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Summary Cultural Stages


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Summary Cultural Stages

  1. 1. Summary of the ReportCultural Stages Versus Cultural Policies in Malopolska.Report on Exploration Research.Malopolska Institute of Culture 2010 1
  2. 2. Coordination of the research project: Malopolska Institute of Culture. The project wasexecuted under the Malopolska Observatories of Culture Programme.Cooperation: Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities,AGH University of Science and Technology and Association of Polish CitiesCoordination of the project: Piotr KnaśField research conducted by: Natalia Bardzik, Karolina Fidyk, Zuzanna Hołyst, Piotr Knaś,Wojciech Kowalik, Łukasz Krzyżowski, Małgorzata Matlak, Anna Miodyńska, Zofia Noworól,Katarzyna Ptaśnik, Agnieszka Nowak, Paulina Świątek, Magdalena Wilk-Serwan, AnnaWiśnickaSubstantive consultation on the execution of the research project: Professor JanuszMuchaAuthors of the publication: Łukasz Krzyżowski, Zofia Noworól, Wojciech Kowalik, PiotrKnaśThe project is co-financed by the National Centre of Culture under the Observatory ofCulture Programme. 2
  3. 3. Contents 1. Introduction. Cultural stages and policies as an important dimension of culture in Malopolska 2. Methodology of field research and analysis of collected information 3. Analysis of the local meanings of culture in Malopolska 4. Cultural stages as a space for activities of cultural actors – structural analysis 5. Cultural policies in Malopolska communes 6. Cultural stages and policies. Together or apart? 7. Evaluation of culture 8. Summary and main conclusions 3
  4. 4. 1. Introduction. Cultural stages and policies as an important dimension of culture in MalopolskaThe report presents a qualitative analysis and a diagnosis of the state of culture inMalopolska regarding cultural stages in communes and the establishment of local culturalpolicies. During field research we interviewed 120 cultural actors from 10 communes inMalopolska (focus groups, in-depth interviews and participant observation, supportively).We intended to discover to what extent cultural services (the whole cultural offer availablein the commune) are connected with cultural practices (broadly understood participationin culture), and the ways cultural policies are managed on the local level (i.e. how theservices programme is established and what it is intended to do).Our assumption was that local definitions of culture and methods of negotiating themeanings of culture (which were presented to us during the research) constitute thelocally working ideas and rules which determine the state/change of culture in the culturalservices and cultural policies sector (meaning also local development). Metaphor of cultural stagesThe point of departure for our analysis was to imagine a methodologically sound model ofculture functioning in the commune. On the one hand, we wished to retain the meaningsof broad anthropological definitions of culture, and on the other, we were obliged toconsider the sector meaning of culture in the research. Therefore our definition of cultureis not based on a catalogue of widely recognised ‘cultural activities’, such as book reading,theatre going or participation in classes held in the local community centre, which areconducted by formal institutions of culture (these function in three sectors: public, privateand non-governmental) but we will use the metaphor of the commune as a festival with anumber of stages (the main stage, the niche stage, the counter-stage) where variedcultural activities are practised according to the different capacities and methodologies ofparticipation or ways to ‘arrange’ the stage. The audience at such a festival behaves asconsumers (prosumers) who can engage themselves in it to a greater or lesser degree(executing the right to arrange the stage in their own way or the right to use the offer,respectively); on some stages they have to pay entry fees; they can form communitiesbased on the resources (the purchased products) of a given stage, and sometimes they canleave the festival in protest or because the offer was not sufficiently interesting for them.The complex of stages is a space for the community’s activity which can be termed asparticipation in culture. The festival is not organised by an individual – it is a space open todifferent organisers, although in practice some stages are regarded as important by someinstitutional, collective and individual actors while others are marginalised or considerednon-cultural. Why and how does it happen? 4
  5. 5. Metaphor of cultural actorsIn the present analysis cultural actors denote the people who are active on the culturalstages or engage in their organisation and arrangement. However, we did not wish toanalyse merely some selected cultural sectors (for example, cultural workers or activists innon-governmental organisations). The actors’ official position in the cultural sector was notimportant for us as we focused on their real role in it. In order to select respondents for theresearch we followed a formula which was the point of departure to find cultural actors: • local government (the commune leader [wójt], officials, councillors), • cultural institutions (the director and museum, library and community centre staff), • non-governmental organisations (activists, leaders, project coordinators), • entrepreneurs who are active in the culture sector (managers and owners), • parishes (priests, parish activists, project coordinators), • independent culture creators and cultural animators, • local leaders (including young people’s leaders), journalists or other reviewers of culture, • representatives of schools, tourism development institutions, promotional institutions, welfare institutions, business support institutions, • representatives of ethnic minorities; regional organisations activists.The cultural actor may be considered (in terms of the competences involved) mainly to bea(n): • politician (making decisions for culture), • manager (coordinating and managing the culture sector), • animator (animating/promoting participation in culture), • entrepreneur (generating profit on culture), • creator (creating cultural values), • educator/instructor/teacher (educating for culture), • researcher (culture studies). 5
