The creative-cultural space “CulturEUkraine”, aimed to help Ukrainian people, who are fleeing the war and choosing Kaunas as their temporary home, was opened and presented to the public yesterday in Kaunas, in the historic Central Post Office. On the opening day, the premises of the Centre were a hive of activities: various organisations, artists, health experts and other initiatives providing and organising support for Ukraine, as well as the citizens and the first members of the emerging community – Ukrainian citizens – came to visit the Centre. In the evening, the opening of the Centre was marked by a “blue and yellow” solidarity concert featuring Lithuanian and Ukrainian performers.

As previously announced by one of the main initiators and creators of this Centre – the representatives of the European Capital of Culture “Kaunas 2022” – this Centre aims to provide a space and a place where people who have fled the war could continue their creative activities, seek inspiration and opportunities for new ones, and to simply meet, communicate, and find a bright emotional haven, which is, for the moment, of vital importance to the people that are exhausted by the horrors of war.


The Centre was visited by those who want to help and the first members of the community on the opening day

On the opening day, the 3rd floor of the Kaunas Central Post Office, which is planned to house open spaces for creativity and collaboration, art therapy sessions, communication, and educational activities, was a hive of activities: various organisations and initiatives gathered here to inform, help and support Ukraine and its people. The new Centre was also full of citizens who wanted to contribute to the creation of the Centre in various ways.

The well-known big organisations, including the Lithuanian Red Cross Society, Save the Children, and the Order of Malta Relief Service, took part in the contact fair and provided advice and information to all those who wanted to help or volunteer to join the support activities.

The representatives of the Kaunas Faculty of the Vilnius Academy of Arts were invited to join painting activities and practice art therapy. According to the organisers of this activity, it is not only a leisure activity but also an activity that enhances emotional well-being, which gives art therapy even more value and meaning.

The representatives of “CulturEUkraine” emphasized that the aim is to have a place for everyone – from the biggest to the smallest, so both when planning future activities and on the opening day, a lot of attention was paid to children – they were entertained by colourful animators, who met the small ones and their mothers at the entrance of the Centre, and invited them to engage in dynamic, educational activities.

The modernist-style premises offered many ways and forms to contribute to the financial support for Ukraine through the purchase of merchandise: “Kaunas 2022” invited to buy T-shirts supporting Ukraine that are decorated with drawings by the children of the Hero’s School, and the stand of Kaunas Artists’ House offered brooches with a sunflower motif carrying a symbolic meaning.

The community of Ukrainians in Kaunas: this is a space for our self-realisation and preservation of culture

The opening event was also attended by members of the Ukrainian community, who welcomed the idea of the Centre and confirmed the need for such a place. Volodimir Vasilenko, one of the representatives of the community, stated that this is a space for their self-realisation.

“For a long time, we didn’t have a physical space where we could simply meet and talk, which made it difficult to build and develop the community as such. We are happy that we will have a space for self-realization, which will make it possible to learn languages and organize other cultural activities. It is a possibility for us to find each other and preserve our culture,” Vasilenko spoke about the meaning of “CulturEUkraine”.

“The Blue and Yellow” concert featured exciting performances and sent a strong message: Ukraine will stand

The opening of the Centre in the spaces around the Post Office, which was decorated by blue-and-yellow lights, was marked by a gesture of solidarity: a joint concert of Lithuanian and Ukrainian artists took place on the stage on the pavement of Laisvės Boulevard.

The concert was opened with the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem by Kiril Dernovoj, an 11-year-old Ukrainian who arrived in Lithuania several weeks ago. Kiril, who showed his powerful voice and firm posture on stage, touched many people’s hearts – the audience greeted the little Ukrainian with applause and shouted “Slava Ukraini”.

Another performance by Ukrainians – a trio of musicians coming from various parts of Ukraine, who had just met a few hours earlier and who didn’t know each other until the morning of the performance day – was also very exciting. A flawless instrumental performance of classical works by the trio of Kondratyeva Olga Mikhailovna (violin), Nekh Nikita Alexandrovich (violin), Radkova Natalia Stanislavovna (violin) delighted the audience.

The 3rd Secretary of the Ukrainian Embassy to the Republic of Lithuania, Elena Kuzmenchuk, in her short but strong speech on the stage thanked Lithuania for its support and conveyed a clear message that Ukraine and its people, showing their strength, will withstand any difficulties.

The concert also featured Lithuanian artists: songs by Šarukas Joneikis (member of the band “Garbanotas”), Clara Giambino, electronic music performer Mesijus and mathematical rock band “jautì” were performed.

The opening of the Centre is just the first step toward further activities 

During the closing ceremony, Virginija Vitkienė, Head of “Kaunas 2022”, emphasised that the opening of the Centre is only the first firm step towards big, sometimes full of challenges, works. Activities for Ukrainians will start here next week and registration is open now in this form.

The curators of the “CulturEUkraine” space remind that citizens are still actively invited to contribute to the creation of the Centre by donating essential household items, especially IT devices – computers, monitors, tablets, etc. We invite you to register any items you have that you would like to donate to the Centre here.

The report was prepared by Vaida Morkūnaitė
Photo author Martynas Plepys