What can we do for those affected by the war in Ukraine?

Below is an overview of joint solidarity actions in the Dutch, Ukrainian and Russian art communities for the victims of war in Ukraine and all people who are diaspora. This is a document in the making.


We are overwhelmed by the developments in Ukraine. This text was born out of a strong sense of urgency to take a stance as a Dutch organization. Platform BK has taken public stances before when major social changes took place, such as the Black Lives Matter protests and #metoo-movement in the Dutch art world. In those cases, we took some weeks to reflect and discuss, and to write a comprehensive statement. However, we do not think for a moment that we have it all figured out this time, and we don’t have the luxury to take more time. Therefore, we have decided to publish this text-in-the-making, sharing resources, thoughts and offer support where needed. We are grateful for any remarks or suggestions. Factually correct contributions are very welcome.


We are deeply shocked by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. We want to express our solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and with all of those affected by the war. However much we feel that this should be translated into meaningful action, it’s easy to feel powerless as a small Dutch organization. We can imagine we are not alone in this feeling of powerlessness. Therefore, we want to share the work of cultural workers and institutions and stories of cultural cooperation in and with Ukraine and shares means of how we can support them from The Netherlands.


Initiatives by Ukranian Cultural Organizations, and How to Support Them

In Kyiv, the Mystetsky Arsenal Museum should have normally been preparing for the 11th annual Book Arsenal Festival to be held this May, as well as important exhibitions and interdisciplinary projects. Instead, the museum is working to ensure the safety of the staff and their families and to guard the collection of art objects, the organization wrote on Instagram: ‘At this time, we need your solidarity and support more than ever’. On Artnet, Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta, the director-general of the Museum, shared five concrete pointers on how to support these efforts from elsewhere.

In Lviv, the Municipal Art Centre has opened its doors to those who have fled the war zone, ‘transforming into a place of temporary respite for displaced people and for all those who require psychological calm,’ according to an Instagram post. Also in Lviv, a self-organized collective of artists Olha and Liudmyla have jumped into action along with their peers to provide warm meals and essential humanitarian aid. They write on Instagram‘We are a self-organized initiative of artists and activists for humanitarian support of war refugees and other people in need. We are cooking dinners and supporting temporary stay locations in Lviv. All work is volunteer work. We need money for food and other humanitarian supplies.’

The Instagram post of artists and activists' self-organized initiative to provide humanitarian aid to war refugees and other people in need.

The Asortymentna Kimnata art space in Ivano Frankivsk has launched an online type form for international partners who are be ‘ready to help with the evacuation of art archives and objects in Ukraine to a safe space in Ivano-Frankivsk’. For more info, see this post. Donations are also very much needed in this case. Via this article on Artnet, you can read about many other examples of how Ukrainian institutions and collectives are trying to protect the people and art of their country and how the international community can support them. 


Initiatives by Russian Cultural Organizations

In Russia several art institutions are taking a stance and are condemning the war against Ukraine: Garage Museum in Moscow has decided to stop work on all exhibitions until the human and political tragedy that is unfolding in Ukraine has ceased.; The same counts for Strelka Institute and the artists and curator who were supposed to make this year’s exhibit at the Russian Pavilion of the Venice Art Bienalle


Initiatives by Dutch Cultural Organizations, and How to Support Them

In the Netherlands, both the Grey Space in the Middle in Den Haag and W139 in Amsterdam organize a Ukraine Fundraiser, initiated by Ukrainian artists. At the Rietveld Academy, students are organizing a flea market dedicated to raising funds. In Rotterdam and Utrecht, the staff from Willem de Kooning Academie and Piet Zwart Institute, with the support of BAK Utrecht, made a comprehensive document full of resources for war victims in Ukraine, refugees, and people in the Netherlands looking for means to help. The online art magazine Jegens&Tevens also made a list of actions, links, and resources, which can be found here.

Kunsten ’92 has initiated the campaign #hArtforUkraine. To show solidarity and compassion, the cultural field organized various activities on the weekend of 4, 5, and 6 March. The goal is to raise awareness and donations for Giro 555, a coalition of humanitarian aid organizations focused on helping the inhabitants of Ukraine. Read more about the activities, and how you can participate and donate here.


Solidarity with All Refugees

No human being is illegal. The broad support for refugees from Ukraine is emotionally striking, but also a simple fulfillment of human rights. We cannot forget that border police is using racial profiling and that at this very moment, refugees from other areas of the world at other parts of the European border are in lethal danger due to the cold and lack of clean water and food. This situation is unacceptable. All refugees deserve our support. We hope that artists and art institutions will use the power of imagination to promote solidarity with all refugees.


The Role of Platform BK

Platform BK is willing to support activities that use art world infrastructures to provide mutual aid during this crisis, and thereby go beyond the common sense of helplessness. Ukraine and the democratic world rely on a unified opposition against this aggression and the support of all (art) organizations dealing with the effects of war. If you can use our support in any way, please contact us at: kantoor@platformbk.nl

This is a document in the making. Please share any initiative of collaborative aid work for war victims in Ukraine you think we should share in this article. If you are looking for support for your own initiative, please contact us as well via: kantoor@platformbk.nl


Further Reading





About Platform BK

Platform BK researches the role of art in society and takes action for a better art policy. We represent artists, curators, designers, critics and other cultural producers.