Key to success is concerted work

Conversationalists: Lilia Hyrenko, chief of Department on Humanitarian, Social and Cultural Sphere of the Executive Office of Dnipropetrovsk Regional Council, Natalia Pershyna, chief of Department on Culture, Nationalities and Religions of Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration, Valentyna  Demian, vice director of the Development Centre “Democracy through Culture”, national ICH expert.


@ЖІНКИ плюс / WOMEN plus

Valentyna Demian: Dear Lilia and Natalia, as you, perhaps, know, the Development Centre “Democracy through Culture” conducts a set of interviews dedicated to the intangible cultural heritage (ICH). Dnipropetrovsk region is a good example since we can speak about close collaboration between different branches of power, public units, and civil organizations. Besides, Dnipropetrovsk region has two ICH elements inscribed on UNESCO Lists, “Petrykivka painting” and “Cossack songs of Dnipropetrovsk region”. I think it will be interesting to learn about your experience. Thus, my first question deals just with this: could you tell, please, how and when have you developed close and efficient collaboration in ICH sphere between the regional state administration and the regional council, that is, between executive power and local self-government? 

Lilia Hyrenko: We have cooperated very fruitfully during several years. Traditionally, we are communicated on various issues. It is everyday practice: calls to local communities, to department on culture, to communal enterprises. We carry out jointly many events, meetings making important decisions in discussions.

Especially, the common work on two ICH nomination dossiers has brought us together. In general, ICH issue unites. It requires and envisages the concerned work of all branches of power directed at cooperative outcome.

Natalia Pershyna: I completely agree with Lilia. I would add that the beginning of such work was made on preparing the nomination dossier “Petrykivka painting” in 2010. It needed to work with community, researchers, civil society organizations ready to support the inscription of our element on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Since the work on dossier preparation and gathering materials required much time and involvement of all stakeholders, we understood after December 2013, with inscribing the first ICH element of Ukraine on Representative List, that such collaboration was established for a long time. It became necessary for developing and adopting programme documents, preparing diverse events, ICH promotion.

In December 2016, when the second ICH element from Dnipropetrovsk region was inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and the region became, in such a way, an authorized representative of Ukraine in ICH issues in UNESCO due to its two elements, “Petrykivka painting” and “Cossack songs of Dnipropetrovsk region”, it turned out even clearer that without close cooperation was impossible to carry out research, promotion and safeguarding of ICH elements, conduct educational and art events, take part in international festivals.

For instance, during only last years, we managed to present these two elements in such countries as Canada, UAE, Lithuania, Greece, Montenegro. It was funded from different sources, in particular, from regional budget, local budgets, community budgets and, of course, with donors’ money.

V.D.: One of cultural policy of Ukraine priorities is the cultural heritage, including intangible heritage. As far as I know, there is a programme on preserving cultural and natural heritage. Could you tell shortly about it?

N.P.: If you don’t mind, I shall start answering though the initiator of such programme has been Dnipropetrovsk Regional Council. But to work out the programme there have been involved all stakeholders, particularly, academic and educational institutions, local communities, non-governmental organizations, structural units of regional state administration. Department on Humanitarian, Social and Cultural Sphere of Dnipropetrovsk Regional Council has carried out the gender analysis, the results of which would be publicized and discussed with all stakeholders.

L.H.: The Programme on preserving and developing cultural and natural heritage objects located at the territory of Dnipropetrovsk region, elements of intangible cultural heritage for 2014-2025 defines the strategy for identifying, developing, promoting and ensuring viability, integrity and authenticity of cultural and natural heritage objects, ICH elements of Dnipropetrovsk region, provides the appropriate level of their preservation and safeguarding, improvement of inventorying, creation of favorable conditions, development of interregional and international cooperation.  

The Programme is unique in the sense that has two separate sections related to our ICH elements inscribed on UNESCO Lists:

The section “Petrykivka painting as ICH element” includes 20 activities;

The section “Cossack songs of Dnipropetrovsk region as ICH element in need of urgent safeguarding” includes 25 activities.

