Cultural Heritage

Solidarity Days at Villa Decius, 03-04.06.2023

About the festival:

On June 3-4, 2023, the second edition of the event “Culture in Exile. Days of Solidarity at Villa Decius”. During this two-day artistic and literary festival, participants and guests from Poland and Belarus took part in numerous activities accompanying the meeting.

During the festival there were such, events as:

Polish-Belarusian book fair

The fair, which lasted throughout the event, enabled participants to purchase books by Belarusian authors, in the original and in translation, published by independent Belarusian publishing houses and Polish publishers.

Literary meetings with representatives of Belarusian free culture

The book fair was accompanied by author meetings with Belarusian writers. These meetings provided a kind of space for the presentation of their artistic achievements, as well as for international cultural dialogue. Among the meetings were:

  • SAM.

Meeting with Uladzimir Niaklajeu around the Polish translation of the poet’s collection of poems “АДЗІН/SAM”.


Literary meeting with Hanna Yankuta on Belarusian literature in times of crisis.

The discussion was moderated by Kasia Ioffe.


A meeting with Belarusian writer and historian Uladzimir Arlov dedicated to the 160th anniversary of the outbreak of the January Uprising in Belarus and little-known facts about the participation of women such as Ludwika Jamant, Apolonia Sierakowska, Kamila Marcinkiewicz and Eliza Orzeszkowa in the fight against Russian colonizers. The meeting included a presentation of new books by Uladzimir Arlov published by the Foundation in Bialystok.

The meeting was led by Yaroslav Ivaniuk, president of the Foundation.

  • ALEŚ. Meeting with Tatyana Niadbay around the book about Ales Bialiatski,

“Aleś” is a book about the leader of the Center for the Defense of Human Rights “Viasna”, Ales Bialiatski, winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, sentenced in 2023 in Belarus to 10 years in a penal colony. The book presents the birth of Belarusian civil activism and the figure of Ales Bialiatski, who is one of its most prominent representatives. It shows the reader a Belarus that continues to fight for truth, human rights, its own culture and independence. It draws on many of Bialiatski’s memories from his books, articles, conference and court speeches, letters and interviews, as well as statements from his friends and colleagues.


Presentation of a book by Taciana Astrouskaya, published by the Belarusian Center for the Defense of Human Rights “Viasna”, combined with a solidarity action with prisoners of conscience in Belarus.

The meeting was hosted by Kasia Ioffe.

Spectacle for children entitled: “The Little Prince” performed by the Belarusian theater “Children of Neighbors” adapted by Irina Zimneva

One of the principles of the festival was openness. This included openness to the youngest guests of the event organized by Villa Decius. The “Children of Neighbors” theater, consisting of Belarusian and Ukrainian immigrant actors, took care of the children’s mood, presenting a play entitled: “The Little Prince.”

ENGAGEMENT WITH THE SEA. The opening of an exhibition of photographs by Belarusian artist Maria Elena Bonet, combined with a musical performance by Viktor Siamashka

Participants of the event also had the opportunity to admire Maria Elena Bonet’s visual project ZARÊCHAINS WITH THE SEA, which consists of a short film and photographic works created in the chromate rubber technique, rarely used today. Work on the project began in 2021, when the artist moved from Belarus to Poland as part of the Gaude Polonia scholarship and settled in Gdansk.

The project HUSBANDS WITH THE SEA – as the reunion of the river with the sea – is a continuation and deepening of the theme of regaining freedom, which the author undertook in her earlier realization entitled “My River” (presented at the Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw and at the Willa Decius Cultural Institute in Cracow in 2022).

Debate entitled: “FREE LITERATURE” with the participation of representatives of the Polish and Belarusian PEN Clubs

Another highlight of the program was a debate on freedom of literature, with representatives of the Polish and Belarusian PEN Club: Taciana Niadbay, president of the independent Belarusian PEN Club, and Marek Radziwon, president of the Polish PEN Club.

The debate was moderated by Andrey Khadanovich, a Belarusian poet and translator.


There was no end to the debates. Another point realized during the festival “Culture in Exile. Days of Solidarity” was a discussion with the participation of Alina Kouszyk, representative of the United Transitional Cabinet for National Revival, Artur Michalski, Polish Ambassador to Minsk, and Adam Pomorski, president of the Polish PEN Club (2010-2022).

The conversation was moderated by Dominika Kasprowicz, director of the Villa Decius Institute of Culture.

Speech by Svyatlana Tikhanouskaya, leader of democratic Belarus

The guest of honor at the event was Svetlana Tikhanouska – leader of the Belarusian democratic opposition, candidate for president of Belarus in the 2020 presidential election, who was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison by a Belarusian court in March 2023.

The entirety of Svyatlana Tikhanouska’s speech, in Polish and English-language versions, can be found in the links below.


The two-day festival was topped off with a concert by the Belarusian ETNO-CHOIR, composed mainly of migrant women and migrants from Belarus and Ukraine.






* Project co-financed by the Foundation for International Solidarity within the framework of Polish development cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.

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