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08/06 - 28/06/2015

Sławomir Sierakowski in his text entitled“Poland’s Culture War Rages” published on July 4, 2014, in The International New York Times and on July 5-6, 2014 in fragments in Gazeta Wyborcza presents the facts regarding the cancellation of the performance of Golgota Picnic during Malta Festival Poznan 2014 in an imprecise manner, changing the sequence of events.

Sierakowski writes: ‘On June 20, the organizers of the Malta International Theater Festival, (…) gave in to a coalition of Catholic fundamentalists and right-wing hooligans and canceled the performance of Golgota Picnic’. The facts are that Malta Foundation decided to prevent physical confrontation with thousands of protesters – ultra-Catholics and football hooligan gangs. In his statements the Archbishop of Poznan, Stanisław Gądecki, sanctioned passive and active protests, in effect calling for nationwide riots. The Festival was left to deal with this on its own and was supported neither by the police nor the city authorities. Therefore, it was the state institutions who failed. 

Sierakowski writes: ‘Instead of upholding the constitutional right to artistic freedom, the mayor of Poznan, Ryszard Grobelny, endorsed the organizers’self-censorship, claiming that the play threatens Poznan’s traditional values and as such is perceived as a provocation.’ The words quoted by the author were uttered by the mayor in a letter published three days before we decided to cancel the performance. How could the mayor have supported our actions? The letter was one of the reasons for the cancellation of the performance, as the whole moral responsibility for what would happen around Golgota Picnic, both in front of the Zamek Culture Centre, as well as the open space of the festival club on Wolności Square and the streets of Poznań, was explicitly shifted from the law enforcement services to the organizers of Malta Festival. 

Sierakowski writes: ‘Meanwhile, the cowardice of the Malta festival’s organizers mobilized leading representatives of Polish culture (...) to call for public performances and readings of the play across the country. ’. Malta Foundation has been and will be continuously defending the artistic and intellectual value of Golgota Picnic. We were the ones to bring it to Poland, we defended it in statements and letters written to the Archbishop and the Councilors of Poznań, we were the ones who tried to move the performance to Nowy Teatr in Warsaw (to which the director did not consent), and then on 26 June we staged a special adaptation of Golgota Picnic in tight cooperation with Nowy Teatr and in consultation with Rodrigo García. Moreover, Malta remained in contact with the organizers of readings and screenings, immediately obtained copyrights for the emission of the recording form the Spanish producer, as well as the consent to use the text and publish it in Gazeta Wyborcza from García. 

Surely, it is more convenient not to mention that, to change the sequence of events and to make Malta a faint-hearted self-censor. It is a simpler scenario, which capitalize on the ruins of the decision and makes heroes of those who became active only after our monthly endeavors (as the decision was taken a month after the first protests) to ensure safe access to art and respect for the freedom of speech were crushed.