The Kazimierz Culture Centre has always been an important place where cultural and social life of Kazimierz was concentrated. Even though its names have changed, its atmosphere has remained the same. The local community members still remember meetings, teas, games of Bridge and chess, shows, or concerts. They reminisce about them with affection, respect, and even nostalgia. What is notable is that the staff and co-workers of the Kazimierz Culture Centre have succeeded in involving many people willing to dedicate their time to the Centre while at the same time benefiting greatly from this institution. Those were the times when the Centre was open until 10.00 pm, fulfilling not only cultural functions, but also serving as a social meeting place. Little is known about the Kazimierz Culture Centre prior to 1969. The Director then was Jan Duer. After 1969, when Krystyna Pielak took over, the Institution comprised of, beside its main building in Lubelska Street, the Belfry, Karol Siciński’s house and the amphitheatre by the Vistula.
In earlier years there had been a dayroom and a library which were then moved to Senatorska Street.
From the 1st of January 1969 onwards, the manager, and then also the director of the Culture Centre, was Krystyna Pielak. Under her supervision multidirectional activities were held at the Centre, such as the involvement in the organisation and providing key support to the National Festival of Folk Bands and Singers, as well as initiating the annual organ concerts which later on developed into an enormous success and remain successful to this day.
The idea of the concerts was first conceived by Professor Feliks Rączkowski, whereas the late Parson of the Kazimierz Parish, Zdzisław Maćkowiak offered his great support and help with the organisation.
“Alikwoty” was a musical band active in the Culture Centre, performing modern music fashionable at that time. The band members were, among others, Augustyn Stachyra, Tadeusz Wrona, Stanisław Zdanowski. The tradition was then continued by Mariusz Czachyra’s band.
Andrzej Kanior was running a dance band, whereas Kazimierz Daczka was responsible for the choir and instrumental music classes which, by the way, were a breeding ground for many professional musicians. Tadeusz Wrona and Andrzej Toruński should also be mentioned among the instrumental music instructors.
As the former director says, “the centre was the apple of our eyes”, and so the Culture Centre collaborated with singing bands in Bochotnica, Wierzchoniów, Rzeczyca, and Dąbrówka. Those bands regularly performed during the festival concert entitled: “The Lublin region says farewell to its guests”, and the annual “Dozhinki” took place – each year in a different village.
What is more, numerous and varied classes were conducted at the Culture Centre, such as e.g. Ballroom dance, foreign languages, cyclical meetings “Behind the horizon” dedicated to natural medicine and unconventional therapeutic methods, as well as second-hand clothing exchange. Young people frequented Saturday discos, whereas adults would spend their New Year’s Eve parties here.
A cycle of piano concerts was an extraordinary event, performed by virtuoso pianists using the piano which had been given to the Culture Centre by Maria Kędra, while recitals were given by such great performers as Andrzej Hiolski. Exhibitions of such artists as Daniel de Tramecourt, Rudolf Buchalik, Sławomir Oroń, Zbigniew Kosmulski, Zuzanna Rucińska, and Edward Rodzik have also been hosted at the Centre.
Author meetings were an opportunity for the local community members to talk to writers, actors, artists, musicians and other culture related professionals. The autographs received on such occasions have been meticulously kept in many Kazimierz houses.
On a winter day, children and the youth were impatiently looking forward to the so called “Choinki”, Christmas fancy dress parties. Those were real shows of costumes and colours, tailor-made to one’s whim, with the desire to be the most beautiful and, what is most important, unrecognizable.
People would typically say then: “I am going to “emdek”, and that always meant a meeting with friends by herbal tea, in a small café in the Culture Centre, or else flicking through the press in the reading room well supplied with the latest as well as older press editions, common viewing of a TV theatre play or a sports match.
The Women’s League is also vividly remembered by Kazimierz women, which was led and coordinated by Ms Tyszkiewiczowa. Not only an amateur theatre was active here, but also competitions were held for the most beautiful garden, recitations of self-created poems, tea discussions, as well as balls and parties. It was thanks to those “league contests” that housewives would supply their kitchens with Remoska electric ovens and other similar equipment won as prizes or thanks to one’s own commitment.
