Baltic Audience Links Partner meeting and public seminar Gdańsk, 17-20 May.

A Summary of Baltic Audience Links Seminar and workshop in Gdansk.

About one month after the Co-urbanism event in Vilnius, Intercult, River//Cities Platform from Poland and from Lithuania gathered for the fourth event of the Baltic Audience Links project, co-financed by the Baltic Sea Unit of the Swedish Institute. This took place from the 17th to the 20th of May and it was kindly hosted by the Baltic Sea Cultural Centre in Gdansk, in their beautiful headquarters, located in a stunning 16th-century Renaissance building, which was once home to the office of Hevelius in his role as an Old Town Council Lord.

Gdansk meeting’s off-programme was focused on the insight into the new vibrant urban space, and cultural district in Gdansk, Garnizon, which is steeped in 100 years old history. Walking through the Garnizon’s renovated, modern space it was hard to imagine that the area was once a military compound, guarded by the fences.

Our visit started with a very inspiring visit to Art of Choosing, a new space in Gdansk which combines a spacious caffee and a well-provided book store with an art gallery and design shop ( ). Then, we had a creative talk with Alicja Zarkiewicz (MAMYWENE art collective) and a creative walk with Marcin Woyciechowski, chief architect at Garnizon. After visiting Stary Manez,a former riding hall for the Black Hussars, which stationed in Garnizon - now used to host live music events, we finally had a very nice dinner among partners and caught up about what was going on in Sweden, Poland and Lithuania.  It was also interesting to observe the shifting atmosphere of Garnizon, relaxing and calm during the day and vibrant and noisy in the evening time.

The following day, Thursday 18th of May, we visited Clipster, another creative space in Garnizon – an incubator of ideas for young people, which base idea is to: co-work, co-live and co-create under the experienced eye of dedicated mentors. Afterwards we joined Anna Miller (Arteria Association) for a guided tour who shed some light on the lesser known history of brave and creative women, Polish political activists, workers of Vladimir Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk who were devoted to this place during and after democratic transformation. (Metropolitanka project).
This interesting walk guided us not only through the museum buildings, but also through the dusty shipyard’s industrial parts, which were dominated by monumental cranes. On our way, in the labyrinth of the old buildings we discovered some post-industrial cultural spaces like IN_Hala_CJE B64, and famous CSG Gdansk Shipyard Centre, dedicated to business and art events.

Thursday afternoon was open to the public and it was devoted to the discussion on the experiences of cultural organisations from the Baltic Sea Region that developed cultural formats for fostering local participatory processes.
It started with a panel session moderated by Klara Kopcinska from River//Cities about Participatory Culture on Waterfronts and it continued with Clymene Christoforou and Sharon Bailey talking about their experiences as experts working with ISIS ART and CORNERS. Then Intercult’s Executive Director Iwona Preis provided an update on Baltic Audience Links Project, while Malgorzata Toogood (Rive//Cities) presented the new BAL website.
It was then time for the "Participatory urban culture and non-formal education: Baltic Audience Development" session, led by Jekaterina Lavrinec ( which focused on the approaches and challenges met by cultural actors in their practice of including various groups of people into the process of cultural revitalization of local areas. Many meaningful case studies were presented by cultural professionals from Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Sweden and Romania.

On Friday 19th of May, building on the inspirations gathered during the previous public session and the visit to the Gdansk Shipyard, we were ready for the workshop (again open to the public) led by Roman Sebastyanski (urban planner and activist) and focused on how to widen public participation in the urban planning context. The workshop was based on the case study of the post shipyard area and included the presentations of the interactive urban planning web application Game of Shipyard and of the public participative urban planning process Shipyard of Solidarity. The workshop was summarised by concluding discussion between Roman and our invited experts.

To read about some of the thoughts on the subject by our guests, see the link below:
Reflections by Eugenijus Kaminskis.

The final afternoon took us to the area of Dolne Miasto, where we enjoyed CORNERS project, which hosted installations, presentations of interdisciplinary art projects, short films, and performance art, interact with artists and enjoy some other Creative Spaces of the area.

The following day, Saturday 20th of May, was our last day in Poland. To close our trip in the best way possible, those who did not depart had a chance to fully enjoy CORNERS OF EUROPE project and to visit the 10 projects that it was presenting in Gdańsk.
After two days fully dedicated to reflecting on Audience Development and Engagement in Urban Spaces, we were really impressed to see how many people, especially young ones, were attracted by CORNERS artistic activities to the area such as Dolne Miasto. This area of Gdansk even though is steeped in a history with plentiful of historic buildings, is only now, after the years of neglect, slowly undergoing the revitalisation and getting needed attention.

All in all, after having feedback from our guests we think that the Seminar in Gdansk was a productive one, in terms of topics, provided tools and networking.
Complete with examples of urban projects from Baltic countries regions, their successes, obstacles and failures and hopes for the future, inspiring visits to urban spaces and possibilities to continue building lasting friendships and growing new ideas for future projects. And all that in a beautiful city of Gdansk!


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