RACC Russian American Cultural Center NY

Statff from the Russian American Cultural Center acknowledging thier 2020 placement on the "Top Five "Cultural Centers Supporting Communities Across America."

Russian American Cultural Center (RACC) in New York

Published: May 30, 2024

The Russian American Cultural Center (RACC) is a non-profit organization which facilitates cultural exchanges across the Russian-speaking population of New York City and the tri-state area. The group is particularly concerned with promoting the arts and in illuminating the lives and fates of Jews from Russia and the former USSR. Since the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, the RACC has begun highlighting Ukrainian culture more as well.

Founded in 1998, the Center hosts a variety of programming including art exhibitions, literature readings, performing arts showcases, film screenings, and intellectual symposiums. Dedicated to the avant-garde, contemporary art, and photography, the RACC is also home to the Lazar Khidekel Society (now featured on Google Arts) which preserves the Suprematist artist’s legacy in art, architecture, and design.

All events are conducted in Russian, English, and sometimes other languages, and are open to all. The RACC’s various programming, especially its Educational Program and Service for English Speakers (which provides an introduction to Russian and Jewish Russian art/culture/history as well as Russian language classes), are perfect for language learners looking to expand their knowledge of Russian culture and make connections in the community.

Most recently, the RACC held its 2023 Diaspora and Film Festival, which showcases films made by or about the Russian-speaking diaspora community. Two notable films from the series were screened in both Russian and Hebrew with English subtitles, catering to the Jewish-Russian population. The first, The Underground Ballet directed by Lina Chaplin, takes a look at a ballet studio built beneath a football stadium in Israel. The 2019 film explores former Bolshoi ballerina Nina Timofeyeva’s underground studio and her experience as a Russian immigrant in Israel.

5th Paragraph Invalids directed by Boris Maftsir explores the lives of Soviet Jews before and after their emigration from the Soviet Union. Named after the “5th paragraph,” which denied Soviet Jews the right to higher education and certain employment out of fear of disloyalty to the state, the 2023 film offers a fascinating look into the Jewish experience during and after the Soviet Union.

In addition to the film festival, other recent events include a poetry reading hosted by the Ukrainian poet Valery Chereshnya and a bilingual (Russian and English) reading of Osip Mendalstam’s poems by Ian Probstein, a professor of Literature at Touro College in New York.

The Center is currently expanding its educational opportunities and support for emerging and mid-level artists through exhibitions and online art galleries. For example, as of the publication of this article, an American-born poet and novelist Larissa Shmailo of Ukrainian descent was scheduled to present her new book Dora/Lora at the Yorkville Library. The book is a harrowing account of the Ukrainian Holodomor (mass starvation of Ukrainians from 1932-1933 as a result of Soviet policies).

Visit the Center’s website to view more upcoming events or become a member by giving a small donation and receive email updates on future programming!

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About the author

Abigail Crosby

At the time she wrote for this site, Abigail Crosby was a recent graduate of Bard College in upstate New York. She received a B.A. in history and Russian and Eurasian studies. Her senior thesis explored the creation of Soviet ballet in the late 1920s to 1930s through research on the critical response given to three early Soviet ballets from this time period. She served an Online Research Internship with SRAS over the summer of 2023.

View all posts by: Abigail Crosby