Share this page on
‘Sharing Ukrainian Stories in Prague’: art and culture as a social bond Back

‘Sharing Ukrainian Stories in Prague’: art and culture as a social bond

11 Mar 2024

As part of the series of interviews with Culture of Solidarity Fund grantees, EUNIC’s Franziska Stambke exchanged with Nikola Sedláčková (Czech Centres Prague) and Sarah Doignon (Institut français Prague) on the collaborative process of the project ‘Sharing Ukrainian Stories‘ and engaging Czech citizens in solidarity with Ukraine.

Could you please provide a brief introduction to the project and who is leading it?
The project ‘Sharing Ukrainian Stories in Prague’ is a joint initiative of seven members of the EUNIC cluster Prague, led by Institut francais in Prague. The main idea of the project is to provide a platform for storytelling in Czech public space about the situation and life in Ukraine but also about the lives of those who had to flee their country. As the conflict in Ukraine shows no sign of ending soon, it is necessary to contribute to drawing the attention and solidarity towards the Ukrainian people, especially to the Ukrainian cultural scene and Ukrainian artists. The important feature of the project is the variety of activities ranging from the film festival screenings across the publication of a documentary novel to workshops. The project seeks to be not just a one-off activity but a continuous support starting last autumn 2023 all through to summer 2024.

Can you elaborate on the various stages involved in conceptualizing and shaping the project?
After the call for proposals was launched the first step was the expression of interest from several EUNIC members to join the call with a joint project proposal on behalf of the EUNIC cluster in Prague. Soon after that, a working group was established to ensure effective communication and coordination of our work. The interested members were invited to come up with ideas, initiatives and local partners which could be involved in our project. Based on several discussions of the working group, three main activities and local partners were identified and invited to collaborate. The important momentum of the project planning was definitely the willingness of the Institut francais in Prague to coordinate the project and submit the project application. To distribute the workload, almost every member of the working group was assigned to coordinate some part of the project.

How were the target audiences identified for the film screenings? How were they reached?
Since its inception in 2017, The Ukrainian Film Festival has formed its target audience throughout the past years. We aimed to increase awareness about this event even more and to reach more Czech citizens. The collaboration with solid and experienced local partners was crucial in spreading the word about the event as well as the individual effort of each project partner to use its communication channels for the promotion of the festival.

Opening of the Ukrainian Film Week festival in Lucerna cinema on 16th November 2023_photo by Tomáš Belloň

Could you shed light on the collaborative process employed in the project, particularly regarding the partnership with the graphic novel artists?
Our project has several stages and activities that take place throughout the 8 months, and it is performed by seven EUNIC members and three main local partners. That’s quite a lot of participants! Therefore, it was vital to have some lead coordinator of the working group and the overall project (Institute francais in Prague) and to assign each EUNIC member a specific role and responsibility in the project. For example, the British Council is a coordinator of activities and communication related to the Ukrainian Film Festival based on their previous collaboration, while the Goethe-Institut ensures the communication with Biennale Matter of Art where the activities of our project will take place in June 2024. The partnership with the graphic novel artists from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (AVU) has been proposed by the Czech Centres based on their long-term cooperation in different projects. Therefore, the coordination of this part of the project is led by the Czech Centres, on the side of AVU the editor-in-chief of the novel is the main contact point for arranging the project activities.

What milestones are anticipated as the project progresses through its lifecycle?
Thanks to the project’s longer lifecycle, there are several milestones that could be seen as the highlights of the project. One of the main activities was the Ukrainian Film Festival which already took place in November 2023. However, there are still many activities ahead of us: The soonest one is a series of creative workshops for children at the Institut francais performed by the Ukrainian artist who participates in the creation of the graphic novel too. The next milestone will be the promotion of the graphic novel at the international book fair “Book World Prague” in May 2024. The promotion of the book will be accompanied by a discussion with the authors of the book (artists and students from AVU) as a pre-launch event before its publication in June 2024. The last milestone of the project will take place in June 2024 in the National Gallery within the Biennale Matter of Art – a reading performance and inauguration of a “chytanka”, drawing inspiration from the Ukrainian tradition of communal storytelling, both activities will be performed by the invited Ukrainian artists.

From your perspective, what does the project mean for fostering a “culture of solidarity”? Also, regarding the public opinion of sustaining solidarity with Ukraine.
We hope the project could contribute to the creation of a safe but open space where the stories from the war-torn Ukraine could be shared. As the conflict prolongs the Czech society tends to focus more on domestic problems and the solidarity hugely expressed at the very start of the invasion is slowly fading. In this atmosphere, we believe the project can draw back the attention of the public to the presence of the Ukrainian conflict through art and culture as a social bond.

Website by HOAX Amsterdam