The company actively supports two Warsaw museums: Museum of Praga (a branch of the Historical Museum of Warsaw) and the Warsaw Rising Museum.
The members of the Executive Board of BBI Development SA, who have done business in Praga for years, engage in efforts for the development of the district. They also work to preserve the material heritage of Praga, actively supporting the idea of setting up a Museum of Praga. The Company has donated funds to finance the preliminary work documenting the objects donated by Praga inhabitants to the planned Museum.
When in 2008 the plan to build a Museum of Praga was dropped from the long-term development plan of the Capital City of Warsaw, members of the Executive Board of BBI Development SA, along with community workers, succeeded to carry it to completion with support from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
In the same year the company provided financial help and space for the Museum by offering a portion of the listed Rectification building in the Praga Koneser Centre for temporary exhibitions and office use. The building then hosted many exhibitions showcasing Praga’s potential as an interesting and inspiring neighbourhood that had not been historically well documented or presented through museum exhibitions.
In recognition of his services for the future Museum and for Praga, Krzysztof Tyszkiewicz of the BBI Development SA’s Executive Board was invited to join the competition panel that chose the winning proposal for the Museum of Praga’s permanent exhibition.
The opening of the Museum of Praga in autumn 2014 will also be the success of the community workers and companies that supported this idea, including BBI Development SA.
BBI Development SA also established an association with the best-known Warsaw museum – the Museum of the Warsaw Rising. Juvenes-Projekt architects produced the records of the historic peepshow located in Al. Jerozolimskie before its renovation, to serve the Museum’s educational and exhibition purposes. In partnership with the Museum, the company also staged an outdoor exhibit documenting the history of the area of Plac Krasińskich, including the heroic days of the Warsaw Rising, which was on view in this historic location in 2011. Now, together with the Warsaw Rising Museum, we are preparing an exhibition tracing the history of ul. Marszałkowska, including the heroic activities of insurgents in this area. The project is part of the celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1944 Warsaw Rising.
As part of its partnership with the Warsaw Rising Museum, the company made the former building of Wars Cinema available for the instalment the Innocent Sorcerers Festival dedicated to Warsaw’s 1950s and 1960s bohemians.
A Museum of Polish Vodka will be set up in the Praga Koneser Centre. In June 2014 BBI Development SA struck a deal whereby the listed Rectification building, one of the most distinctive buildings in the Koneser complex will house a unique-in-Europe Museum of Polish Vodka. The company has found very serious partners for the project, Pernod Ricard and Stowarzyszenie Polska Wódka.
A competition is underway to find solutions for how to turn the unique interiors of the Rectification building into a museum, held together with the Polish Architects Association. The Museum of Polish Vodka is set to open in 2017.
For several months in late 2009 and early 2010, the Praga Koneser Centre hosted a branch of the Old Automobile Museum in Otrębusy, where visitors could admire unique historic cars.
The company also helped to create the permanent exhibition of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. For a few months, in the building of the former Wars cinema, Mirosław Nizio, a well-known museum exhibition creator, prepared the map of a Jewish village that will form part of the permanent exhibition.
In addition, BBI Development SA supported art galleries housed in the Praga Koneser Centre, including Klima Bocheńska’s Gallery, showcasing the work of young artists, and Galeria Klatka, which also promotes young Polish artists.
As a post-industrial complex with its mix of deserted historic and modern buildings, the Praga Koneser Centre has inspired many artists, who were the first to enter it after the production of alcohol was discontinued. It was here that Krzysztof Warlikowski premiered his celebrated productions Angels in America, Dybbuk and Krum when he worked for Warsaw’s Teatr Rozmaitości. Many years later, the director returned to the Centre with his Nowy Teatr to produce (A)pollonia, which opened at the Avignon Theatre Festival.
The first theatre to establish a permanent home base at the Koneser Centre was Małgorzata and Janusz Owsiany’s Teatr Wytwórnia. The theatre remained here for several years, staging many important shows, some of which were later performed in repertory theatres. The theatre, whose productions had been supported by the company for years, closed down a few years ago.