  6. 6. Metaphor of cultural practices and cultural servicesA local community is active in many fields. A concise definition of culture says that incertain situations that activity is cultural in character (when the model of the culturalhuman is fulfilled). A broad definition of culture says that any activity has a cultural aspect(when individuals participate in the exchange of symbols, use certain rules and codes etc).Hence, participation in culture does not comply with one agreed catalogue of designates.In the circumstances, so difficult for a cultural researcher, we wanted to agree on aperspective that would reconcile the two definitions (each of which has its strong andweak points). The metaphor of cultural practices enables us to treat the community in thelocal commune not as a phenomenon characterised by a catalogue of cultural needs butas a dynamic community on several different stages of culture where it sometimes expectsto get something, sometimes creates something on its own, where the sphere of receptionof cultural services may potentially occur anywhere. Cultural services are intentionalactivities of cultural actors addressed to somebody and at something, and are usuallyundertaken based on the evaluative opinion that a particular sphere of culture is ‘worthdealing with’ (or, possibly, that it can yield profit). Metaphor of local developmentCulture is often described as a ‘tool’ for local development. In this sense it is not regardedas autotellic activity connected with local tradition or need for expression but becomes alever which activates the desired economic and social processes; hence, culture ispotentially a field for ‘pro-developmental’ activity (or simply an important sector ofeconomy). The popularly understood concept of social capital refers to exactly that.Similarly, theories of local development refer to the role of certain ideas and cultural ruleswhich form a bond for modern, advanced social or economic systems. These rules andideals must be cultivated and developed, and culture becomes a space for their creationand inculturation. In order to consider the concept of culture as a lever for development,for the purposes of the present analysis we have elaborated the following catalogue ofworking categories (which are neither final nor the only ones) whose analysis in localcontexts was supposed to indicate if a given function of culture was taken into account inthe local cultural policies: • establishment of innovative/creative stages based on local potentials/impulses from outside, • entrepreneurship and cultural industries as an important area of culture, • local animation towards social integration and acquisition of attitudes, knowledge, skills and competences, 6
  7. 7. • implementation of cultural education which builds advanced ‘instrumentation’ which supports development of an open-minded human who is ready to innovate and experiment, • building the cultural brand of a commune and its location marketing, • building contemporary circulation of tradition, history, identity, cultural heritage (not only to preserve them), • presence of avant-garde, counter-cultures, cultural niches which are a laboratory of modernity, • creation of high-quality public services in the culture sector (museum, home, culture, library programmes, other initiatives).___________________________________________________________________________ 2. Methodology of field research and analysis of collected informationIn order to analyse the cultural stages and policies in Malopolska, we decided to conductfield research in ten selected communes in the region. Each of these was treated as aunique case study, through whose understanding we wished to d e s c r i b e t h econstruction of local cultural stages and the establishment ofc u l t u r a l p o l i c i e s . We sought common features and features which were significantfor the whole region. Selection of the communes for field researchWe based our choice of the communes for research on the official division of the regioninto sub-regions: the proper Krakow sub-region, the wider Krakow sub-region, the Tarnowsub-region, the Nowy Sącz sub-region and the Oświęcim sub-region. We decided that eachsub-region was to be represented and that the selected communes should displayphenomena and divisions which we consider to be of vital importance to the culturesector: • in rural, urban-rural and urban communes, • in the communes which function on the basis of different types of economy (industry, services, agriculture, tourism), • in the communes with strong regional identity (narrative; characteristic for the Carpathians) and the communes without such meanings of culture, 7
  8. 8. • in the communes with a homogeneous ethnic structure and those inhabited by ethnic minorities, • in the communes which are local centres, those situated provincially from the former and those which lie within the Krakow metropolis, • in the communes of high and lower (meaning less spectacular) natural beauty. Research techniquesIn order to describe each commune and collect research material, we decided to conductfield research using three qualitative research techniques: • participant observation (5 were conducted), • focus group interviews (20 were conducted), • in-depth interviews (20 were conducted). Main research questionsThe analysis stage was conducted based on four main research questions: how culture andparticipation in culture are defined locally; how the cultural stages are outlined; howcultural policies are built and managed; how culture is evaluated in the commune. In manysubsections we describe the different analytical categories and fields of meaning to whichwe paid particular attention in writing the report. They helped the authors to elaborate astrategy of analysing cultural stages and policies. We believe that the following list ofcategories and fields will enable us to properly characterise and diagnose cultural stagesand policies.___________________________________________________________________________ 3. Analysis of local meanings of culture in Malopolska Analysis of the concept of cultureIn our research we assume that in their, more or less creative, work cultural actors,regardless of how formalised their position may be, make use of a certain idea of whatbelongs to culture and what does not. In other words, cultural actors apply a workingdefinition of culture which helps them to establish the framework within which theyfunction. However, it is not a static definition based on explicit criteria; quite the opposite:it is dynamic and its scope is being continuously negotiated.To the majority of the respondents, culture means all forms of activity which generateemotional energy. It is, as it were, the overriding objective of initiatives which may betermed as cultural events. According to the respondents, these activities should result ingroup solidarity and a strong sense of identification with the local community. 8
