Culture and Development – Third Conference on 21 April in Warsaw

Based on Professor Jerzy Hausner's 2012 guidelines, Krytyka Polityczna launched a program titled “Culture and Development.” The program consists of a series of seminars, research projects, and conferences grounded in the conviction that true development happens only when economic development strengthens social foundations. Then next conference is scheduled for 21 April, 2017, in Warsaw.

In recent years the relationship between culture and socio-economic development has been subjected to multiple analyses and studies. Moving away from the highly influential perspective proposed by Richard Florida, based on the concepts of creative class and culture industries, a number of authors began formulating new ideas about the role of culture in improving the quality of life, how it translates into a collective well-being.

In 2012, Professor Jerzy Hausner created guidelines for a research project that looked into cultural initiatives developed by institutions, organizations, and informal groups that aim to stimulate the development of individuals and organizations, foster a sense of agency in participants in their programs, with focus on organizations that have intense interaction with their social environment and fostering its change. On the basis of those guidelines, we launched a program, “Culture and Development,” a series of seminars, research projects, and conferences grounded in the conviction that true development happens only when economic development strengthens social foundations. Without social impact, development is deficient to the degree of handicap, and brings only short-term benefits while remaining unable to maintain a healthy ecosystem in the world of today. Modern civilisation urgently needs relations founded on cooperation, paradigms open to diverse views and practices, and last but not least, the trust and drive for a better life for ourselves and others.

The authors identified and developed the following principles of the program:

– Contemporary understanding of the category of development as grounded in equating economic and social development, with quality of life adopted as the main development criterion;

– A necessary condition to sustainable development is making good use of both hard (including financial capital) and soft capital (human and social relationships);

– Culture is the domain where soft capital can be generated. Culture interpreted as the heritage of earlier generations and a collection of social practices that serve for symbolic manifestation of reality, individual expression, communication, collaboration, and cooperation with others;

– Creative transformation of cultural heritage and creating conditions for the emergence of cultural practices that are necessary conditions for growth.

During the “Culture and Development” seminars hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study in 2012–2016, we analyzed dozens of cultural projects in regard to their capacity to impact socio-economic growth. Since 2013 the project was expanded by studies and conferences that explored various potentials of cultural practices (often grass-roots and informal initiatives), and how they are organized and gain institutional status. Our goal was to formulate hypotheses about the relations between culture and socio-economic growth.

The purpose of the third “Culture and Development” conference is to discuss the results of a four-year research project with leading researchers, cultural practitioners, organizers, creators of public policies, and representatives of social movements.

This year’s conference shall embark on the topic of Europe as a timeless space for cultural practices as well as a collection of shared, historical values. This aspect is important particularly in the present, as we face the threat of constricting the cultural register in Poland as well as in other European countries. This observation gives rise to questions about democracy, its quality, and how it affects culture and social life at large.

The conference will be held in Polish and English with simultaneous translation.


21 April, Friday
Location: Zygmunt Hübner Powszechny Theatre, Zamoyskiego 20

9.30–10.00: Welcome and registration

Morning session

10.00–10.15: Opening ceremony

10.15–11.45: Panel 1. Ecosystem of Culture

Complementary or conflicting? How do we shape cultural governance towards development and common good? From individual creation, through grassroot cultural initiatives and non-governmental organizations, to innovative cultural institutions.

Emina Višnić (Director of Rijeka, European Capital of Culture 2020, Croatia)
Vitalie Sprînceană (Oberliht Young Artist Association, Moldova)
Xenia Kalpaktsoglou (Curator, Co-founder of Athens Biennale, Greece)
Paweł Łysak (Director of Zygmunt Hübner Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw)
Moderator: Mikołaj Lewicki (University of Warsaw)

11.45–12.00: Coffee break

12.00–13.30: Panel 2. Ecosystem of Cultural Policies

Coordinate or compete? How do we stimulate culture in diverse legal regimes on urban, regional, national and continental levels? Where is the key to the truly sustainable development potential of culture?

Edwin Bendyk (Polityka magazine)
Ana Méndez de Andés (Madrid City Office, Spain)
Tomasz Thun-Janowski (Director of Culture Office, City of Warsaw Office)
Alicja Borkowska (Strefa WolnoSłowa foundation)
Moderator: Anna Świętochowska (Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw)

13.30–14.30: Lunch break

Afternoon session

14.30–16.00: Panel 3. Ecosystem of European Values

Culture in Europe or European Culture? How do we shape culture in Europe to foster identity-forming processes and strengthen democracy?

Katherine Watson (Director of European Cultural Foundation, the Netherlands)
Jerzy Hausner (Cracow University of Economics)
Karin Lekberg (Director of Subtopia creative cluster, Sweden)
Philipp Dietachmair (European Cultural Foundation, the Netherlands)
Moderator: Igor Stokfiszewski (Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw, Political Critique)

Accompanying events

19.00: Theatre performance
Location: Komuna Warszawa, Lubelska 30/32

Strefa WolnoSłowa
“I have drawn more than you can see here”
Director: Alicja Borkowska

How does memory work, what do we remember, what do we forget? How to recreate familiar places, people, emotions from scraps of memories and recollections? The stimulus behind the creation of the show was last year’s events related to the arrival of refugees to Europe and to the reactions of our society to the events. How did it happen that we had forgotten that we ourselves were once refugees who had to flee from war or persecution?

The inspiration for the work of the multigenerational group from Strefa WolnoSłowa, joining refugees, migrants and Poles, was, as I remember, a book by Georges Perec, a collection of tales about Paris, recalling memories, small events of everyday life, places and stories that are absent from history books, but represent the very fabric of everyday life.


Krytyka Polityczna
Krytyka Polityczna (Political Critique) is the largest Eastern European liberal network of institutions and activists. It consists of the online daily Dziennik Opinii, a quarterly magazine, publishing house, cultural centres in Warsaw, Łódź, Gdańsk and Cieszyn, activist clubs in a dozen cities in Poland (and also in Kiev and Berlin), as well as a research centre: the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw.