Ukraine: When creativity beats the war

The sculpture Grain in Lutsk, created by the GAZ art group and initiated by Algorytm. Photo: Algorytm.

Despite the war, the city of Lutsk in Western Ukraine is being transformed into a hub for creativity, forming Ukraine’s largest street culture platform. The aim is to create intellectual and creative community, a birthplace for new ideas, writes Ivanna Shuba from the organisation Algorytm in Lutsk.

Lutsk is a city of 200,000 in northwestern Ukraine. Though it is relatively safe compared to war zones, the impact of the ongoing war is palpable. Despite this, the city is building, developing, and transforming. This is the story of the people who believe in Ukraine’s victory and create, no matter what.

Imagine walking down Lutsk’s beautiful central pedestrian street. Instead of children’s laughter and bustling crowds, you hear a constant hum. This hum comes from generators providing electricity to shops, cafés, and offices during nationwide power outages lasting up to 13 hours a day, sometimes even round the clock.

Walking in the city of Lutsk. Photo: Algorytm.

The streets come alive with music and singing when the generators fall silent. Street performers, many holding cardboard signs reading ”На ЗСУ” (”Racing For Army” – eng.) entertain passers-by. Children sell bracelets and other handmade crafts, with proceeds supporting the military too. People donate continuously, often sending money directly to charity accounts. These street activities are an additional way to raise funds.

Despite the frequent blackouts, the city continues to thrive and even develop. Since the start of the war, the region has welcomed about 70,000 internally displaced persons. Thousands of native residents who had previously moved to larger cities for better job opportunities have also returned. Many of these returnees are professionals in tech fields, now working remotely.

So Lutsk boasts substantial intellectual resources. The main challenge is retaining them. That is why local entrepreneurs and active citizens have united under the Algorytm platform and initiated the Creative Industries Development Centre ”Abo Abo.” 

Art in shelter

They conducted a comprehensive study of the city, Urban Vision Lutsk, and chose a central location for ”Abo Abo.” Housed in a renovated building, it will feature an event space, startup ecosystem, art gallery, theatre, coworking space, and literary house. It will support tech businesses, educational initiatives, and NGOs. Of course, ”Abo Abo” includes a shelter. Additionally, the event hall is located within the shelter. During the war, we have held many meetings and events to support local businesses and assist internally displaced persons (IDPs), among other causes. Each time Russia launches missiles, an air alarm sounds across Ukraine. This means we often have to stop meetings or events to go to the shelter, sometimes as frequently as 3–10 times per day. With this shelter, we hope that many important events will continue without interruptions, allowing us to better support those in need.

Though the building is still under renovation, agreements are already in place with future residents of the creative hub. The visionaries behind ”Abo Abo” aim for it to become the heart of an intellectual and creative community, a birthplace for new ideas. Its mission is to be Ukraine’s think-tank, a powerful ecosystem where business, the public sector, and government interact.

a concept photo of the Abo Abo centre. Photo: Algorytm.

To get an idea of ”Abo Abo” residents, here are a few of them :

  • The ”Garmyder” theatre, an independent, internationally awarded theatre from Lutsk known for converting an industrial hangar into an artistic space. It engages in performances, charitable activities, educational and training programs, and cultural partnerships. One of their projects is the theatre troupe ”Sunshine” with the participants of people with Down syndrome.
  • Street Culture, the largest country’s street culture platform that brings together various street sports and urban cultures. It supports the youth and aims to transform urban spaces through street cultures.
  • Algorytm NGO, the platform that supports creative industries’ development. Uniting local business, tech, and creative community, it aims to transform Lutsk into the centre of the creative economy.

Creating job – fostering ideas

Why is this project important? Firstly, it will provide jobs, foster new ideas and projects, launch startups, attract investments, and ultimately drive the region’s sustainable development. Furthermore, this is a business. Paying the taxes, it boosts the local GDP and thus positively contributes to the Ukrainian economy. 

“Abo Abo” will be fully inclusive. This is particularly crucial today, as the war is leading to an increase in the number of people with disabilities, both civilians and veterans. Providing employment opportunities for them is one of the centre’s goals. 

Additionally, it has a significant mission: to shape cultural identity and draw global attention to the uniqueness of Ukrainian culture. 

Despite the uncertainty of tomorrow and the constant threat of missile strikes, the people of Lutsk remain steadfast. They refuse to wait for better times. They are committed to moving forward, toward a brighter future for their city and their country.

Ivanna Shuba

Read also

Uppläsning av artikel


* indicates required

Global Bar Magazine följer utvecklingen i världen. Du får våra senaste rapporteringar direkt i din inkorg.

Dina uppgifter används endast för att ge dig nyheter från Global Bar Magazine och Global Bar. Du kan avbryta din prenumeration genom att klicka på unsubscribe-länken i sidfoten på nyhetsbrevet.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.