  9. 9. Institutional actors emphasise the need to maintain communal identity based on regionaltraditions which more or less explicitly differentiate one region in Malopolska fromanother. Interestingly, the respondents tend to draw on the concept of national culturemore often than on the notion of Malopolska culture however it may be defined (the term‘Malopolska culture’ was not mentioned during the interviews at all). Emotional energy,which gathers the local community around regional symbols, may be generated both bycultural activity and passivity. The respondents often pointed out that essentially we couldalready speak of culture when an event drew an audience to it, even if it was coincidentalparticipation. Local culture and folklore often rely on folk symbolism and the respondentsthen referred to folk culture as that which was the closest to the local community, eventhough it currently seemed to be unconnected to local contexts.Another important element of local definitions of the concept in question is the fact, oftenpointed out by cultural actors, that it belongs to the sacred sphere. To many respondents,culture is another dimension of social reality. Everyday routines are perceived as grey bythe respondents. Culture brings another, colourful dimension to everyday life – one whichis unconnected with physicality.The concept of culture and cultural change is connected with the otherwise interestingissue of new ideas, ‘avant-garde’. Our informants do not tend to notice practices whichmight be termed as avant-garde in their neighbourhood. The very term ‘avant-garde’ isused here in the broad sense which goes beyond the name of the trend in art andliterature in the first half of the 20th century, and is used to describe the changes in culturewhich, from the point of view of the actors themselves, express new ideas and culturalpractices that may s o m e t i m e s be perceived as opposing the established notions ofculture (the dominant culture).Another characteristic of the definition of culture used by Malopolska’s actors is its closeconnection to education and socialisation within a local community. Essentially, themajority of the respondents (especially representatives of public institutions) identifiedculture with education and therefore thought it necessary to ‘familiarise’ residents ‘withculture’ in many spaces and institutions from a very early age. Participation in cultureAccording to the respondents, the minimum condition for participation in culture is apassing interest in any cultural practice. Even momentary contact with culture generatesemotional energy and stimulates reflection on the cultural aspects of life. It is noteworthywhat else, according to the informants, should result from participation in culture. Firstly, avery important outcome of participation is historical education about a given region, itsdistinctive material and spiritual culture and relationship to the national culture.Interactive forms of dissemination of knowledge about history are particularly interesting,according to the respondents. Secondly, active participation in culture is connected with 9
  10. 10. acquiring skills of group work, organisation of cultural events and the ability to observe‘culture in action’. In the long run, participation in culture, both passive and active, enablesresidents to acquire cultural competences necessary to be independent in that sphere. Inthe case of children and young people, participation entails the development of a civicsociety, fosters regional traditions, mostly by creating favourable conditions forintergenerational interaction. According to the respondents, it is an alternative tospending free time in front of the TV or computer. The main advantages of participation inculture are connected with socialising and integrating practices. Naturally, cultural actorsaddress their offer to various groups of residents within local communities. As theinformants point out, the services provided by the subjects they represent should respondto the needs of all residents. However, it seems that a special group of recipients arechildren and young people, which is not surprising given the socialising and integratingfunctions of culture. In the past five years elderly people have become a growing group ofrecipients for whom institutions have been preparing special offer. The respondents alsopoint out the groups which are not culturally active. These are mainly working people whodo not usually have time to actively participate in culture. It may be observed, however,that adults either participate in culture passively or supply culture for themselves on theirown. ConclusionCulture in Malopolska is created mainly by cultural institutions. A considerable influenceon the appearance of the different stages of culture is exerted by the Catholic Church,especially in the smaller localities. The independent stage is poorly represented inMalopolska. The relations between actors are formal, which however does not interferewith the joint execution of many projects. Institutional actors and non-governmentalorganisations are particularly closely connected. In general, the majority of large outdoorevents are organised by regional associations and co-funded by public institutions. Insome localities there is also cooperation between public institutions and enterprises in theculture sector. That situation occurs particularly in the regions where folk art is popular orin the areas rich in natural resources on which enterprises can rely in their activities.The term ‘culture’ itself is used by the respondents in a very precise, functional sense. Itmay be claimed that culture is defined by the actors in three dimensions: spiritual(historical education, cultivation of regional traditions and religious customs), material(historical monuments, architecture) and personal (lifestyle, upbringing, the aestheticsense). To the majority of the respondents, culture is essentially synonymous withupbringing. As the respondents emphasized many times, culture begins in childhood, andthe main aim of cultural animators is to maintain the continuity of regional traditions. Thecore of the concept is hence regional identity, folk culture and folklore.___________________________________________________________________________ 10
  11. 11. 4. Cultural stages as a space for activities of cultural actors – a structural analysisThe subject of the present analysis is the functioning of cultural stages and the relationsbetween them as they jointly fill the area of culture in every commune and together formstructures that are unique to each location. Hence, it seems necessary to first describe theelements of the above mentioned structure. We assume that in each commune thereexists at least one leading stage, which is distinguished from the others by: • a c c e s s t o d i f f e r e n t r e s o u r c e s : funding, infrastructure and decision making (through exerting influence on the locally implemented cultural policies or through being influenced by them), which means that it is legitimised by the local authorities, • considerable r e c o g n i s a b i l i t y within the local community.Acting as a space for the implementation of cultural policy in the commune, the leadingstage performs an important function because it may be a tool for conducting politics inthe commune, so it often legitimises the status quo, as it is itself legitimised by theauthorities. That is why it tends to be an area of tension and conflict between actors orgroups of cultural actors.Owing to an easier access to resources, m a s s e v e n t s are most often organised on theleading stage, where they also perform promotional and integrating functions. They areusually comprehensive programmes of cultural and ludic or integrating nature, such as‘days of the locality’, the feast of the patron saint of the locality or other occasionalfestivities. The main organizer of such initiatives is usually the local