The Polish American Arts Association (PAAA) of Washington, D.C., Inc. is dedicated to creating public awareness of the richness of Polish culture and to supporting greater cooperation and understanding between the United States and Poland in the fields of art, culture and education.
PAAA is administered under U.S. Federal Tax Law as a non-profit, tax deductible 501(c)3 organization.
PAAA sponsors or cosponsors each year series of programs typically consisting of lectures, film showings, concerts, literary events, and social gatherings. It also sponsors or cosponsors book sales, holiday craft work shops, and art exhibits, and helps with fundraising events for a variety of Polish and Polish-American causes.
Every summer, PAAA puts on a traditional "Wianki" – or "Festival of Wreaths" – which is open to the public thanks to an annual Public Park Use Permit from the National Regional Park Service, District of Columbia. Since 1982 to the present, this celebration of the summer solstice was held at the Reflecting Pool near the Lincoln Memorial. For a few years, the event has been held at the Constitution Gardens Pool area, at 17th St. and Constitution Ave., but in 2013, it has moved back to the Lincoln memorial venue.
Each December, the traditional "Wigilia" Christmas dinner takes place at an arranged venue.
A scholarship program, established in 1998, now aids several college students per year.
PAAA was organized on January 11, 1966. It is an affiliate of the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC), a national umbrella organization founded in 1948 for the preservation of Polish cultural, literary and folk traditions in the United States. ACPC now includes 33 affiliates and supporting entities.
From its original membership of fewer than 20, the PAAA counted at one time some 400 members and now, the membership hovers at around 150.
The Association has four times hosted the ACPC Annual Convention (1967, 1972, 1984, and 1992). Many of the members of the PAAA have served the national association as officers, board members, and committee chairs.
Examples of the successful programs arranged in the past on the local level by PAAA include symposia on "Poland in the 20th Century" (1979) and "Poland in the 1930s" (1981), with participation by some of the foremost Polish and Polish-American scholars specializing in Central European studies.
Beginning in the mid-1980’s, PAAA played a significant part in the purchase of a building to house the American Center of Polish Culture in Washington, D.C. (now the Washington Office of the Kosciuszko Foundation). Funds were raised through dues, and donations of valuable works of Polish Art. Members volunteered their physical labor as well as legal and other skills to benefit of the Center. As a result, PAAA helped furnish the third floor board room of the center located at 2025 O Street in Washington, D. C.
Additional celebration fund-raisers have been held, such as: the Pearl (30th) Anniversary Ball (1996); the New Year’s Ball (1998); and the Jade (35th) Anniversary Dinner Dance (2001), the Ruby (40th) Anniversary Gala (2006) and the 45th Anniversary gala in 2011.
In October 1990, PAAA members Fred Bochenek (founder), Gordon Kray (sculptor); and Teodor Lopatkiewicz (donor of historical Norwid poetry book) helped establish a permanent, historical exhibit through the U. S. Dept. of Interior, National Park Service, at the John Brown Museum in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
In 1992, PAAA’s members played a prominent role in the history-making transfer of Paderewski’s remains from his 1941 internment at Arlington Cemetery to his native Poland.
Membership is open to all who support, through dues and participation, the promotion of Polish and Polish American cultural contributions to society-at-large.
PAAA members are drawn primarily from Polish American community, but include many non-Polish Americans who support PAAA’s goals. They come from professional, business, financial, government, scientific, and artistic sectors of society.
For more information on membership, write to: PAAA, P.O. Box 9442, Washington, DC.20016.