The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has committed $350,000 to several organizations providing emergency relief to the visual arts community in Ukraine. The Foundation is a longstanding supporter of organizations that defend artists’ rights to free expression as well as those that protect artists facing threats to their safety in regions beset by political turmoil or violent conflict. The escalating war in Ukraine has imperiled the lives of the country’s artists and cultural workers and has rendered their continued creative work difficult if not impossible. The Foundation will support several organizations that are responding to the crisis by providing emergency grants to artists, connecting them with regional, national, and international networks of support, and forging opportunities to keep their vital cultural contributions visible.
“The war in Ukraine has thrust the entire country into a state of emergency, threatening the security of the visual arts community and its institutions,” says Joel Wachs, the Foundation’s President. “The Warhol Foundation stands in solidarity with the arts community and is committed to working towards its safety, while facilitating continued creative practice when possible. Fortifying the work and well-being of artists through the organizations that support them is at the heart of the Foundation’s grantmaking. We are grateful to these organizations for their critical work during a time of great hardship.”
Organizations receiving emergency relief funds from the Foundation not only address the immediate crisis in Ukraine, but also advance the Foundation’s core belief in the right to freedom of artistic expression around the world. They work to physically and legally protect artists by securing access to relocation funds, legal aid, immigration counsel, public advocacy, emergency grants, residency referrals, and housing, thereby ensuring that their voices continue to be heard.
“As artists and cultural workers are caught in the center of conflict in Ukraine, it is critical to establish structures of support that will allow them to survive this period of crisis and endure as cultural practitioners,” says Rachel Bers, Program Director of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. “These organizations provide a channel for the Warhol Foundation to offer emergency relief to independent artists and cultural workers who are at risk or displaced due to the war.”
The Foundation joins a growing number of artist-centered organizations and philanthropic entities responding to the existential threat to cultural life in Ukraine. Contributions will be made to the following organizations working at varying scales and with different areas of focus.
Emergency Support Initiative, Kyiv Biennial
Emergency Support Initiative (ESI) is a solid grassroots emergency relief effort operated by the directors of the Kyiv Biennial. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, the Biennial has repurposed all monies to make emergency grants covering basic needs directly to artists in the Ukraine. ESI is also raising funds for larger grants to assist artists with relocation and rent costs within Ukraine, as well as to support residency programs in Western Ukraine that have expanded their capacity to accommodate the influx of artists from the Eastern part of the country. The Kyiv Biennial is part of an alliance of regional Biennials that take place in Prague, Warsaw, Budapest and Riga, that along with many other cultural organizations will continue supporting Ukrainian artists by showing their work and amplifying their voices.
Ukrainian Emergency Art Fund, Museum of Contemporary Art NGO
The Ukrainian Emergency Art Fund, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art NGO, raises funds to distribute to Ukraine-based independent artists, curators, art managers, researchers, culture workers and cultural organizations in need of support to maintain a basic standard of living and security. It also ensures the visibility of Ukrainian culture in Ukraine and abroad by supporting ongoing creative and researched-based activity of artists, curators, theoreticians, researchers, and other cultural workers in Ukraine and abroad.
Artists at Risk, Perpetuum Mobile
Since 2013 the Helsinki-based Perpetuum Mobile’s program Artists at Risk has been assisting artist facing oppression and war by facilitating safe passage from their countries of origin to residences at partner organizations around the world, with a focus on the surrounding Eastern Europe region. To address the increasing crisis in Ukraine, Artists at Risk has scaled up its activity by developing a matchmaking team to handle large volumes of applications from Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian artists. It is also working with curators from the Swedish residency network (SWAN), the Danish Artist in Residence network, Brussels-based IETM, the Goethe Institut in Germany and two Italian regional networks to place artists in these countries and is hiring additional staff for other administrative duties. The organization is the recipient of numerous fundraising efforts by artists, media outlets and other organizational partners.
Artists at Risk Connection, PEN America
Current grantee PEN America’s program Artist at Risk Connection (ARC) manages an international network of organizations that support artists facing threats to their safety because of their creative work by providing legal aid, immigration counsel, public advocacy, emergency grants, fellowship and residency referrals, and housing. ARC, along with PEN America, has a strong existing network of partners in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine and Georgia. It’s new Emergency Fund for Visual Artists will provide short-term financial assistance to visual artists and their families in emergency situations with grants for basic expenses and urgent needs such as security, medical and mental health expenses, legal representation, temporary relocation, or equipment replacement. ARC will be expanding its staff to help facilitate these grants with fulltime administrators and managers fluent in both Ukrainian and/or Russian. This will enable Ukrainian, Russian, and Belarusian artists to directly benefit from its on-the-ground emergency grantmaking