“The role of cultural institutions in building social capital” – a panel discussion during the 30th Economic Forum in Karpacz

Should building and strengthening social capital be the mission of cultural institutions? The participants of the panel discussion during the XXX Economic Forum in Karpacz have sought for the answer to this question.

Cultural institutions are increasingly becoming active participants in social life in local communities. This is true both in small towns and large cities. Thanks to programs such as the “Dom Kultury+”, local cultural centres are building relations with their surroundings. One may wonder, however, whether such an approach may instrumentalise culture.

Among the panelists of the discussion panel “The role of cultural institutions in building social capital” were: panelist of Weekly “Polityka”, Edwin Bendyk; General Director of the Culture Zone Wrocław, Krzysztof Maj; Plenipotentiary for the Mazovian Cultural Education Program, Anna Świętochowska and a reporter, author of the book “Zapaść. Reportaże z mniejszych miast”, Marek Szymaniak. The role of the moderator in the discussion was performed by the director of the Center for Creative Arts in Wrocław, Paweł Kamiński.

The panelists agreed on the need to build social capital by cultural institutions. – Building relationships and social capital must be included in the goals of cultural institutions – said Anna Świętochowska, who in the debate represented the independent experts advising organizations. She also emphasized the difference in access to culture between large and small cities.

The same problem was pointed out by Marek Szymaniak: – In smaller towns you need to look for culture outside your place of residence. One cannot often find any additional cultural offer there.

Edwin Bendyk mentioned the radical change of cultural institutions in recent years. He gave the Teatr Powszechny in Warsaw as an example of an organization that adapted to these changes. – There is now a need to adjust culture to the social situation and current trends. Involving young people in the operation of cultural institutions can support their development.

– Let us trust our customers, if they trust us – said Krzysztof Maj, pointing to the importance of the relationship between cultural institutions and their guests. At the end of the panel, the participants came to a common conclusion that the vassalisation of cultural institutions and their political dependence will never allow to build social capital.

The partner of the discussion panel was the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport.