issue of national heritage mainly in the ideological sphere. Such matters as "national memory" and patriotism are used as instruments in political debates with the parliamentary opposition. In some respects, Polish authorities seem to understand the category of heritage as identical to "tradition" which arouses the opposition's anxiety for the process of adaptation of the field of cultural heritage to the modern economic reality.

For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile Poland

Poland/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

There is a relatively high degree of feminisation in public sector cultural professions. However, there are still few women holding executive posts and there are no special programmes to promote the position of woman in the cultural sector.

Below is an overview of the share of women working in public culture sector. These figures represent the total number of women working in 5 specific sectors of professions as defined by the Central Statistical Bureau:

Table 5:     Share of women working in the public cultural sector, 1995, 1998 and 2000


Total number of employees

% share of women


99 100



103 600



101 400


Source:      Data from Central Statistical Office (GUS)

The figures indicate a high percentage of women working in these fields and show that in terms of numbers their position has remained steady since the mid 1990s.

Two women have held the office of Minister of Culture since 1989: Izabella Cywińska (12th September 89 -14th December 90) and Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa (31st October 97 - 25th March 99).

Poland/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate

4.3 Other relevant issues and debates

The debate that took place in Poland in 2002 was one of the first attempts in years to undertake a wide public discussion on comprehensive changes in the field of culture. On the 6th of April, the debate "Chance for Culture" was held in the Warsaw Castle with the participation of the Prime Minister, the Marshal of the Parliament (Sejm), representatives of the President, the Minister of Culture and members of the artistic community. The main issue of debate was the programme introduced by Andrzej Celiński (Minister of Culture) concerning organisational and financial changes to the cultural sector.

The theoretical background of the proposed ministerial programme was brought about through a set of reports concerning the organisational and financial system of managing culture in Poland. Dorota Ilczuk (the Jagiellonian University) and Wojciech Misiąg (Gdansk Institute of Market Economies) were the authors of the foundations of the complex reform project including: new sources of financing, the role and tasks of the government, creating conditions to encourage the private sector to finance culture and proposals for new legislation regarding cultural activities.

Andrzej Celiński ran his term of office and left the Ministry in July 2002. The main financial instrument emerging from the report to be realised in 2002 was the proposal to use lottery funds for cultural purposes. Indirectly - through the Act on Activity of Public Benefit (ustawa o działalności pożytku publicznego) - the 1% principle of tax for cultural purposes was implemented - although it only refers to non-governmental organisations. Work on legislation regarding cultural activities was suspended.

The year 2003 brought an intensified interest, among those working within the culture sector, in Poland's accession to the EU and its influence on the development of Polish culture. At that time, it was the private sector that came forward to meet the expectations of the cultural community. The Polish Confederation of Private Employers, and its Culture and Business Working Group, organised a debate entitled "The European Union and Culture: Is it really only about money?" held at the Warsaw Castle on the 14th of May 2003. The goal of the debate was to find out what kind of help can be expected from the EU, but also, how the culture sector will have to adjust to the EU. Experts from many EU countries, representatives of the president's office and of the Ministry of Culture as well as representatives from the cultural community took part in the debate. Shortly afterwards, the Minister of Culture created a new post to deal with structural funds and appointed a Task Force for Structural Funds (within the National Cultural Centre).

The programme Polish Regions in the European Cultural Space is also directly connected to Poland's accession to the EU. It is managed by the National Cultural Centre (NCK), and its primary goal is to identify unique "places", often underestimated, with a high cultural potential as well as initiatives which cannot fully develop solely on local support. Within the programme, several workshops, conferences, expert reports, publications etc., are organised and advice is provided on possible financial sources for cultural activities. In 2004, the NCK organised a competition "Promise of co-funding by the Minister of Culture" which is to provide co-financing for cultural projects financed by EU structural funds.

In the year 2003 began a phase in which the Minister of Culture created new public institutes such as the new Theatre Institute named after Zbigniew Kraszewski. The aim of the Institute is to document theatre life, assemble, elaborate and provide access to press releases and valuable archive items from private collections, etc. The Institute is also working on an Internet database (, which includes the artistic careers of those working in theatres as well as those plays performed on Polish stages.

A decision was made to open the Book Institute in 2004 as a state cultural institution responsible to the Ministry of Culture. Its task is to support books and reading and to promote Polish literature abroad. The Book Institute's activities are financed mainly from the budget of the Ministry of Culture. It is also seeking additional funding from sponsors and from EU programmes.

The year 2004 was dominated by public interest in the National Strategy for the Development of Culture (2004-2007) prepared by the Ministry of Culture. During conferences and seminars, discussions were held on the aims of the Strategy and its potential effectiveness. Attention was drawn to its implementation (or lack of it) and to modern civilisation challenges, especially issues concerning the building of an information society. Calls have been made to ensure that related network projects are judged against access criteria, for example, whether the construction of virtual platforms and network systems gives users adequate access to library collections or connections to public cultural institutions.

It has been argued that the authors of the Strategy create a separate operative programme aimed at the development of new technologies in order to give special significance to this sector and to catch up on huge arrears in this domain. Equally important is the lack of an operative programme devoted primarily to culture in a document defining the structural policy of the country - the National Development Programme.

General reservations on the NSRK also concerned its saturation of an adaptive mentality. Meanwhile, many people suggested that Poland's development, in particular its cultural development, should not be influenced solely by European Union Structural Funds, which have their own objectives and where support is granted to specific projects. It could signify a move away from original and creative ideas to the requirements of ready-made standards.

