Rebuilding an arts facility in war-torn Ukraine

Hnatyshyn Foundation fundraiser planned for June 25 at Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre

Marianne Brown

Protestors amassed a defiant presence as the Russian Embassy held its Victory Day in Europe anniversary celebration on May 9.
Photo F. Adam Sopuck

Given that Sandy Hill is within walking distance of some of Ottawa’s best arts institutions — the Ottawa Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada, the Ottawa Little Theatre, and the ByTowne Cinema, to name a few — it is perhaps difficult for residents of this neighbourhood to imagine a world without art.  And since Ukrainian flags still adorn homes and embassies, and dedicated people continue to protest in front of the embassy of Russia, the impact of the Russian aggression on Ukraine is felt deeply here in Sandy Hill.

More than 1,373 cultural institutions have been destroyed or damaged in Ukraine since the war erupted, according to Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Culture, Galyna Grygorenko. Yuliya Kovaliv, Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, notes, “Ukrainian culture and historical heritage are among the targets of Russia’s brutal invasion. Destroyed museums, libraries and historical heritage are among the attempts to erase Ukrainian cultural identity.” The Hnatyshyn Foundation in Ottawa is raising funds to help counteract such erasure.

The Hnatyshyn Foundation is an arts-granting organization established by former Governor General, the late Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn. For its 20th anniversary, its president, Gerda Hnatyshyn, decided to honour her late husband’s Ukrainian roots with a special awards program for Ukrainian artists. On June 25, a concert gala will raise funds to help restore or rebuild an arts facility in Ukraine. “There is one submission from Ukraine, a violinist who is playing the violin in ruins, in front of a school that has been demolished by the war. You can’t help but be affected by something like that,” said Hnatyshyn.

Ten Canadian artists of Ukrainian ancestry and, provided all goes well with visas, an EDM band from Kyiv, will perform at this unique event. Afterward, guests will be invited for a reception and silent auction, featuring items gifted by artists such as acclaimed photographer Edward Burtynsky and by several local businesses and organizations. Folks who can’t attend but would like to contribute are encouraged to donate or gift a ticket to a Ukrainian newcomer living in Ottawa. Tickets are being sold on a pay-what-you-can basis, with all funds supporting Ukrainian arts. Guests are encouraged to make a donation in the amount of their choosing when ordering tickets. For access to the silent auction and reception, the Foundation asks for a minimum $25 contribution per person. The gala is presented in partnership with the Ukrainian Embassy in Canada and is generously sponsored by the Temerty Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Shevchenko Foundation, and Joe Clark & Associates Limited.

Hnatyshyn Foundation fundraiser

Date: Sunday, June 25, 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Location: Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre, 355 Cooper Street
Tickets, Program, and Donations:

Ukraine – Heritage, Spirit and Future winner Illia Bondarenko of Kyiv plays Piece for Illia by Ryuichi Sakamoto in the rubble of a school destroyed by Russian missiles in Zhytomyr.
Photo Illia Bondarenko