To maintain the Ludwik Zamenhof Centre autonomy – petition

Mr Tadeusz Truskolaski

President of the city of Białystok

Councillors of the city council of Bialystok  


To maintain the Ludwik Zamenhof Centre autonomy – petition  


We approach you, Sir and all of you, the Councillors of the City of Bialystok, to stop attempts to connect the Ludwik Zamenhof Centre and Bialystok Cultural Centre. Both institutions have an established position in Bialystok cultural environment, however, working in very different areas. BOK organises mostly mass events – festivals, concerts and reviews. Activities of CLZ are not such hige and more focused on educational approach, aimed at fostering multicultural tradition of Białystok and Podlasie region.

Through the document, which is the statute of the institution, the city of Bialystok designated the Ludwik Zamenhof Centre special kind of tasks:

- promotion of cultural and historical heritage of multicultural city, propagating ideas and attitudes of tolerance and building the ground for cultural dialogue;

- encouraging the local community to the cultural activity;

- organisation of educational activities serving the building of an open society;

- popularization of Ludwik Zamenhof and his work.

Such challenges are not posed to any other institution in Bialystok. Only institutional autonomy of CLZ will keep these values in power and do not miss the huge achievements of this institution in the indicated range. Proposed resolution and the idea of joining the two institutions do not guarantee in any way that these traditions will be continued. And this is especially important in a situation where the city of Bialystok again and again becomes the object of criticism because of racist or xenophobic incidents. Working with the basics – of which Mr. President mentioned at the press conference on 21st of April – is undoubtedly the right approach. That is why difficult to understand why such an institution, doing its job successfully, would be liquidated by the inclusion in the structure of BOK.  

No less important is the fact that the creation of one huge institution does not have a positive impact on the competitiveness and innovation of the local cultural environment. It's about healthy competition based on the diversity of working methods, forms of action, mutual mobilisation of cultural entities to work better. Only such conditions can provide the inhabitants of Bialystok diversified cultural offer adapted to the needs of different audiences, respecting their right to choose activities in which they want to participate. The combination of the two institutions will inevitably lead to destroying natural differences between the CLZ and the BOK, seizing their specificity and autonomy.  

In addition, we wish to express concern about the way in which this connection is realized. Incomprehensible completely is that directors and employees of both institutions were not informed of this fact, that they are not included in the decision-making process – even through the discussion that has not been guaranteed to them in the proposed draft resolution on the merger of anything, nor the possibility of further work or to continue commenced projects already. It is hard to imagine a plan of activities for the year 2017 in both institutions in a situation where none of the staff could not be sure of their future. It also strikes at the credibility of both institutions. Remains unknown – the enigmatic record in the resolution on the creation of a "new institution" does not dispel these doubts. Both institutions are established for the benefit of citizens and meet their cultural needs. Statutes of both institutions state unequivocally that the President of the city is the organizer of this activity and supervises its implementation. Since so far nor the BOK or CLZ did not raise any objections – and such information is provided both at the last meeting of the committee of culture on 19th of April and in media reports – that the decision to change the functioning of these institutions is completely incomprehensible. 

Additionally the strange thing is that the city authorities did not consider it appropriate to hear the voice of the representatives of the cultural community of Bialystok, and the inhabitants of the city on this. The outrage caused by this proposal – seen in the letters of support for CLZ, Białystok inhabitants activity and people from across the whole Poland – confirm that the society is considered a full-fledged participant in the discussions on the future of the institution, which for the good of the society have been established. We call for a hearing that voice, to take it into consideration and in the future – subjecting the public consultation of similar decisions.  

And now we ask you, Mr. President and all of you, Councillors of the City of Bialystok by the end of the process, which so strongly harms the image of Bialystok and stop the process of merging the Ludwik Zamenhof Centre and the Bialystok Cultural Centre.  


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