community centre,which often treats them as one of the main items on its annual programme. A similar role issometimes assumed by the Catholic Church. However, events of that kind are usuallyexecuted in cooperation by several actors or cultural institutions and are held oncooperating alternative stages (described below) beside the leading stage.Apart from mass events and processual educational and animation activities, regularpatriotic and commemorative events, whose main organisers are local cultural institutions,are also held on the leading stage. The Catholic Church plays an invariably important rolein these practices, and in some regions, particularly in the south east of Malopolska, asimilar role is played by the Greek Catholic Church. Interestingly, our informants treatedsuch events as something obvious.What is common for the majority of the leading stages in Malopolska is the predominanceof cultural patterns in the understanding of the role of heritage and activities connectedwith maintaining local identity, which may be caused by the widespread identification ofculture with spiritual culture. These patterns often organise the practices undertaken on 11
  12. 12. the leading stages in the communes. The research we conducted made it possible todesignate the categories of the patterns which are present on Malopolska’s cultural stagesat the beginning of the 21st century; of these the most conspicuous and almostomnipresent is the f o l k - t y p e c u l t u r e or cultures based on economic traditions ofthe region (mining traditions, highlanders’ culture). To complement the picture, it isadvisable to discuss briefly the role of the leading stages in the promotion of Malopolska’scommunes. Although that area of culture is commonly regarded as the space for autotellicor socialising activities, cultural activities are often used by politicians and cultural actors totheir own ends. Undoubtedly, if key cultural politicians recognise the promotional role ofculture, they are more willing to invest in certain initiatives, and expect return of theinvestment in the form of increased tourism, development of cultural entrepreneurship,better opportunities to acquire funding for the improvement of infrastructure. Finally,investments in culture and conducting activities on the main stage contributes to thebuilding or reinforcement of a commune’s or town/city’s cultural brand, which obviouslyrepresents activity on a higher level.Although the considerable majority of cultural actors emphasise that they mostly focus onanimating activities for young people as the ones who are the most receptive and affectedby cultural events, in some localities we observed empty stages which came into existenceas a result of a lack of appropriate spaces for young people’s activity. It does not stemdirectly from a lack of infrastructure or insufficient offer but may be attributed to itsinadequacy for the present day realities and needs of young people, particularly as regardsleisure time activities. Interestingly, few cultural actors are aware of that inadequacy. ConclusionThe cultural stages in Malopolska may be divided into the leading stages, whose maincreators are usually formal actors active in cultural institutions run by the localgovernment; the alternative stages, which complement the offer of the leading stages; andthe empty stages, i.e. those that do not exist, and that apparent lack results from the factthat the needs of local communities remain unsatisfied or a locality’s resources are notproperly used. Interestingly, the empty stages were often noted in the area of activities forchildren and young people who are generally treated as priority culture recipients.Simultaneously, new stages are gradually being established in Malopolska; young peopleare considered to be makers of culture and cultural actors so they are given the resourcesto execute their own cultural projects.The cultural stages perform multiple functions, and the leading ones tend to represent thecommune as it is there that historic events are commemorated, cultural heritage,continuity and integrity of the residents’ identity are upheld, and integrating andeducational activities are carried out. The space for more unconventional and lessembedded activities is more often provided by the alternative stages. On the basis of the 12
  13. 13. material we collected it is difficult to point out counter-cultural stages in Malopolska,which may however be due to the assumptions underlying our choice of the sample.The vast majority of Malopolska’s cultural stages is formal, which determines the way theyfunction within the structure formed at the level of the commune/town/city to whosecreation they contribute. This refers both to the relationship between the stages and thechannels of communication. The whole relationship between the stages largely dependson the local cultural policy which may either foster the development of the structure andits constituents or hamper it. Our analysis of the collected material indicates that themajority of decisions regarding cultural policies is taken in order to open channels ofcommunication and in the spirit of cooperation; still, the activities themselves tend to becarried out ineffectually.___________________________________________________________________________ 5. Cultural policies in Malopolska’s communesIn this part of the report we will attempt to show how the persons responsible for thecreation and conduct of cultural policy construe their scope of duties within it and howthey perceive their role in those activities. Then we will try to demonstrate what are thespecific aims set under the policy, what they depend on and how they are pursued. Theanalysis was carried out on the basis of individual in-depth interviews conducted with thepersons who are concerned with designing and implementing cultural activities in thecommune or town/city. Due to the assumption that the real influence on the policy wasnot exerted by representatives of the local authorities, we also included the managerialstaff in cultural institutions (community centres, museums) and persons connected withprivate cultural initiatives who have a considerable influence on the image of culture in agiven commune through their activity. How cultural policy is understoodIt is no easy task to grasp what our respondents mean by the term ‘cultural policy’. It doesnot mean that their opinions greatly vary. It is because they view the concept of culturalpolicy on several levels at the same time.In the first, broadest sense cultural policy is understood by the respondents to be a widerange of activities and initiatives for which the common denominator are certainsuperordinate categories. They provide a frame of reference for interpretation, whichmakes it possible to grasp the global context of the implemented policy. An example maybe the category of the folk-type culture or heritage connected with the local crafts orindustry. Short-term and long-term objectives in the development of a given area areformulated within those key elements of local culture. The set objectives become theleitmotif of most events, are a permanent element of the activities undertaken by cultural 13
