While billions of dollars in military aid have been sent to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on February 24, relatively little money has been directed to the country’s artists, many of whom support livelihoods and of studio practices were completely disrupted by the war. But since April, a group of nonprofits in the United States has been channeling crucial funds directly to individual Ukrainian artists who have been reeling from the effects of war.
PEN America Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), with funding of $2 million from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation and an additional $100,000 from the Andy Warhol Foundation, awarded grants to 133 Ukrainian visual artists or who lived and worked in Ukraine at the start of the war . To date, $182,000 has been awarded to artists through the programmostly in the form of emergency grants to meet basic needs like housing and food, while a smaller share has been resilience grants to help artists continue their creative practices.
“The war in Ukraine came after so many other crises and we found that there just weren’t enough emergency and resilience grants,” says Julie Trébault, PEN America’s ARC program director. “Allowing artists to survive and continue their creative work also contributes to the development of Ukrainian art and culture and to preventing its eradication by Russia.”
The grants have helped artists meet expenses ranging from essential medical care to buying equipment to do their jobs and making repairs in their studios. For Andrii Pushakarov, a painter from Dnipro, an emergency scholarship paid for medical expenses related to heart disease and covered his rent. Kostiantyn Skrytutskyi, an artist involved in kyiv’s beloved Peizazhna Sculpture Alley, will use his emergency grant money to care for his 11-year-old child and pregnant wife. Tamara Shevchuk, an artist, art teacher, art therapist and graphic designer from the Kyiv region, used her grant to replace a computer that was stolen from her home as Russian forces occupied her community. For Kyiv-based artist Viacheslav Snisarenko, the grant money will be used to complete a new project and repair his studio, which was left windowless by the war.
“It’s an essential part of our work, which is really to help artists do the work that they do, but also to give them direct help in dealing with war,” explains Trébault. “Many of the artists we have helped are either in occupied territories working in Crimea or Donbass, others are in war zones and some artists have fled the country with their families and need resilience grants. to work on their projects.