We have already said a lot that one of our key principles is not to bring a "finished cultural product" and not to impose our own vision, but to work out the program of each forum together. So that the team had:
- people from the region that presents itself,
- the host party,
- experts and specialists from other cities that introduce external optics and have specific expertise. In our case, these are mostly people who have worked with us for more than one season.
In preparation for the SlobodaCult Forum, we decided to gather all these people and visit both: the cities that were to host the forum (Uzhhorod and Mukachevo – in Zakarpattia) and those represented at the forum (Kharkiv, Chuhuiv, Sloviansk, Sviatohorsk, Kramatorsk – of Sloboda Ukraine).
The teams not only looked for locations and partners for the events, but also tried to understand how your region is perceived "on the other side of the map" and, last but not least, to conduct a self-identification audit. Challenges related to speaking of "otherness" (cultural, religious, linguistic and any other), history, and modern context motivate not only the viewers but also artists and curators. It was in conversations with the host party that a deeper understanding of oneself, one's city, and the region was crystallized.
Even if the forum did not take place for some reason (as it is now the case with the TranscarpathiaCult Forum), such program was valuable on its own: it was an opportunity for colleagues from two very distant and little-known regions to meet each other, work and travel together. The experience of communication and co-creation, the process of reflection (when talking about your own region in another, you have the opportunity to see yourself from the outside) were extremely important for establishing inter-institutional and collegial ties.
Formally, this project was called "Cultural Exchange Program:" Interregional socio-cultural forums. Experience and prospects", but in fact everything was much more fun.
About what these trips were for and how they were arranged you may find more details in the descriptions of individual meetings.
Meanwhile, we will add a little more about why we make such programs:
First, after a long joint project work, almost family-type ties are born and long-term cooperation in other projects. In our experience, the most vivid examples were: "Theatre of the Immigrant", which was born at the DonCult Forum in Lviv; fruitful cooperation of Kharkiv Art Club and DK Art Area with Lviv music bands like Collegium Musicum and The Hych Orchestra, close project work of Uzhhorod managers and artists with their Kharkiv colleagues – LitMuseum and Slovo Residency, Bagels & Letters agency and others.
Secondly, the lack of state policy on the development of interregional cultural ties, lack of personal experience of traveling in Ukraine (40% of citizens did not travel outside the settlements where they live), lack of cultural and artistic content in the media, especially on television (the main source of information) for 70% of citizens) led to the fact that most Ukrainians have banal, stereotypical, often negative, ideas about other regions. The lack of a stable communication network between cultural institutions localizes their activities within their own city. However, it is interregional cooperation and the emergence of collaborative projects, exchange of creative experience and achievements that can convey relevant information about the regions, break stereotypes, give reason to be proud of the diversity of Ukrainian culture.