  14. 14. institutions (community centres, museums, libraries), they set the thematic areas forcompetitions funded with grants for cultural activity, they are repeated in the creation of acommune’s brand or as a part of their promotional strategy. Put briefly, they are the keysymbolic resources embedded in cultural policy and the pivot for the major culturalenterprises.In the more concise context, implementation of cultural policy is defined as all kinds ofactivities which are addressed to the widest group of recipients possible. For this reason(but not only for it) they tend to be connected with celebrations of national and religiousholidays. It concerns also cultural and ludic mass events and festivities which performpromotional and integrating functions. Put broadly, cultural policy on this level is definedthrough the k e y f u n c t i o n s which the specific initiatives fulfil. Thus understood, thepolicy is a set of clearly defined priorities and objectives within which resources areallocated and which are supported. Such priorities may be, for example, orientationtowards maintaining local traditions, integration of the local community andreinforcement of the civic society, promotion of the commune and construction of its ownbrand as a cultural centre, stimulation of local economy or propagation of the healthylifestyle.Examining the multiple functions that different initiatives fulfil according to therespondents, we can observe two basic approaches to culture as an element of theconducted policy in the broad sense. These may be described as functional types ofunderstanding culture. In the presented model we call the first type the a u t o t e l l i capproach to culture within the conducted policy, and the other type – thei n s t r u m e n t a l approach.The autotellic function of the established directions of cultural development in thecommune encompasses mainly socialising activities, aimed at social, educational orheritage-preserving integration, socialisation of the young generation, maintaining thecontinuity of tradition and of the local community’s identity.In the second case, cultural policy, and hence culture itself, is treated as a tool for achievingother aims. It may be a means of promotion and building a given commune’s brand,commercial activity of a cultural institution and other activities which lay foundations ofthe so-called cultural industries.Obviously, the above described categories are not disjunctive. It is hardly possible to pointout a commune where activities of only one of the two types are carried out. Usually, thecultural policy involves enterprises for the development of several profiles of activities ofkey importance to the given location within both types of directions.The chosen priorities do not necessarily need to be implemented with the use ofinstitutional resources of the local authorities. Although they tend to act as the 14
  15. 15. coordinators and main decision-makers, public institutions, which function as a sort ofapparatus executing the agreed cultural policy, often cooperate with other cultural actors,for example the Catholic Church, associations, local cultural animators and artists orentrepreneurs. Strategies for the establishment and implementation of cultural policyAnother issue connected with cultural policy which we would like to focus on in thepresent report is the question of designing specific activities in the field of culture. What ismeant here are: 1) the ways the key directions of those activities are formulated 2)receptiveness towards local cultural actors and their vision of activity within culture 3)general receptiveness to new ideas in cultural animation. The ways and strategies ofpoliticians are also of considerable importance to the point in question.We should begin with the fact that in each of the analysed communes the strategy ofplanning and implementation of the objectives of cultural policy was carried outsimultaneously in several cycles. Depending on the temporal horizon adopted for theestablishment and execution of plans, we can differentiate between the l o n g -t e r mc y c l e , involving a period of implementation of at least several or more than ten years, thea n n u a l c y c l e and the s h o r t -t e r m cycle or a d h o c a c t i v i t i e s .In general, we can say that none of the communes we examined has a formal strategy ofcultural development in the strict sense. Although the considerable majority ofrepresentatives of the basic local government units or institutions subordinate to themrefer to relevant regulations and official decisions, these do not come in the form ofseparate documents but as fragments of other strategic documents. Those documents aremainly urban or communal development strategies and, much more seldom, plans ofcooperation with non-governmental organisations or promotional strategies.The situation in which long-term directions of cultural development do not constitute aseparate, coherent and comprehensive study and are merely a part of a broaderdevelopment plan of a given area often conditions what exactly is understood as ‘culturaldevelopment’. Hence, in the light of the respondents’ ideas, specific regulations tend to becollections of general aims, such as: improvement of the residents’ standards of living,providing a tourist-friendly infrastructure, sports development or ensuring high teachingstandards in educational institutions. Achieving aims which are formulated in that way isunderstood in a special way because the measure of their success are usually investmentsin particular facilities connected with culture which provide the material base for activitiesin culture (sports and recreational facilities, facilities for conducting cultural activities etc) Conclusion 15
  16. 16. To sum up this chapter, it should be stated that the commune’s cultural policy isinfluenced by multiple factors, and it is not a holistic and coherent set of activities. It iscarried out simultaneously on several levels. Its overall structure is influenced by the waysthe concept of cultural policy is understood by the persons responsible for its conduct.Another important issue is the way in which priorities and strategic directions of culturaldevelopment are established, as well as the position which the actors responsible forcultural policy believe the commune to hold in the broader spatial and semantic relations.The place where the above described ways of conducting cultural policies are carried outare the local cultural stages, especially the leading stage on which various actors act andclash. It may be said that cultural policy is conducted in a dynamic environment where themeaning of the term ‘culture’ is constantly renegotiated, the role of each actor is redefined,and the scope of activities which may belong to the leading stage is determined asopposed to those stages that may at the given moment be called alternative or counter-cultural.