On May 10th and 11th an international conference on cultural heritage was held at Uniejów Castle. It brought together local government officials, custodians of tradition, and experts from Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Italy and Slovakia. In the opinion of participants, this was an unusual event, which dealt with issues of management, protection and promotion of cultural heritage, very important for local government officials.
The two-day conference was organised by the National Institute of Local Government and Uniejów Municipality. Honorary patronage was given by the Governor of Łódź Vivodeship, Marshal of the Łódź Province, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the National Heritage Institute and the Polish Committee for UNESCO.
Diverse cultural landscape
The theme of the conference covered both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. The contemporary trend favours using a common term “cultural landscape”, which includes monuments, nature and people cultivating local traditions. Together they make up the cultural identity of their area. This concept is being introduced to municipalities, counties and regions, which previously had paid more attention to the protection and management of historical monuments and nature, and less to the role of bearers of intangible traditions.
How this concept looks like in practice could be seen in Uniejów. The conference took place in the 14th century castle, surrounded by a historic park. Among the participants and speakers were representatives of the nearby village of Spycimierz, where the tradition of arranging flower carpets for the Corpus Christi procession has been cultivated for 200 years. This beautiful tradition was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2021. Tangible and intangible culture intermingle to create an image of a municipality that is diverse and proud of its culture.
The good atmosphere during the two days of the conference was ensured by the hosts: Dr Iwona Wieczorek, Director of the National Institute for Local Government and Józef Kaczmarek, Mayor of Uniejów. During the opening ceremony on behalf of the honorary patrons spoke: Piotr Cieplucha, Vice Governor of Łódź Voivodeship, Zbigniew Zięba, Vice Marshal of Łódź Voivodeship, Katarzyna Sadowska-Mazur from the National Heritage Institute. Counsellor for UNESCO Affairs at the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage Joanna Cicha-Kuczyńska read a special letter from the Deputy Prime Minister, Prof. Piotr Gliński, and shared her reflections on the work to inscribe the tradition of Flower Carpets for Corpus Christi processions on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. A message to the conference participants was also given by Andrea Melilli, President of the Italian Association ‘Infioritalia’, which for seven years has been closely cooperating with the Uniejów Commune and the ‘Corpus Christi’ Parish Association.
The wide range of speakers can be divided into three main groups: experts in the field of cultural heritage, bearers of tradition and representatives of local governments or local cultural institutions, who shared the challenges of managing cultural heritage in their area. Here is the full list of speakers broken down into these categories. We have included links to the presentations in English by the contributors.
Lubica Volanska, Ph.D., Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, member of the UNESCO Evaluation Panel for the period 2019-2022, Chair of the Evaluation Panel in 2021.
Katarzyna Smyk, Ph.D., Professor of Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Chairwoman of the Council for Intangible Cultural Heritage
Hanna Schreiber, Ph.D., Team for the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Warsaw at the Mayor of the City of Warsaw
Andrzej Szoszkiewicz, Coordinator for Cultural Heritage in the Municipality of Uniejów, author of the substantive concept of the conference, co-author of applications for UNESCO inscription
Dr. Patrizia Nardi
Prof. Francisco Javier Lopez Morales
Dr. Stefania Baldinotti
Bearers of traditions inscribed on or applying to be inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
Flower carpets for Corpus Christi processions – Maria Pełka, President of the Spycimierskie Corpus Christi Parish Association
Falconry – Adam Dopierała, President of the Polish Falconry Club
Cracovian Crib-Making – Marek Markowski, representative of the bearers of tradition
Fiddle Playing in Kaustinen, Finland – Lauri Oino, Development Director at the Finnish Folk Music Institute in Kaustinen
Corso culture, flower and fruit parades in The Netherlands – Paul Bastiaansen, President of the “Corsokoepel” Foundation
Corso culture, flower and fruit parades in the Netherlands – Claudia Lassche, Secretary of the “Corsokoepel” Foundation
Truffle hunting and gathering in Italy – Antonella Brancadoro, representative of the association of the bearers of traditions
Rafting – Dr. Frank Thiel, President of the World Association of Timber Raftsmen
Representatives of local authorities and cultural institutions:
Timo Pärkkä, Chairman of Central Ostrobothnia Regional Council (Finland)
Jacek Thiel, Vice Starost of Wejherowo County
Barbara Pilawa-Kraus, Vice Starost of Łańcut County
Piotr Kuliniak, Mayor of Łęknica
Mariusz Dudziński, Mayor of Tykocin
Waldemar Grochowski, Mayor of Rudnik nad Sanem
Łukasz Kubiak, Mayor of Krobia
Hanna Pruchniewska, Mayor of Puck
Arkadiusz Misztal, Mayor of Sławatycze
Jacek Grudzień, Director of the Cultural Department of the City Hall in Łódź
Krzysztof Adamczyk, Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office for Culture City Hall in Gdańsk
Dr. Marek Stępa, Head of the Heritage Protection Department, Gdynia City Hall
Tomasz Przybyło, Head of the Cultural Parks Desk, Culture and National Heritage Department, Krakow City Hall
Maciej Szymczyk, Director of the Museum of Papermaking in Duszniki Zdrój
Renata Chudzik, Director of the Municipal Cultural Centre in Stryszawa
Tomasz Jankowski, Director of Helena Moszczeńska Primary School in Golina
The conference was hosted by: Martyna Kowalczyk and Michał Wojdala
Technical support: Masandro Wszołek and Michał Jankowski
Space open for discussion
The historic rooms of the Archbishops of Gniezno Castle, the large restaurant terrace and the surrounding park contributed to discussions and exchanging experiences. Most of the guests stayed until the very end to listen to all the lectures and take advantage of every opportunity to meet.
But this was not the end of talks in Uniejów. The Mayor Józef Kaczmarek announced the organisation of another event in the second half of the year. He also proposed the creation of a network of cooperation between local government officials, who care about cultural heritage. So see you soon in Uniejów!