In 2006, the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage successfully proposed to change the official name of the former Nazi concentration camp situated in Oświęcim (formerly Auschwitz). In March 2006, an official motion was presented to UNESCO and it was finally accepted at the organisation's session in Wellington, New Zealand in 2007. Since then the official name of the Nazi camp is: the Former Nazi German Concentration Camp Auschwitz - Birkenau. The Ministry's action was carried out in reaction to a number of articles in the foreign press where Nazi camps existing on the territory of Poland during the World War II were dishonestly named "Polish". 

Poland/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.1 Constitution

Article 6 of the Constitution states:

Article 73 directly refers to the field of culture and states that everyone is granted the right of freedom of creation, to conduct scientific research and announce their results, freedom of education and use of cultural assets.

Poland/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.2 Division of jurisdiction

Poland is administratively divided into the central (state), regional (Voivodship), provincial (poviat) and municipal (gmina) levels. The central state administration - the Ministry of Culture - is the main actor legislatively and financially responsible for culture.

There are laws which oblige municipalities to realise public tasks to satisfy the needs of the local community. Among them are cultural responsibilities such as establishing local cultural institutions.

Provinces and cities assume responsibility for cultural institutions registered on the voivodeship level based on the following legal Acts:

Poland/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.3 Allocation of public funds

The following Acts provide the legal bases which enable the Minister of Culture to provide subventions for cultural institutions (of which the Ministry is the founding body) and to provide project funding outside the public sector:

The following laws enable local authorities to grant aid for state administration tasks (financial aid is granted on the basis of an agreement between the Minister of Culture and the local authority units):

Tenders in the field of culture do not fall under strict procedural rules specified in the Act on Public Tendering.

Tenders can be granted through any procedure without the need of agreement from the Head of the Public Tender Office. Article 71 of the Act allows granting a public tender freely for creative and artistic activities in the field of art and culture and in the case of issues linked with protection of exclusive laws consequential to separate regulations.

Cultural institutions are, however, bound by the Act on Public Tendering through regulations concerning issues such as:

Poland/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.4 Social security frameworks

Within the Ministry of Culture, a Commission for Pension Provisions for Artists was set up to determine the starting date of a creative and / or artistic career for pension purposes. Decisions are made in accordance with the following legal Acts:

Those concerned must send the Commission a form together with necessary documents confirming the duration and character of their work.

According to the Prime Minister's Decree from the 7th February 1983, some groups of artists can retire earlier. For example:

Subsistence allowances are granted by the Minister of Culture from the Fund for Creation and Promotion to artists who are in a difficult financial situation.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Poland/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.5 Tax laws

According to amendments made to the Income Tax Act (1993, amendments 2003), deductions of up to 10% are available on donations made by legal persons (organisations, foundations etc.) for "public good purposes". In the case of private persons / individuals, a ceiling of PLN 350 has been introduced - a maximum which can be deducted from income tax for donations to culture.

Since 1991, state cultural institutions are allowed to receive private donations from individuals or legal persons.

The following tax exemptions are made available for NGO's - including both foundations and associations: goods and services tax (1993); the tax on increase of remuneration within the framework of statutory activities (1992); property tax which exists within the framework of statutory activities (1991). Foundations are also exempt from paying court fees when registering.

According to Annex 2, of the Act on Goods and Services Tax (1993) and the Act on Toll Tax, the sale of services connected with recreation, culture and sport is exempt from tax with some exceptions, for example:

According to widespread opinion, the tax changes in Poland do not encourage sponsors and donors to adequately support culture. Transparency and new solutions / measures are being called for.

Poland/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.6 Labour laws

The Labour Code passed in 1974 (amended 2003), is used as a basic legal regulation for labour laws. There are no specific provisions regarding culture within the Labour Code.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Poland/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

The Act on Copyright and Related Rights was passed on 4 February 1994, and amendments adopted on 9 June, 2000 in order to make the Act compatible with EU law. Some of the main areas of change were:

The Act on Copyright and Related Rights provides the legal basis to levy fees on blank tapes and copying / reprographic machines. Payments to producers of blank tapes, records, video and other similar machines amounted to 3% of the net price. Fees are distributed according to the following scheme:

The payments / fees for producers and importers of copy machines equal 1% of the net price.

There is no public lending rights scheme in Poland.

Since 2000, a special group within the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has been responsible for preparing the annual Report concerning the observance of Copyright and Related Rights in Poland. The 2005 report indicates a need for further work on adapting Polish regulations related to the protection of intellectual property to EU law. The main problems mentioned in the report are the pirated audiovisual media trade (based in the marketplaces across the country) and infringement of copyright in the use of internet and new technologies. The scale of production of illegal music and film recordings on CDs and DVDs is still very significant but it has decreased in recent years. At the same time, web piracy became a crime of increasing importance. Fast development of modern technologies of sound and visual content compression (MP3, MPEG, DivX etc.) enlarges the size of the pirate's market offer. This is one of the most problematic issues in the entertainment business to be faced by Polish public servants in the near future.

In recent years, the Copyright Laws have been a topic of wide debate. Several reforms of the copyright system in Poland had been elaborated and some actions undertaken to harmonise the law with the European Commission recommendations and directives (e.g. the one from 18th October 2005 concerning the cross-border copyright management of on-line musical services). However, technology always develops faster than law, thus the Polish copyright system is still not efficient in its struggle against the illegal use of intellectual property and artistic content.

Poland/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.8 Data protection laws

Since the 29th of August 1997, the Act on Protection of Personal Data has been in force. Until now, there has not been any significant impact of this law on cultural organisations.

Poland/ 5.1 General legislation

5.1.9 Language laws

The Law on the Polish Language (7 October 1999) introduced particular obligations on the use of the Polish language within the territory of the Republic in legal transactions involving Polish entities, or if one of the parties in a given transaction is a Polish entity. This pertains in particular to the names of goods and services including foreign language advertisements which must be accompanied by a Polish translation. The use of foreign language names is allowed even without translation. However, this law is quite general and does not refer directly to the film or television industry or other cultural activities such as theatre.