___________________________________________________________________________ 6. Cultural stages and policies. Together or apart? New interpretations of heritageThe appearance of the local cultural stages is sometimes influenced by solutions whichveer away from what we might consider a medium of cultural change. An example may bethe common agricultural policy under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013,which by promoting traditional regional products contributes to the recreation and revivalof some forgotten elements of local culture. Looking at the initiatives undertaken undersome programmes (for example the Leader+ programme), we can observe a mechanismwhich consists in attributing new meanings and a reinterpretation of the symbolism ofalready existing elements of local heritage. It is visible in the way considerable weight isbeing attached to the traditions and objects/sites which have not hitherto constituted animportant element of local culture. Trails, high roads and thematic paths are delineated inMalopolska as a result of a fashion for that kind of products, which has come from WesternEurope and the United States. Such activities influence the way space is symbolicallyorganised and affect a change of perception of local heritage. It is worth consideringwhether the current trends will not change the perception of what is the core of localheritage or what may be regarded as local heritage (by changing the order of importanceand the value of each object/site in the collective memory) within the decades to come. Itis too early yet to draw definitive conclusions as to that issue because it is not known if thenew elements of local space will permanently enter into the collective consciousness ofthe local community and the wider public. It is certainly worthwhile, however, to keeptrack of the direction the above described trends will follow. 16
  17. 17. Folk-type culturesAnother interesting conclusion, which is in a sense connected with the one describedabove, refers to the position occupied by the folk-type culture in Malopolska in the 21stcentury. We decided to subject that notion to an in-depth analysis due to its omnipresenceon Malopolska’s stages and the fact that it seems to be the most exciting issue for culturalactors themselves. By this term we understand a collection of cultural practices which isembedded in local traditions based on the economic and natural conditions and collectiverituals effected by those conditions. In the analysis of the cultural stages it wasdemonstrated that the folk-type culture is one of the main meanings around which actorsbuild the leading stages. It is considered to be an autotellic quality and an indispensablefoundation of local identity. One of the main aims of cultural actors is to maintain thecontinuity of regional traditions which, when expressed in the folk-type culture, constitutethe core of the meaning of the term ‘culture’ itself.An interesting phenomenon in the functioning of that particular type of culture on theleading stage is the fact that symbolic dominance may be attributed to non-governmentalorganisations above the local level, where many actors involved in maintaining regionaltraditions gather rather than formal institutions which are the main cultural centres in thecommune. It means that in that field prestige stemming from competence – detailedknowledge of local regionalisms is more important than power resulting from havingaccess to resources.The living folk-type culture, undetached from its own roots, is juxtaposed to the d e a dc u l t u r e which has lost its natural continuity and may at best be reconstructed only.___________________________________________________________________________ 7. Evaluation of cultureEvaluation has a broad semantic scope. Since in the field research carried out for thepresent project evaluation of culture was not the main research subject, we collected alimited pool of data, which enables us to discover the approaches of cultural actors (mostlyat the local government level) that define the local senses of conducting evaluation. Onthat basis we can conclude that cultural actors have an increasingly higher evaluationawareness. They point out its importance in cultural management, improvement of thequality of procedures, the possibility to assess the effects and increasingly treat the culturalservices offer as a thing which exists in the broader space of participation in culture or anissue connected with building social capital. Realistically, however, in the local contextevaluation is by no means a norm. Currently, it is very often a toy of a decision-maker whotreats his assumptions and criteria as the only possible ones and often discredits the 17
  18. 18. desired new quality in management. Another difficulty lies in the lack of local rules ofmanaging conflict that results from the interests of cultural actors, which is connected withthe formulation of local development plans. Evaluation is not allowed within the scope ofthe established local policies of cultural development as a potential source ofdestabilisation of local cultural stages which remain governed by the public sector.First and foremost, the analysis focuses on the area of reception and needs within a simpleassumption of culture as a programme of events, classes, competitions, traditions or thedevelopment of tourism. The general conclusion may be that the locally createddefinitions of culture, participation in culture, the importance of culture to thedevelopment hamper the establishment of more advanced programmes of evaluation.The awareness of individual cultural actors (‘we need evaluation’) does not translate into alocal system of cultural policies management, which tends to be inadequate to thecontemporary challenges facing cultural development.___________________________________________________________________________ 8. Summary and main conclusionsIn small communes the most important actors turned out to be representatives of localgovernment institutions, particularly of the community centres in the communes, thoughin some locations libraries also play an important role. In big communes, including cities,they are usually independent major institutions, often governed by the local authorities,such as museums, libraries and community centres, as well. In small communes more orless institutionalised actors play a much more prominent role than the community ofresidents, while in big communes grassroots pressure on institutionalised actors is morepronounced (there is a much more extensive ‘market’ of cultural actors who areindependent of the local government).The special role of Malopolska’s non-governemntal organisations is also notable. Theproportion of such organisations which are active per one commune and focus on localculture is one of the highest in Poland. However, they very often execute taskscommissioned to them by public institutions (or remain in heavy dependence on thembased on a kind of ‘symbiosis’). Public and non-governmental partnership facilitates accessto EU grants and subsidies. It should also be added, however, that part of non-governmental organisations work in opposition to or independently of the culturalinstitutions under the local government (the bigger the commune, the more often itoccurs).An important actor is the Roman Catholic Church. Parishes take care to uphold Catholicvalues, and numerous actors often draw on religious symbolism. The cultural activity and 18
