Culture and freedom — Ukraine in the focus of the Edinburgh International Cultural Summit

Every August Edinburgh International Culture Summit takes place in the premises of the Scottish Parliament. It is a closed, several-day event that welcomes ministers of culture and key experts in the field of culture from around the world.
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As part of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture, the Ukrainian Institute and the British Council, in cooperation with the leadership of the Summit, organized a Ukrainian program called “Culture and Freedom”. There will be several events dedicated to Ukraine, the post-war restoration of the cultural sphere and the need to rethink the modern world order.  

The Summit delegates will be welcomed by the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, The Rt Hon Alison Johnstone MSP, Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John Swinney MSP, the UK’s Prime Minister The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, and Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Arts). The Summit takes place from 26 to 28 August 2022, the opening and some public sessions will be broadcast on scottishparliament.tv from 2pm BST. 

The morning of August 26 will begin with the Cultural Leadership Dialogue. This closed-invite event will be attended by Ministers from around the world, a delegation of cultural leaders from Ukraine, with the UK Government representatives. The roundtable discussion is designed to seek practical steps and solutions to rebuild Ukraine’s vibrant cultural sector in the future. 

Sir Jonathan Mills, Program Director of the Edinburgh International Cultural Summit, says:Advocating for cultural diversity is a key principle of the Edinburgh Summit and its partners. We strive to present multiple perspectives rather than singular attitudes with an agenda that is deliberately non-partisan and to celebrate the inestimable value of a pluralist world. The invasion of Ukraine has focussed minds internationally on cultural identity and freedom of expression.” 

At the official opening of the Summit, participants will hear from the prominent novelist, essayist and poet from Ukraine, Oksana Zabuzhko, Heba Alwadi, an alumnus of the Trojan Women Project, and Professor Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO 2009-2017. Maryna Krut, more famous as KRUTЬ, the renowned Ukrainian singer and songwriter will play the bandura, the traditional Ukrainian string instrument, in the Parliament’s Debating Chamber.  

Oleksandr Tkachenko, Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, adds: “Freedom of expression is a principal value guaranteed by the Ukrainian Constitution. The Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine denies our right to be free, to have our own history and culture. Ukrainian artists, creatives and journalists are struggling not only for their country, but for the democratic values of a free world, for cultural diversity and our common future. That’s why we need to unite efforts in supporting Ukrainian culture and media now inside Ukraine.” 

The Ukrainian program “Culture and Freedom” draws to a close with the answers and reflections from Culture Ministers, followed by the first of the Summit’s new strand of public events Live from the Culture Summit, which sees a panel drawn from the day’s contributors including Volodymyr Sheiko, Director General, Ukrainian Institute, at 5.30pm BST, will join the open discussion on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter (#CultureSummitLive) . 

Director General of the Ukrainian Institute, Volodymyr Sheyko, notes: “While the whole of Ukrainian society is affected by the Russian aggression, culture makers are among the most vulnerable groups. Russia’s invasion and other wars and conflicts around the world are an attack on our essential freedoms and the integrity of pan-European and global cultural relations. We must not face these challenges alone.” 

Summit 2022 coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Edinburgh International Festival – which was founded by Rudolf Bing, the Austrian impresario who fled Germany in the nineteen-thirties – creating a space to reflect on the implications of conflict and its relation to freedom and cultural expression. The Ukrainian program Culture and freedom became the third among those presented at the event. It not only aligns with the core values ​​of the Edinburgh International Cultural Summit, but also acts as a thematic lens through which two other themes are considered: Culture and Education; Culture and Sustainability.   

More information can be found on the Summit’s website www.culturesummit.com

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