These activities envisage:

safeguarding, promotion, transferring Petrykivka painting to the future generations;

safeguarding of “Cossack songs of Dnipropetrovks region”;

activities for transferring ICH elements to future generations, directed at their promotion, support of ICH bearers.  

To work out Programme there were involved as historians, scientists as proper communities from the region, including those were ICH bearers lived.

V.D.: Local communities in Dnipropetrovsk region and bearers of ICH inscribed on UNESCO Lists are important actors in this field. Their representatives share actively knowledge about their living culture as in Ukraine as outside. How do regional authorities facilitate this?

L.H.: Dnipropetrovsk Regional Council initiates and carries out many activities for ICH researching, safeguarding, promotion: masterclasses, folklore expeditions, festivals, forums, etc. Local communities along with municipal institutions/companies in culture and education of the region, public educational establishments have been engaged in their realizing. The Regional Council and its utility enterprises have published 3 songbooks, including 2 with audio-discs and 1 with notes. M. Glinka Conservatoire of Dnipro has prepared an audio-self-teacher in Cossack songs of villages of Kocherezhky and Bohuslav, town of Pidhorodne basing on modern recordings. A great deal of resource materials is published and distributed.

Local communities have acquired modern audio equipment for houses of culture of Verbkivka and Bohdanivka united territorial communities, Pidhorodne urban united territorial community where art groups of ICH bearers are performed. It’s what creates technical possibilities to accelerate learning for Cossack songs, improve the performance skills of singers from villages of Kocherezhky and Bohuslav and the town of Pidhorodne. There are accessible also audio and video recordings of authentical Cossack songs because of researches executed by employees of the Laboratory for Folklore and Ethnography of M. Glinka Conservatoire of Dnipro.

As for transferring the practice of collective performance of Cossack songs in the town of Pidhorodne, the Programme for safeguarding and development of the ICH element “Cossack songs of Dnipropetrovsk region” in the town of Pidhorodne and the village of Peremoha has been approved by the decision of Pidhorodne Town Council as of 3 August 2018, number 7494.

Regional and local authorities contribute to the exchange of ICH safeguarding experience as inside of Ukraine as out of it. During 2014-2019, ICH elements have been presented in Rivhe, Lviv, Cherkassy, Transcarpathian and Odesa regions in Ukraine, as well as in Minsk region of the Republic of Belarus, Greek Republic, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Poland and so on. Experts in culture, scientists, including international experts, are engaged to collaboration with ICH bearers.  

N.P.: We support local communities in two directions: the first includes activities on territories of local communities, the second is the support of events and local ICH bearers with regional funds.

For instance, the promotion of ICH element, “Petrykivka painting”, is realized through exhibitions, masterclasses, publishing and distribution of educational literature, festival events, etc.  

The annual festival-fair “Petrykivka Dyvotsvit” in the village of Petrykivka has become an attractive magnet of Dnipropetrovsk region in event tourism. This festival is supported by the regional government. We have supported the mistress of Petrykivka painting, Tetiana Harkava, for carrying out 10 exhibitions, events and masterclasses. At the beginning of 2020, she has presented Petrykivka painting together with her students in Kyiv – the exhibition “Succession of generations” in the National Academy of Visual Art and Architecture of Ukraine has been highly appreciated.

On the occasion of the 5-th anniversary of the inscription of “Petrykivka painting” to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the art installation with 3D animation was carried out in the downtown of Dnipro, available to all city inhabitants and guests. Numerous cultural events supported by regional government and local communities of Petrykivka district were conducted as well. In 2019, the exhibition of Petrykivka painting masters, L. Statyv, M. Ischuk, L. Horbul, dedicated to the Day of Independence of Ukraine, took place in Canada (Toronto).

