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The power of communities in tackling complex challenges

Article by ECHN – European Creative Hubs Network

As the Ukrainian crisis is upon us and many Ukrainian artists and creatives have already been affected by it, there is an urgent need to support them in resuming their professional activities. Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, the European Creative Hubs Network Association has been promoting initiatives that support the Culture and Creative Professionals from Ukraine. The creative hubs are, by default, community-driven spaces with characteristics that make them particularly relevant in such context: the managers and staff of these spaces are professionals trained to host and welcome people. They can become key partners in orienting the newcomers in the process of setting up a life in a new country and environment, with new rules and conditions, linking them with the professionals of the CCS communities all around Europe and in neighbouring countries.

The first initiative implemented by the European Creative Hubs Network in a response to the Ukrainian crisis was The Lighthouse sessions – a set of discussions and case studies, best practices and tools for effective support with the aim to create a learning opportunity and debate for the hubs dealing with people in vulnerable situations for the first time and with no past experience. During three online sessions, hub managers from Moldova, UK, Germany, Greece and Ukraine shared insights of their experiences on welcoming Ukrainian refugees with the representatives of creative hubs from the Network. This was particularly helpful for displaced Ukrainian CCS professionals, who were supported with an ad-hoc program – the next initiative by ECHN.

Discover the Lighthouse sessions here.

The Ukrainian artists & creatives grant & support program was designed by the MakersXchange and ECHN teams to help Ukrainian CCS professionals that were forced to leave their country because of the war in order to help them with their mobility, facilitate their urgent needs and provide them with tailored support to resume their professional life under new conditions.

MAX (Makers’ eXchange) is a pilot policy project, co-funded by the European Union, that aims to define and test policies and actions supporting the mobility and exchanges of experience between the cultural and creative industries, creative hubs, maker spaces, fab-labs and formal and non-formal learning and skills development systems in a cross-sectoral way. This way makers’ mobility schemes for skills development and inclusion will be embedded into mainstream CCIs support programmes, policies and ecosystems across Europe.


The Ukrainian support program was launched on the 18th of June 2022 with an open call. Artists and creatives were required to fill in a simple application form and to provide their CVs along with their portfolios. After submitting an application, Program participants were interviewed by the MakersXchange Team members in order to define their current situation and urgent needs and provide them with tailored support. During the two months of the open call, 167 applications were received from Ukrainian artists and creatives from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey with professional experience in different fields –  from painters and filmmakers to UX/UI designers and tattoo artists.

Some quotes from the applications of Ukrainian artists & creatives

“My main goal now is to talk about what is happening in Ukraine through my art, so I would like to be able to show my works in many galleries and projects, and give an artist talk. I also want to make contacts with foreign artists, exchange experiences and create a cultural bridge between Ukraine and Europe.”

“I worked as an architectural visualizer and loved my job, but after Russia invaded Ukraine and the war broke out, I lost my job. I hope you will help me and I will be able to do my favourite job again!”

“I am working on a series of books for elementary school age about the adaptation of children in the conditions of emigration during the Russian-Ukrainian war. I am currently in Poland at a residence, but from August I will not have a home for myself and my child.”

“For further continuation of his photographic practice. I need extra money to buy photographic materials, rent a studio and also to print works for exhibitions. Also now I can’t find a job in my speciality”

“I’m planning to go to Lithuania from Finland at the end of summer to implement my ideas and settle in Vilnius.”

“I want to resume my artistic activity, as this is my only form of income. Due to the situation in the country, I had to go to a smaller town with my children, and later abroad. I am in Poland with my two children in an art residency, and I plan to return after all, because I rent a workshop, since I have nowhere to take my materials, and I really want to resume my work.”

With the help of ECHN members in different countries, program participants were provided with assistance in mobility and networking with the local creative communities, finding accommodation and new jobs, working/rehearsing space and exhibition/performance opportunities, language courses and legal assistance and more. 27 of the Program beneficiaries were supported with a grant of 1000 euros distributed on a “first come, first serve” basis. Tackling the complex challenges during the Program implementation, more closed connections between the ECHN members as well as with the new partners outside of the Network were established.

Some feedback from the Program participants

“Thanks to the support of the program I’ve managed to a) change my location for a better place to live, b) got valuable contacts on the networking event, especially in the activist and artistic scene of Berlin, c) found an educational institution interested in cooperation with Ukrainian specialists in cultural heritage, d) was able to involve a communication and partner management specialist to our project Museum of Ukrainian Victory.”

“We are really grateful for the support that we have received through the Ukrainian artists & creatives support program which helped us promote our music and organise concerts. Also, we can keep working on our new album that we are planning to record in a few months. This album includes all the life changes that we are going through and combines all the European cultures as the symbol of unity that we can see in the world right now. Last month we played a few concerts in support of Ukraine in Germany and Switzerland. Thanks a lot to the MAX team.”

“First of all, I would like to thank the MAX (MakersXchange) Team for your initiative. In fact, it is not only financial support and assistance, but also to some extent it is motivational support, which is so important and necessary for every artist.”

Discover the motivating stories shared by the Ukrainian support programme participants here.

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