Armenian attitude to culture
Armenian culture is remarkably rich, distinctive and colorful and has one of the longest traditions in the world. Armenian alphabet was developed in the 5th century by Armenian linguist Mesrop Mashtots, and is being used until now. The traditional musical instrument duduk had been played on since the times of Tigran the Great, who reigned in the first century BC. As it is an important keeper of Armenian identity throughout the years, the people both in Armenia and in the diaspora understand the value of culture not only as a reflector of the current historical events, but also as the preserver of people’s identity.
Armenia is undeniably a highly cultural country, with countless ancient churches, distinctive architecture, wonderful modern museums, theatres and carefully curated galleries. It is hosting cultural events from countries all around the world. And local people today are definitely interested. As Armenia is a country blocked by Azerbaijan and Turkey, with access on the ground only to neighbouring Georgia and Iran, local people are extremely curious about the world outside and are eager to get to know it. Hosting and visiting cultural events presenting other cultures and countries is a delightful way to do it.
Signs of Polish culture in Armenia
Diplomatic relations between Poland and Armenia were established in 1992. Three years after that, a number of local Poles and people whose parents or grandparents were born in Poland, gathered and established Polish union in Armenia called Polonia. Thanks to the activities of Polonia and the support and efforts of Polish Embassy in Armenia, Polish culture in Armenia starts to be more present and vocal in the recent years.
Polonia is gathering around 500 Poles living in Armenia. Most of them are living in the capital, Yerevan. They are keeping the Polish language through courses of Polish language and organizing various cultural events not only for the Polish minority, but for the locals as well.
Polish language is becoming more and more attractive to Armenians – today, most of the studetns of Polish language courses organized by Polonia are locals.
In 2004, a Polish language office of Adam Mickiewicz was established in Yerevan, with its own library and audiovisual equipment. In the academic year 2007/2008, thanks to the efforts of the Polish Embassy and Polonia, a Polish language course was opened at Yerevan State University. And in 2013, the Center of Polish Culture was opened at Yerevan State Linguistic University.
Polonia stands also behind well-known Polish children’s choir Gwiazdeczka. The choir’s repertoire includes Polish children’s songs as well as national, religious and folk songs. Every year, Gwiazdeczka takes part in the Festival of National Minorities in Armenia.
The Polish Embassy in Armenia is the main actor promoting contemporary Polish art and literature in Armenia. Aside from theaters, galleries and publishing houses, it cooperates with a number of leading film and theatre festivals, such as the International Film Festival Golden Apricot, Armmono One Man Show International Festival or International Festival of Animated Films ReAnimania, to present leading-edge Polish cinematographic culture and visual art.
Thanks to organization of the Polish Days in Armenia, Armenian audience had a chance to get to know many outstanding Polish artists. Work by Witold Lutosławski was presented in a number of institutions, including Aram Khachaturyan Museum. Frédéric Chopin’s compositions can be regularly heard in Armenian concert halls. Andrzej Wajda’s films were screened repeatedly and warmly received by local audience. Bogusław Kierc, Anna Skubik and other phenomenal Polish actors were performing in Yerevan theaters, works by contemporary Polish poets were presented at Yerevan Metro. Last year, the exhibition of Tomasz Winiarski, who won the first prize at First International Print Biennale in Yerevan, took place.
Art opens human hearts and makes it possible to build bridges and build connections between nations. Thanks to the ongoing activities and events, Polish culture is becoming more and more accessible to the Armenian audience. Continued support for Polish art in Armenia may bring about an even stronger connection and understanding between the two countries.