Polish culture spreads in UK

It began with Polish plumbers, nannies and au pairs.So many of them came that the Tyskie beer and the kinds of sausages they liked began appearing on British supermarket shelves.Now businesses besides food and consumer items are trying to cash in on the growing number of Polish immigrants in the UK. In addition, Polish groups are promoting their culture in the isles. And cities such as Krakow are trying to tap Britain’s and Ireland’s swelling interest in Poland by promoting themselves as a place to vacation. The bookstore chain Borders has become the first highbrow retailer to respond to the surge of Poles in Britain. It has introduced a Polish-language section in its stores.The first title in Polish to be sold at Borders was “Swiat Wedlung Clarskona” (“The World According to Clarkson”) by British writer Jeremy Clarkson, who has sold millions of books in Poland.Borders stores in London’s Oxford Street, Southampton and Birmingham have already begun selling over 100 Polish titles. A nationwide rollout is planned for later this year.Borders in Dublin is buying a range of Polish titles for the company’s stores throughout Ireland. The move is a response to the “many requests from Poles here,” said Borders spokesman Alistair Spalding. Titles range from best-selling Polish writers to translations of such popular English-language books as “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Pride and Prejudice” and the “Harry Potter” series to guides helping Polish immigrants adapt to their new surroundings, such as “Your British Dream: Czyli Jak Sobie Poradzic W Wielkiej Brytani” (“Your British Dream: How to Live in Great Britain”). Children’s titles, including a world atlas and Hans Christian Andersen books, reflect the increasing number of Polish families settling in Britain.Bookstores besides Borders offer few titles in Polish for now. A Borders customer adviser in Leeds, in West Yorkshire, England, said competitors’ offerings are restricted mostly to dictionaries, language books and Mary Pininska’s “Polish Cookbook.”In addition to books, Borders is offering Polish films on DVD. They include “The Three Colors Trilogy” by Krzysztof Kieslowski, “Oliver, Oliver” by Agnieszka Holland and many of the films that Roman Polanski directed. Borders is also selling CDs of Polish classical music. Meanwhile, the Polish association NI, a nonprofit organization that provides information and support to Polish immigrants, is promoting Polish culture in the UK.So is the monthly magazine “Glosik” (“Little Voice”), which informs Polish immigrants about issues affecting their life in Northern Ireland. The Polish Consulate in Edinburgh, Scotland, helped “Glosik” organize a Polish Cultural Week in Belfast this summer.
It started Monday and ends Sunday.The festivities include concerts, exhibitions, conferences, a film festival and a picnic in Belfast’s Botanical Gardens.The objectives of the event are to introduce Poland’s cultural heritage to Northern Irelanders and to help the Polish community integrate in their new home.A Polish Picnic in the Botanical Gardens last year was such a hit that the sponsors decided to hold one again in 2007.Krakow organized a major tourist promotion blitz in Belfast this week at several locations. The city, one of the most popular destinations in Europe for vacationers from Britain and Ireland, pitched its cultural and tourism attractions to Irish tour operators and journalists at Belfast City Hall.It is also highlighting its cultural and tourism draws with a multimedia presentation to shoppers at Belfast’s biggest retail mall. The promotion started Wednesday and will run through Sunday. In addition to Krakow sights, it will feature the area’s food.Krakow’s legendary Lajkonik character is taking part in the promotions. He is a bearded man resembling a Tatar with a pointed hat, Mongol-looking clothes and a wooden horse around his waist.Krakow will use the Polish Picnic on Sunday as another promotion venue. It will offer Krakow food to picnickers. The city?s Boba Jazz Band will also be performing.Pianist Barbara Karaskiewicz performed at the culture week opening at Belfast City Hall. Her repertoire ranges from baroque pieces to modern classical music.Many youth groups are also performing this week. They include Potty Umbrella, DJ 33evolutions, RPA, HH and Funky. “Within the last few years 1 mln Poles have arrived here,” said Pawel Potoroczyn, director of the Polish Institute of Culture in London, “so it isn’t strange that interest in Polish culture and in Poles has grown as well.”Although the official figure of Poles in the UK and Ireland is listed as 600,000, the actual number is believed to be over 1mln.

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