By Dr. Ulf Hausbrandt, Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum Kyiv.
The Austrian Cultural Forum Kyiv was founded in 1994. It is part of a global network of 30 Austrian Cultural Forums which promote Austrian art and culture abroad. The Cultural Forum is part of the Foreign Ministry of Austria which also funds its activities. Every year the Cultural Forum organizes and/or supports numerous events in the fields of art, music, literature, theatre, science etc. Through these events and projects, we do not only showcase contemporary Austrian art and culture in Ukraine but also create opportunities for Ukrainians and Austrians to learn more about each other.
This year, we are celebrating the Austrian-Ukrainian Year of Culture and the 25th anniversary of the Cultural Forum Kyiv. For us, this is an opportunity to lift the cultural exchange and cooperation between our countries to a new level. It also allows us to highlight the vivid cultural exchange that already exists between Austria and Ukraine.
Recently, we launched austriaukraine2019.com, a joint project of the Ukrainian Institute and the Austrian Cultural Forum Kyiv. This website is special as it allows both sides to upload contents and to put their projects in Austria and Ukraine on display. We also aim to engage a broader public by inviting people to participate in the Cultural Year with their projects and ideas. All this is cultural exchange and cooperation in action.
As for this year´s program, we decided to support many projects in different places rather than staging a small number of large productions. This way, we are able to reach more people in Ukraine. Given the considerable size of the country, this is no easy task. However, we manage quite well thanks to enthusiastic festival organizers and Austrian artists who are equally eager to discover Ukraine.
During the coming weeks and months, we will participate in Gogolfest in Mariupol, we will attend Book Arsenal in Kyiv and send an Austrian band to Leopolis Jazz Fest in Lviv. We will see a return of the Austrian Film Week in Kyiv, stage a new production at Koleso Theatre and do a major cooperation with the New Era Orchestra. We are also planning to publish an anthology of contemporary Austrian literature and to organize a symposium of Austrian and Ukrainian historians. These are just a few examples to illustrate the diversity of the projects we have in the pipeline for this Cultural Year. There will be more than 50 events and projects in total, and their number is still rising as we continue to receive interesting project proposals every week.
Doing cultural work in Ukraine is a highly rewarding task. It is an important contribution to the bilateral relations of our countries. And it caters to our desire to know each other better as neighbors and Europeans. As the Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum Kyiv, I wish people in Austria and Ukraine many interesting cultural moments throughout this year.