News article

16 Nov 2018

The cultural war in Poland

Peace Patrol volunteers on Pol'and*Rock Festival

The current cultural war in Poland is, in many ways, similar to the cultural policies of Victor Orbans Hungary. The background is the nationalist policy that requires cultural institutions to follow the views of the authorities on national identity. In Hungary and Poland, therefore, they remove cultural leaders and replace them with new government-controlled people. Which took place at the Second World War Museum in Gdansk. Sweden Festivals and other organizers of the recent NordicBaltic Arts Festival Conference in Gdansk experienced the Polish cultural climate in October. We invited Jurek Owsiak, founder and leader of Pol'and'Rock, as speaker in our conference. He is famous in Poland, but also a sharp critic of the current government. Therefore uncertainties occured among the organizers in Gdansk: was it wise to engage Owsiak? In the end Bartek Stolarek from Pol'and'Rock participated in the conference.

The conflict about the Gdansk museum is one of several examples of how Polish history writing becomes the subject of political conflict. Earlier this year, a criticized and controversial law was introduced, which makes it punishable to blame Poland for the Nazi genocide during World War II. "The government is very interested in history and cultural sphere, they do their best to incorporate a very nationalist and open authoritative cultural vision," said Paweł Machcewicz, who recently was the head of the largest historical museum in Polish history: the Second World War Museum in Gdansk.

Jerzy Owsiak (born 6 October 1953 in Gdańsk) is a Polish journalist, broadcaster, and social campaigner, activist and a volunteer. He is one of the founders and is currently the Chairman of the largest non-governmental organization in Poland - the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation, which in the 26 years of its activity raised 951 000 000 PLN for the purchase of medical equipment for paediatric and geriatric hospitals. Jerzy Owsiak, known as Jurek, is also the mastermind and creative director of Pol’and’Rock Festival (formerly known as Woodstock Festival Poland), which is the largest non-commercial free open-air music festival in Europe, with an average overall attendance nearing 500 000 music fans. Owsiak is a published author and has his weekly radio show, which airs on Antyradio radio station. Jurek Owsiak has been awarded the title of European of the Year. He has also received Order of Polonia Restituta, Peace Summit Medal for Social Activism, and he has been named Promoter of the Year at MusicExpo awards.