As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to wreak havoc and tremendous loss, we looked to cultural leaders close to home for guidance on how we Californians can support the people of Ukraine.
We are grateful to Daria Chaikovsky, President of the Ukrainian Art Center (UAC) in the East Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, who shared some moving thoughts on the many ways we can all contribute to the effort to bring relief to the people of Ukraine during this time.
Most immediately, UAC has partnered with the Ukrainian Culture Center to present a two-day Art Exhibit & Silent Auction Fundraiser culminating with a classical music concert this weekend. Seven professional artists are donating 100% of the proceeds from the Silent Art Auction. The members of the symphonic orchestra are donating their time and skills, and all ticket sale proceeds are designated for supporting people in Ukraine.
Tell us about the Ukrainian Art Center.
Based in Los Angeles, the Ukrainian Art Center (UAC) is a non-profit community organization. It was initiated in 1986 to preserve, promote and develop the Ukrainian arts. Its initial goals reflect its present plan to create a new Ukrainian Museum in Los Angeles and to develop cultural and educational programs, alongside festivals and exhibitions. The local city council and private patrons fund its activities including the annual Pysanka and Holiday Yalynka events, exhibitions, concerts and more, encouraging many diverse groups and individuals to explore the richness of Ukrainian Culture.
How can Californians best support relief efforts on the ground in Ukraine right now?
All people of conscience can and are supporting Ukraine through many non-profit charitable organizations such as NOVA UKRAINE – Humanitarian assistance USA organization, Revived Soldiers of Ukraine; Come Back Alive (Kyiv, Ukraine) non-profit; and the UNHCR refugee agency. Of course, both UAC and the Ukrainian Culture Center are fundraising fervently to assist in providing medical, humanitarian and refugee assistance.
Locally there is a newly formed organization #StandWithUkraine that has organized rallies throughout Southern California raising awareness of the dire situation in Ukraine with hundreds of non-Ukrainians joining in every location.
The support from the public is very emotional and the tide is moving toward city and county support where the Council Members voted a Resolution in Support of Ukraine, introduced by Councilman Paul Koretz, whose ancestors came from Ukraine. The resolution was presented to the press at the Ukrainian Culture Center organized by Ukrainian Art Center with our local Councilman Mitch O’Farrell’s initiative. At the press meeting, Mitch O’Farrell introduced a motion to name Kyiv, Ukraine a Sister City of Los Angeles, and recently this received a positive vote and was confirmed by the City Council.
What can you tell us about how Ukrainian traditional artists and culture bearers are responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
The current emergency situation in Ukraine has sparked a tidal wave of global awakening by Ukrainian artists in various genres – music, traditional arts as well as fine art. We all are engaged in continuous fundraising and raising public awareness of the destruction of a nation.
The Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus preserves its mission as ambassadors of Ukrainian culture, music and a unique 60 string instrument – the Bandura. The original seventeen members of the chorus survived WWII as a musical ensemble. Reorganized in 1949 in the US, its current director and conductor Oleh Mahlay has a new generation of musicians who, after a forced shut-down by the COVID pandemic, is concerting with passion throughout the USA, raising funds to help their brothers in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Art Center has worked with Ola Rondiak, a contemporary Ukrainian-American artist, designer, and sculptor who was born in the US but has lived in Kyiv for 25 years. Much of her artwork is about the current situation in Ukraine and the influence of the strong women living in these turbulent times. She has generously donated her artwork for fundraising for Ukraine.
A member of UAC, our local folklorist Barbara Wetzel held several Pysanky (Ukrainian Easter Eggs) workshops even with the children of Ridna Shkola (Ukrainian language school) to introduce and teach the ancient folk art and raising funds for Ukraine with her folk art.