Image: from presentation and performance, Warsaw Breakfast, Praga – by the Studnia ‘O’ with Katedra Kultury at Instytut Teatralny, Aleje Ujazdowskie.
One of the main activities of the Institute of Polish Culture at Warsaw University is to provide training within the framework of Animacja Kultury – Cultural Animation. Our students may be young artists, curators, anthropologists, writers, filmmakers, storytellers, musicians or actors, leaders of any common cultural activities. The goal of this specialisation is to prepare participants for an active role in culture. Culture is here defined as a space for self-realisation, for expression and realisation of values – a living space, which is undergoing constant transformation. To deliver our programmes and enhance our knowledge and experience, the Institute partners with other educational and cultural organisations, alongside practitioners.
In Poland, cultural theorist Grzegorz Godlewski defines the practice of animation as identification, activation, dynamisation of particular sphere of cultural experience. Following on from the way of thinking of Jerzy Grotowski, the Director of the Institute, Leszek Kolankiewicz, explains it this way: the heart of cultural animation is action, it is an intervention, an additional action, an attitude of activity and activism.
This spirit of animation was also reflected in England, though community arts is the term most often invoked to describe a creative activity undertaken in and with a given community. The English model was influenced by the French concept of animateur and the artist-activists taking to the streets in support of the student protests of May 1968. Cultural animators in the UK were also inspired in part by the tradition of community activism and civil rights in the USA, the ideas of Paolo Freire and by writers in the 1980’s such as Suzi Gablik, Lucy Lippard, Arlene Goldbard, who documented the work of artists in service of more than simply themselves.