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Cultural institutions oppose the reorganization of Dovzhenko Centre

19.08.2022, 15:43

Several cultural institutions expressed disagreement with the decision of the Ukrainian State Film Agency to "reorganize" the National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Centre. The appeal was posted on the PEN Ukraine website.

It is addressed to President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister Dmytro Shmyhal, and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. It has already been signed by PEN Ukraine, the Ukrainian Institute, and the Art Arsenal.

Full text of the appeal:

We strongly disagree with the Ukrainian State Film Agency's decision to "reorganize" the National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Centre, which will lead to the de facto collapse of one of the most prominent and successful institutions of Ukrainian culture and cultural diplomacy. This decision will destroy Dovzhenko Centre's cohesive institutional model, which involves preservation, research, rethinking, and promotion of Ukrainian archival and contemporary cinema in Ukraine and abroad.

According to the approach proposed by Derzhkino, each Ukrainian museum should be divided into several institutions and barriers should be established between these parts, making it impossible to fulfill the mission of a modern cultural institution. This is completely contrary to modern approaches to cultural management, which involve multidisciplinarity, flexibility, constant search for new meaning, and reliance on cultural heritage.

However, the main problem is that such decisions weaken Ukraine's ability to tell its story on the international stage amid the world's unprecedented attention to our state.

International security and understanding directly depend on the dialogue between the institutions of different countries, which ensure the the society's cohesiveness and its ability to legitimize political decisions. Therefore, the stability of cultural institutions, especially in times of war and political and economic crises, is an important element of national security and reflects the level of the country's agency — whether it is able to act as a full-fledged party in the dialogue with other world politics actors.

The weakening of institutions and successful cultural diplomacy agents, which Dovzhenko Centre currently is, their reorganization or liquidation, the undermining of their organizational structure, depriving them of material cultural assets such as the film fund, the pressure on their staff is a direct reputation loss for the entire country and an extremely negative signal for the international community, which goes far beyond the cultural field.

Foreign partners and donors consider such actions as corruption risks and disrespect for cooperation and the previously provided support. It is a sign that the shared values ​​are being questioned. The destruction of successful cultural institutions will harm the world's trust in Ukraine and weaken the support for the actions of the President and the Government of Ukraine, which today are crucial for the defense of Ukraine's independence.

In addition, separating the film collection from other structural units of Dovzhenko Centre (the film archive and the Museum of Cinema) will make impossible many international projects related to the promotion of Ukrainian film heritage in the world, its proper preservation, and research according to international standards. Consolidated, justified criticism of such a decision from the professional cultural community is a serious reason for revising Derzhkino's according order.

We call on the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to cancel the decision of its subordinate, the Ukrainian State Film Agency, on the "reorganization" of Dovzhenko Centre, which represents Ukraine in the International Federation of Film Archives and is an cohesive organization that has proven its effectiveness both in Ukraine and abroad.

As IMI reported, on August 17, State enterprise "National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Centre" announced that the Ukrainian State Film Agency (Derzhkino) had issued an order on the Centre's reorganization, "which de facto means liquidation of the national film archive, which has consistently been engaged in the preservation, research, and popularization of Ukrainian cinema since 1994."

As the Centre explained, according to Derzhkino's order, all films from the collection and all Dovzhenko Centre's property must be transferred to the State Institution "Academic Cinematography Centre of Ukraine", whose main activity, according to NSRUEO, is "higher education." The State Etnterprise "Ukrainian Animation Studio" should be separated from the structure of Dovzhenko Centre; copyrights for Ukrainian animation, currently owned by the Centre, will be passed on to it. The Centre's employees must be notified of possible dismissal.

"In this way, Derzhkino entrusts the responsibility for Ukraine's unique cinematic heritage to a de facto 'dormant' institution that has not done any work since being founded during Yanukovych's presidency in 2011, does not have a staff, any relevant competencies, a website, etc.," the statement reads.

In turn, Derzhkino assures that the order does not provide for the liquidation of the Dovzhenko Centre, but only for its reorganization with the formation of a separate legal entity – the State Enterprise "Ukrainian Animation Studio."

petition with the demand to cancel the reorganization of the state enterprise "National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Centre" has been registered on the website of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Later, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy initiated the discussion of the decision on the reorganization of Dovzhenko Centre with the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Ukrainian State Film Agency.

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