Poland/ 5.2 Legislation on culture

The legal basis for cultural institutions is the Act on Organising and Conducting Cultural Activity of 25 October, 1991 (OJ 110, p.721 with later amendments and annexes);

It is essential that a new legal Act regulating the terms of organising and financing cultural activities in Poland is prepared. The one in force at the moment is being strongly criticised. The core of the current Act has been inherited from the planned economy system with its budgetary rules which constrains the functioning of modern cultural institutions. The consequence is that Poland has financially unstable institutions managed by directors who are limited in their autonomy. The paradox of the current Act is that it discourages institutions to seek additional sources of financing (income from private sources during a year cause a decrease of public funds in the following one).

Poland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.1 Visual and applied arts

There are no detailed legal regulations for painting, sculpture, photography, video, graphic art, design, ceramics, textiles and decorative arts / crafts. Several references are however found in the Act on Protection of Cultural Goods of 15 February, 1962 (OJ 98, p.1 150).

Poland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.2 Performing arts and music

There are no detailed legal regulations for theatre, dance, opera, music theatre, music, circus, street arts.


Poland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.3 Cultural heritage

The following laws are relevant to the field of cultural heritage:

Poland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.4 Literature and libraries

An Act on Libraries was passed on 27th of June 1997.

Poland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.5 Architecture and environment

There are no detailed legal regulations for architecture or the environment. References to both can be found in the Act on Protection of Cultural Goods of 15 February, 1962 (OJ 98, p.1 150).

Poland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.6 Film, video and photography

The Act on Cinematography was passed in July 1987. Since then, work has been carried out to develop new market principles, financing models and regulations as amendments to the Act. These amendments are pending.

In recent years, there has been increased interest on the part of the private sector (e.g. large banks) to invest in the development of the film industry in Poland. Such interest supports a transformation from the former state controlled film production industry to one based on co-operation between the public and private sector. Interest from the private sector to invest in film production is not based on any new kind of specific legal or tax incentive.

In former times, the Committee on Cinematography distributed budgetary funds for the financing of film productions and subventions for film houses. About 20 feature films and 546 short films were produced in 2000. The main co-production partners were the public broadcasters or foreign companies. The Committee was dissolved in Spring 2003.Work on amendments to the Act on Cinematography had been initiated several times in recent years without any result.

A new draft bill was elaborated in 2005. It was, however, voted down by the Social Democratic Party SLD government, led by Leszek Miller, on the 30th of June 2005. At the time, the Minister of Culture (Waldemar Dąbrowski) was responsible for the bill.

In its current status, the Act provides for state support to the film industry and its main premise is to ensure the endowment of film production and promotion, as well as popularisation of film culture.

In order to achieve these goals, the Act establishes the Polish Film Institute which is responsible for the fulfilment of Polish cultural policy in the film sector. It manages its own grants and funds that it raises through its own initiatives. The institution is responsible directly to the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. The institution also has a Board appointed by the minister which comprises eleven people chosen from the film community.

The Act determines that the Institute's income is to come from: budgetary subsidies, income from exploitation of films where the Institute is the owner of copyright and donations. In addition, the Act assures the Institute profits from a long list of public and private entities' income in the amount of 1.5% of their particular income sources. These are: from cinema owners' income received from film and commercial projections, from film distributors' income received from the sale and rental of films, from television broadcasters' income from commercials, from operators of digital platforms' income from programme fees, from cable television operators' income from access fees for television programmes, and from the public broadcaster from its annual income (Dz. U. Z 2005 r. Nr. 132, poz. 1111). The Polish Film Institute manages its income according to an annual financial plan. The co-financing granted by the Institute for film production cannot exceed 50% of the film's cost and respectively the amount of 4 000 000 PLN in the case of feature films, 500 000 PLN in the case of documentaries and animated films, and 2 000 000 PLN for documentaries addressed primarily for a cinema audience. At the same time it has been decided that grants for difficult films can cover up to 90% of their budget. The criteria upon which the co-financing is granted are: artistic merit, cultural significance, reference to tradition and European diversity and economic conditions.

Table 6:     Number of films produced in Poland, 2004-2006


Feature films


Animated films

Educational films



19 (3)*






28 (4)






37 (2)





Source:      Polish Film Institute.
*                 Figures in brackets represent the number of international co-productions.

Poland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.7 Culture industries

There is no overall legal framework to specifically promote and develop the culture industries. However, there are sector specific measures, e.g. for film (see 5.3.6).

Poland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.8 Mass media

The media sector in Poland is mainly based on two legal Acts: the Press Law of 26th January 1984 and Broadcasting Act of 29th December 1992, which came into force on March 1 1993.

The major part the Press Law concerns both the printed press and the audiovisual media sectors irrespective of their kind and type. It contains general provisions concerning freedom of expression, access to information, media rights and duties, and the system of the right to reply. It also refers in particular to the legal preconditions to start, register and conduct publishing activity in the printed media market. Since 1989 it has been changed several times, although the regulation of key matters remained untouched. In 2004 no amendment was made to the Press Law.

The Broadcasting Act was amended during the last ten years, mainly due to the fulfilment of Poland's international obligations (Poland has ratified the European Convention on Transfrontier Television of the Council of Europe and is implementing the EU Directive "Television without Frontiers" according to its EU accession obligations).

Programme quotas, which were finally regulated in a detailed manner in line with EU standards, are outlined in the Broadcasting Act of 29 December 1992. According to the final consolidated version of the Act, with amendments in 2004, broadcasters of television programmes are obliged to reserve at least 30% of their quarterly transmission time to programmes originally produced in the Polish language. This binding legal measure is aimed at protecting and promoting the Polish language. A discriminatory article setting out the conditions based on criteria of nationality and citizenship was withdrawn earlier and confirmed in the abovementioned consolidated version of the Act with 2004 amendments.

A duty of fulfilment to the European majority quota has been laid down in a normative manner ensuring that the broadcasters will earmark a majority of the transmission time for European works (Article 15 par.4). A definition of European work has also been elaborated on the basis of standards stipulated by the Community Law. This Act includes an amendment concerning the share of works of independent producers as well as new works in the regular television programming schedule. The broadcasters of television programmes shall reserve at least 10 % of their quarterly transmission time for European works produced by independent producers, taking into account certain exclusions provided by the EU law (e.g. advertisements). Programmes produced not later than 5 years before their transmission in the programme service shall constitute at least 50% of the time reserved for European works produced by independent producers (Article 15 par. 1). The quota of independent production has been also clarified as well as the criteria of preference for recent works rising the period from 3 to 5 years in reference to the time of their production.

The consolidated Act also covers changes affecting the public radio and television sector, mainly the issues related to the public mission i.e. introducing the definition of a public broadcaster, the manner of financing, the organisational structure of public broadcasters and the role of their supervisory bodies.

Since the 2004 amendments, public broadcasters are authorised to produce and transmit thematic programme services, however a license is required to broadcast (Article 21 par. 1a). In 2004 Polish Public television was granted the first license for a thematic programme - TVP Kultura to be transmitted via satellite, devoted to cultural issues (TVP Kultura started transmission in 2005).

The MP's draft amendment to the Broadcasting Act was signed by the President on the 30 Dec. 2005 and came into force in early 2006. The amendment is intended to introduce: changes in the composition of the National Broadcasting Council and to close down the Office for the Regulation of Telecommunications and Post. At the same time, it provided a legal basis for the establishment of the Office of Electronic Communications, which took over some of the tasks from the National Broadcasting Council.

Poland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.9 Legislation for self-employed artists

There is no comprehensive legal framework for artists in Poland.

The state has implemented a 50% income tax-free for artists provision (1991) which allows creative artists to deduct 50% of their income from their creative work as expenses for income tax purposes. Recently, the government's attempt to dismantle the provision became a subject of animated public debate. Artistic and creative circles have initiated a firm protest against the plans. The objection raised by creative workers was supported by the President Lech Kaczyński. As a result of these protests, their tax privilege has not been changed.

For more information, see our Status of Artists section

Poland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation

5.3.10 Other areas of relevant legislation

Information is currently not available.

Poland/ 6. Financing of culture

6.1 Short overview

The Polish model of financing culture is similar to other European countries: the public sector is the major but not the only patron / mécénat of culture and the arts. The current level of private patronage should not, however, be seen as an alternative source of financing for culture, but as a supplementary one.

After 1989, the culture sector (including its financial problems) was moved down the ladder of government priorities. The rate of public expenditure on culture represented a low share of GDP and of total government expenditure.

Public expenses (including both central government, regional, provincial, and local authority funds) for culture and national heritage protection in 2006 amounted to 5 231.6 million PLN (nominally about 22% more than in 2005). The cultural share of GDP was 0.49% (0.44% in 2004). See 6.3 for a breakdown of these funds by level of government.

Table 7:     Public expenditure on culture and heritage, including central government, regional, provincial and local authority expenditure, 2004-2006


Public expenses for culture and national heritage protection (million PLN)

GDP share


5 231.6



4 281.4



3 807.1


Source:      Ministry of Culture, 2007. Full-scale Patronage. Cultural Policy of the State in the Years 2005-2006

Also the expenditure for culture and national heritage from the state budget in 2006 increased.

Table 8:     State (central government) expenditure on culture and heritage, 2004-2006


State budget expenditure for culture and national heritage (million PLN)

Share of general state budget expenditure


1 114.5



1 032.1



1 062.5


Source:      Ministry of Culture, 2007. Full-scale Patronage. Cultural Policy of the State in the Years 2005-2006

There are three main areas of change in the financing of culture in Poland since 1989:

By the end of 2002, the possibility of assigning funds from the lottery to culture was introduced. The precedent to this was the transfer of part of the income from the lotteries to the sports sector. This sector currently receives funds derived from a 20% increase in the price of lottery tickets which was introduced in the second half of 1994. As could be expected, proposals to share this income between the sports and culture sector met with strong resistance from the sports lobby since this would reduce the income allocated to it. Consequently, it was proposed to increase the price of lottery tickets by an additional 5% which the lotto player would have to bear and to divide this sum between the sports and culture sectors at a ratio of 80:20.

According to Article 47 of the Gambling Act, funds from the increase of lottery ticket prices in games are to be transferred to the Fund for the Promotion of Culture which is at the disposal of the Minister of Culture. These funds are to be allocated to support and promote the following activities:

The special funds to support culture from the Gambling Act were estimated by the Budgetary Act 2004 at 120 million PLN. In 2005, the expected amount was 122 million PLN, but in contrast to the previous year, funds generated from gambling were lower - 117 054 251 PLN (147 429 325 PLN in 2004).The amount was based on estimates relating to the National Lottery (Totalizator Sportowy). Total expenditure of the Fund for the Promotion of Culture amounted to 72 647 233 PLN (this sum includes the returned funds from the balance of commitments repaid in 2004). The expenditure plan was not realised due to other commitments. The amount which was at the Fund's disposal by the end of 2005 was destined for projects which will be carried out in 2006 and 2007 (e.g. only 262 000 PLN of the planned 54 955 000 PLN was spent on the ministerial programme Promesa. See also 4.1).

