Baltic Sea Cultural Gathering in Gdańsk brings together cultural actors from across the region

(Photo credit: Mariusz Cieszewski/Polish MFA)

On 15-18 September, the Polish Presidency launched their CBSS Presidency priority ‘Creativity’ with the 9th Meeting of the Ministers of Culture of the Baltic Sea Region together with the “Culture Gathering” conference for cultural actors.

The three day event was hosted at the European Solidarity Center, which last year re-opened its doors to the public in commemoration of the Solidarity movement in Poland. It brought together actors from the cultural, entrepreneurial and creative sectors. The conference, as well as the numerous back-to-back meetings, were an opportunity for networking through workshops, dinners and concerts, organised by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, but also a unique platform for practitioners to build a dialogue with policymakers in the region and subsequently to build the best possible habitat for culture to flourish.

The meeting was opened by Poland’s Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Prof. Małgorzata Omilanowska and Basil Kerski, the Director of the European Solidarity Center. Lech Wałęsa, former President of Poland and leader of Solidarność, gave a speech on the importance of solidarity and its link to culture.

An expert panel, consisting of the Ministers of Culture from Poland, Latvia & Lithuania, joined by the State Secretaries of Culture from Estonia, Iceland & Sweden, gave a hands-on policy insight on the state of play of culture in the region.

Other keynote speakers included Paul Owens, Managing Director of BOP Consulting and Director of the World Cities Culture Forum, as well as Fionn Dobbin, Creative Industries Program Director of Stockholm School of Economics in Riga. Through the perspective of their own work and experience, the audience of more than 180 international professionals of the creative and cultural industries, got an overview of the opportunities and challenges of the cultural sector in the BSR.



Among many other speakers, who were presented and interviewed by the moderators Ragnar Siil, (EE) and Agata Etmanowicz (PL), Balticlab Programme Managers Mirjam Külm and Olga Knudsen presented findings from their third year of programme, noting a clear tendency towards a more sustainable, less profit-orientated mindset among the creative and entrepreneurial actors in the region.

The gathering in Gdansk concluded that culture has the power and interest to create real change and that it can be a tool for more empathy and dialogue.


The Ministerial Conclusions were signed by the Ministers and the workshop groups of the Culture Gathering set up a first draft for a “Gdansk Manifesto”- a list of criteria that need realisation in order for culture to take on the role of a driving force for change.


Read more about the Ministerial Conclusions here.


Ministers panel:

Poland: Ms. Małgorzata Omilanowska, Minister of Culture and National Heritage

Latvia: Ms. Dace Melbārde, Minister of Culture

Lithuania: Mr. Šarūnas Birutis, Minister of Culture

Sweden: Mr. Per Olsson, State Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Democracy

Iceland: Ms. Ásta Magnúsdóttir, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Culture

Estonia: Mr. Tarvi Sits, Undersecretary for Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture

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