The POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews
Experimental, polyphonic manifesto for Europe put forward by a social choir of amateurs and professionals of various disciplines, Poles, minorities and immigrants, enriched by artistic activities engaging the wider audience in the work centred around democracy, freedom and citizenship. It will be accompanied by an educational programme for project participants and for cultural and social activists from across Europe who will take the idea away and multiply it in their communities.
Warsaw – POLIN Museum; other public spaces; other countries in Europe
In the face of growing nationalistic sentiment in Poland and Europe, intolerance for otherness and spread of hate speech, the project will offer counterbalance in the form of an original platform for creative public debate, which will empower grassroots voices and minority circles.
There are relatively few projects addressed at “ordinary” citizens who are passive, do not understand what democracy actually is and what role they could play in it. As shown by recent experiences in Europe and various sociological studies, this type of self-disenfranchisement can result in serious consequences. We want to create a space where various voices can meet and learn from one another, where the empowered find a platform for expression and the marginalised find a way into the majority discourse.
The value of the project is in activating diverse groups around the theme of democracy to oppose growing intolerance; producing engaging artworks co-created by non-artists; building a network of European activists using creative methods for social change; empowering grassroots voices through institutional support.
We want to offer a unique social manifesto for Europe, originating from the participants’ own appreciations, misconceptions and complaints about democracy and citizenship, which could be an important indicator for Europeans. Apart from having deep social resonance, it will also be of a high research and artistic value. The project will receive sufficient publicity through cooperation with multipliers which will make it possible for the formula to be replicated in other locations
Open but balanced recruitment to the choir and emergence of pieces during workshops, which will include anti-discriminatory training and meetings with activists/researchers.
Simultaneously, in a series of residencies artists create accompanying pieces engaging the wider museum audience.
Grand finale – a live performative installation consisting of choir performance and outcomes of artistic residencies taking over the Museum. The performance will be witnessed by the invited activists and cultural practitioners from around Europe who will subsequently take part in a two-day workshop focused on creative tools for social change.
Finally, an online toolkit documenting all the stages of the project will be created to strengthen the project’s impact and potential for multiplication.
2018 is symbolic for Poland as it regained independence 100 years before and reintroduced democracy in 1989. It is now home to extreme social sentiments and a rise in discrimination of “the others”. It is the Museum’s mission to contribute to the mutual understanding and respect amongst societies of the world. Within the project we want to create a platform for dialogue and a space for people to experience diversity and find their own voices in talking about influence, agency, civic society and what Europe means to all of us.
We represent a minuscule experimental unit within a big institution, which works across disciplines and champions the idea of activist museums. We believe in art as a tool for strengthening bottom-up civic voices and want them to be heard in Poland and abroad.
People who would like to speak out but are afraid to or do not feel competent enough; those who feel they do not fit in the wider society, e.g. minorities and immigrants living in Poland, who may be disheartened by the overwhelming discourse of Poland as a homogenous country of conservative values. Wider museum audience. Multidisciplinary researchers, activists, artists, cultural practitioners form Poland and Europe who will be both creators and participants of this activity; and ultimately – all of us in Europe/future generations.
We have already organized a few smaller-scale editions of the choir in POLIN Museum, which proved highly popular with participants and turned out to be an excellent creative tool for dealing with difficult divisive topics and strengthening the excluded.
Creating a manifesto for Europe based on the voice of ordinary people, rather than activists or the powerful, is unconventional and central to the project. Developing it by a big institution will ensure it gets noticed on both the Polish and international arena. In this way, an established institution will get a chance to support the unheard or stifled voices of those marginalized or excluded.
Another unique feature, a combination of research methods and art, will make it possible for the project to become a tool for gathering knowledge about contemporary society and attitudes to Europe. The project will juxtapose the perspectives and experiences of people coming from varied backgrounds who will learn from one another and support each other, becoming creators and agents of change.
Funding requested from Advocate Europe
The major expenses we foresee for the implementation of our idea are fees for artists, speakers etc. and grand finale costs. It is related to the nature of the project, based on long-term cooperation with artists and the production of various artistic works. Fees and honoraria: 20,241 €; Event costs: 18,804 €; Accommodation and subsistence: 8,862 €; Personnel costs (19,200 €) will be entirely covered by the institution in which we are employed.
Is the structure of this project clear? Can you sense the potential for change which the project can make? Is the proposed model attractive for the potential participants? How to strengthen the European potential of the project?