On 6 April 2016, Dutch citizens voted “for or against the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine?” This is an important decision for the future direction of both countries and their relationships with Europe, and we find it very unfortunate that the majority of voters said no.

For more than a decade, ECF has been working with many partners in Ukraine and we have built strong partnerships. In 2015, the ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture was awarded to Visual Culture Research Center (VCRC) in Kiev and we continue to support exchange between cultural managers from Europe and Ukraine through our Tandem programme.

In a recent interview, VCRC’s director Vasyl Cherepanyn said that: “We need a common European vocabulary; it is the basis to make the understanding of our different experiences possible and to reflect on the solutions of our common European problems without hiding social reality.” This is what we are trying to build throughout our programmes.

ECF believes in Europe and believes that culture is the space within which we can confront, negotiate and navigate our differences - the space within which we learn to live together - in Europe, but also in the world. And this space begins very close to home. For me Europe is an intricate web of inter-local connections, a much different picture than a patchwork of nations, layered over the people themselves.

We will continue building this Europe neighbourhood by neighbourhood and relationship by relationship - open to and connecting with both those who think like us and those who do not.

Katherine Watson,
Director of the European Cultural Foundation

Tandem Cultural Managers Exchange Programme

Our Tandem Ukraine exchange programme gathers cultural managers based in Ukraine, all 28 EU member states, Belarus, Moldova and the Russian Federation. For more info visit the Tandem website

Strengthening cross-border collaboration is the best way to answer the crisis in Ukraine
— a Tandem Ukraine participant

Windows into Protest - Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square, by Ivan Honchar Museum and Kettle Partnership (part of a Tandem Ukraine project). Ukrainians actively self-organised, bravely protested and some heroically died for democratic values and their human rights. The interviews in this video give an insight into a range of personal experiences from Maidan activists. 

About the referedum

The Dutch Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement referendum is a referendum on the approval of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine, which was held in the Netherlands on 6 April 2016. The referendum question was: "Are you for or against the Approval Act of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine?"

External resources:

ECF Labs

How can culture offer solidarity and common ground to overcome economic and political conflicts of our time? Two courageous examples are the Athens Biennale (Greece) and the Visual Culture Research Center (Ukraine), both laureates of the 2015 ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture.

The following lab aims to understand the cultural and political contexts in which they work, and to open up a broader conversation on culture in times of conflict and crisis. Anyone can join:

A film by Hella Rottenberg and Laura Starink. Published on Raam op Rusland's YouTube channel

Resources from our Library: