Theater director Monika Strzępka wrote an open letter to the city in which she describes her doubts related to the competition requirements for the director of the Dramatic Theater. “Warsaw wants to appear as a European, progressive city. However, apart from the will, a change of practice is needed. When reading the mentioned regulations – I get a bit lost in reading the intentions that accompanied the creation of this document” – admits the artist. In her opinion, the position favored are “old men who have recruited”.
Monika Strzępka addressed her letter to the President of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski, Vice President Aldona Machnowska-Góra and director of the Culture Bureau Artur Jóźwik. Her doubts were raised by the criteria of the competition for the director or director of the Dramatic Theater.
“I am reading the rules of the competition announced by the local government for the position of the director of the Dramatyczny Theater in Warsaw. The city that has on its banners the defense of women’s rights, the rights of artists and women artists, and the rights of the LGBT community against the nationalist and ultra-conservative turn that is increasingly attacking these circles. Warsaw wants to appear as a European city. , progressive, a bastion of resistance and freedom for those who and who resist the threat by society. This threat is real. And it is close. It is a beautiful goal and a great responsibility. However, apart from the will, a change of practice is needed. in reading the intentions that accompanied the creation of this document “- admitted the director in the letter.
One of the points that raised her doubts was the one regarding the requirement of a minimum of five years of experience in team management. “I think that for people who are unfamiliar with the practice of competition procedures in public cultural institutions, this sentence may seem quite innocent. However, it is not. Because the practice is as follows: this point is usually a glass ceiling for female artists who They devote their professional lives to creating, to artistic work. I do not know a case where, for example, twenty years of directing experience would be considered sufficient to meet this condition “- stated the artist.
“Older men who have rectorated themselves are preferred”
She pointed out that although she has been working in the theater for almost twenty years, she has never been a full-time job: “This is our professional path in the current system – we work on rubbish. It has its advantages: I can, for example, take a vacation whenever I want. theory. In practice, my professional life is a constant struggle and fear of what’s in the next. To be able to become a mother, I had to save money first, because I could not go on maternity leave when I was not employed. An example is that the state does not see me – neither the pension system nor the health system. At times like a pandemic, it does not see me any more. “
Strzępka asked directly: is her work in the last twenty years visible to the city? “As a candidate, do I meet the condition of ‘managing a team?’ Is the team of producers and producers – set designers, choreographers, actors and actors, employees and technical workers a team? ? And if so, does working with dozens of bands, hundreds of people, and dozens of productions consist of ‘a minimum of 5 years of experience in managing a team?’ As a result, will it be taken into account during the formal selection of candidates? ” the director asked.
In her opinion, candidates who were already directors are preferred in the competition. “Older gentlemen who have been appointed and are suitable are preferred. Because? Because they have been appointed rector. It is a glass ceiling. A person who devotes his life to artistic work will never meet this condition. regulates. It can be different: you can start seeing artists. You can start seeing artists, “she emphasized.
“I’m tired of being treated like a girl who should kiss the old masters on the hands”
The director said that she has no problem with her job, but does not want to work on the current rules: “I’m fed up with paternalistic treatment, I’m fed up with being treated like a girl who should kiss the old masters (and their younger, male successors) on their hands. that he has a chance to stand on the stage they manage. Believe me: these hands are invariably exposed for kissing, there has been NO change here. “
According to the director, the competition requirements show that a candidate-technocrat is being sought. “It is the administrator who is to present the artistic program – and the possible deputy for artistic affairs does not participate in the competition procedure. Thus, the basic statutory goals of the institution, i.e. conducting artistic activities, become a vague, insignificant addition to an efficiently managed enterprise. someone who will make you sure that the toilets will not run out of toilet paper? You really do not want the artistic program of the institution to be presented to the competition committee by a person who is competent in this field? ” – she asked.
Finally, she emphasized that she cares about a conversation between the community of people of culture and civil servants and city officials: “Technocratic language gives a sense of security and a job well done – but only to the side that speaks this language. The problem is that it is a language deeply detached from practice of dealing with art for the real benefit of society. Time is passing, we have a chance to change something. Maybe as a gesture of good will you will answer me within two weeks, months, years? “.
The city responds
The city responded to the director’s letter on the same day. “Your letter contains a number of threads related to contemporary social and political challenges, the problem of the precariat, violence in cultural institutions, the situation of the artist and the artist in the theater. In my answer, however, I will only refer to your questions and doubts related to the competition announcement for the director / director of the Theater Dramatyczny ‘, writes Artur Jóźwik, the director of the Culture Office.
He points out that the Mayor of Warsaw announces competitions for candidates / candidates for the position of directors / directors of cultural institutions, because he treats this form as the most transparent and democratic, although it is not a mandatory form of appointment. “Nevertheless, since 2019, Warsaw has concluded nine competitions for a candidate / candidate for the position of director / director of the following institutions: Staromiejski Dom Kultury, TR Warszawa, Guliwer Puppet Theater, Museum of Warsaw, History Meeting House, Syrena Theater, S. Ateneum Theater. Jaracza, Teatr Rampa – in Targówek, Museum of Caricature named after E. Lipiński.On September 28, 2021, we announced a competition for a candidate / candidate for the position of director / director of the Dramatic Theater of the Capital City of Warsaw, on October 20, 2021, competition for the Northern Art Center – Theater Comedy. Today a competition for the director / director of the SI Witkiewicz Studio Theater has been announced, “says Jóźwik.
He emphasizes that the basic evaluation criteria are the program concept, artistic vision and institutional development. “The potential of a candidate / candidate in managing the institution also in other, not only artistic aspects, is extremely important” – convinces the director. And points out that the requirement of experience in team management is included in all competition announcements. “Depending on the size of the institution, it is from 3 to 5 years. The Dramatic Theater receives the highest earmarked subsidy among all theaters organized by Warsaw. In 2019 it was PLN 16,600,200, in 2020 PLN 16,458,995, and in 2021 The year is PLN 16 629 996. The Dramatyczny Theater employs about 140 full-time employees. It is reasonable for the organizer of a cultural institution to require experience in managing a team from candidates and candidates, “explains the director.
“Until now, directing work has been assessed as experience in managing a team”
“Not only work experience in a cultural institution is taken into account, but also work in a company, non-governmental organization or management of an artistic team. The competition committee analyzes in detail all documents provided by the candidate. Until now, directing work was assessed as experience in management team “- convinces Jóźwik.
He also adds that the competitions are open to people from different backgrounds and professions and the city is looking for a person who is professionally involved in work in the field of culture, allowing various forms of this work. “An example of opening Warsaw to people who have not previously acted as director / director are the results of competitions in the Museum of Warsaw, the Rampa Theater – in Targówek or the E. Lipiński Museum of Caricature. she was the artistic director, “says Jóźwik.
Main photo source: Andrzej Rybczyński / PAP