  19. 19. assessment of Church agencies may raise tensions when they criticise events for youngpeople or if they are not able (for example for financial reasons) to profitably use theirpossessions and do not want to facilitate access to them. Other groups than the RomanCatholic Church are not equally conspicuous in the field of culture.Enterprises in the culture sector are niche actors in Malpolska (apart from Krakow); if theirseats are in the country they definitely address their offer beyond Malpolska. Their specificactivity escapes the notice of cultural researchers in different communes; their influenceon the communes would require another kind of research (such as focusing on the labourmarket in the culture sector or the development of innovation management in the wholeregion). In Malopolska’s communes the so-called leisure time industries are much morecommon (health resorts, recreational and tourist industries and others); their activityfocuses on tourists rather than on local communities. A novelty (we encountered severalexamples) are club cafés which function as small community centres (as venues forconcerts, workshops for children or as meeting places for fans of such cultural activities asboard games or fantasy games). Cultural stagesThe repondents pointed out the existence of the leading areas (stages) where multiplepublic resources are used, which are also widely recognisable. These are mainly stages forpatriotic mass events which commemorate important local events or the major annualevents in the commune. They tend to be the folk-type stages. The others are alternativestages which present ‘something else’ and approach culture differently. Empty stages werealso observed – these were potentially important areas, which remained unfilled, andresources that potentially existed but were not used. An empty stage, for instance, is thecultural stage addressed to elderly people. However, empty stages were not often noticed.Following our respondents’ statements, the full stages may be divided into the local onesand those above the local level. The latter tend to be prevalent and are often used bypoliticians. Their prevalence is one of the relations between the stages. Actors and ideasfloat between them. Policies in the field of cultureAs we have written above, by policies we mean the more or less formalised initiatives andactivities undertaken in some categories of issues – the folk-type culture, local cultures –which, according to their initiators, are important matters for the wide public because theycontribute to upholding traditions and to the integration of the local community. Theobjectives of cultural policies are formulated by actors-politicians, usually depending onthe scope of their official duties (based on the laws, statutes of the institution etc). Hencethe policies seldom involve designing experiments or developing new solutions, and tendto focus on fulfilling ‘duties’ instead. There are long-term and short-term strategies of thecreation and implementation of cultural policies. None of the analysed communes has 19
  20. 20. well-formulated long-term and short-term strategies of cultural development. Culturalactors are aware of the potential significance of such strategies (particularly short-termones, connected with the local calendar and local celebrations of national and stateholidays). Development strategies in communes establish only the general aims and tendto focus on the development of infrastructure. Sometimes the cyclical nature of certainevents, for example the celebrations mentioned above, forces local authorities to deviselong-term plans. The activities undertaken in practice are seldom connected with anyformulated strategies. It may be concluded that cultural actors move in two different areasof meanings of culture: imaginary and real. They often claim that ‘it should be done in adifferent way’ and can frequently show exactly what is missing, but on the other hand theiractivities affirm policies based on a model of fulfilment of the duty to propagate culturethat was formulated in the past. Main trends in the dynamics of cultureWe would like now to refer again to two observations which link all our reflectionsconcerning the current trends in the dynamics of culture in Malopolska. The first focuseson why cultural actors (including decision-makers) feel a strong need to remind the publicof local traditions despite the apparent lack of interest in it of young people to whomanimation based on the folk-type culture is mainly addressed. We have pointed out thatthe transience of the future and its unpredictability makes people look back to the pastmore often than before as the past appears to be more tangible and comprehensible. It isdue to the disruption of the continuity of time that the crucial theme of modernity is tounderstand one’s heritage, tradition and to reconstruct them in rituals which areunconnected with the present day realities. It is probably for the same reasons that theneed to sustain and reconstruct local bonds and local communities is increasing andexpresses itself in the attempts to strengthen identity.The other observation is closely connected with the first one. In the cyclically regeneratingworld (the year of rituals, traditions, commemorative events), meanings are modified andincreasingly take on pop cultural forms, which evokes ambivalent reactions. Yet thechanges are treated by cultural actors as the necessary evil. Equally important tounderstand contemporary cultural actors in Malopolska are the processes such asmusealisation of the past (a ‘modern’ rendition of old cultural meanings, recreation of theclimate and aura of the place’s past), folklorisation of tradition (turning tradition into stageperformances), transformation of material and non-material ‘monuments of the past’ intocultural heritage (the past as a product and root of culture). Hypotheses concerning cultural stages and policies, practices and servicesHere let us present a number of hypotheses which point out to some processes which weconsider important on the cultural stages, in the establishment of cultural policies and in 20
