The First Cultural Exchanges Program
The first meeting, Zakarpattia, May 24-26

Ужгород, Харків | 24.05.2017-08.09.2017

What did we do in Zakarpattia?

  • We met new each other, learned about various active socio-cultural groups and initiatives of Zakarpattia and vice versa, told about the most active ones from Kharkiv.
  • With the help of various games (for example, co-creation of collages) we tried to draw a "map of stereotypes": and found out how one region perceives another. We later compared these collages to the vision that emerged after subsequent visits and collaborations.
  • We shared experience: the curators of the previous forums shared their experiences and analysed what they would have done differently next time.
  • We studied the infrastructure of Uzhhorod and Mukachevo, chose the locations where the forum events should be held – taking into account not only the place, but also the teams that work there.
  • We went to various interesting places that helped us to feel the specifics of the region.
  • Together we outlined what exactly would be interesting to hear and see for the public in Zakarpattia.
  • And also – we danced folk dances of Zakarpattia to the accompaniment of Gudaky village band and… arranged engagement ceremony of Zakarpattia and Sloboda Ukraine.


May 24.

Round table on "Regional socio-cultural forums. Experience and prospects".

Integration game "Collage of stereotypes"

May 25. 

Trip to Zakarpattia:

  • Khust: we had a tour around the city and climbed the mountain with the ruins of Khust Castle, which not only offers picturesque landscapes, but also provides clear view of the border status of Zakarpattia, which is separated from the rest of Ukraine by mountains
  • The village of Iza is a centre of wickerwork: an analysis of how folk crafts can exist today.
  • - Nyzhne Selyshche: we learned the production of "Selyska Syrovarnia” cheese manufacturing and revealed the experience of an international commune working in the village, which not only produces organic products, but also takes care of the local house of culture and organizes the international children's theatre festival "Ptakh" (learn more about this unique community in the story about the Second Cultural Exchange Program). What impressed us most of all – was the influence of the commune and small business on the development of the village and its international relations; as well as empirical experience of the collision of still more patriarchal model of Zakarpattia with a more prone to gender equality Sloboda Ukraine. An important experience was the evening at the house of the Prygaras’ family, where the owners created a museum of folk crafts. Many of the young guests from Sloboda Ukraine saw various techniques of traditional crafts for the first time – certain types of embroidery, Easter painting, musical instruments. Traditional dishes and melodies of Zakarpattia became a revelation for many – the famous Gudaky band played for the guests. A spontaneously organized party of "Engagement of Sloboda Ukraine and Zakarpattia" with “bride and groom” (Uzhhorod and Kharkiv) dressed in national costumes, called to love and respect each other and invited to dance.

For cultural managers who more familiar to modern urban discourse, this immersion into the traditional discourse was also an important experience that gave new optics.

May 26 

Acquaintance with locations and potential partners of the future SlobodaCult Forum.

Creating the first sketches of future programs in the areas of: visual arts, literature, cinema, and lecture and discussion program. Both interregional cooperation and cooperation between the directions were important. The co-authors answered provocative questions from colleagues, listened to critical remarks and advice. We also saved and discussed the first versions of the programs at the meeting in September.

During these three days, interregional working groups were formed, which further worked on the programs of the SlobodaCult Forum.