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European Integration Through Culture: TANDEM Exchange Ukraine

2014 and 2015 are the years when the second round for the European program TANDEM Ukraine unites cultural organisations from Ukraine with partners from the EU countries. The aim of the program is to connect and inspire cultural managers by supporting the sharing of knowledge and experience across geographical and cultural borders.


Participants of Partnership Forum in Lviv
Participants of Partnership Forum in Lviv


TANDEM is an exchange program that assists cultural organisations in developing long-term working relationships, knowledge development, and networking opportunities with project partners.


It was established in 2011 by MitOst and ECF (European Cultural Foundation). The program TANDEM Ukraine is realised in the framework of “Dialogue for Change”, supported by the Federal Foreign Office (Berlin).


Notably, the first “tandems” were from Ukraine, Moldova and the EU.


Since that time, four more TANDEM programs were successfully organised – TANDEM Shaml, TANDEM Turkey, TANDEM Community and Participation, and TANDEM Europe.


Olha Kotska
Olha Kotska, project manager, TANDEM Ukraine

The main idea of this program is to bring two cultural managers from different countries in a setting where they can better understand each other. Also, TANDEM offers the space for prototyping and testing innovative ideas.


This program has basically three levels of interaction: 1. Organisational level, – establishing long-term collaboration on the institutional level . 2. Project level, – co-creation and implementation of the project ideas. 3. Personal level – in other words, “chemistry” between participants on personal, but also professional levels..


Since TANDEM program operates in other countries, it is also about belonging to the bigger network, TANDEM is about connecting people, places and ideas in wider Europe.

In October 2014, thirteen cultural managers who represent cultural organisations from all over Ukraine have met colleagues from different EU countries and created together thirteen projects. Which are being implemented in 2015, mostly in Ukraine.


The author of this article is also taking part in TANDEM Ukraine program, representing ART Optimists from Mykolayiv. Hence, I would like introduce you to some TANDEM Ukraine projects and cultural managers. You can see the full list of participants and projects on


TANDEM Ukraine
Andriy Linik, Katarína Gatialová, Emoke Bada and Evgeniya Dulko


Double Tandem: Ievgeniia DulkoART Optimists (Mykolajiv) and Emöke BadaIgor Metropol (Budapest), Andriy LinikCenter for Urban History of East Central Europe (Lviv)  and Katarína GatialováTruc sphérique NGO (Žilina)


Emőke Bada

I am a media artist, and I graduated from Hungarian University of Fine Arts in 2012. I primarily work with still and moving images, but my experiments often lead me to other types of expression like text, experiences, objects, and events.  IGOR METROPOL is a not-for-profit organization located in Budapest, founded in 2011 by people from different creative sectors. Our aim is to foster the visibility of contemporary culture from Hungary abroad and to strengthen international relations between Budapest and the World.


Our project, – Survival Kit for Virtual Reality is very exciting for us, and it could not have happened without the TANDEM program. TANDEM Ukraine gave us the opportunity to build relationships with organisations from Ukraine and elsewhere through the meetings they facilitated with cultural managers from all over Europe.


Personally it has led me to make new friends and professional contacts and I hope that I will be able to work again in the future with people and organisations I got to meet through TANDEM.


Tandem participants
David Boyd and Mykhailo Glubokyi


Tandem: David BoydBeat Carnival (Belfast) and Mykhailo GlubokyiIzolyatsia, a platform for Cultural Initiatives (Kyiv).


David Boyd

I am the Director  and the founder of Beat Carnival, which was started 21 years ago. It was the time when Belfast was still a very divided city, there were a lot of troubles including conflict and violence on the streets. So I wanted to do something that was very different: something positive and creative and it was important for me that artists would do something on the street, not just in  a gallery. We are not trying to be like Caribbean Carnival or Brazilian Carnival, but the idea of ‘carnival’ celebration on the streets is an important thing for us – when normally, people gathering on the streets means that there will be confrontation and trouble.


The interesting connection between our two organisations is the idea of making art in a conflict situation and art that can transform a divisive conflict situation to something creative, shared and hopeful.


Our project is to look at visual images of cultural identity, how people express their sense of identity and their sense of belonging to the place. So when we get together we will collect different visual images from the past and then we want to have artists from both countries working on new ideas and images. In Ukraine, the plan is to go to Mariupol and do some paintings and art works there together with artists from Belfast.


Mihaylo Glubokyi

My organisation has been working on the territory of ex-insulation material factory in Donetsk. Unfortunately, in 2014 the territory of the factory was seized by DNR terrorists, that’s why we had to move to Kyiv and to continue our work from there. But we are still working in the Eastern Ukraine, especially with cities which are close to the war zone.


The main goal of this project for me is to learn how David and his colleagues from Beat Carnival made all the sides of the conflict come to peace through art and integrated both sides of the community into one.


I think it will be important project for IZOLYATSIYA because we are still planning lots to do in the Eastern Ukraine, where society is strongly divided and our aim is to make people come together, make them think critically, without any political hinting.


Anastasiia Ponomarova and Niels Grootjans


Tandem: Anastasiia PonomarovaCANactions (Kyiv) and Niels Grootjans – European Geography Association (EGEA) (Utrecht)


Anastasiia Ponomarova

I am an architect and urbanist interested in participatory city initiatives and revitalization of former industrial areas. I have been working in CANactions organization for 4 years. This organіzation is an educational platform and a place for sharing ideas about city development. From 2012, our main approach in different research and educational projects is an interdisciplinary approach.


In this case, TANDEM project is a great opportunity to come closer to cultural managers and specialist interested in city development process. As for myself, this program is a great experience as a cultural manager and a fantastic laboratory for creating my dream social project as well. It calls Map me happy and it is an innovative platform which helps to diversify a public spaces in cities.


But this project is not the only one I have been working on. I am involved in Transformers project, organized by another TANDEM team: Communa ASBL and Cultural Dialog. Thanks to this collaboration I got to know a lot about the transformation of cities through cultural events.


Tandem Ukraine
Interim Meeting, Plzen 2015


Niels Grootjans

I’m a geographer and a social entrepreneur. I live in Nijmegen (Netherlands). I participate in TANDEM with my organisation European Geography Association (EGEA), which is a vast network of young active geographers. Together with our great new partner CANactions  we are developing a new innovative initiative.


The aim of Map Me Happy is to improve and diversify public spaces by finding out what it is that makes some places better than others. We ask you –fellow urbanites – to share your positive experience with public places and tell us ‘What creative activities can you do only there?’ and ‘Can you suggest ways for exporting these positive features to other places?’. Our application and the map will give you a great opportunity to explore and experience your own city through your fellow urbanites’ eyes (community sharing) and share your opinion for improving your own city (community planning).


Would I have embarked on this journey without TANDEM? For sure not! TANDEM is foremost an idea laboratory and I owe a very great deal of my current set of ideas to TANDEM and to people I met here.

Photos by Olha Zarko 


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