Many people were able to see the Polish capital Warsaw for the first time, as well as other parts of Poland thanks to the Culture Centre, given the institution organised tourist trips which were very popular and remembered for many years.
Maria Kędrowa, a social activist and indeed a unique person was running a marionette theatre “Tyci-tyci” (Tiny-tiny). She also directed and prepared amateur theatrical plays with the local citizens as actors.
In 1981, the Culture Centre was renamed as the Municipal Culture Centre.
MUNICIPAL PUBLIC LIBRARY IN KAZIMIERZ DOLNY
Between the years 1999 and 2002, Katarzyna Sikorska was the director of the Municipal Public Library. She was a graduate of the Department of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Art and theatre classes were held then, not only at the library, but also at schools in the rural areas which belonged to the Kazimierz gmina. The class coordinators from the library would commute to Bochotnica, Dąbrówka and Rzeczyca to conduct classes there.
Meetings with senior citizens of Kazimierz used to take place at the Centre, with the participants’ memories written down by Monika Dudzińska and then printed in the “Fara” Magazine. Artistic activities were also held there. Adam Głos, an organ player from Kazimierz, has founded a choir made up of young and talented Kazimierz community members. Monika Kubiś-Arbuz, a music teacher, has conducted the children’s folk band “Kazimierz” for children from the whole of gmina.
The Kazimierz Culture Centre has aimed at attracting as many young people as possible. It was with the young people in mind that the first gym was opened, where they could play table tennis or various board games. The Centre boasted one of the first computers and IT classes were held to teach how to use it. Zbigniew Księski, the chess master, was running chess classes, whereas Sławomir Adamski and Mirosław Kałużny used to teach English and German. The staff of the Centre used to collect old objects, such as cloth rugs, pottery vessels, various household equipment, which have all contributed to creating the cosy, unique interior with its warm and inviting ambiance. All this, additionally complemented with a small café, a video rental place, and a small bookshop has made the Centre an attractive place both for the locals and visitors to the town.
Between the years 2002-2012, Monika Dudzińska, who had previously been a long-time employee there, was the Director of the Culture Centre. The Centre was involved then in co-organising such cultural events as the National Festival of Folk Bands and Singers and Summer Music Evenings. The cycle of summer organ concerts held in the Kazimierz Parish Church “Fara” was coordinated by Jan Popis, Robert Grudzień and by the Parson of the Roman-Catholic St. John the Baptist and St. Bartholomew the Apostle Parish in Kazimierz, Rev. Tomasz Lewniewski. Between the years 2004-2007, a cycle of meetings with documentary film directors took place, organised in collaboration with Tadeusz Pałka and the “X Muses Foundation” under the common theme: “Authorial film evenings” which hosted, among others, A. Sapija, S. Janicki, A. Titkow, and Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz.
Since 2005, under the auspices of the Culture Centre, a Folk Artist Club has been operating, gathering about 30 folk and handicraft artists from the whole of the gmina of Kazimierz Dolny. They specialise in, inter alia, braiding, cross stitch, sculpture, folk cuttings, painting on china, and weaving.
The artists, together with their workshops and crafts, can be met every third Sunday of a month (from April to October) in the market square. Around 100 exhibitions were held there in the period when Monika Dudzińska was the director of the Centre.
Photographic exhibitions were organised in collaboration with the Art Institute PAN. These were: “The photographer has arrived”, “Feminine photography and femininity in photography” by Janina Mokrzycka, as well as exhibitions of photos by Maksymilian Skrzeczkowski, Jerzy Kuna, and Tadeusz Sumiński, the last of which honoured by the presence of Wisława Szymborska at the opening.
The Culture Centre has hosted sculpture exhibitions, e.g. by Bogdan Markowski, and painting exhibitions of such artists as Hanna Murgrabia, Danuta Clark, and Piotr Goss. In the years 2008-2010, in collaboration with the Kazimierz Vistula Association, three shanty concerts were organised. Between the years 2008 and 2010, a youth theatre “Enigma: was active here, led by Ewelina Burek.
We wish to express our thanks to all those who have kindly agreed to share their memories with us. At the same time, we would like to ask all persons who could provide us with more information about the history of the Culture Centre to contact us, which will help us expand the current text.