A Message From Ukraine’s Book Arsenal Festival in Kyiv

In News by Porter Anderson

Organizers of the 11th Book Arsenal Festival and its venue, the Mystetskyi Arsenal, have released a statement following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Members of the Book Arsenal Festival and Mystetskyi Arsenal team in Kyiv, in a photo taken at the time of the May 2021 festival. Image: BAF

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

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‘We Need Your Solidarity and Support’
As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the Book Arsenal Festival in May in Kyiv is a high point of the Ukrainian literary year. The Book Arsenal program is based at the Mystetskyi Arsenal, the capital’s 60,000-square-meter complex for cultural institutions, museums, and art exhibitions on Lavrska Street.

While putting together today’s (February 24) statements of shock, sadness, and disgust from elements of the world publishing community in response to Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, we’ve reached out to book business players there. We’re glad to have this statement from organizers of the Book Arsenal Festival and the Mystetskyi Arsenal, and we have it for you here—with the help of Frankfurter Buchmesse’s Kathrin Grün—slightly edited for a couple of points we cannot reliably fact-check during a time of conflict-driven, shifting accounts.

The 2022 Book Arsenal Festival is scheduled for May 25 to 29.

At the 2021 Book Arsenal Festival in Kyiv. Image: BAF and Mystetskyi Arsenal

‘A War in the Center of Europe’

‘Dear colleagues and partners, friends’

“This morning, on February 24, Russia launched a full-scale war against Ukraine. Explosions can be heard in many cities of Ukraine, and the enemy’s tanks and heavy artillery crossed the Ukrainian border from the north, the south, and the east. There already are casualties among Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, including children.

“We should be preparing now the Book Arsenal to be held in May, exhibitions, and cross-sectoral projects. Instead our team focuses its efforts on ensuring the safety of our staff, our families, as well as on guarding our collection, our museum objects (paintings, graphics, fine art), including the artworks by Malevych, Yermylov, Bohomazov, Petrytskyi, Zaretskyi, and others, works of modern art, archaeological finds, and the Old Arsenal building, which is a historical and architectural monument of national importance.

“By escalating their eight-year-old aggression with these horrid and disgusting actions against Ukraine, by invading the territory of Ukraine, Russia is attacking the basic, fundamental principles of international peace and security, the pillars of the United Nations, the very existence of the Ukrainian state. This is a war in the center of Europe, and this war is not just ours, this is a war against all democratic states—the whole civilized world.

“At this time, we need your solidarity and support more than ever.

“Today’s invasion has the potential of becoming bigger and even deadlier than anything we have seen since World War II. All this will definitely have a global impact on the whole world and very likely—for generations to come.

At the 2021 Book Arsenal Festival in Kyiv. Image: BAF and Mystetskyi Arsenal

“Everyone can help and support us in the following ways:

  • “Include information about the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine in your public talks and speeches—during art and literature events, festivals, book fairs, exhibitions; the war that already became a war against the whole civilized world, free thought, democratic values and truth
  • “Initiate joint public statements from civic organizations, institutions, and industry associations—writers, publishers, and booksellers, artists and museums; sharing information on the war and the current situation in social media with the hashtag #StandWithUkraine, providing truthful commentaries to international media
  • “Share the information on human rights and lives of the Kremlin’s Ukrainian political prisoners with a hashtag #SolidarityWords
  • “Share stories of cooperation with Ukraine, considering that in recent years our country achieved essential progress in the arts and literature, cultural diplomacy, sharing and promoting European values; we would like to save in future this important vector and defend the positive milestones we have mutually achieved
  • “Show your solidarity with Ukraine, support peace, and drive the attention of your fellow citizens, media, and politicians by using artistic and symbolic actions showing the colors of Ukrainian flag
  • “Highlight contemporary Ukrainian art and discuss the books of modern writers, who have written and continue writing about the war in Ukraine, which has been going on for eight years; for our part, as a leading art institution, we are eager to provide you with all the information we have

At the 2021 Book Arsenal Festival in Kyiv. Image: BAF and Mystetskyi Arsenal

“The mission of Mystetskyi Arsenal and one of its main projects—the Book Arsenal Festival—is to create such interactions between people, communities, and institutions that empower an individual and society. This mission is clearly not about aggression or its escalation, it’s not about the forces of evil and destruction. We Ukrainians are a peace-loving nation, but we will defend our land, our families, and our right to freedom and independence. We will also defend our European choice.

“The armed forces of Ukraine are in full combat readiness and resisting the invaders as best as possible. With regard to civilians, we are trying to remain calm and do everything that the civilian population needs to be prepared for during warfare.

“The Book Arsenal team has been working hard to organize the 11th Book Arsenal Festival in May 2022. In recent months, we’ve communicated with many of you, inviting guests to participate in the festival program, to take part in business negotiations, and to visit our peaceful, beautiful city of Kyiv this spring.

“Despite the invasion currently in full force, we believe above all that our armed forces, along with the support of everyone involved—will stop the enemy and we will be able to meet in Kyiv this spring, to acknowledge and appreciate the principles of humanism, freedom, and critical thinking during the events together with you.”

– International Book Arsenal Festival and Mystetskyi Arsenal

At the 2021 Book Arsenal Festival in Kyiv. Image: BAF and Mystetskyi Arsenal

Catch up with all our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing players and international industry reactions.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Book Arsenal Festival and the International Book Space Festival is here. More on the freedom to publish and the freedom of expression is here

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.