Today, on August 30 2017, representatives of the Gdansk City Council and Gdansk City Gallery informed the public of the accession of Gdansk into the ICORN network at a press conference held at the Gunter Grass Gallery in Gdańsk. The official signing of the membership agreement takes place in the presence of Mayor Paweł Adamowicz just before the final concert of the Solidarity of Arts Festival, in the winter garden of the European Solidarity Centre.
The press conference was attended by the Mayor of the City of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, Director of the Gdańsk City Gallery, Piotr Stasiowski, and Executive Director of the ICORN, Helge Lunde.
Paweł Adamowicz - The Mayor of the City of Gdańsk:
- My opinion on helping people in war areas and political persecution is clear. Gdansk is a city of solidarity not only in ideas but above all in real activities. That is why I welcomed with great pleasure, but also with seriousness, the invitation for Gdansk to join the ICORN network provided by Mr. Helge Lunde. For a long time, I watched how united cities in the ICORN network support creators who, for various political reasons, cannot work normally in their homelands. Resident artists who use the ICORN network are intellectuals who previously held senior positions in their native literary organizations, as well as noblemen. I know that their presence in Gdansk and the message accompanying them, knowledge of the real situation in the country from which they had to run, will have a positive impact on Gdańsk. The term "freedom of culture" is an idea we have believed for many years. In this connection, I believe that the cooperation within the ICORN network and the granting of shelter to writers in Gdańsk - residents can have a positive influence on shaping the development of culture in our city. Initiatives such as Solidarity of the Arts and the European Poet of Liberty are valued not only by us, but is also seen in the world and inviting the ICORN. I am glad that Piotr Stasiowski, director of the Gdansk City Gallery, shares his opinion and that his institution will be the operator of the ICORN programme in Gdańsk.
Helge Lunde, Executive Director in ICORN said:
- More and more cities across the world are taking a stand for human rights and freedom of expression, opening up to become cities of refuge for writers and artists at risk. The values of solidarity, creativity and hospitality has for a long time been an important foundation to the City of Gdansk, and we are tremendously happy to be able to sign the ICORN membership agreement with Gdansk City Gallery on the evening of Wednesday 30 August. A core asset and quality of the ICORN network is exchange of resources, ideas and experiences between the member cities. We are convinced that the City of Gdansk will play vital role within the network, and in the struggle for international solidarity and freedom of expression as such.
Piotr Stasiowski, director of the Gdansk City Gallery:
- One of the branches of the Gdansk City Gallery is Günter Grass Gallery. The character of this outstanding writer gives us a natural excuse to join the international network of ICORN, supporting writers from all over the world who can not remain in their homelands for various reasons. Grass, devoid of its roots, often returned in his work to Gdansk and Kaszuby. We count on the fact that by organizing an artist's residence for a contemporary writer or writer, we will both contribute to the improvement of their safety and well-being, as well as promote creative development. This action has a double meaning - on the one hand we want to give shelter to the person in need, on the other hand we fulfill our mission of supporting broadly understood culture and art.
Joining other Polish cities in solidarity
When Gdansk commits to hosting persecuted writers and artist through the membership of ICORN, the city joins 64 cities and regions internationally, including two other Polish cities in the network, Krakow and Wroclaw. In an extensive interview with gdansk.pl on the occasion of Gdansk joining ICORN, Robert Piaskowski, Krakow City of Literature UNESCO Programme Director at Krakowskie Biuro Festiwalowe and in charge of the ICORN programme in Krakow said:
"Rescuing a single person may not change much in a global situation, but rescuing a creator is a very important thing. The creator is a bearer of the memory of the community, its history and traumas, is a witness, has something important to convey."