It was the second year of the operation of the Wrocław Institute of Culture, and it was a year full of changes and challenges. It turned out that change is in our element – it allowed us to operate outside the box constantly. Constant are also the four pillars of our Institute. One of them is enabling the career development of people working in the culture sector and developing their competences. This is where we are starting the summary of 2023. 
Culture in Practice 

Study tours, workshops and meetings are integral parts of gaining knowledge by practitioners of culture. We have to mention Dwulatka. Szkoła Praktyk Animacyjnych – an all-year-round competence project that we launched at the beginning of last year together with its leader, the ZAMEK Culture Centre in Poznań, as part of the Poznań Cultural Education Programme. This two-year course is dedicated to everybody who wants to develop their skills, gain experience and broaden their knowledge in socio-cultural animation. Among the numerous applications we received in February and March, 24 people were selected to start classes in May 2023. It was the first year of Dwulatka, which aimed to train and inspire, so during the training sessions held in the spring and autumn, students learned about tools and methods to create responsible, engaging community projects. The year 2024, on the other hand, will be an excellent opportunity to try out newly acquired skills in the course of five intercity projects.    

Keeping in mind the topic of accessibility of culture for people with disabilities, together with the Katarynka Foundation and the Wroclaw without Barriers Office, we organised the fourth edition of the Culture for All conference in May last year. This time, the topics of discussion centred around mental health crises among audiences, and the main theme of the conference was good practice in institutions creating cultural life. The most crucial part of the lectures – given by staff members who, on a daily basis, develop solutions to make cultural activities accessible – were the stories about the experience of cooperation and the opening up of institutions to people in crisis. 

Acquiring knowledge, learning solutions and inspiring each other were also present at the next edition of the forum for local artistic activities, Art of the Neighbourhood, in October. The participants of the event could not only hear the stories of the creators and artists of over a dozen socio-artistic associations, unique art galleries or activist collectives but also listen to a lecture by Bogna Świątkowska, the initiator and chair of the board of the Bęc Zmiana Foundation, and see unconventional Wrocław art initiatives during study tours.   

In 2023, we also organised a workshop touching on the topic of a dynamically changing society and migration in the context of the operation of cultural institutions. In August, the Institute invited Aneta Osuch and Arkadiusz Wierzba – educators from EkoCentrum Wrocław, who conducted a training course for our employees, We. You. Them. The host society and the challenges of integration, during which we were able to reflect on the power and role of stereotypes in everyday work. It aimed to identify and discuss issues shaping our perceptions of people with a migration or refugee experience and factors influencing the social integration process. Continuing the theme of multiculturalism in a changing working environment, in the autumn, we organised an open workshop on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion in Culture and the Arts, conducted by Dora Molodyńska-Küntzel, for people active in the cultural sector and creating educational projects. The participants of this meeting collectively attempted to define inclusion and what a diverse, responsive, and supportive workspace is, and as a result, created a mind map of good practice in this field.   

Researching the Needs   

Closely linked to our area of competence are the research activities that analyse various aspects of the cultural environment and thus define its needs. So far, the biggest project of this type for the Wrocław Institute of Culture has been the Diagnosis of Wrocław Culture, which is a large-scale study coordinated since 2022 by the Institute, acting on behalf of the Department of Social Affairs of Wrocław’s City Council. In the second half of 2023, a report summarising the Diagnosis was published as an introduction to the process of creating a multi-year programme for the development of local culture. The previous one – Culture Present – was prepared in 2017 and pinpointed areas which needed attention and strengthening after the Wrocław European Capital of Culture 2016. Twenty experts with different specialisations were invited to participate in the extensive survey in 2022, more than 120 culture creators took part in deep discussions and focus interviews, and almost 300 people joined the first-ever community self-report. The report, TheDiagnosis of the Local Government Field of Wrocław Culture for the Years 2019-2023, confirms how a wide variety of events in recent years – on a global and local scale – have influenced the current situation of Wrocław’s cultural scene. 

One of the most significant changes that awaited our institution in 2023 was the merger of the Wrocław Institute of Culture with Klub pod Kolumnami, which had been operating since the 1960s. Working on this process, we devoted the first half of last year to researching the needs of audiences and their expectations towards a place that has been on the cultural map of Wrocław for decades. 

The research process took several months of analysis to define the role that the club plays for the residents of Nadodrze and to learn more about the cultural needs of the neighbourhood. In addition to the Institute’s team, both current and potential participants of the events, the Nadodrze community council and the Nadodrze cultural institutions were invited to take part in the research. The study was also supported by an external expert and researcher who has been designing processes to help understand needs, resources and potentials for more than a dozen years – Dr Katarzyna Chajbos-Walczak. The analysis that resulted from this process allowed us to create an updated and better programme for Klub pod Kolumnami. 

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