Examples of spending on particular activities in 2005 via the provisions in the Law on the Lottery are:

The average yearly expenditure on the purchase of cultural goods and services per capita in households in the year 2006 was 301.44 PLN (272.88 in 2005); their nominal value in comparison to the previous year increased by 10.5%. Expenditure on cultural goods was higher than in the previous year in all socio-economic categories of Polish households.

Poland/ 6. Financing of culture

6.2 Public cultural expenditure per capita

The total public cultural expenditure per capita in 2006 was 140.4 PLN (117.11 PLN in 2005); these figures are derived from the Central Statistical Office's publication Culture in 2006. It corresponded to 36.65 EUR (30.34 EUR in the previous year) and 0.49% of the GDP in 2006 (the official rate of the euro was equal to 3.8312 PLN - 29th December 2006).

There is a positive change in the overall volume of funds for culture per capita.

Poland/ 6. Financing of culture

6.3 Public cultural expenditure broken down by level of government

Table 9:     Public cultural expenditure: by level of government, in PLN, 2006

Level of government

Total expenditure

% share of total

State (1)

1 025 573 000


Regional (Voivodship)

1 036 817 000


Provincial (2)

1 480 354 000


Local (municipal)

1 688 816 000



5 231 600 000


Source:      Central Statistical Office, Culture in 2006.
(1)              Without transfers to local authorities.
(2)              Including cities with the status of province.

Table 10:   Public cultural expenditure: by level of government, in PLN, 2005

Level of government

Total expenditure

% share of total

State (1)

867 095 000


Regional (Voivodship)

847 627 000


Provincial (2)

1 327 561 000


Local (municipal)

1 239 104 000



4 281 387 000


Source:      Central Statistical Office, Culture in 2005.
(1)              Without transfers to local authorities.
(2)                      Including cities with the status of province.

Table 11:   Public cultural expenditure: by level of government, in PLN, 2004

Level of government

Total expenditure

% share of total

State (1)

831 876 000


Regional (Voivodship)

760 688 000


Provincial (2)

1 050 533 000


Local (municipal)

1 164 024 000



3 807 121 000


Source:      Central Statistical Office, Culture in 2004.
(1)              Without transfers to local authorities.
(2)                      Including cities with the status of province.

A noticeable progress in public spending on culture in 2006 has several reasons, one of which is the strong political position of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Kazimierz M. Ujazdowski, who is one of the leaders of the governing party and therefore is able to acquire more budgetary resources for cultural purposes. Still, the increase in resources has not significantly improved the level of cultural participation. On the contrary, the number of visitors to galleries and museums that are at the centre of the authorities' interest due to their approach to national culture has diminished, as well as the number of people regularly visiting libraries.

Poland/ 6. Financing of culture

6.4 Sector breakdown

Polish statistics on culture are not adapted to EUROSTAT requirements but rather to the following classifications.

Table 12:   State cultural expenditure: sector breakdown, in thousand of PLN, 2006


State expenditure (1)

Local authority expenditure (2)


% share


% share


253 415


546 545


Protection and restoration of historic monuments

72 331


244 595


Other activities regarding the protection of monuments

111 059


2 276


Galleries and arts exhibitions (offices)

8 587


36 022


Cultural and arts centres

110 561


117 021



134 432


881 608


Cultural houses, arts centres, clubs and art rooms

15 788


1106 784



85 338





146 598


614 726


Philharmonics, orchestras, choirs

41 975


135 564


Cinematography (film production, distribution etc.)

4 771


2 282


Polish Film Institute

30 748




Television and radio activities

15 766









Source:      Central Statistics Office, Culture in 2006.
1.                Including transfers to local authorities.
2.                Including transfers within local authorities.

Table 13:   State cultural expenditure: sector breakdown, in thousand of PLN, 2005


State expenditure (1)

Local authority expenditure (2)


% share


% share


263 599


453 947


Protection and restoration of historic monuments

44 366


122 302


Other activities regarding the protection of monuments

97 812


1 910


Galleries and arts exhibitions (offices)

8 680


31 212


Cultural and arts centres

77 936


82 725



139 522


818 283


Cultural houses, arts centres, clubs and art rooms

17 946


901 922



90 494




Drama and puppet theatres

65 921


305 189


Music theatres, opera houses and operas

83 251


198 842


Philharmonics, orchestras, choirs

41 975


142 097







Source:      Central Statistic Office, Culture in 2005.
1.                Including transfers to local authorities.
2.                        Including transfers within local authorities.

The levels of expenditure for different cultural institutions and forms of cultural activity have remained more or less consistent in comparison to previous years, but an increase in spending on activities related to national heritage are noticeable. In 2006, the highest amount of public expenditure on culture was allocated to museums 22.74% (25.54% in 2005; 25.76% in 2004; 22.20 % in 2003; 20.4% in 2002). Together with the amount spent on the protection and conservation of monuments, the percentage of overall expenditure on cultural heritage activities was nearly equal to the 2005 result: 39.2% in 2006 and 39.3% in the previous year. In past years, the allocation amounted to: 38.56% in 2004; 35.90% in 2003; in 2002 - 35.22%. Expenditure on theatres, operas and opera houses was 13.15% in 2006 (14.46 in 2005; 15.02% in 2004; 16.02 % in 2003; 16.03% in 2002).

In 2006, local authority spending priorities in the cultural sector, similarly to past years, were cultural houses and centres and clubs, representing a share of 26.11% (26.20 in 2005; 26.28% in 2004; 27.21% in 2003; 26.8 % in 2002) and libraries 20.80% (23.8% in 2005; 24.83% in 2004; 26.0 % in 2003; 25.6% in 2002).

