Ukraine Culture

By | January 21, 2021


The range of Ukrainian culture is immense. It encompasses old Ukrainian folk songs, folklore and folk crafts, baroque and classical music, visual arts, literature and theater, film and video art, contemporary photography, pop and electronic music. Despite or precisely because of the inadequate state funding, a strong non-state cultural sector with new impulses has developed over the past twenty years.

Man in Hutsul costume - Ukraine

Man in Hutsul costume – Ukraine

Cultural policy

According to aparentingblog, Ukraine is a country located in Eastern Europe. Ukrainian cultural policy gained importance during Viktor Juščenko’s presidency. In 2005 the “Concept of National Policy in the Cultural Sector”, a key document to the guidelines of cultural policy, was adopted in the Ukrainian Parliament. The state’s cultural policy tended to force the expression of the Ukrainian identity and primarily promoted a traditional culture. Even after the Maidan movement in 2013/14 and the start of the war on the Donbas, the state continues to adhere to the concept of a national cultural policy.

In the Ukraine there are both official and centrally coordinated cultural areas as well as a differentiated unofficial and free cultural scene. The latter is developing very dynamically and interculturally, especially after the Maidan (2013/14). In the last three years, numerous initiatives have been launched by cultural workers and activists who are not only committed to local development, but also to a long-term cultural strategy for the country.


After the Ukrainian film industry was increasingly sidelined after the collapse of the Soviet Union due to a lack of financial support and competition from Russia, it has been able to recover a little in recent years. The “Molodist” (Youth), founded in 1970, is considered the largest film festival in Ukraine. Well-known Ukrainian directors are Oleksandr Dovženko, Ivan Mykolajčuk and Kira Muratova. The renowned human rights film festival Docudays.UA has been held annually in Ukraine since 2003. The Odessa film festival has also been gaining importance since 2010. The film sector has been developing in recent yearssomewhat more dynamic, especially short and documentary films are present on the international market. The Ukrainian director Serhij Loznytsia celebrated greater successes with his documentaries ” Maidan ” (2014), “Sobytie” (The Event, 2015) and ” Austerlitz ” (2016). In 2010 Loznytsia also made his debut with a feature film (“Mein Glück”). International The film “ Plemya ” (The Tribe, 2014) by director Myroslav Slaboshpyckyj received attention. One of the most important institutions in the field of film is the National Dovzheko Center, which was founded in 1999 and which sees itself not only as an archive but also as an intellectual platform.


One of the booming areas of culture is Ukrainian literature. From March 2012 to March 2014, Ukraine, along with Poland and Belarus, was the regional focus of the Leipzig Book Fair. Writers like Andrei Kurkov, Juri Andruhovyč, Serhiy Žadan, Ljubko Dereš, Oksana Zabužko, Mykola Ryabčuk and others are now also inspiring many readers in Germany and Europe.

The Lvivskyj Forum vydavciv (Lviv Publishers Forum), which has existed since 1993, and the “Knyzhkovyj Arsenal” in Kyiv, which was founded in 2010, are among the largest book fairs in Ukraine. The Ukrainian publishing landscape has developed dynamically in recent years. Although the book market also felt the effects of the economic crisis in the past two years and the print runs are still very low, more and more new publications are coming onto the market.


Since the Eurovision Song Context 2004 and the victory of the Ukrainian singer Ruslana (Lyžyčko) with her contribution “Wild Dances”, Ukrainian pop music is no longer a blank slate. In 2016 the Ukrainian singer Jamala won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “ 1944“About the deportation of the Crimean Tatars from their historical homeland Crimea by Stalin Pop music in Ukraine has the largest share in the music sector and has been booming since the early 1990’s. Chronically underfunded classical music, on the other hand, is in a difficult position. The infrastructure (conservatories, philharmonic orchestras, opera theaters) for the development of classical music is available, but it urgently needs reform. The best-known Ukrainian opera singers, many of whom are engaged abroad, include Viktoria Lukianetz, Olga Mykytenko, Taras Konoshchenko and Oleg Kulko. After the Maidan in particular, numerous new music projects emerged in Ukraine, such as the UKHO ensemble for new classical music. Electronic music has been developing increasingly since 2013, in particular through Onuka, currently the most successful singer in this field.


The Ukrainian theaters are hardest hit by the political confusion and underfunding, as around 95% of all theaters receive national or municipal subsidies. The Ukrainian off-theater scene was limited to a few theater projects, including the ” Dakh ” theater in Kyiv and the “Arabesky” theater in Kharkiv. In the last five years and especially after the Maidan 2013/14 and the outbreak of war in the Donbas, a new dynamic has emerged in the Ukrainian theater landscape. New Theater projects, foundations and initiatives that address political and social issues and establish “communication with the present” (Oleh Vergilis, theater critic) shape the theater field. In contrast to the majority of state theaters that offer commercial entertainment theater, young actors dedicate themselves to current issues like internally displaced persons, war, Ukrainian identities, propaganda, annexation of Crimea, human rights violations. But also in a few state theaters such as: Les Kurbas-Theater in Lviv or Molodyj teatr (Young Theater) in Kyjiv, the interest in the Ukrainian present is growing. In addition, numerous festivals have sprung up in recent years, creating new connections between the Ukrainian theater and international actors. Overall, there is a positive dynamic in the theater field, which is differentiated according to topics, actors and formats. A similar development is taking place in the area of drama, which has long been a shadowy existence.