From Manufactura to Arts Futura: the case of the city of Łódź

Session #2 Panel Discussion | Tuesday, June 25 | 12:00-13:30
Auditorium Maximum JU (Aula Mała)

Sub-Theme: Change and the City: Urban Spaces as Catalysts for Change

Bożena Gierat-Bieroń
Sculpture_Lodz Retkinia

photo by Zorro2212 | Wikimedia Commons

Łódź is one of the biggest manufacturing towns in Poland and, on the other hand, – one of the oldest industrial areas of the 19th century in this part of Europe. The name of the city of Łódź evokes in the Polish memory the myth of the “Promise Land” for 19th century working classes, who migrated to the city in search of money; a dream about wealth for the representatives of the middle class, who in fact kept the power within the structure of the local authority and ran the city. Today’s Łodź is in stark contrast to the land of opportunity it once was: it is neglected, shabby, dirty, with high unemployment and depopulation. To rescue its own cultural identity, survive and to keep its (post)industrial image, Łodź has to change – as quickly as possible. Culture can be (and it is) an important “catalyst for change”.

Culture as the “catalyst for change” is regarded in Łódź as the complexity of activities proposed by activists and by the local government aiming to reinvent the city and define its new brand. This brand is based on the tradition of industry, which in contemporary discourse shows transformation from the post-manufacturing system to the idea of cultural industries. Simply – from Manufaktura as the factory of Izrael Poznański to Manufaktura as the shopping centre and cultural venue, which brings to mind projects of the futuristic imagination.

The process of city transformation is going through three overlapping themes: 1). Łodź as the city of Contemporary Design and Fashion – one of the first Prêt-à-Porter cities in Central and Eastern Europe; 2). Łodź as the centre of street art, break dancing and graffiti; 3). Łodź as the major and the most dynamic film Cinecitta in Poland (and in Central Europe).

All of these ideas, presented during the panel are derived from: the Strategy of Łodzkie Woivodship Development 2007-2020, Programme of Culture Development in Łodzkie Woivodship (2011) and Łodź. (R)Evolution of imagination. Application Form of Łódź as the Candidate City for European Capital of Culture 2016.


PhD Bożena Gierat-Bieroń

Scientist, researcher and academic teacher at the Institute of European Studies of the Jagiellonian University. She graduated from Polish and Drama studies at the Jagiellonian University and obtained her PhD in 2001. Her major research interests cover models of cultural policies, history of European integration processes with a special emphasis on cultural interrelations and international co-operations. She is author and co-author of several books and 30 articles. She has been awarded several grants, including an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship and Awards of the Rector of the Jagiellonian University and Dean of the Department of International and Political Studies, JU. For several years she was the main coordinator of the Euroculture Programme in Krakow. She presented research papers at several international conferences, among others: Groningen, Vienna, Barcelona. She has been a visiting scholar at University College Dublin, Sassari University, Glasgow University and Groningen University. Dr Gierat-Bieroń also currently works for the National Cultural Centre in Warsaw.