Artivism & Solidarity Back

Artivism & Solidarity

The project “Artivism & Solidarity” wants to inspire civil society to creatively communicate and to act in solidarity while bringing attention to social and ecological problems. The project has its focus on Eastern Europe and Russia.

We interviewed Vera Goshkoderia and Alina Minkova to better understand where their idea comes from. Vera is an urban and climate activist and producer of sociocultural projects at Park Ring Kaliningrad. Park Ring is an initiative of professional citizens aims to develop a network of green public spaces in Kaliningrad. They organise many cultural and educational events and activities for local residents, creating a space for dialogue about urban nature, heritage, and sustainable mobility. They demand a change in current urban development, and for this to happen the support from their communities is fundamental. For a few years already, they’ve been working on projects connecting sustainability and culture.

Vera tells us: “The question for me was how to attract more attention to urgent social and environmental problems, in particular how to use artistic method to raise awareness. How to intersect activism and art? Festivals and interventions in public space are useful to bring attention to the problem, they spark the involvement of people. This is how the idea came up.”

Alina is a festival producer and sustainability activist, she lives and works in Karlskrona. Her purpose is the promotion of sustainability practices in the culture industry. “I love festivals because it is not the regular rhetoric that activists usually use. Using artistic methods like music, painting and dancing gives better results in engaging people with sustainability matters than traditional rhetoric.”

Together, Vera and Alina started discussing alternative and effective strategies for activist campaigns to raise awareness around different sustainability challenges. Their aim is connecting activism to culture & art while attracting attention and gaining support. During the pandemic they noticed that social and environmental issues, such as ecological degradation, the climate crisis, violence, discrimination and exclusion became even more urgent, but at the same time less visible because news on it got lost in the stream of pressing and urgent news.

In Eastern Europe, the fate of the most vulnerable people, which are the ones also more affected by the pandemic crisis, mostly depends on the work of NGOs run by dedicated activists and volunteers, as governmental support is absent or insufficient. NGOs, however, find themselves in a tough position with decreasing donations. If activists and NGOs disappear the socio-ecological well-being will be threatened.

The project consists of stimulating public discourse about European solidarity, culture and sustainability by organising an open online-discussion with experts in these fields. Through a series of online seminars, they want to spread practical knowledge about artistic activism to civil society in Eastern European counties.

Additionally, they will organise a so-called Ideathon, where participants propose ideas for artivism (art+activism) campaigns to inspire solidarity and mutual assistance in Europe. Ten projects will be selected and implemented locally by their partners. Furthermore, the campaigns will be compiled once implemented in a digital exhibition, that will be an example and attract more people to solidarity activism. The call will mostly focus on Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and Latvia but the participation is open for all European countries for activities held digitally. Thanks to professional and personal connections, their partner organisations are committed to support the project informally and to provide the connection between the organisers and local artists, cultural workers and local NGOs and activist communities.

European solidarity and common space
According to Vera and Alina it is important to share the knowledge about and notions of European values and European sentiment with the focus on solidarity in Eastern European countries. To have an open public discussion about the value of solidarity in countries where this notion is less established and recognised, it is fundamental to attract public attention.

Through this project, they, above all, aim to support activist groups and NGOs that are on a daily basis working to increase solidarity and playing a key role in supporting societies in Eastern Europe and raising global matters to the public attention that would have been lost in the light of the current crisis.

In the situation of closed borders or limitations to travel and little opportunities to meet, online-communities play an important role in mutual support. The fact that activist groups meet to share their ideas and have the possibility to implement their campaigns, will help them realise that they are united by common problems and can benefit from the cooperation with colleagues across the borders.

The project hopes to make people realise that the experience of being in a common space where they are heard and accepted will encourage them to bear the values of united Europe further in their work.

Granted: 15.000 euros