Creative Europe Study Tours
How Ukrainian cultural managers traveled to Spain and Slovenia
In the autumn of 2018 within Culture Bridges programme Creative Europe study tours to Slovenia and Spain were organized for Ukrainian cultural managers to find partners for creative sector projects and strengthen cross-border cooperation between art operators from Ukraine and EU countries. The organizers on site and participants shared their impressions of the project.
Slovenia: Ljubljana, Maribor
5

days
10

representatives of the cultural sector of Ukraine
40

Slovenian organizations
20

cultural spaces and venues
The Motovila Centre is non-governmental institute which opened in 2013 in Ljubljana and whose objective is the promotion of promoting cross-national and inter-sectoral cooperation in the cultural and creative industries.
The programme of the Beyond Horizons tour, organized by The Motovila Centre, included both individual and group meetings with representatives from the local creative sector, an international conference, two workshops, a trip to Maribor, and a number of additional opportunities for professional communication, cultural exchange and visits to local art events. It was an excellent chance for participants to get to know their Slovenian counterparts and study relevant topics like the introduction of business models and communication strategies in the cultural and creative industries, and the features of the Creative Europe programme.

Olesia Bolot
Manager of the IZONE creative hub
I had visited Slovenia earlier as a tourist and so I was aware how dynamically it was developing in the fields of culture and the creative industries. Particularly impressive when compared to other EU countries and taking into consideration its small geographic area and the size of its population. There population of the capital is around 300, 000, but has an collection of theatres, creative hubs, museums and other cultural spaces, including niche initiatives. Even most Ukrainian cities with populations in the millions cannot claim that degree of cultural saturation. During our week there, in addition to the intensive tour, there were cultural events scheduled every day, often two a day. The country's second largest city, Maribor, has a population just under 100,000, but you'll find a very cool museum of contemporary art on a level of something you'd find in a metropolis like Kyiv. Incidentally, while we were there, there was an exhibition by a Ukrainian artist from Dnipro, Mikita Shaleniy.

During the first days what was meaningful to me was a visit to a City University award ceremony for designers. The faculty dean presented a student with an award for her design of a new vibrator. The young woman had already signed a production contract with a foreign company, and the whole thing struck me as a living illustration of how the educational system can help spur creative potential and products that can compete on the global market. One meaningful result is that due to the active development of creative industries there during the past five years, the annual flow of tourists to Ljubljana has grown tenfold, and had significant impact on life in the capital. It was interesting to note how large a share of outdoor advertising was dedicated to the city's cultural life.

Generally, this tour was like being teleported to another planet for me. It's helped me assemble a lot of information about how the cultural sector functions in a healthy society. They have a triangular approach to the sector - state-business-culture - and cultural managers as a class have appeared only relatively recently. Still, they receive extensive administrative support from the state administration in the creation and implementation of projects. EU membership gives them access to various grant programmes and cultural operators have some autonomy from the state in their work, acting as an independent sector able to initiate culturally significant processes.

Bohdan Yaremchuk
Communications specialist for GOGOLFEST and Kyiv’s DAKH Contemporary Art Centre / Kyiv
Thanks to some earlier cooperative efforts Motovila had some knowledge about Ukraine's cultural ecosystem and had established relationships with professionals in the field. Still, we were consistently surprised at the vibrancy and diversity of the Ukrainian creative sector and anticipating the kind of people we were going to get to know next. It's worth noting that Ukraine and Slovenia are quite similar in the way the sector is developing and we're always glad for the cultural and person exchange in order to establish closer ties with people ready to work with foreign partners.
Tanya Kos, Motovila.

Olesia Bolot
Manager of the IZONE creative hub
I found the international conference to be very practical, with workshops and lectures on communication and story-telling in the cultural sector. As an example, there was a presentation by the communications director of TEH — the Trans Europe Halles communication network - that brings together art centres located in former industrial zones. Izone is a part of their network.

I was interested in learning about the financial models employed in their cultural projects. Of the 20 institutions I've been corresponding with looking for information, only one was private. All the others were funded either partly or wholly by their municipality or by the state. That kind of support allows them to operate on a high level. I really liked the MENT hub in Slovenia; they work exclusively in the music field. They don't have to diversify or look for support in related disciplines and they have an annual budget of two million euro – half from concert ticket sales and concessions and half from the city.
Trips like this do more than promote creative co-production, they also increase interest in different forms of art and cultural practice. The people involved get direct access to new contacts and opportunities to broaden their experience in their field. Despite the advantages of digital communications, face-to-face contact is still the most effective method of confronting cultural stereotypes, including those we weren't even aware of.
Tanya Kos, Motovila.

Olesia Bolot
Manager of the IZONE creative hub
We had a productive conversation with the manager of the Poligon – a private creative centre – in which we talked about an exchange programme, though they had not yet worked out the concept entirely. I also met with some hubs that I had known about earlier but hadn't yet met any of their reps. We've got a silk-screening workshop and we'd like to develop that. There's a particular gallery in Ljubljana that handles self-published materials (samizdat) exclusively. Most of their collection is printing equipment. They were telling us about a similar publisher in Berlin and we came up with the idea to submit a joint-application to Creative Europe that would bring their printing collection here or our printshop there where we could make a co-presentation.
Spain: Madrid
5

days
11

participants
25

Spanish cultural organizations
35

professionals in the sector
una más una is a Spanish cultural management firm established in 2011 and boasting extensive experience in creative industry event organisation and coordination, with particular expertise in the Spanish and Madrilian cultural sectors.


The tour started off by visiting the Ministry of Culture and Sport to give participants an impression of the structure of our public administration, its competencies, of the Spanish cultural sector (specifically the Madrilenian), of decentralization and so on. This visit also allowed them to meet the representatives of Creative Europe Desks and learn more about the potential for cooperation and partnerships.

