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We know Wrocław’s cultural strategy after the ECoC

Wrocław is soon going to pass the European Capital of Culture title on to two new cities – Aarhus in Denmark (21.01.2017) and Pafos in Cyprus (28.01.2017). Both new capitals of culture will be visited by Wrocław Mayor Rafał Dutkiewicz, who will present the representatives of both cities with the Spire – a perpetual statuette of the European Capital of Culture created by Oskar Zięta. The symbolic passing of the title by Wrocław coincides with the announcement of the future of the ECoC Office and the principles of cultural strategy in four-year perspective, based to a great extent on the experience gathered by Wrocław as the European Capital of Culture.

The aim of the Spire Statuette is to serve as a symbol emphasising the uniqueness of the national cultures comprising the future European Capitals of Culture, their roots, identities and joint pursuit of perfection. It is also intended to symbolise continuity and inseparability of European culture and remind us about its significance in the process of integration. It is not without a reason that Wrocław came up with the idea to create such a statuette – the European Commission established that Wrocław’s approach to ECoC programming can serve as a model for the future capitals of culture.

The heritage and the great potential of the European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016
By winning the competition for the European Capital of Culture title in 2011, Wrocław started a long-term process of building the programme of this celebration of culture, as well as shifting the paradigm of understanding culture. “It seemed that the year of the European Capital of Culture will be the end of investing in development. Now we all know that it was just the beginning. Wrocław will keep developing with underlying conviction that culture is one of the most important city-building factors, since it fosters social connections, expresses the ambitions of the city and its residents, and a good cultural policy also positively influences economic development”, said Rafał Dutkiewicz, Mayor of Wrocław. The residents of Wrocław loved the European Capital of Culture, and now they want to be active and make decisions regarding their immediate neighbourhood.

The project also became an opportunity in the qualitative dimension of the change in the city’s cultural infrastructure. The revitalised and newly constructed spaces for culture, such as the National Forum of Music, the Zajezdnia History Centre and the FAMA Library and Cultural Centre will serve the residents and tourists for years to come. As an efficient and experienced organiser of large-scale events and shows (David Gilmour’s concert on Wolności Square, Flow at Dunikowski Boulevard or Capital of Rock at the Wrocław Stadium), the Office of the European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016 will continue to operate, vested with competencies to conduct international activities (A-i-R Wro Artistic Residence Programme), as well as activities with the residents (Wrocław – Entrance from the Backyard and microGRANTS). In order to better preserve and maintain the heritage, the ECoC Office will also run Barbara, the Gallery at the Main Railway Station and the Workshop at Komuny Paryskiej 45. The organisation will also receive three flats near the Salt Square to be used by artists in residence and interns from various parts of the world willing to work in Wrocław.

A post-ECoC vision of culture
“The European Capital of Culture has unleashed the so-called ECoC effect, prompting reflection on the role of culture and cultural policy in the city’s development, which is why we accepted the task of creating a Diagnosis of the cultural potential in Wrocław and the Culture Development Plan 2020+, and today we are proud to submit it for consultations”, said Jacek Sutryk, director of the Department of Social Affairs of the Wrocław Municipal Office, responsible for overseeing the creation of the programme. The most important strategic goals outlined in the document are: (1) maintaining the prestige of Wrocław’s culture – preserving proven brands, as well as investing in new activities, especially international ones; (2) creating conditions for enabling institutional development in the field of culture – supporting the competencies of creators and managers, promoting new and flexible ways of financing artistic activities; (3) ensuring innovative nature of culture in Wrocław – networking, circulation of culture, promoting participation and expanding the cultural offer pertaining to live culture; (4) balancing the field of culture in Wrocław – e.g. promoting participation.

The consultations of the document will run until the end of March. The programme will be announced on February 1, and the final version of the diagnosis will be released in May 2017.
Kompetencje Biura ESK 2016The new face of the ECoC Wrocław 2016 Office
In order to preserve the potential of the ECoC Wrocław 2016, understood as the human capital, as well as institutional resources, participants and audience of the events, the ECoC Wrocław 2016 office will continue to operate, albeit with a changed image. In the upcoming months, it will undergo organisational and image changes. “The Office was established in 2012 as a merger of an institution with rich history and multiple achievements – IMPART Art Centre – and the Wrocław 2016 office. We were given a task to coordinate the largest cultural project in the history of Poland. Now it is time to start new”, Krzysztof Maj, general director of the European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016, added. 

In 2017-2020+ the ECoC Office will conduct activities in four competence areas: “International Cultural Diplomacy”, “Wrocław Laboratory”, “Festivals and Events”, and “Education and Animation”. “We have accumulated many experiences thanks to the ECoC Wrocław 2016 project. The analysis is still underway, but even now we already have some constructive conclusions. We want to create a programme that will foster our most precious competencies and projects”, emphasised Dominika Kawalerowicz, director of the Programming Department. Regarding the international projects, the Office will continue to operate the A-i-R Wro Artistic Residence Programme and organise study visits. What is more, the Monitoring and Advisory Panel of the European Commission concluded that the approach to ECoC programming proposed by Wrocław may serve as the model for future European Capitals of Culture, which is why the city has a chance to become a competence centre for the future capitals of culture from our region of Europe.

The “Wrocław Laboratory” aspect will be focused on monitoring the field of culture and carry out activities aimed at networking the local, regional and national communities as part of the Coalition of the Cities. It will also concentrate on observation and monitoring of culture, as well as strengthening the competencies of the cultural staff – artists, animators and educators. Moreover, it will also operate the Wrocław Publishing Programme. The “Education and Animation” area will continue projects such as microGRANTS and Entrance from the Backyard. Animation centres, such as Barbara, the Workshop at Komuny Paryskiej 45, IMPART stages and the Gallery at the Main Railway Station, will be available to the residents of Wrocław. The Office will also be responsible for the organisation of cultural events and festivals, such as the Jazz by the Odra River, European Night of Literature, Dialogue Festival and Capital of Rock. “In the long-term perspective, we would like to become a recognisable brand in the European cultural circles”, Krzysztof Maj added.

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