On the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the sovereign state, Culture Action Europe, the major European cultural network, stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine as they seek to defend their country and their culture from the unprovoked act of aggression ordered by the Kremlin on 24 February 2022.
Twelve months of war have seen hundreds of thousands of casualties including many civilian deaths as a result of Russian shelling of towns, villages, hospitals, schools, universities, shopping malls, railway stations, cultural spaces and even a theatre. This has resulted in the largest mass displacement in Europe since World War II with many families fleeing to seek safety in neighbouring countries or further afield, far from home, being separated from those who have remained to support the war effort. News of torture, rape, summary executions, forced deportations, disappearances and filtration camps have shocked a world that believed such things would never again happen in Europe.
Alongside the human cost there is an economic and social cost with the Ukrainian economy shrinking by more than 30% in 2022.The cultural sector, has been hard hit with many artists and cultural organisations facing an uncertain future. The nature of the Kremlin’s war aims to erase Ukrainian culture and to assert Russia as a neo-colonial power, while Russian-controlled media continues to churn out propaganda and independent journalists in Russia face harsh sentences if they report the truth.
In the early days of the war Culture Action Europe campaigned alongside other organisations, successfully pushing for a European Parliament resolution calling on EU governments and institutions to reinforce cultural solidarity with Ukraine and to establish a joint emergency response mechanism for cultural recovery in Europe. The Cultural Deal for Ukraine is also a distinct call of the Cultural Deal for Europe Campaign, led by Culture Action Europe, the European Cultural Foundation and Europa Nostra and widely supported by the European cultural ecosystem. We urgently call for Ukraine’s culture, heritage and creative sectors to be included in the EU’s relief package and within the EU humanitarian support to Ukraine, including in the macro-financial assistance package to help the country meet its financing needs, as well as in the relief Trust Fund for Ukraine which mobilises international donors.
We are proud of the huge efforts already made by our sector as well as by the EU Institutions to reach out to Ukrainian cultural workers and organisations through various projects, collaborations, artist residencies, funding initiatives and direct aid, also mobilising programmes and initiatives such as Creative Europe and the New European Bauhaus. We maintain communication with our Ukrainian members and encourage all Culture Action Europe members to welcome Ukrainians into their activity programmes.
At this time we want to remember all those in the cultural sectors at large who have lost their lives and their livelihoods as a result of the war and we commit to continuing our advocacy efforts to support Ukraine’s culture and cultural ecosystem.