On the last day a networking lunch was organized in an arts venue featuring independent cultural operators, artists, curators and other representatives from the creative industry sector. It was a good place to get to know potential partners in a relaxed atmosphere.
Going off past experience, we also offered excursions to a number of museums. We've handled several similar projects and we've found that regardless of the discipline, all our guests were looking to visit museums even if it meant sacrificing some work meetings. So we scheduled visits to the Prado National Museum, the Thyssen-Bornemisse Museum and the Queen Sofia Centre for the Arts. These form the so-called "Golden Triangle of the Arts" of the Spanish capital. Other worthy cultural institutions had been included in the tour and so our three Ukrainian guests could see nearly everything that makes up the Madrid arts and cultural scene in just four days.
Belen Hill Jimenez, una más una.
Our brief trip to Madrid was intense and incredibly productive. First, we were given the opportunity to see how art institutions – both State and private – work. Secondly, we were shown some interesting cultural projects and the work of local artists, and finally, allowed to analyse their activity as outsiders, drawing parallels and identifying new forms to implement in our own projects. The tour was useful both as a way to study the Spanish scene and to meet other Ukrainian participants and discuss potential collaborations with them. When I got home I was filled with real inspiration to pursue some new projects and review the approaches to process within our NGOs.

Katerina Radchenko
Director of the Odesa/Batumi Photo Days Festival, director of the NGO Art Travel / Odesa.


Katerina Rusetska
curator of the Kultura Medialna art programme, co-founder of Konstruktsia art festival / Dnipro
I would like to make special mention of the team from una más una, who organized the tour. The took into account that the Ukrainian participants were all quite distinct from one another, each with a specific task, and still they managed to organise a programme that included at least one Madrid organisation that pursued similar activities.

On the first day we spoke with Creative Europe reps who had extensive experience in project support. It seems to me that in Ukraine cultural managers are a bit intimidated by their programme, concerned that it's too complex. So, for us, this was a very useful meeting that inspired my colleagues and me to apply to their competition.
Prior to this tour we really knew very little about Ukraine, mainly through media reports and from the internet. But the information you get first-hand from people directly involved in things is something else entirely. We were surprised to hear how undeveloped the Ukrainian cultural and creative industry sector is, but that it's led by younger professionals with good experience and training. It was also pleasant to learn that most cultural managers are women and that they're interested in international cooperative projects that would be attractive to foreign partners. This is a big distinction from the Spanish cultural sector; we are developing mainly regional or local initiatives rather than those that cross borders.

Conversely, it astounded us to learn that in Ukraine cultural activity is viewed as something that should generate income or some quantifiable benefit. We found it interesting that State-funded institutions were less interested (at least, until recently) in culture's social impact than they were in its economic potential.
Belen Hill Jimenez, una más una.

Katerina Rusetska
curator of the Kultura Medialna art programme, co-founder of Konstruktsia art festival / Dnipro
I think Spain's cultural professionals are ideal partners for Ukraine. They're easygoing, enthusiastic, a bit radical and generate a lot of excitement. I immediately saw in them a kindred spirit with a mindset and temperament similar to ours. Ten or fifteen years back they had to face some of the same obstacles we're facing now. And now they're talking about government austerity cuts and some limits on opportunity.

In Spain there is much greater state and municipal support available, plus they have regional programmes they've expanded with help from Creative Europe. It's a bit pointless to try and compare the situation in Ukraine where we cannot really count on regional support and most programmes exist on European grants. But the situation at home is changing gradually, like with the appearance of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation.
In my opinion, study tours are more relevant and produce greater results in developing cooperative efforts than you get with other types of projects like tourist exhibits or international conferences. It's only during a tour like this that you get time to talk with all of the participants about their interests. This low-stress, flexible format works to promote mutual understanding, shared experience and ultimately, the formation of productive professional relationships.

At the beginning of March, the Hybrid Contemporary Art Fair international exhibition of contemporary art was held in Madrid, and two Ukrainian galleries - Naked Room and IZOLYATSIA - were represented with support from the Ukrainian Institute. This partnership resulted from meetings of Ukrainian Institute reps with fair organisers on the final day of the tour during the networking lunch.
Belen Hill Jimenez, una más una.
What impressed me professionally was the curatorial work with the museum and gallery exhibits in Madrid. La Casa Encendida has an impressive programme in an incredible location, and La Neomudéjar offered an outstanding exhibit that is perfectly integrated into its space and cultural context.

Now we're negotiating with Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Manu Brabo, who covered the war in Libya, Syria and eastern Ukraine. He's agreed to deliver a lecture and present his work at Odesa Photo Days 2019 this April, but we are still looking for funding.

Katerina Radchenko
Director of the Odesa/Batumi Photo Days Festival, director of the NGO Art Travel / Odesa.


Katerina Rusetska
curator of the Kultura Medialna art programme, co-founder of Konstruktsia art festival / Dnipro
Of those organisations we met with, about 70% sparked our interest as potential partners. The organizers have made us a convenient document with all contacts and in late summer or autumn we will try to contact the independent platform hablarenarte and make a project partnership proposal.

I also liked the La Neomudéjar avant-garde centre. They have a strong interest in Ukraine and are eager to establish contacts with us and build a bridge between our two countries. They had made a visit earlier to a contemporary art festival in Rivne and are so enthusiastic about their hybrid-punk approach and have a lot of big DIY project sites that they keep together with scotch tape. We also met with some cool organizations that we're not yet able to cooperate with: MediaLab Prado and Reina Sofia. In any case, we just have to get together with them on some joint projects in the next couple of years.
Photo credits: Culture Brigdes
Video credits: Molotiva
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The project is funded by the European Union