THE POLISH CULTURAL INSTITUTE NEW YORK was founded in 2000. It is a diplomatic mission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, operating in the area of public diplomacy. The PCI is one of 24 such institutes around the world. It is also an active member of the network of the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) in its New York cluster.
The Institute’s mission is to disseminate around the world comprehensive knowledge of Poland, Polish history and national heritage, as well as to promote Poland’s contemporary contributions to the success of world culture. The Institute does so through initiating, supporting and promoting collaboration between Poland and the United States in the areas of art, education, research and in many other aspects of intellectual and social life. The Institute’s main task to ensure Polish participation in the programming of America’s most important cultural institutions as well as in large international initiatives.
The Institute works with renowned cultural and academic centers and opinion leaders operating on the American market. Its main partners include such prestigious organizations as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Museum of Modern Art, PEN American Center, the Poetry Society of America, the National Gallery of Art, Yale University, Columbia University, Princeton University, the Harvard Film Archive, the CUNY Graduate Center, the Julliard School of Music, the New Museum, the Jewish Museum, La MaMa E.T.C. and many others. For more than fifteen years, it has presented Americans the achievements of outstanding Polish artists, including the filmmakers Andrzej Wajda and Jerzy Skolimowski; the writers Czeslaw Milosz, Adam Zagajewski and Wislawa Szymborska; the composers Krzysztof Penderecki, Witold Lutoslawski and Mikolaj Gorecki; theater artists Krystian Lupa, Jerzy Grotowski and Tadeusz Kantor; the visual artists Krzysztof Wodiczko, Katarzyna Kozyra, Alina Szapocznikow and many other important figures in the arts. The Institute initiates and actively participates in debates around the humanities in the broad sense, including those concerning history and the today’s most important social and political occurrences.
Robert Szaniawski – Director
Tomek Smolarski – Film and Performing Arts Programming
Tomek Smolarski has been Film and Performing Arts Programmer at the Institute since January 2016.
From 2001 to 2007, Tomek Smolarski served as Communications Officer and Music Curator at the Polish Cultural Institute New York. He left the PCINY to travel the world with a focus on his favorite place, India, where he spent almost a year. Upon his return to the US, he moved to California to work independently as a cultural manager presenting and producing concerts, films and theatrical performances throughout the US and Poland. His latest project was a theatrical production, a New York premiere of Trash Story, by a Polish playwright Magda Fertacz. He holds a master’s degree in history from the Silesian University in Katowice.
He practices Vipassana meditation and holistic living.
Izabela Gola – Visual Arts Programming
Izabela Gola has been working at the Institute, in her current position, since October 2018. She worked as Assistant to the Director at the PCINY from January 2016 to October 2018.
Izabela worked as an art exhibitions coordinator for the cultural programming department of the French Institute Alliance Française in New York. Izabela’s role involved managing exhibition production logistics, as well as oversight and execution of art installations. Izabela also worked for the head registrar at MoMA PS1, where she contributed to creation of a new inventory and archive system of the permanent art collection.
Izabela is a visual artist specializing in multidisciplinary art environments, which employ video, sculpture, oil painting, and elements of interior design. She was recipient of the Kosciuszko Foundation Tuition Scholarship (2014) while enrolled in the Masters of Fine Arts program at Hunter College in New York. Izabela earned her MFA degree with concentration in Video Art and Combined Media in 2015.
Agnieszka Wilczyński – Music Programming
Agnieszka has been with the Polish Cultural Institute since January of 2019.
Agnieszka has been living in New York for seventeen years and has gotten to know the artistic landscape of the city. Agnieszka holds a Master’s degree from the University of Life Sciences in Lublin and a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Paderewski State School of Music. Agnieszka is intimately acquainted with the Polish community in New York and for many years, worked at the Polish Supplementary School, preparing students for their entry exams for middle schools specializing in music.
She has been involved in a choir that has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Polish Consulate General in NY. In 2014-16, she led and directed workshops in musical theater that were part of a project funded by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and titled “Greenpoint: The Transition.” She is interested in music, photography, film and the environment.
Agnieszka studied at the New York Institute of Photography. In 2018, her solo show titled “ Different Roots One Home” was shown in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Aga’s entrepreneur skills found du outlet in her side project.
She lives in Brooklyn with a daughter, husband and a dog.
Ilona Grabka – Polish-Jewish Programming
Ilona Grabka has been part of the Polish Cultural Institute NY team since March 2019.
She lives in Manhattan, New York, since 2006 with her family.
She holds Master’s Degree in Philosophy specializing in Philosophy of Culture from John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin.Through youth and college years Ilona was deeply immersed in art, theatre and dance and belonged to different artistic and theatrical groups. The outcome of these activities culminated in group exhibitions as well as wide spectrum of theatrical experience (musicals with ITP Theatre; post Grotowski theatre in Chatka Żaka; workshop in Gardzienice; workshop with Leszek Mądzik). Ilona’s acting experience also included a leading role in a short independent film in NY.
After years of active immersion in different artistic disciplines, Ilona focused on therapeutic effects of art and movement in her informal studies. This path led her to study and practice yoga.
New York gave Ilona a great opportunity to get immersed in Judaism and Jewish culture. She engaged herself in Jewish studies through courses, lectures and conferences. Since 2008, she deepens her knowledge especially in Polish- Jewish related topics as well as in Israeli culture and Hebrew language.
Magdalena Durak – Assistant to the Director