The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has committed $350,00 to several arts organizations at the center of the fight for Ukraine’s cultural life, amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of the country.
The emergency funds will aid responses to both immediate concerns, like providing refuge to at-risk artists and safeguarding Ukrainian art, and more existential threats, like assaults on freedom of creative expression.
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“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,” Rachel Bers, the foundation’s program director, said in a statement. “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.”
Four organizations will benefit from the funds in varying degrees.
The Emergency Support Initiative, a grassroots emergency relief initiative operated by the directors of the Kyiv Biennial, aims to address basic needs for artists with direct support, such as covering relocation costs within Ukraine, and supporting residency programs in Western Ukraine that have swelled to accommodate artists fleeing the country’s battered eastern side.
The Ukrainian Emergency Art Fund, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art NGO, is distributing funds to Ukraine-based artists, researchers, cultural workers and organizations in need of basic necessities, which are increasingly difficult to attain throughout the embattled nation. The group also supports the visibility of work by Ukrainian artists, curators, and researchers within the country and beyond.
The Helsinki-based Perpetuum Mobile’s Artists at Risk program facilitates the safe passage of artists from war to residencies around the world. Since the war in Ukraine began in February, Artists at Risk have expanded its operations to handle the unprecedented migration of artists from Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.
And, the Artist at Risk Connection (ARC), a program of PEN America, has an extensive operation that includes providing legal aid, immigration advice, emergency grants, fellowship and residency referrals, and housing to imperiled artists. ARC recently launched the Emergency Fund for Visual Artists, which provides short-term financial assistance to artists and their families with grants for basic expenses and urgent needs like physical and mental healthcare.
As of May 11, more than 12 million people are estimated to have fled their homes in Ukraine since Russia’s war began in February, according to the United Nations. Some 6 million people are attempting to emigrate to neighboring countries, while another 6.5 million people are believed to be displaced within Ukraine. Meanwhile dissident artists in Russia and Belarus, whose government is closely aligned with Vladimir Putin, have been subject to reprisal for protests against the war and its staggering civilian death toll.
“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,” Joel Wachs, the foundation’s president, said in a statement. “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.”