Poland/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.1 Re-allocation of public responsibilities

Changes in public responsibility for cultural institutions were connected with the national political system reforms conducted in 1991 and in 1999. The results of the new administrative regime for cultural institutions were presented in 3.1. The state remains the founding body of national cultural institutions and the local authorities (voivodship, provincial and municipal) of local cultural institutions. Those national institutions which are considered to be the most important in the development of Polish culture are:

Poland/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.2 Status/role and development of major cultural institutions

Cultural institutions are trying to adapt themselves to the new requirements of the market economy by employing professional cultural managers, setting up departments for promotion and advertising / public relations and developing activities to attract donors and sponsors. Relying on the market to generate a portion of their income, managers or directors of cultural institutions are making decisions which are influenced by economic rather than artistic objectives (goal displacement). The result is the introduction of popular repertoire, renting out space for non-artistic activities etc. Despite these efforts, cultural institutions still do not have adequate resources to remunerate talented artists according to professional wage scales or mount experimental exhibitions.

The newest cultural institution with a national status is The National Centre of Culture (NCK) created in March 2006 by Minister Kazimierz M. Ujazdowski. Earlier, the Centre existed within The Adam Mickiewicz Institute. This institution is an equivalent of the Institute in the domestic area - its promotional duties are similar to those performed by its former parent structure but The National Centre of Culture acts in Poland, not abroad. NCK is also responsible for implementing ministerial operational programmes. There are many contradictory views on the Centre's activities. Some perceive NCK as very politically-influenced as its main aim is implementing the current government's vision of cultural policies.

There have not been any legislative changes regarding the establishment or functioning of national cultural institutions; either in the form of privatisation or de-etatisation (see also 5.2). The only recent and noticeable change in the culture sector was the creation of the so called co-led (co-financed) cultural institutions. In June 2005, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage signed an agreement with local governments on co-financing local institutions which play a vital role in the country. These institutions were carefully selected.

Co-led institutions remain of high interest to the Minister of Culture and National Heritage even though they may be financed from both local and ministerial sources. They are registered by the Ministry and, in this respect, are considered important for the culture sector on both national and local level. They are:

Co-led institutions in which the local authorities' responsibility is dominant are:

Poland/ 7. Cultural institutions and new partnerships

7.3 Emerging partnerships or collaborations

During the last few years, there have been some examples of private investments in large scale productions, especially in the field of film: Ogniem i mieczem, Pan Tadeusz, Quo Vadis. This kind of support is the result of increased co-operation between cultural institutions and foundations or sponsors and represents several percentage points of the cultural institutions budget.

John's Myerscough's report on "Transversal Reviews of National Cultural Policy (National Cultural Institutions in Transition)" described the situation for sponsorship of Polish national cultural institutions in the following manner:

"Private income ratios, by institution type: museums - 15%; orchestras - 18%; drama - 28%; galleries - 29%. In 1999, earned income ratios in the national museums in Poland was on average 15 per cent. The National Museum in Warsaw is reported to earn 46 per cent of its own income, of which 50 per cent came from sponsorship, 30 per cent from admissions and 20 per cent from other trading. The Museum's business club is valued as much for its partnership linkages as for its cash contribution. Much energy was put into sponsorship in Poland, almost as a token of the new reality, not always with successful outcomes. There is evidence of substantial under pricing in sponsorship deals, and the Examiners saw instances of the promotion of sponsors which was too intrusive."

A "Patron of Culture Award" is given by the Minister of Culture to a private sector company based on their financial investment in culture. Below is a list of those awarded in 2006.






Poland/ 8. Support to creativity and participation

8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

The whole system of public support to cultural institutions and events together with a variety of incentives for private sector support have an enormous role providing indirect support to creativity. While there are a few support schemes for individual artists such as awards which are funded by public authorities, direct support for creative artists is nevertheless quite limited. There is also a lack of measures which could provide financial support to young or emerging artists, to establish residential programmes or provide travel grants promoting transnational mobility. In 2003, several schemes promoting artists were initiated, in part due to funds generated from gambling.


Poland/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.1 Special artists funds

The Fund to Support Artistic Creation is awarded once a year mainly to young creators. Funding (not really sufficient) comes from income generated on the sale of artworks whose copyright has expired (so-called "dead hand" funds).

In 2004 there were 43 creative scholarships granted in the sphere of literature, music and visual arts, and 10 subsidies on book publishing. One-off support was given to 38 artists who were in financial difficulty.

See also 8.1.2.

Poland/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.2 Grants, awards, scholarships



Poland/ 8.1 Direct and indirect support to artists

8.1.3 Support to professional artists associations or unions

The Ministry of Culture provides several grants to professional artists associations or unions. The following received the largest subsidies in 2003:

Poland/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.1 Trends and figures

The drastic fall / collapse of cultural participation rates observed during the first years of transformation came to a halt in 1994. While figures have begun to rise, they have not yet reached the levels recorded before the transformation period.

There has been a decrease in the rates of participation in activities of "high culture" - those which require higher intellectual skills and aesthetic sensibility. At the same time, there has been a scaling down of cultural education and programmes of aesthetic education in public schools. Surveys on household spending have shown that in the 1990s, approximately 80% of the Polish population reduced their expenditures on culture. It has been observed that the way of life for many Polish people has become "home-centred provide" in the past 15 years: watching TV and video cassettes which limited other forms of cultural activity. The reasons which originally facilitated "home-centrism" were of a political nature, today they are economic. Participation in cultural life outside of the home is taking on a "holiday" value.

In 2006, the share of expenditure for culture in the "total" household expenditure was 3.4% (3.3% in 2005, 3.4% in 2004; 3.2% in 2003; in 2002 - 3.1%), ranging between 1.9% and 3.9% (in 2004 - 1.8% and 3.8%) respectively according to different social-economic groups. The majority is spent on:

In large cities, the average expenditure on culture per capita in households is at least 3.5 times higher than in villages (in 2005- 539.52 PLN - 156.72 PLN; in 2004 - 592.92 PLN - 157.44 PLN; in 2003-515.16 PLN - 146.88 PLN).

