Feminisation – democracy – work. Towards a democratic cultural institution
December 8, 11.30 a.m. – 1.30 a.m., Big Stage of Powszechny Theatre

➤ participants:
– Agnes Quackels – artistic director of Kunstencentrum BUDA in Kortrijk, Belgium
– Katja Sonnemann – theatre producer, founder of the Academy for Performing Arts Producers project
– Lara Staal – curator, collaborates with the DAS Theatre in Amsterdam as well as the NT Gent

➤ moderators: Agata Adamiecka-Sitek, Marta Keil, Igor Stokfiszewski

There is no doubt that, in order to survive, we must rethink our world. Faced with depleted resources and irreversible changes to the ecosystem we can no longer insist on growth, competitiveness, efficiency and productivity as the rational foundations of our existence. In the era of growing authoritarianism, we cannot accept hierarchy and submission as basic social relations. We must find a way to replace them with care, solidarity, relation and cooperation. We must do it together, here and now. The best place to begin designing and practicing radical democracy are cultural institutions-complex organisms, where different groups of workers coexist with collaborators, social partners and the audience. Cultural institutions can become laboratories of a new social order. Here, we can observe the common experience of work, which fits the logic of efficiency and competition, often marking the experience of power and alienation as well. In this setting, we can design and test mechanisms that will trigger processes of feminizing conceived as a reinforcing of the categories of the everyday, relativity, cooperation, co-responsibility, care for the common good and sustaining of life, all of these culturally associated with femininity.

The Powszechny Theatre has launched an 8-month process of reorganizing the logic of work, with the aim of specifying- along with the staff, collaborating artists and the community- the demands of the workers, negotiating with the board and signing a deal. It is a process beginning the fight for a change in the working conditions in the realm of culture and beyond.

The necessity of transforming factories of festival hits into places of creative work, which carry the possibility of real, not merely declarative political change is at the center of debates about performing arts institutions in Europe. For that reason, we have invited prominent female curators, directors and producers, who work towards democratizing institutions in various areas, to come to Warsaw. During the session we will discuss the process of reaching the accord with the theatre board, present its elements and confront them with the experience of our guests. We will talk about the successful and unsuccessful practices and solutions, as well as the meaning of a feminist cultural institution in our time.


Institutions, but what kind of institutions? Other models in the performing arts
December 8, 1.50 p.m. – 3.20 p.m., Big Stage of Powszechny Theatre

➤ participants:
– Alina Gałązka – Komuna Warszawa
– Adam Ziajski – Theatre Residence Centre Scena Robocza
– Katarzyna Knychalska – „nietak!t”
– Joanna Leśnierowska – Arts Station Foundation 

➤ moderator: Grzegorz Reske

The aesthetics of theatre and performing arts changes very quickly. We notice and define new means of expression and technical innovations, but also new forms of cooperation between artists and strategies of establishing dialogue with viewers. At the same time, this debate lacks a deeper reflection on institutional changes. From the perspective of nearly three decades, since the start of administrative changes in Poland, what emerges is a uniform image of institutions, lacking variety.

Some time ago Komuna Warszawa wrote in its manifesto: “The structure of Polish theatre based on the traditional structure (team-staff-stable funding) is becoming increasingly anachronistic in the world of art which values ephemeral personal constellations and a liberal mix of creative strategies”.

The value of traditional repertoire theatre with a stable team in the Polish cultural landscape is undeniable. But it is surely worthwhile to consider this model alongside others, coming from the independent directors, whose work methods do not fit the rigid structure of the repertoire theatre.

In order for anything to change in this situation, we need dialogue and wise cooperation of all parties: artists and the public, politicians (those planning nationwide cultural policies) and local administrators (managing public funding), art critics and theoreticians. We need the participation of current public institutions.

Let us begin the conversation by giving the podium to pioneers, who despite financial and administrative difficulties, strive to implement new models of artistic activity. 


