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 share Polish heritage and contemporary art with American audiences, and to promote Poland’s 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 visual art, design, film, theater, dance, literature, music, 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
Robert joined the Institute in 2020.
Robert Szaniawski has been a career diplomat since 2007 and a civil servant since 1998, specializing in media relations and public diplomacy. He studied Polish literature at the University of Warsaw, and accomplished postgraduate studies in Marketing at Warsaw School of Economics. He commenced his professional career as a journalist and a book reviewer, also gained experience as a PR and marketing manager in private sector, i.e. TV Puls (2001-2002), and Metro Warszawskie, a transportation and construction company in Warsaw (2003 – 2005). In 2005 Robert Szaniawski returned to public administration as Deputy Head of Press Office at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland. In 2007 he started his diplomatic career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs serving as a spokesperson of the MFA and Deputy Head of the MFA’s Press Office. Between 2008 and 2014 he was a spokesperson at the Polish Embassy in London, and headed the public diplomacy team. Afterwards he worked for 2 years at the Public and Cultural Diplomacy Department of the MFA in order to later return to the United Kingdom as the Director of the Polish Cultural Institute in London. After 3 years he was relocated to Washington DC to lead the media team at the Polish Embassy. From September 2020 he is the Director of the Polish Cultural Institute in New York.
Maja Steczkowska – Deputy Director
Maja joined the Institute in 2021.
Maja Steczkowska is a trained literary translator from English into Polish with an M.A. in English philology, specialization translation studies, from Gdańsk University. She was awarded the Best Student title in the 2009/2010 edition. She also studied in the Newcastle University School of English Literature, Language & Linguistics taking part in the Erasmus Programme. She holds a CELTA certificate and worked for couple of years as an English language teacher as well as a tourist guide in Warsaw. In 2012 she participated in the AIESEC Exchange Programme volunteering as a teacher in Tomsk, Siberia. From 2014 to 2020, she worked in the Łazienki Królewskie Museum in Warsaw first as an educator and later on as a member of the Educational Team leading workshops, preparing educational programmes and organizing various cultural events. In 2016 she set up a foundation called WSPAK (Free Art Needs Ambitious Culture) which she ran together with her husband.
Her interest lies in children’s literature and its translations. In her free time she sings in amateur choirs and designs silver jewellery. The concept of the participatory cultural institution is closed to her heart.
Klaudia Ofwona Draber – Head of Public Relations
Klaudia joined the Institute in 2020.
She has lived and led arts, technology and strategy projects in Europe, Africa and the United States. She is also an independent curator, and founder and president of KODA, social practice residency for mid-career artists. Previously she served as a consultant to the British Council Arts, and worked at UBS, managing CSR projects and partnerships with artists, galleries and universities. She serves at the Membership Committee of ArtTable and mentors creative entrepreneurs at New Museum’s NEW INC. Klaudia has been selected as a Curatorial Studies Program Helena Rubinstein Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (ISP) 2021-2022. Klaudia holds MA in Art Business from the Sotheby‘s Institute of Art New York, where she developed the business plan for KODA. She also holds MA in Economics from the Warsaw School of Economics. Her thesis focused on the value of art, alternative investments and regulations of art market.
Tomek Smolarski – Film and Performing Arts Programming
Tomek Smolarski has been the Film and Performing Arts Programmer at the Institute since 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 since 2016.
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.
Anna Perzanowska – Music Programming
Anna worked at the Institute in 2007-2018 and has been working in her current position since 2020.
Anna Perzanowska has an extensive background in arts programming and management, cultural diplomacy, and project development. She holds an M.A. in Ethnomusicology and a B.A. in Business Administration. Anna is a Co-Founder and Senior Artist Manager & Producer at Momentum Artists, an innovative artist management and producing agency, offering international representation and special project development services to a boutique roster of distinguished artists from around the globe. From 2007 to 2018, she served as the music curator for the PCINY.
Anna has worked on presenting events and concerts in partnership with such diverse institutions as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Philharmonic, The Santa Fe Opera, Bard Music Festival, Luminato Festival, World Music Festival Chicago, Symphony Space, The Morgan Library, Juilliard, Yale University, MoMA, (Le) Poisson Rouge, National Sawdust, Joe’s Pub and many more. Over the years, she has collaborated with dozens of exceptional composers, artists, and ensembles, among them JACK Quartet, American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), Silesian String Quartet, and Arte dei Suonatori to name a few.
Music has been Anna’s passion since her early years when at the age of five she started playing piano and cello. Her broad music education, interests, and experience led her to work on projects across varying genres and formats.
Bartek Remisko – Humanites & Polish-Jewish Programming
Bartek worked at the Institute in 2011-2015 and has been in his current position since 2020.
Bartek Remisko is a trained translator and interpreter from English and French into Polish with an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from Warsaw University. He is also a teacher of foreign languages including Polish as a Foreign Language. Bartek holds an M.A. in International Economic & Political Relations from Warsaw School of Economics and IEP Sc-Po Paris. His area of interest are Modern & Contemporary Art Museums and their operations, and he holds two Masters (DESS and DEA) in this field from Universite Paris VIII. He also studied Curatorial Studies at the Art History Institute at Jagiellonian University in Krakow and Art Administration at School of Professional Studies at NYU.
Bartek has extensive experience in International Relations, Diplomacy, Corporate Social Responsibility, Diversity & Inclusion as well as Public Affairs and Public Relations that he gained in business, public administration, and independent settings both in the EU and in the US over past twenty years. Before Bartek worked in European Commission and European Parliament in Brussels he interned at Polish Permanent Missions to UNESCO in Paris and the United Nations in New York. He also worked in the Pompidou Center in Paris, Orange Poland in Warsaw, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. Most recently Bartek has been an independent cultural worker in New York City for a couple of years in various positions in the industry: independent curator, art administrator, publicist, and cultural producer, as well as VIP assistant at The Armory Show and Frieze New York, consultant at Residency Unlimited, Associate Director at Green Point Projects, Managing Director at Beach64retreat, Artistic Director at Kosciuszko Projects, and independent translator, interpreter and teacher of French and Polish for foreigners.