Kraków culture: Resilient culture
1. Kraków and culture
Kraków is a European metropolis, the second most populous (with more than 780,000 inhabitants) city of Poland and the capital of the Lesser Poland Voivodoship. The Old Town was inscribed onto the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1978. It is a city of culture: the Polish capital of theatres, film, music, visual arts, the European Capital of Culture (2000), city of EFFE-label-awarded festivals, IFEA World Festival & Event City (2016), UNESCO Creative City of Literature (since 2013), European Capital of Gastronomic Culture (2019) and currently is a member of the OWHC board. The cultural ecosystem includes 47 public cultural institutions (8 being national) and numerous pro-active private galleries, choirs, orchestras, music clubs, bookstores, theatres and museums that total ca. 500 facilities in 18 districts of the city.
The restrictions resulting from the pandemic (lockdown and limited access) severely affected the financial situation of the cultural sector (losses from cancelled concerts, lack of cashflow from ticket sales, rent of premises for events, termination of contracts and unexecuted programmes and productions). All those within the cultural sector and the creative industry (often freelancer) were deprived of income.
The Resilient Culture programme (RCP) is a creative transdisciplinary response with a holistic approach to the pandemic, aimed at strengthening the cultural sector, and its agility and promptness to react to a crisis in the long term.
2. Project goals and implementation
2.1. Main goal and specific objectives
Initiated by the City during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Resilient Culture Programme (RCP) is a creative transdisciplinary response with a holistic approach to the pandemic, aimed at strengthening the cultural sector of Kraków, and its agility and promptness to react to a crisis in the long term.
2.2. Project development
The programme consists of mechanisms of organisational and financial support for individuals and entities (institutions, NGO’s, private theatres, libraries, art galleries, arthouse cinemas and individual artists) in the cultural sector that have lost their streams of income:
- Individual creators and artists: With individual artists in mind, a new literary award was established (the Award of Krakow as a UNESCO City of Literature), a program of “COVID” scholarships was created, existing scholarships and awards were increased financially, and a programme of “Purchase of Works” was launched in the field of dance, visual and performing arts.
- The Cultural Education Program: In order to develop an attractive educational offer in Krakow, in 2021 the City implemented the first edition of the Cultural Education Programme for Krakow called “Krakow Archipelago of Culture”, operated by the Podgórze Cultural Centre. The program’s main objective was to raise the competences of Krakow’s educators and cultural animators. As part of the programme, trainings, exchange of good practices, and project competitions were held. The organized training (18 meetings) was attended by 224 educators and cultural animators. Out of eleven submitted projects to the competition, ten of them were implemented. The events prepared in this way were attended by more than 800 people.
- Cooperation with NGOs operating in the cultural sector: The city launched new calls for proposals, including a new open call for proposals “Online Culture” (in 2020 support for 41 entities for a total amount of 223,000 Euro).
- Covering losses of Cultural institutions: Despite inability to operate, institutions could maintain facilities and staff thank to the programme, maintaining nearly 2,000 jobs in the city’s cultural institutions.
- Representatives of creative sectors, including private theatres, bookstores, art galleries, studio cinemas. At the threshold of the pandemic, the City of Krakow allocated EUR 22,000 for direct financial support of bookshops. Twenty-two Krakow bookshops and antiquarian bookshops participated in the programme. One of the results of the program were text and video reviews published on Facebook, in which Krakow booksellers recommended their favourite books.
- Audience: In order to meet the expectations of the audience (without the possibility of direct interaction with artists), the “PLAY KRAKÓW” portal was initiated, the first municipal VOD in Poland and Live Stream platform, offering access to Krakow’s cultural offer (concerts, performances, films, workshops, meetings with artists, virtual walks, conferences). A fund was launched to support professional audiovisual productions for Krakow’s cultural institutions and entities. As of December 31, 2021, there were 39,508 registered users on the PLAY KRAKÓW VOD platform. 1089 materials were made available on the platform. The total number of views reached 120 251.
- The Resilient Culture Programme (RCP) carries a set of new models of partnerships by sharing assets, staff, resources, knowledge, content management, integration tools and communication of culture (“Kraków Culture”), as well as cultural education (“Cultural Archipelago”). This package supports the cooperation between different cultural sectors (institutions and NGO’s, creative industries and individual artists) and adds a new approach to cultural heritage in the context of sustainable tourism. The value of the toolkit supporting the cultural sector in 2020-2021 is more than 6 million Euros annually.
The main goal of the programme was not only to offer short term assistance, but above all to develop mechanisms for the sector's resilience to future crises of various origin.
3.1. Direct impacts
Thanks to “Resilient-Culture” Kraków, cultural institutions have not suspended their activities, though they did have to go online or limit their audience (by 25 or 50%), resulting in the dynamic development of online VODs. The “PLAY Kraków” platform is still expanding. New cultural hubs combining several entities have been created, e.g. the Potocki Palace, a historical building adapted into a cultural cluster. The “Kraków Culture” policy and all of its elements (portal intro, quarterly magazine and podcasts series) was also put into effect. In the years 2020-2021, more than 1,200 artists have been supported.
The following tools are applicable for monitoring and evaluation of the RCP:
- The system of measures and indicators for the domain of CULTURE and PRK2030 in the municipal STRADOM system;
- Measures and indicators adopted for sector programmes;
- Research diagnosing the activity of the cultural and creative sector in Krakow under the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Research conducted in cooperation with the Coalition of Cities.
3.3. Key factors
The success of the programme was determined by the variety of tools tailored to the needs of individual beneficiary groups, the search for solutions focused on long-term development and building sector resilience rather than ad hoc actions. In addition, the implemented tools were developed participatively.
The RCP remains a work in progress. The programmes and the tools developed and related to them, covered by the common frame of RESPONSIVE CULTURE (resistant to all kinds of crises, with tools allowing for quick adaptation to changes) will be continued and developed in the next time perspective, because new challenges are constantly emerging.
The Resilient Culture programme (RCP) carries a set of new models of partnerships and cooperation between different cultural sectors.
4. Further information
Kraków was a candidate for the fifth “UCLG – Mexico City – Culture 21” International Award (February – June 2022). The jury for the award drew up its final report in September 2022, and requested that the Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices to be implemented through Agenda 21 for culture.
This article was written by Joanna Szulborska and Carlos Panek Soares de Araujo, Chief Specialist, Kraków, Poland.
Contact: joanna.szulborska (at) um.krakow.pl / carlos.panek (at) um.krakow.pl