Table 14:   Public libraries, 1995 - 2006









Registered readers in thousands

7 023

7 332

7 392

7 579

7 509

7 337

7 23

Borrowing of books per 100 readers

2 241

2 029

1 992


1 979

1 840


Source:      Kultura 2005 published by the Central Statistical Office (GUS) and Concise Statistical Yearbook of Poland 2007 (GUS)

Table 15:   Attendance figures for selected cultural fields, in thousand, 1995-2006









Museum visitors

17 060

16 019

16 612

16 881

17 505

18 487

18 191

Art gallery* visitors

2 318

2 361

2 644

3 040


2 958

3 287

Theatre and music institutions**

10 197

10 667

10 533

9 519

9 321

9 609

9 601

Cinema attendance

22 613

27 516

20 892

25 264

33 268

24 866

32 400

Source:      Central Statistical Office (GUS), Kultura w 2005 and Concise Statistical Yearbook of Poland 2007 (GUS)
*                 53% of all art galleries are public.
**              Audience figures.

Poland/ 8.2 Cultural consumption and participation

8.2.2 Policies and programmes

The 1996 Law on Museums stipulates that free admission to the public must be guaranteed one day per week and that reduced tickets must also be made available (the amount to be determined by the museum directors). Museums have recently developed cultural education programmes for children and youth.

Cultural centres also play a very special role in promoting participation in cultural life. First of all they provide facilities for amateur art activities and help to organise various events. There is also formal co-operation between schools and the cultural centres as part of a cultural education programme.

Directly connected with the promotion of participation in cultural life is the three year Reading Programme presented in more detail in 4.2.6.

Poland/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.1 Arts education

The Ministry of Education is responsible for arts education of the first and second degree (primary and secondary schools). The Ministry of Culture is responsible for arts education on the academic level including 8 music academies, 7 fine arts academies, and 3 theatre and film schools. In addition to the existing public schools, private ones are being established. The European Academy of Arts was the first private academy to open in 1992.

The Inter-ministerial Programme of Cultural Education co-ordinates programmes in this field. One example is the arts education programme called The Paths. The objectives of the programme are to help students learn to communicate through the international language of art and to cross national and language borders. The Paths programme is concentrated in the fields of contemporary art, visual arts, theatrical performance, video art and literature. Several schools and bodies are involved in the programme such as: 4 schools in Poznań, the Jugendwerk Foundation, the National Centre of Art for Children and Young People in Poznań and the Kulturamt in Hannover.

Examples demonstrating the implementation of the Bologna process in Poland are visible especially on the administrative side of education. Many higher education institutions have modified their systems of evaluating students' work. Since the academic year 2004/2005, university graduates receive special supplements to diplomas which contain detailed information about their education process, exam results, qualifications and also the number of gained ECTS points.

Thanks to the implementation of the Bologna agreement, several institutions have been modernised. One of these is the State Accreditation Committee which monitors and evaluates the quality of teaching in public and private universities.

Other positive impacts of the Bologna process include the increasing mobility of Polish students and many pro-European elements have been added to the curricula of arts and humanities faculties.

Poland/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education

8.3.2 Intercultural education

The official Polish educational system does not cover issues related to intercultural dialogue and multiculturalism. However, many smaller-scale initiatives are undertaken in this field (usually by NGOs and independent institutions). In 2002, the group, which is a part of the KONTEKST society, carried out a cycle of meetings and workshops to sensitise students of particular schools in Warsaw to the issue of intercultural dialogue. The programme was executed in co-operation with Warsaw School of Social Psychology. Among others, the Jan Józef Lipski Common University in Teremiski (alternative education institution supported by acknowledged scientists, social and cultural activists etc.) and the Foundation Pogranicze, offer various intercultural-oriented educational projects.

In many respects Poland seems to be a culturally homogenous country. However, the subject of interculturalism has been seriously neglected in national education. Still, being a part of the larger multicultural European community should encourage educational authorities to incorporate such topics in school curricula. Some elements of intercultural education have been introduced into teaching programmes in the regions which have a significant number of students with origins other than Polish. These programmes are mainly based on national and ethnic identity (as defined by law - see 4.2.1) and do not address or draw attention to other aspects such as dialogue with new immigrant groups, actions aimed at combating xenophobia, racism and lack of tolerance, etc.

The question of interculturalism in arts and cultural education is pointedly connected with the issue of mobility. Schools and universities which participate in European programmes like Socrates etc., have made a notable contribution to the process of modernisation of Polish education. Activities concerning multilingualism, tolerance etc., as well as creative actions related to such issues become more and more popular among students from all types of educational institutions. The growing popularity of intercultural activities facilitates and increases the possibilities of gaining financial, technical and content related support from various institutions.

In 2006, several new intercultural educational projects appeared. Worth-mentioning is the activity of the Intercultural Education Foundation (registered in 2006). The Foundation runs the portal (funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and plans to carry out numerous projects dedicated especially to young people. The portal informs on selected interesting actions related to intercultural education conducted by other organisations e.g. the Association for Youth and Children "Okna", Polish Humanitarian Action and their partners.

One can observe an increase of interest in intercultural issues among students and teachers. However, in 2006 the Ministry of National Education was governed by a team with a strong nationalist orientation, thus no progress in the field of intercultural education was made. A shift in educational policy resulted in fierce criticism directed to the Minister Roman Giertych and his collaborators. In spite of those conservative tendencies at the ministerial level, private and independent initiatives connected with interculturalism continued to develop.

