Malta Foundation is suing the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (PMCNH) over non-payment of a PLN300,000 (€70,000) grant. The foundation backs the annual Malta Festival, which takes place in the Polish city of Poznań.
In 2016, Malta Foundation and PMCNH signed a three-year deal which would see PMCNH subsidise the festival. However, PMCNH then withdrew its support because it did not approve of Malta Festival’s choice of curator, Oliver Frljić.
Born in Croatia, Frljić is a director and theatre maker whose performance piece The Curse has been criticised by the Catholic Church. The Curse focuses on the Catholic Church’s political power in Poland and how that has been misused over the years. Over 85% of people in Poland identify as Catholic, making it a very emotive issue.
“The Polish constitution guarantees any citizen the freedom of artistic creation and access to cultural products,” said Helsinki Foundation For Human Rights (HFHR) lawyer Adam Klepczyński. “Culture in Poland is predominantly state-financed. Therefore, refusing a grant can be read as a form of so-called soft censorship.”
HFHR is supporting Malta Foundation in its lawsuit. The trial begins on 25 March.