Streamlets of fascism: from diagnosis to resistance
December 9, 3.15 p.m. – 4.45 p.m., Big Stage of Powszechny Theatre

➤ participants:
– prof. Małgorzata Fuszara –
lawyer, sociologist
– Magdalena Gawin – Social Therapy Centre for Young People No 1, SOS
– Piotr Laskowski – ISNS UW
– Honorata Sadurska – Equality March Lublin

➤ moderators: Julia Minasiewicz, Sebastian Słowiński

On 13 October 2018 the Equality March made its way through the streets of Lublin, not without some challenges, though. The coverage of the event showed almost iconic images of a clash of two forces: the brown wave of violence and the vibrant, joyous parade. Why such an extreme polarisation of sentiments? Where does it come from? Has the violent side gone so far to warrant the charge of full-blown ‘fascism’?

Based on this and other examples from our everyday lives we will seek to locate the sources of fascism, whose effects can be seen everywhere: in our language, in people’s behaviour, in how they treat each other, and in the way politics is practised. Macro- and micro-fascism, political fascism (which is spreading across the world) and fascism in daily life.

As we are surrounded by growing nationalisms, let us look at the sources of young people’s susceptibility to this ideology. By examining examples from what we see around us and drawing parallels to the past, we will trace the relationship between misogyny and the formation of a fascist personality. How do educational practices in schools make young people prone to internalise different behaviours and attitudes? How can it be avoided? What does feminism have to do with the fashion for suffering, heroism, strong physique and t-shirts with images related to the doomed soldiers (post-WWII anti-communist guerrilla fighters)?

Understood as a process, feminization seems to be an effective tool in the fight against fascism. We are talking here about an inclusive feminism that encompasses our language, as it is spoken, written and shouted at the barricades; a feminism for everybody, one that organizes the shifting reality of ideas about community, individuals, systems and, finally, about real life.

We will combine these concerns with an analysis of the growing strength of attacks on women’s movements, which can be seen both (on a smaller scale) in the ubiquitous victim-blaming and in the autonomous, extremely dangerous incel movement.

We have invited a diverse mix of guests, both theorists and practitioners, to reflect on and discuss the proposal of feminism as an inclusive political process and the strength of this proposal. We encourage diverse perspectives and a multiplicity of voices, but also a strong (not in a macho sense) remedial practice, which can be engaged in by everyone starting today.


The feminisation of politics – a debate
December 9, 5.00 p.m. – 7.00 p.m., Big Stage of Powszechny Theatre

➤ participants:
– dr Justyna Glusman
– economist, activist 
– Aldona Machnowska-Góra – vice-director of Studio Theatre
– dr Ewa Rumińska-Zimny – economist 
– Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus – politician and activist
– dr Katarzyna Sztop-Rutkowska – sociologist
– dr hab. Joanna Wowrzeczka – academic, activist and Cieszyn councillor
– prof. Maciej Gdula – sociologist

➤ moderator: Agata Diduszko-Zyglewska

An ever increasing number of women hold decision-making positions in local and central government. This is a trend that spells hope for an important shift and a stronger presence in the public sphere of representatives of more than half of the country’s population. However, the mere closing, or at least reducing, the gender gap in government positions will not automatically give us a fairer, more balanced, more participatory and greener model of governance. To achieve this, we need to radically reassess the concepts, axioms and tools of public administration, which, according to many, constitute a playing field whose boundaries are sacrosanct. However, redefining these boundaries is a prerequisite for real change.

The proposal to feminize politics responds to this need, positing new mechanisms and tools of social change based on values such as: cooperation, transparency, solidarity, care and relationality, as opposed to hierarchy, arbitrarily defined ‘natural order’, efficiency, competition and increased consumption seen as markers of success.

How to translate the proposal of feminisation into the practice of city management and management of funds pulled in a joint budget? How to ensure that these values have a real impact on everyday practices in the fields of employee rights, social services, housing, women’s rights and education? How to effectively reach residents with the proposals of the economy of complexity and the idea of post-growth instead of GDP growth?

In this debate we will look for answers to these and other questions. Its participants embody the principle ‘Act locally, think globally’. They are people who push the pre-determined and theoretically inviolable boundaries of the current playing field.