The First Cultural Exchanges Program
Second meeting, Sloboda Ukraine, July 5-10

Ужгород, Харків | 24.05.2017-08.09.2017

Kharkiv became the working centre where, in fact, almost the entire Sloboda part of the forum came from, but we also had a fantastic trip to the region. 

For representatives of Zakarpattia, perhaps the greatest discovery were the landscapes of Eastern Ukraine – from vast fields and steppes – to the cretaceous mountains and pine forests. Participants from Zakarpattia, Lviv and Chernivtsi were very impressed by the road from Sviatohorsk to Kramatorsk. However, at the same time we saw checkpoints, abandoned and shot buildings (we should note that it was 2017).

In addition, one of the most important impressions was a large number of modern public initiatives in small towns of Kharkiv and Donetsk regions (including those occupied in 2014); and a rich cultural heritage that confirms that Sloboda Ukraine has always been deeply integrated into Ukrainian cultural discourse. Well, of course, there is much evidence of Russian imperial and Soviet discourse. 

What did we do at Sloboda Ukraine?

  • The residents of Zakarpattia learned the cultural and public institutions of Kharkiv, Chuhujiv, Kramatorsk and Slovyansk;
  • We got acquainted with the region and gradually debunked stereotypes about Sloboda Donetsk and Kharkiv regions
  • The idea of ​​the SlobodaCult Forum was presented to Kharkiv cultural community
  • We were looking for partners
  • The program of the future forum was developed.

July 5

  • Meeting in Yermilov Centre: about 70 people – guests and representatives of local institutions.
  • Interview with Iryna Vikyrchak (Chernivtsi), cultural manager, organizer of the Meridian Czernowitz festival, former head of Creative Europe bureau in Ukraine. We talked about cultural management, project planning, fundraising and other practical issues.
  • Excursion with the famous connoisseur of Kharkiv, artist and researcher Maxim Rosenfeld.
  • Evening excursion to “Slovo” House with Tetyana Pylypchuk, Deputy Director of the Kharkiv LitMuseum

July 6

  • Visits to cultural institutions Kharkiv: Literary Museum, Art and Historical Museum, Kharkiv school of architecture, art centre Aza Nizi Maza, old circus, the Academy of Visual Arts Gallery Come.in (a lecture on Kharkiv school of photography), VovaTanya gallery, “Nakypilo” Media Centre, Berezil Theatre Museum at the Taras Shevchenko Drama Theatre, Arabesque Theatre.
  • In the evening at the Literary Museum – we had a meeting with Uzhhorod writer Bandy Sholtes, author of the "Freaks of Europe" (with about 100 guests).

July 7-8 

Two-days’ tour of Sloboda Ukraine.

  • In Chuhujiv, we visited the mansion-museum of Ilya Repin and the Art Gallery (former Arsenal).
    The history of the Art Gallery is a great case study of how civic activists can revitalize historic buildings with uncertain status to create cultural and educational centres. 
  • In Izyum, we visited the largest Cossack church in Ukraine of the Baroque period; memorial complex with Scythian women
  • In Svyatohirsk – a museum of the Svyatohirsk Lavra (we talked to museum colleagues about the experience of cooperation between a secular cultural institution and a religious institution, the influence of Russian donors of the Moscow Patriarchate monastery on the faithful, the role of the monastery in the military events of spring 2014). Monument to Artem, made by the outstanding sculptor Ivan Kavaleridze: here we discussed the art in the service of ideology, de-communization and preservation of monuments of the Soviet era. This inspired the curators of the lecture and discussion program to include these issues into the broad discourse for discussions in Uzhhorod. 
  • Kramatorsk – the Free House space, meeting with public activists and the first deputy head of the Donetsk Regional State Administration. The participants of the meeting presented local initiatives and discussed future cooperation in the process of preparation of the SlobodaCult Forum.
  • City tour with local historian and public activist Oleksa Muravlov.
  • Slovyansk – Regional Library: meeting with participants and organizers of the "Border" project (manager Zhenya Kuleba and artist Alevtina Kakhidze), which also built cooperation between Slovyansk and Uzhhorod and was implemented with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation. 

The guests told what cities and spheres of culture they represent and how they can be useful to people of Slovyansk and vice versa, got acquainted with local activists, who also invited us to the platform of initiatives like "Teplytsia", Shovkovychny Park, Slavkurort and Semenivka district, which suffered the most during military actions.

July 9

Kharkiv, Come.in Gallery – we had a powerful brainstorming, which resulted in drafts of all programs of the future SlobodaCult Forum. Kharkiv curators and their partners from Zakarpattia discussed stereotypes, specific local cultural features and common contexts.