Krakowice: the Way Forward in a VUCA World

A macro-regional creative cooperative

Krakowice? Have you ever heard about this place? If you have, then you know it isn’t a place per se, but much more than that. From the 12th to the 16th of June (2018) Katowice played host to the annual meeting of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, of which both Kraków and Katowice are members in the fields of literature and music, respectively. Krakowice is the programme and joint effort of both cities and their synergy in fostering cultural and artistic projects. It stands at the crossroads of culture and politics and clearly expresses the convergence of creative impulse and political will.

Exceptional in their respective fields of literature and music, Krakow and Katowice harbor an undeniable pulse and eagerness to develop through innovation and creativity. Affectionately referred to as the “Krakowice” program, both cities initiated work that consistently and effectively unleashes new potential and creative flow between the cities, connected by 60 km of fast-speed highway. Krakowice is based on close cooperation, mutual inspiration and support, and joint projects in all cultural fields, most notably at the intersection of literature, music, and film.

The first four days (June 12-15) took place at closed doors and allowed the network representatives to exchange updated information on their activities and define strategies and priorities in terms of culture and development. During these four days, many other cultural events were open to the public in both cities. On the last day (Saturday, June 16), the doors at the Katowice City of Gardens were open to the general public for the Creative Cities and Industries Conference.

Creative Cities & Beyond

The conference touched upon a number of issues related to the cultural and urban development of cities and regions, as well as the opportunities and challenges they presuppose:

  • Digital culture and media,
  • human rights and freedom of speech,
  • urban design and sustainability,
  • access to culture and
  • the measurement of the economic, social and environmental impact of the creative sector

Of particular interest was the keynote speech by Zuzanna Skalska on the “Post-Creative City.” Taking a holistic view she condensed a lot of ideas on the future of cities, markets, citizens, consumers and the role that technology, policy and civic engagement play in it.

We live in a VUCA world —she reminded the audience. A Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world where disruptions are at the order of the day. Disruptions in urbanisation, where cities are villaging and regions are debunking the city from their predominant influencing roles. Disruptions in technology, where sci-fi is already non-fiction and the era of interconnectivity and transparency have made us more vulnerable than ever. Disruptions in demographics, where pinpointing the old has become a challenge and ageing and longevity will affect market trends, social behaviour and consumer habits. A world moving forward so fast that we never stop and ask ourselves why we do what we do, but we just do it because we can. Disruptions in mobility and travelling, where cities have had enough of tourism and local-hood is the new global fashion. Disruptions in the conception of time, where we’re shifting our obsession with saving time with the more mindful attitude of “time well spent.”

The challenges are real and very tangible, the questions are pressing and our global socio-political context very unstable. With all this in mind, is impossible not to ask: what does a creative city have to offer? What does it mean for its citizens and institutions? How does creative capital translate into an economic and social benefit? How does all of this affect our lifestyles? We live in an age of brands and marketing —Skalska noted. In a time where the attention span of audiences is ever-shrinking, will Krakowice be able to capture it and moreover, funnel it into active engagement? These five days in Katowice are evidence that concrete actions are in place. Institutions are doing their part, what are we doing? After all, we, the citizens, are the real owners of these cities.

A Creative, Open & Solidary City

Krakowice was also the setting where Katowice officially agreed to become a member of the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN). A symbolic event, where the mayor of the city, Marcin Krupa, and Helge Lunge, chairman of ICORN, signed the letter of intent to become the fourth city in Poland in a global network of over 60 cities.

The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is an independent organisation of cities and regions offering shelter to writers and artists at risk, advancing freedom of expression, defending democratic values and promoting international solidarity.

The ICORN project will be managed in Katowice by Katowice City of Gardens (Katowice Miasto Ogrodów). The other Polish cities already hosting and providing shelter for artists are Kraków, Wroclaw and Gdansk.


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