In the context of our multiyear project Inspired by Diversity, we invite our members to share their practices related to diversity, equality and inclusion. Our member in Warsaw wrote back with this report.
Dorożkarnia Cultural Centre is a local institution in Warsaw. Our name comes from the Polish dorożkarnia, a space to shelter horse-drawn carriages, which was the original purpose of our first building. In our mission, we declare that we support everyone to be creative, courageous, joyful, involved locally and globally. In line with this idea, we pay special attention to people at risk of marginalization. We strive to make our activities accessible to people with mobility or cognitive limitations and adapt our space and team training to suit their needs.
Last year, we created a separate position dedicated to this topic. Our accessibility coordinator, Dorota Frydycka, deals with digital, information, communication, and architectural accessibility.
Our website was created and developed according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). We continue to strive to meet the criteria of visibility, functionality, understandability, and reliability in the best possible way.
In addition, the coordinator and the head of the communication and promotion team take part in workshops to prepare Dorożkarnia for audiences with special needs. The whole team has training in working with people with disabilities. We try to be aware and attentive about not excluding any recipients and attempt to involve those at risk of marginalization in our activities.
Furthermore, we audit our artistic program in terms of diversity and solidarity. So far, we have implemented many projects considering the aspect of diversity. Usually, it is an additional value/element that is included in existing activities.
In 2019, as part of the InDanceGration project, our amateur artistic groups, in cooperation with choreographers of other nationalities, created a dance performance on the theme of cultural and national identity. The project was warmly received by the audience. The participants themselves were moved by this experience, and it taught them to look at their surrounding reality with greater sensitivity and awareness.
As part of the activities aimed at building a local community, we organized neighbourhood multicultural breakfasts, where we connected and got to know people from the community in an informal atmosphere.
In 2019 and 2020, we organized a series of events financed by the European Solidarity Corps. These activities reinforced values such as solidarity, building a local community by including people at risk of marginalization, and questioned our identity and attitudes toward discriminatory behaviour. The activities were addressed to all age groups. Some examples included anti-discrimination workshops for children aged 7-10, or Oxford debates for high school students developing the competencies of dialogue and discussion.
In 2021, diversity and solidarity will be among our priorities. We plan to implement two projects under the European Solidarity Corps. The first project concerns the inclusion of people with special needs and at risk of digital marginalisation into the Oxford debates of the Warsaw Debate League. The second project focuses on art festivals organised by young leaders in high schools, some of which have a tradition of organising theses events since over 30 years.
We want to equip young people from less privileged and underfunded schools with soft skills and an agile understanding of project management. Additionally, we will create a handbook of effective practices to adapt the program for people with disabilities. We want audio descriptions or sign language interpreters to be a permanent element of their activities. We want this sensitivity and habits of thinking about project implementation to be a standard for future artists or culture managers.
For others implementing or starting to launch solidarity projects, we recommend looking at the possibilities of co-financing from the European Solidarity Corps in each European Union country. It is an accessible way to activate young people, equip them with new competencies, and an alternative way of financing activities for the local community and people at risk of marginalization.
For more information about how Dorozkarnia is implementing or funding their inclusion programme, feel free to contact Katarzyna Sztarbała, International project specialist .