SOLNIKI | July 2017

Scroll down for: Participants + Guests | Recap | Impressions

Participants + Guests

Jan Tuźnik – artistic director / puppeteer at the Teatr Klepisko (PL)

Ola Kielichowska – organization at the Teatr Klepisko (PL)

Anna Andraka – journalist, now-copywriter (PL)

Jan Polivka – stage designer (PL)

Robert Drobniuch – director of the Teatr “Kubus” (PL)

Michał Strokowski – photographer / “MaTeMi” (PL)

Paulina Kiziewicz (PL)

Krzysztof Kiziewiczvisual Artist (PL)

Kataryna Winiarskatheater in Teremiski (PL)

Paweł Winiarski – theater in Teremiski (PL)

Małgorzata Tarasewicz-Wosik – scenographie (PL)

Tomasz Wosik – actor / stage (PL)

Kasia Siergiej – actor / teacher at the Puppet Theater Department Białystok (PL)

Krzysztof Zemło – actor at the Teatr Lalki i Ludzie, Supraśl (PL)

Ewa Zemło (PL)

Paweł Chomczyk – puppeteer / Grupa Coincidentia / Solniki 44 (PL)

Dagmara Sowa – puppeteer / Grupa Coincidentia / Solniki 44 (PL)

Samira Lehmann – puppeteers / Lehmann & Wenzel / Westflügel Leipzig (D)

Stefan Wenzel – puppeteers / Lehmann & Wenzel / Westflügel Leipzig (D)

Charlotte Wilde – musician / Wilde&Vogel / Westflügel Leipzig (D)

Michael Vogel – puppeteer / Wilde&Vogel / Westflügel Leipzig (D)

Johannes Frisch – musician (D)

Fiona Ebner – dramaturge (D)

Jonas Klinkenberg – cultural Manager / artist / Westflügel Leipzig (D)

Janne Weirup – cultural manager / dramaturge / Westflügel Leipzig (D)

Jan Jedenak – puppeteer / Dekoltas Handwerk (D)

Winnie Luzie Burz  – puppeteer (D)

Liesbeth Nenoff – volunteer / student at puppet academy Stuttgart (D)

Recap: Expectations

What are our EXPECTATIONS? What do we expect from the audience / the art / the politicians / the freelance theaters / each other?

For the first Biotopia talk in Poland a big circle of artists and cultural managers met in Solniki to set the basis for sharing experiences and expectations. First similarities were found in the problematic conditions of getting subsidies for doing “just” theater.

Krzysztof Zemło:
The problem is, that you always have to put too much into the applications for money. It is never enough. You have to add something to the performance like workshops and discussions. We are not so interested in this.

Charlotte Wilde:
For a long time it was expected to work with “special” groups. I wanted to do theatre in my theater
but I cannot.

 Paweł Chomczyk:
Art cannot just be art. It is always expected to solve problems.

Another obstacle described by some Polish participants was that the money requested for the organization part of projects is very often cut out of the funding. Nevertheless, young puppeteers that leave the academies are now often aiming to work as freelance artists. This change has been going on in Germany and Poland for quite a few years now. In both countries young puppeteers are less interested in working in institutional theaters. The idea of interpreting roles in an institutional ensemble cannot offer the level of artistic freedom that freelance work is expected to. Even though freelance artists very often have trouble making a living from their work (in Germany as well as in Poland) they often choose to work as freelancers because of the possibilities put in reach. But how much risk, how much uncertainty does a freelance artist have to accept? How strongly can one demand a stable financial situation?

Krzysztof Zemło:
If we decide to live of our art, we have to accept that it is dangerous. It is slippery.

Paweł Chomczyk:
I would kindly disagree. That is something that politicians would say.
Treat us fair. We do art and we want to do a living out of it.

One possibility of getting into a more stable financial situation is cooperation with institutional theaters. Even though the directors of these theaters are nowadays quite open to offering more artistic freedom, a cooperation between freelance artists and institutional theaters is only one possibility and not the whole solution for freelance artists.

Paweł Chomczyk:
My expectations would be to keep on working as a freelance theater. It would be wrong if we all try to become institutional theaters.

 Jan Polivka:
The point is not to be an institution but to support freelance artists as they are now.

Cooperation is also problematic for the institutions themselves since they have to fund the work of their own system and employees. Also equality in payment, that is very important to some freelance groups cannot be guaranteed in cooperation with institutions.
The vision of utopia that was expressed in different ways during the talk was in regards to the basic funding of freelance theaters. To get funding that covers basic costs of infrastructure and personnel for the organization was expressed as a solution for enabling more freedom of artistic work.
But what needs to happen to get there and how far away in the distance does this goal lie for each freelance theater?

Charlotte Wilde:
There are two sides. You need people who are doing really great work and the second side is that you need the politicians for this. In Leipzig there is a strong group that is fighting to bring politicians on their side. You need the politicians.

Paweł Chomczyk:
We are struggling with more basic things… The NGOs are becoming less strong.

 Charlotte Wilde:
I am not talking about NGOs. I am talking about politicians. Not the politicians now but you do need people that are supporting artistic work and the requirements that it needs.

Kasia Siergiej:

We have to move to Solniki…

 Charlotte Wilde:
But that’s the thing: to create good places.

The prospects of gaining political influence vary from city to city, from province to province and from country to country…

(All the quotes are memorized by the author. JW)

Impressions (photocredits: Michał Strokowski)