Katowice 2016: Investment in future

Representatives of the European Capital of Culture 2016 Office of Katowice presented today the City’s application which had been filed yesterday in the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Katowice rivals 10 other Polish cities to become the capital of culture in 2016.

Between 13th and 15th of October 2010 all eleven cities will present their motions in Warsaw. After that, a short list of 2-4 cities qualified to the next stage of the competition will be announced by the Ministry. The chosen cities to be considered further will have approximately 9 months to extend and detail their applications. The final meeting of the selecting commission will be held in the third quarter of 2011. A 13-person selection panel, consisting of six national experts and seven experts nominated by the European institutions, will judge the candidates and announce the winning city in the second quarter of 2012.

A strong value for Katowice as a potential capital of culture is an investment plan and expenditures scheduled in next years which are to help to reshape the City into a modern cultural, business and commerce center. About EUR 417,5 million will be spent for new infrastructure in the next years. Most of these developments refer to cultural investments.

source: Katowice ECC 2016 application; planned expenditures on the City's cultural infrastructure

“Many people started to believe, that Katowice has not only a right to compete for the ECC 2016 title, but also is able to win the competition. We are strongly convinced about our success.” – said Marek Zieliński, Katowice ECC 2016 Project Manager. “All of us are witnesses of great changes in the City since the idea started here. Our aim is to accelerate and support present and future cultural events, but what is very important, we are making efforts to involve the society in the idea. We already see great results. It is our investment in the future.” – he added.

A core of the City’s application is designed by nine platforms and four levels. These platforms are: Garden City, Community and Education, Sport, Theater, Music, Cinema, Visual Arts, New Literacy, Cybergarden. Each platform proposes several activities/events in the area of four levels: imagination, community, education, practice. In total, about 110 mostly long term activities and events are planned to be implemented in the City between 2011-2016.

“The essence of culture lies in residents’ activity, creativity, willingness to undertake their own initiatives and ability to take care of their environment. This, after all, is what the future of our city depends on. […] Regardless of the outcome of the competition, we will continue to strive consistently to enhance and develop the perception of Katowice, transforming it until it fulfils our dream of the City of Gardens.” – Piotr Uszok, Mayor of Katowice, wrote in the application.

This is how the Garden City is described in the application:

The City of Gardens (a motto of the Katowice’s candidature) – the city of tomorrow, combining the advantages of both urban and rural lifestyles. That way of thinking about the city was promoted by Ebenezer Howard, the English urban planner. Giszowiec, one of Katowice’s districts, drew on Howard’s idea. In 1907, construction of a working-class housing estate started there. The estate was intended for the workers of the “Giesches Erben” (Heirs of Giesche) factory. Living in a garden city was supposed to compensate the workers for their loss of contact with nature, and so diminish the effects of the Industrial Revolution. The center of the housing estate in Giszowiec was a square around which were located a school, a post office, a bar, shops, administrative buildings, a bath house and a laundry. One of the tasks faced by Katowice as a candidate for the title of European Capital of Culture is to reawaken people’s awareness of the various fragments that make up the history of one of the oldest garden cities on the European continent. Central to the programme is the idea of combining local tradition with modernity and an open-minded perspective on the future.

A contemporary City of Gardens is anything but a utopian idea. Drawing on the original vision in terms of both its scale and the amount of energy invested in the activities and projects involved, it is, in fact, a challenge that can only be handled by all the inhabitants of the city in question. When Jaime Lerner put forward his idea of Urban Acupuncture, he called for punctures, that is to say, small-scale activities within the city space that were to heal the “body” of the city and stimulate its “blood flow”. The initiatives being undertaken in Katowice are a series of such stimuli, aimed at setting the city and its residents in motion.

Katowice aims to interpret afresh the concept of the Garden City, embracing the concept of sustainable development – fundamental to European Union strategy – in place of the utopian formula of a “return to nature”. The vision of the English scientist, Ebenezer Howard, is not only a proposal for a specific kind of spatial development but, above all, a source of inspiration for social transformation.