Culture and Education Academy Visions from Ukraine

Participants in the Culture and Education Academy met in Kyiv to bring it to a close and present their ideas for the future.
Participants in the Culture and Education Academy met in Kyiv to bring it to a close and present their ideas for the future. | Photo: Natalka Diachenko

For six months, cultural managers from Ukraine worked on new ideas for projects like a jazz festival and an art museum. The outcomes of the Goethe-Institut’s Culture and Education Academy are looks into the future. We returned from a visit to Kyiv with five visions as souvenirs.

Igor Garmash, 46, is the president of the Art Space in Zaporizhia in southeastern Ukraine.

 Igor Garmash | Photo: Natalka Diachenko “When I close my eyes, I think of all the people in Ukraine who have lost their lives. They dreamed of living in a country guided by European values. What concerns me most is the location of our city, wedged between the annexed Crimean peninsula and the Donbass region. Machine guns are not what make our country fit for the future, but projects that strengthen our culture. There’s a term ‘cultural medium’ for someone who attempts to develop the arts in their environment. That is what I want to be. We managed to organize a book fair in our city with fifty publishers and one hundred artists from all over Ukraine. For Zaporizhia it was an uncommon explosion of culture. We want to repeat it every year.”

Tatiana Markova, 53, is the head of the Department of Culture and Tourism in Odessa, a city of over one million inhabitants on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine.

Tatiana Markova | Photo: Natalka Diachenko “For me, it’s important that our state structures react more quickly to the trends of our time. We need more partnerships between our cities and their cultural activists and NGOs. Our projects need to mirror the diversity of the cities because the regions of Ukraine are very different. What I love about Odessa is the sea. I dream of an institute for political and social education for our country, inspired by the Humboldt Forum we visited in Berlin. I imagine such a centre for all age groups in Odessa with an art gallery, concert hall and library. There’s no time to wait. We are already redesigning our library and my dream is getting closer: I see myself sitting inside it with my granddaughter. We are reading fairy tales over a cup of tea.”

Mark Oplachko, 23, is the founder and project manager of the NGO Literature.RV in Rivne in northwestern Ukraine.

Mark Oplachko | Photo: Natalka Diachenko “My wish is for the world to discover my city. Literature can contribute something to this. Our organization brings Ukrainian writers to Rivne and presents their works. We are always considering other formats, for example, musicians accompanying the readings. Since our organization receives no financial support, the audience pays admission. I was an author myself, but when I realized that there are much better writers, I decided I would rather work with them. So I became a literary agent. I work, for example, with the Ukrainian author Max Kidruk. His books have been translated into Russian and Polish and we are trying to establish contacts with German and English publishers. One dream would be to set up a publishing house for adventure books. That is a niche in the Ukraine that could be developed.”

Iryna Raltschenko, 63, is the director of the art museum in Chernihiv in northern Ukraine.

Iryna Raltschenko | Photo: Natalka Diachenko “Not all of our city’s monuments are in good condition. This also applies to parts of our museum. Instead of waiting for government authorities, we have to do something to turn our 400 square metres into an art space. Inclusion is particularly topical. We want to make the museum accessible to visually impaired citizens and now have signs in Braille. I dream of having miniatures made of famous buildings from Chernihiv for our wheelchair-accessible courtyard. We are collaborating with specialists in timber construction for this. We are looking for donors to make these replicas possible. My job is easier than that of the officials in arts administration; I am able to implement ideas with my staff and the collections. I enjoy this freedom in my work.”

Elena Shulga, 32, is the art director of the DzEm jazz club in Rivne. The NGO represents the interests of professional musicians in the city.

Elena Shulga | Photo: Natalka Diachenko “I dream of expanding our jazz festival in the coming years. I would like an office for that; until now we have been working from home. I imagine a room with posters of our concerts and things that jazz musicians from around the world bring us. We would like to enlarge our team, at the moment there are two of us and some volunteer helpers. Next August the festival will be held in a park, with an outdoor stage. In addition to the concerts, there will be workshops, for example, on design and video installations. In this way we can get residents involved and citizens can be active in the cultural scene of their city. I want to fulfil my dreams. And when I want something, I get it.”

By Natalka Diachenko (pictures) and Franziska Bauer (copy) with collaborator Wolodymyr Schwed (translation from Ukrainian)