For more information, see our Intercultural Dialogue section

Poland/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.1 Amateur arts

Artist unions have the legal status of an association, which means they have the right to conduct their own economic activities. Many of them are using this right to run their own galleries. Throughout the 1990s, the situation of unions / associations deteriorated due to "the pains" of market transformations and to the fact that they no longer received subsidies from the state budget. Some associations have re-adjusted to the new market requirements and are able to continue operating.

The legal regulations for the non-profit sector (e.g. associations and foundations) were prepared and implemented before the post-Communist period. Since the transformation, there has been a rise in the number of third sector organisations: there are currently 20 000 NGOs in the country according to data published by the Information Bank on NGOs. 24% of them have declared an interest in becoming involved in culture including artistic creativity, cultural heritage (including national memorials and shrines), the cultural development of national minorities, the landscape etc. These organisations, associations, societies, foundations and funds come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

The Act on Public Benefit and Voluntary Service raises hopes. Not only does it regulate the status of volunteers in Poland, but it also defines the framework of co-operation between non-governmental organisations (those with the special status of public benefit) and local authorities. The Act was passed on the 1st of January 2004.

Poland/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and community centres

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

Prior to 1989, cultural houses in Poland were leading institutions of the communist cultural politics. It was difficult to find their equivalent in democratic European countries. There were even problems with translating the term itself. However, cultural houses run by state enterprises were dismantled in the free market economy environment because their costs were seen as unjustified. Today, cultural houses and centres are creating a new image for themselves as a shelter for amateur art and various programmes aiming at broadening participation in cultural life, with a special accent put on those parts of the population which are "socially excluded". Together with libraries they are often the only cultural institutions in the Polish suburbs. Their activities are undertaken in co-operation with and financed by local authorities.

The extent to which cultural houses and community cultural clubs are financed by the government is presented in 6.4.

In 2005, the following were registered: 830 cultural houses, 1 488 cultural centres, 394 clubs and 1 225 community centres. Altogether they organised 208 853 events for 32 283 418 participants. Almost half of the venues (2 063) had stages and gained a total seated audience of 395 453. Approximately 917 of these institutions had their own libraries. Permanent hobby and artistic workshops were organised in 4 692 specialist studios (including 1 350 fine art studios and 1 255 music studios). There were 17 382 amateur artistic groups which involved 275 857 participants, of whom 156 922 were under the age of 15. There were 10 332 clubs, with 237 836 members, of whom 1 599 696 were children and young people. As a result of a cultural education inter-resort programme for young people, 39 032 music, theatre and art workshops were organised and 9 763 other events to place which involved 671 098 people. Additionally, 5 696 courses were organised (of foreign languages, dance, music), which involved 91 537 participants, including 47 022 children under the age of 15.

Poland/ 9. Sources and Links

9.1 Key documents on cultural policy

The National Strategy for the Development of Culture in 2004-2007. Warsaw: Ministry of Culture, 2004. Available at

Conference Warsaw Castle April 2003: Chance for Culture. Conference Reader prepared for the debate which was held in the Warsaw Castle on the 6th of April 2003. 

Ilczuk, D.: Comparative Analysis of National Development Plan 2007-2013 and National Culture Development Strategy 2004-2013, Pro Cultura, Warsaw 2005

Ilczuk, D.: Cultural Citizenship. Cultural Policy and Civil Society in Europe. Amsterdam: Boekmanstudies, 2001. 

Ilczuk, D.: Polityka kulturalna w społeczeństwie obywatelskim. Cultural Policy in civic society) Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, 2002. 

Ilczuk, D.; Misišg, W.: Finansowanie i organizacja kultury w gospodarce rynkowej. (Financing and culture organisation in free-market system)Warszawa: IbnGR, 2003. 

Ilczuk, D.; Siciński, A.; Wojciechowski, J. S.: Polityka kulturalna państwa (projekt).(Cultural country Policy) Kultura Wspуłczesna, nr 2-3/1999. 

Kostyrko, T.; Czerwiński, M. (eds.): Kultura polska w dekadzie przemian. (Polish culture in changes decade) Warszawa: Instytut Kultury, 1999. 

Ministry of Culture and Art: The Principles of the Cultural Policy. Prepared by the Ministry of Culture and Art and adopted by the Council of Ministers, 1993. 

Ministry of Culture and National Heritage: Full-scale Patronage. Cultural Policy of the State in the Years 2005-2006. Warsaw: Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, 2007.

Ministry of Culture and National Heritage: The Directions of Cultural Policy of the State / Government. Warsaw: Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, 1999. 

Orzechowski, E.: Wokół zarządzania kulturą, edukacją, mediami. Pytań sporo, odpowiedzi mało. (Around culture, education, media menagement. Lots of questions, not many answers) Krakуw: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, 1999.

Poland/ 9. Sources and Links

9.2 Key organisations and portals

Cultural policy making bodies

Chancellery of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland

Office of the Committee for European Integration

Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Polish Parliament

Professional associations

National Broadcasting Council

Polish Book Chamber

Polish Performing Artists Union

Polish Visual Artists Union (ZPAP)

The Authors Society (ZAIKS)

Grant-giving bodies

Culture Foundation

Leopold Kronenberg Banking Foundation

Stefan Batory Foundation

Warsaw Culture Foundation

Cultural research and statistics

Jagiellonian University, Institute for Public Affairs

National Office of State Archives

Pro Cultura Foundation

Culture / arts portals

Arts & Culture Network Program / Bridge

Arts & Culture Network Program / Cultural Link

Arts & Culture Network Program / Cultural Policy

Arts & Culture Network Program / Inside

Adam Mickiewicz Institute

National Centre of Culture


The Council of Europe/ERICarts "Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe, 9th edition", 2008