Teatr Konsekwentny was another non-repertory theatre based in the Koneser Centre, where it stayed for over a year. BBI Development SA offered it shelter at a difficult time, after it had lost its previous home. Praga saw the premiere of several new productions as well as performances of the theatre’s earlier shows.
Later on, the company made available to Teatr Konsekwentny the building of the former Wars cinema at 5/7 New Town Market Place, where, since 2013, it has been putting on shows as Teatr WarSawy, helping to bring the area to life.
The hottest shows Warsaw, the ‘Fire in the Brothel’ series, are being staged there. Soon, the company will receive a different property in exchange of the Wars building, which city authorities will use for cultural ends as part of the plan to revive Warsaw’s Old and New Town.
BBI Development SA has been long supporting a variety of arts and social projects intended for the inhabitants of Praga-North and other Varsovians.
After BBI Development SA took over the property of the former Koneser Vodka Factory, it teamed up with Warsaw authorities in summer 2008 to organize a series of over 200 cultural and community events under the umbrella name ‘Lato Konesera’ for both Praga locals and other Varsovians. Numerous tourists took part in this project as well.
The project, which aimed to revitalize the area of Ząbkowska, Brzeska, Nieporęcka and Markowska streets, included the Body/Mind Contemporary Dance Festival, numerous concerts (also as part of Warsaw Autumn), theatre performances, exhibitions and happenings by young artists. A summer night film festival of independent films was staged too, and a host of other projects were prepared by the local community members working for the social integration of children and youth.
For several years, Praga-North authorities have worked with artists and community workers in Praga to hold, in June, a night of cultural events to show the potential, colour and appeal of the neighbourhood. The clubs, restaurants and galleries clustered around Ząbkowska, Targowska, Inżynierska and 11 listopada streets prepare a cultural programme for crowds of visitors. Customarily, Praga Night culminates in concerts in the Koneser Prage Centre, organized in conjunction with BBI Development SA.
On the eve of the UEFA Euro 2012 Championship, an open entertainment zone was set up in the Koneser complex. In the Koneser Zone, football fans could watch games, listen to concerts and take part in sports events. Run by community workers and Koneser clubs, including Czysta Ojczysta, the zone offered sports games for Praga dwellers and other Varsovians, public screenings of games, and a sandy beach which beaconed amid listed buildings.
BBI Development SA helped young Warsaw activists to organize the Bareja Festival. Stanisław Bareja’s films were screened at the former Wars cinema, which was given a communist Poland twist, accompanied by cultural and community projects.
Praga Koneser Centre also hosted Męskie Granie concerts. The musicians taking part in the project performed in Praga during three consecutive years – in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
From 2005 to 2014 Warsaw Autumn concerts have been one of Praga’s most important cultural events. Every year, the company made available Koneser complex spaces for rehearsals and concerts.
The company also co-organized a unique concert by Joseph Malovany, the unrivalled master of Jewish religious song, a cantor at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, New York, who performed with Wrocław’s White Stork Synagogue Choir and pianist Waldemar Malicki. Presented by the Musical Praga Festival in 2007, the concert was called ‘Szeroka Street Tradition’. It was organized with support from Szeroka Street Association, in which members of the company’s Executive Board were involved. The concert was held to promote the rebuilding of the Lessel Synagogue at the junction of ul. Kłopotowskiego (formerly ul. Szeroka) and Jagiellońska street.
In 2012, as part of its support for cultural efforts in Praga, BBI Development SA paired up with the Warsaw Chamber Opera of St Florian Cathedral to organize an organ music festival.
BBI Development SA also supported Harfa Singers Association, one of the longest-established male choirs in Warsaw, founded in 1906. In 2006 the company also supported a concert featuring Harfa Choir, held to mark the 64th anniversary of the end of the 1944 Warsaw Rising.