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Cultural activist

Bolesław Barbacki

Bolesław Barbacki was very active on various fields of cultural and social work.

He was a director, an actor, a make-up artist and a set designer of the Drama Society, which he initiated in 1918 and which became one of the best amateur theaters in Poland of the interwar period.

Characters created by Barbacki on stage were often admired by the audience and appreciated by the critics. He also did an exceptional job as a make-up artist. In 1934 and 1937, the Society staged the play “Mirla Erfos” with the participation of an acclaimed actress Wanda Siemaszkowa, who later became famous i.a. for her performance in the premiere of “The Wedding” by Stanisław Wyspianski. The “Illustrated Daily Courier” (pol. Ilustrowany Kurier Codzienny) mentioned the dramatic theater from Nowy Sącz on this occasion: “The first provincial town in which she performed was Nowy Sącz where, as is known, flourishes a theater run by Bolesław Barbacki, director of the Industrial School, who is a a director and an actor in the Nowy Sącz theater. The whole company presents high-level performances. Siemaszkowa starred in Nowy Sącz as 'Mirla Efros' and later as the mother in the 'Suprise'. Her performance made the enchanted audience go silent for a long while before bursting into a spontanoeus thunder of applause after the last act. The father was played by Barbacki, who created the character like a great artist."

He was sensitive to the situation of women, especially those of poorer families, which pushed him towards helping to create the Industrial Women’s School initiated in 1926 by the People’s School Society, which aimed to train professional tailors. Barbacki became its first headmaster  and held this position until 1937.

He taught costume history at school. He also wrote two handbooks: “Costume history” (pol. Kostiumologia) and “Geometric drawing” (pol. Kreślenia geometryczne). With his own financial resources, he supported the institution as well as poorer students.

In 1929, to help secure the future of his pupils, he established the PSS Industrial Manufacture for the school graduates.

He was involved in the activities of the “Sokół” Gymnastic Society. In 1932 he was elected chairman of the organization. He contributed to the expansion of the Society’s library, the organization and management of its archive, the opening of the community centre and the creation of a sports stadium.

It is also worth stressing how important Barbacki considered books to be. In each institution he was involved with, he supported the creation of book collections and the development of readership. He personally selected books for the library of the Drama Society, and he also contributed to the development of a library created for the needs of the tailoring school students, as well as the already mentioned library of “Sokół”.

The need to preserve the documentation and mementos of the past was another noteworthy characteristic of Bolesław Barbacki; during his time as the chairman, he initiated the re-organization of all the documents of “Sokół”.

Below – archival photographs related to the non-artistic activities of Bolesław Barbacki: