Ukranian culture resolute in the face of war

Power cuts, fled staff and a lack of funding: How is the Ukrainian cultural sphere working under the conditions of war? We asked people on the ground

Twelve months after the start of the war, the Ukrainian cultural scene is more determined than ever to show the world what Ukrainian culture and history have to offer. Exhibition makers are installing shows by torchlight, performance schedules are being adapted around power cuts, and almost every cultural institution has converted its basement into a bunker.

The continued attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, the constant internet and power outages and the disruption of well-established teams through exodus, mobilisation or volunteering pose enormous challenges, even to established Ukrainian institutions. Planning timeframes for exhibitions, programmes and festivals have shrunk dramatically, while funding has either completely or partially disappeared overnight.

But despite all the difficulties, Ukrainian cultural outlets are united in their commitment to stay in contact with their audiences - and, through culture, are providing people with some relief from the day-to-day hardships of war. They are also offering ways to reflect the new reality, helping people document and come to terms with their experiences.

In KULTURAUSTAUSCH's series of interviews, publishers and theatre makers, cultural managers and curators talk about practical difficulties of keeping culture alive in wartime - and how they are adjusting their offerings amid the difficult new reality.


“We all understand that we are running a big risk, because a theatre is a place where a lot of people gather together… We adapted our work according to rules of the martial law. Instead of selling 1,000 seats, we only sell 500 – a number which depends on the capacity of our bomb shelter”

Vasyl Vovkun, general director of Lviv National Opera and Ballet Theater





“The threats are unpredictable. This complicates everything from project logistics to fundraising and financial planning. You always must have a “plan A”, and a “plan B” and that means there is much more ‘invisible’ work”

Olga Zhuk, Deputy General Director for Contemporary Art and Museum Affairs, Mystetskyi Arsenal Kyiv