article was published in Gazeta Wyborcza, the biggest polish newspaper
The housing association is going to knock down the only Local Cultural Center in Wola Duchacka. Not to mention the fact that the new one will not be raised. The City Council is also unwilling to act. Inhabitants of the district decided to stitch it themselves. Out of their own clothes.
Wola Duchacka - a block of flats' area, a sleeping spot for thousands of Cracow's inhabitants. It is about 8 km to the city cemter. People commute using several MPK buses. It is not only a cinema that is missing; there is no gym, fitness nor local sports field.
The only cultural life is still kicking and alive at Czarnogórska 10, where the club has been situated for over a quarter of a century. It takes care of the kids living nearby. The center's employees for over five years have actively engaged the young in ongoing actions of the cultural centre in Podgórze, e.g. local football and basketball matches, hip-hop contests, dance classes, charity, graffiti painting and mobile phone film making.
For the cultural crisis - a tent
Recently, there was a note in Gazeta that the Housing Association 'Podgórze' is knocking down the local cultural center in 2010 (they are the owners). Instead, a new block of flats is planned to be raised in that place. The city that has financed the center (250.000 pln annually) is not going to spend any money on a new base.
On hearing these information, Monika Drozyńska, Cracow designer and performer came up with an idea to stitch a portable cultural center for the difficult time to come. Everyone, i.e. club's employees, the managers and the kids as well as the district inhabitants themselves, that have been united by the critical situation, took to the idea.
On Gazeta's chat rooms they wrote: 'They should have at least enough decency to cancel a fair in the city center and spend the money on our local center instead', 'The culture will be replaced by blocks of flats'. And one more: 'The center is the last resort for the kids from the street. The center's employees organize virtually all by themselves, with no additional financial support, contests, games, outings for the kids and teenagers... and the city council sleeps a stony sleep, with no intention to take any action.
The starting point of the new center will be a special, huge skirt, that the artist already granted to the project. It is a pyramid-resembling, fabric installation that is meant to become a playground (there are drawing tables, slides, sandboxes depicted). Throughout the whole wintertime, when the old center will still function, the kids and teenagers will stitch to the skirt pieces of clothing given by the inhabitants of the district. The great sewing will start in the mid of January, ' Everyone may give his clothes and join us with stitching', Drożyńska reassures. The great opening is planned for the early spring. A few months later it is going to become an alternative for the forthcoming time. 'It is out manifesto', says Max Szelegiewicz, the club manager, 'so that some authorities would let the center exist and help people'. The new cultural center could be rented to other centers in need.
How much for the city's approval?
Unfortunately, starting with 2010, the stitched cultural center may become the only location for the club. The Housing Association 'Podgórze' will not raise a new center, for as its chairperson, Maria Santura, claims, they cannot afford it, besides it is the city council that should donate the culture. The Club's managers made a deal with a nearby school. The new idea is to build a place adjourning school, designed for a library, gym and a club. There is a ground near school that can be used for this purpose.
'No doubt that a library and a club are indispensible in Wola Duchacka', claims Stanisław Dziedzic, manager of the City Cultural Department. He explains that they cannot reach a compromise with the housing association, that is why they agreed on moving the center to the school. Agreed, although still unwilling to give money.
In order to move on with the project of raising a new cultural center, the city council needs to approve of it. The overall costs are estimated for 5 to 8 million pln, but the project itself is worth 300.000 pln. It's the amount of money the club's managers and school principal are dreaming of. Sadly, in the plan for the next year's budget there is not even a penny for this project. 'Till the end of the year one can raise objections to the planned budget, and we will surely do this, for the project was supported by the president Majchrowski himself', declares Małgorzata Radwan-Ballada, the chairperson of the city council. Whether the presidential support is going to have reflection in reality, we will get to know on 7th of January, when the final voting on the city's budget policy is going to take place.
Mr. President, give us your shirt!
A talk with Monika Drożyńska
Aneta Zadroga: What's the final outcome of the sewing and stitching?
Monika Drozyńska: During December and January we are going to collect clothes. One of the collecting points is in the club, the other one I would like to be somewhere in the city center, so that that rest of Cracow could join in the project. In the mid January we start the stitching. A large blanket, the result of our sewing, is to be used either as a tent or as a picnic blanket, depending on the weather. We will start using it when the cultural center at Czarnogórska will disappear.
Aneta Zadroga: Why are you so strongly involved in the club?
Monika Drożyńska: People working there do a great job. Not for the money but for the kids. Despite the fact that they know that the building will be knocked down and they may end with nothing, they keep on fighting, at the same time showing the kids that it is worth getting involved in something. This place gives people a boost to their self-confidence and I have no idea how the city council may overlook it!
Anata Zadroga: Are you much bothered with it?
Monika Drożyńska: Yes! If the officials cannot see how much Wola Duchacka needs a cultural center, they should come and see for themselves. May President Majchrowski do it as well. If he doesn't want to give money for the new building, he should give his shirt at least so that we would stitch a new one.