On 24 February 2022 the armed forces of the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, launching a full-scale war on its territory. On 25 and 26 of February 2022 Bozar condemned this unacceptable unprovoked act of aggression and expressed its solidarity with Ukrainian people and artists. On that first weekend of war in Europe, we observed a minute of silence at the Ukrainian film screenings, and we stood together in the Henry Le Boeuf Hall listening to the Ukrainian anthem that Igor Levit performed at the start of his Shostakovich concert. From then on, the Ukrainian flag is flying over our roof.
Bozar is a European house of culture that stands for peace, mutual respect, and artistic collaboration across the borders. We see violence and destruction as enemies of culture and co-creation. Our mission is to support artists and place their visions at the centre of everything we do for our audiences. We strongly believe that now it is more important than ever to nurture ties across the European continent in defiance of this appalling act of brutality committed by Russian government. We call for extended support to all individuals and organisations that stand with us and unconditionally condemn the war, including those from Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.
We call our partners across the cultural sector in Europe not to conflate Putin’s regime with Russian artists, cultural workers and organisations opposing this war and not to deliver blanket sanctions for the Russian cultural sector. We believe it is time to suspend cultural cooperation projects funded by Russian state and its proxies, and to cancel the cooperation with individuals and organisations openly supporting Putin’s regime and the invasion in Ukraine.
At the same time, we insist it is essential to keep the doors of our institutions open to all international artists sharing the European values of freedom of expression, freedom of movement, mutual respect, and rule of law, regardless of their origins and citizenship.
The project of European recovery and post-war healing can be only conceived together with artists and cultural workers from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Instead of sowing more divisions we should come together and create a robust pan-European cultural emergency fund able to assist artists and cultural workers at risk from across the Eurasian continent and the globe.