Our support will continue: 2 years of Solidarity with Ukraine

23 February 2024

The European Festival Association (EFA) was born out of the wounds of the second World War as a project that aimed at sustaining a peaceful co-existence by uniting together countries around the arts. Festivals are unique places creating a sense of belonging, they are instruments through which people find a community, a sense of cohesion that goes beyond frontiers, beliefs or nationalities. Festivals enable the access to and the discovery of various forms of arts which foster exchange, understanding and solidarity.

EFA and its members strongly believe in the arts’ transformative power to re-shape civil society and have thus been continuously expressing their support to Ukrainian festivals and artists, since the Russian invasion. Accordingly, the ‘Joining hands and hearts: Festivals for Ukraine’ was created and invited EFA members to form duos and engage in a partnership with a colleague festival in Ukraine. Festivals became platforms to create awareness about this conflict; spaces for people affected by this war to share their stories with an audience and people worldwide; areas for healing, reflection and solidarity actions with the people who are suffering.

Festivals networks and international cooperation initiatives play a key role in solidarity. Here is a collection of the initiatives undertaken by EFA and its members in 2023:

  • 4 New Ukrainian festivals (Odessa Classics, Construction Festival, KharkivMusicFest, and Lviv Early music festival) have become EFA Members and together with the 3 ones already member (Gogolfest, Kharkiv Assemblies and ArtEthnoFest), they benefit from a free membership from 2022 to 2024.
  • EFA Members have welcomed Ukrainian artists to perform in their festivals (e.g.: BOZAR with the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Berlinerfestspiele with the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra, and Audi Sommerkonzerte with the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and Oksana Lyniv) 
  • 7 Ukrainian delegates were welcomed at EFA’s Arts Festivals Summit 2023 Peralada/Girona to present artists, festivals, and ways of supporting Ukraine:
    - Kateryna Lozenko – Kharkiv Music Fest (EFA Member)
    - Alexey Botvinov – Odessa Classics (EFA Member)
    - Oleksandr Butsenko – Sicheslav Festival Assocation "ArtEthnoFest" (EFA Member)
    - Maxim Shalygyn – Composer (Artist)
    - Iryna Bilan – Mystetskyi Arsenal (The Festival Academy Alumni - Atelier Nicosia 2022)
    - Mariia Kotvitska - ( Festival)
    - Yelizaveta Bordunova - ( Festival)
  • Our Spring edition of the Eye-to-eye magazine enabled Ukrainian musicologist, cultural manager, and journalist Kateryna Lozenko to talk about the relentless journey she has been brought on, sharing her thoughts, fights and realisations as her life has been unexpectedly transformed. 

  • The EFAcasts is a series of interviews putting forward the work done by festivals. In 2023, several videos highlighted the collaboration between Ukrainian festivals and other European colleagues. In May 2023 was published an interview by Simon Mundy with Rūta Prusevicienė, Director General of Vilnius Festival, and Alexey Botvinov, Founder and President of Odessa Classics as they collaborated through the ‘Joining hands and hearts’ initiative, enabling the Odessa Classics Festival to take place in various festivals in Europe and presenting its final Gala-concert at the Vilnius Festival.  In July 2023, another video was released featuring Kateryna Lozenko, Communication Manager of KharkivMusicFest; Thomas Hummel, Intendant of Usedom Music Festival; and Joost Fonteyne, Intendant of Flanders Festival Brussels, Klarafestival and Walden Festival as they created a string quartet that performed work written against the backdrop of war and hosted the KharkivMusicFest.

  • On 11 January 2023, The Festival Academy (TFA), EFA and the Open Society Foundation (OSF) organised an online meeting in the framework of the project 'Solidarity action with Ukraine', with the purpose to listen to the needs of Ukrainian festivals. 21 persons including Ukrainian EFA members, Alumni from TFA, artists, festivals and European partners joined the meeting.

  • EFA participated in an online event organised by the Goethe Institute in the framework of its project the “House of Europe” on 30 March 2023. The conversations focused on the opportunities of Ukrainian artists and festivals in Europe on festival stages offered to around 75 festival makers in Ukraine. This meeting was to learn from Ukrainian festivals and dig more into the arts offer of Ukraine.

  • On 15 June 2023, EFA was present during the “Creative capacity in the economics of culture for the post-war resilience of Ukraine” both in Kyiv and online, organised by the Institute for Cultural Research of the National Academy of Arts of Ukraine, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.

  • In its second Call, The European Fund For Emerging Artists (EFFEA) Programme supported one quartet composed of three Ukrainian artists Sonia Protasova, Viktor Hlybochanu and Kateryna Suprun, as well as one festival, KharkivMusicFest.

  • The Festival Academy created a special page called “Solidarity with Ukraine”, engaged 5 Ukrainian experts in its Ateliers (2 in Montreal, 2 in Nicosia, 1 in Elefsina) and supported 13 Ukrainian participants. It also linked displaced artists to the International Cities of Refuge and Society in Motion/New Faces to integrate refugees in the cultural scene, and is developing a toolkit with Alumni and experts from Ukraine entitled "The role of festivals in peacebuilding - Solidarity through Art and Festivals".

Don’t forget, help can take all sorts of forms from raising awareness on the war, giving a voice to Ukrainian people and artists, creating networking opportunities, to promoting cultural resistance and assisting in the distribution of creative works (here is a list created by Artists at Risk of Emergency Temporary Relocation Resources for people impacted by the war in Ukraine). Access to culture must be maintained!

Let’s keep on supporting and bringing visibility to our Ukrainian festivals colleagues.