  21. 21. the relations between them. They call for further research on how the area of culture worksin Malopolska (we shall return to it later). An increasing number of non-governmental organisations are being established in Malopolska; they function as professional para-companies or para-formal institutions. Local authorities often appreciate them because they are more flexible than the strictly formal institutions, and they are considered less cost-consuming. Two sectors, which should theoretically complement each other, compete with one another for the local government’s favour (and it is the local government that is their main source of funding). It should be added that the process is not based on a rivalry of the two camps as both institutions and non-governmental organisations closely cooperate on cultural stages and often ARE the same actors. Public institutions tend to supply the ‘base’ for both the local government’s and the non-governmental organisations’ activities. That means that no modern organisation framework is established for the development of culture. The role of parishes as community centres for young people is growing (they are friendly, devoid of aggression, they are an antithesis of lower secondary schools which are often governed by symbolic and literal violence). The community centre is becoming an increasingly confusing name for its diverse designates. It is associated with a venue housing an auditorium and workshops, with a staff of animators and instructors. In reality community centres tend to house (often digital) cinema rooms, museums, libraries, galleries; they act as centres of local activity, as promotional offices or management agencies for the commune, sometimes even as complexes of one-person companies which offer payable classes. They may also be one-person institutions for funds flow for events and festivities (the money is allocated to the related non-governmental organisations) or conglomerates of a hundred persons which combine the functions of a community centre with a library and a leisure centre. Libraries focus on the fields of culture connected with preservation of national heritage, cultivation of local traditions, supporting local culture creators, and more infrequently – on developing key competences using the resources and potential of the library as a source of information, knowledge and new technologies. The local cultural leader tends to be a person who has a part-time job in a formal institution, who is a leader in non-governmental organisations and who owns a private company that renders cultural services. It indicates that such leaders are innovative and creative but on the other hand it does not favour transparency in the system or a high quality of such activities. The offer of cultural institutions is frequently merely a small part of the whole offer of participation in culture; the local definitions of culture hardly encompass the non-institutional sphere. 21
  22. 22. The local government does not manage the activities and does not coordinatethem; instead, it runs its own projects (often behaving like a formal culturalinstitution) and invites formal cultural institutions and non-governmentalorganisations to cooperate (thus, the authorities force their loyalty); in general, itfocuses on spectacular activities.To the cultural actors local conflicts are not a part of the normal and important play(for the establishment of rules and standards and affecting change) but are seen asdestructive to the local community and a threat to its integrity; that is why actorswho enter in a discussion are generally perceived as destructors of the localcommunity. Thus no local spaces for a debate on development and the meaning ofculture are created. Disputes are held informally, which makes them very personaland leads to the creation of closed interest groups.Cultural actors are often convinced that management of the strategy of culturaldevelopment is a matter of bureaucracy and unnecessary discussion when ‘oneshould act’. They seldom see the need for a continual strategic dialogue (to sustainthe dynamics of change but with mutual cooperation and understanding).In communes there is often a discussion going on whether money should beallocated proportionally (i.e. each village council office should be granted a certainamount in proportion to the population) or whether it would be better to invest inseveral major cultural stages (usually in the centre of the commune). It may meanthat the local community wants to have a share in the decision-making processconcerning the directions of development which should be supported but due to alack of tools for discussion all that can be done is to pass a strict law: equalallocation for all.The competences of the communes differ considerably due to management andcoordination of policies: in some communes there is complete stagnation whileothers are continually developing their potential for culture management throughinvestment into staff training, implementation of quality management systems,building of local coalitions for cultural development.The European Union (EU projects) and the state (development programmes) haveput a halt to the stagnation resulting from a lack of funding for culture and caused asort of cultural boom, but the situation reveals the growing problems with thepriorities in investments into culture.Cultural policies are not constructed according to the principles of socialparticipation. Decisions are taken informally as local ‘cultural agreements’ which aresometimes creative and foster development but at times they may petrify the localnorm. Communes do not have many tools to establish cultural policies based oncooperation with stakeholders.Complete stability of the existence of formal cultural institutions is established butthe management model causes them to function in an unstable way. Theirindependence is limited by interests of cultural actors in the local government. 22
  23. 23. They cannot develop long-term and more complex activities as they focus on‘organisation of leisure time’ of the local community and answer the needs of theauthorities.The model of a cultural institution is inscribed in the triangle of the communeleader (who represents the commune’s development and wants to retain controlover the local institutions), the commune council (which wants to undertakeactivities for the villages, i.e. their own electorate) and the director of the communeCommunity Centre (who is dependent of the other two, a hostage of their visionsrather than an executor of his own vision).Cultural actors pointed out the importance of preservation of local traditions andidentity, which may be called a certain style of culture. It is possible to participate inculture according to the rules and norms of being cultured; the norms changeslower, the ways of participation change faster, ergo people are becomingincreasingly less cultured and less connected with the local culture, ergo thatprocess should be opposed and people should be activated because thewillingness to participate in culture is disappearing. This is a description of a ‘circleof powerlessness’, emerging from cultural actors’ opinions of their own role asadvocates of its protection. They ‘counteract’ rather than participate in culturechange and formulate new models for the localness to function.Disintegration of social bonds (less and less activity in the common space) is locallyconsidered a result of progress, and not a consequence of a lack of local space forparticipation. The problem of the disintegration of common forms of culturalactivity is positioned beyond individual influence. It can only be ‘saved fromoblivion’. 23