Since 2017, a set of seminars has been initiated in local communities for sharing information on “Cossack songs of Dnipropetrovsk region”. It should be mentioned also other festivals: Regional festival “Cossack songs of Dnipropetrovsk region” in the village of Bohuslav (Pavlograd district), the festival “Let’s get together, kindred, let’s unite, nation” in the town of Pidhorodne.  The printed materials are published with support by the regional government: booklets telling about art groups-ICH bearers, annual calendars representing ICH element, educational literature, posters, notes, etc.

V.D.: During the international seminar on Convention 2003 implementation in February 2018, in Dnipro, representatives of local communities and ICH bearers took an active interest for promoting and developing the ICH element. What’s going today in this term in local communities?

N.P.: The most important thing is what local communities have learned from that and other similar seminars concerning the role of bearers and communities in ICH safeguarding. If a community is interested in researching, developing, and safeguarding its living culture, their ICH will be interested equally for other, and a community will keep its uniqueness.

All communities have adopted at their councils’ sessions the programmes for ICH development and support. Communities are proud of their heritage and try to promote it using new information technologies, including social networks – in particular, they have created own pages in Facebook.

L.H.: The considerable information and educational work is done permanently in communities (sessions, seminars, trainings, conferences, working meetings). The use of printed and internet publications, TV, radio, social networks, social advertising, publication of booklets, resource materials, compilations, self-learning manuals, audio discs is becoming the normal practice. Training seminars on ICH promotion are conducted annually for music teachers, chiefs of club-type cultural institutions, teachers of integrated course “Art”, music, and fine arts in secondary schools, with participation of researchers and ICH bearers.

The transferring of songs to young performers is organized in communities where bearers of Cossack songs of Dnipropetrovsk region are living. New music bands, ensembles, groups developing traditional singing style have been created. They are folk vocal ensemble “Liubava” and children folk band “Pereveslo” in Pavlograd district, vocal group “Kalynon’ka” of Bohuslav village house of culture, children band “Krynychen’ka” in the town of Pidhorodne. The group “Lileia” (united territorial community of the village of Verbkivka) is singing Cossack songs also. The annual practical seminars with participation of ICH bearers in the town of Pidhorodne, villages of Kocherezhky, Bohuslav and other settlements of the region provide vocational training.

In addition, groups created in municipal culture institutions, the ethno-group “Spivanochka” of Kamyans’ke College of Music, the ensemble “Kalyta” and the group “Dyven’” of M. Glinka Conservatoire of Dnipro, are acted successfully in the region.

V.D.: There is a set of institutions in Ukraine which are somehow addressing ICH issues, including M. Glinka Conservatoire of Dnipro where, for example, they work with ICH bearers, undertake researches, develop special courses. An annual International Ethnomusicological Symposium takes place there, representatives of numerous countries have participated, and concrete issues have been considered, including the development of the ICH element “Cossack songs of Dnipropetrovsk region” inscribed on UNESCO List.  What other educational, scientific, civil and public institutions of the region are addressed ICH issues, what tasks do they give, what results have they achieved?

N.P.: The organization authorized to coordinate ICH issues in Dnipropetrovsk region is the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Center for Club Activities and Folk Art, according to the order of the Department on Culture, Nationalities and Religions of Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration as of 10.08.2015, num.61. The Center makes inventory and research of ICH elements available on the territory of Dnipropetrovsk region, compilates the register, undertakes monitoring, prepares reports on ICH, organizes and carries out seminars and trainings, provides organizational and methodological assistance to communities in cultural and artistic events.  

D. Yavornytsky National Historical Museum of Dnipro and Dnipro Art Museum make ICH studies and its promotion through exhibitions, masterclasses, conferences, etc. Speaking on educational institutions, it should be mentioned M. Glinka Conservatoire of Dnipro, Dnipro Theatre and Art College, and Kamyans’ke College of Music. The specialty “Decorative and Applied Art”, examining living heritage is opened in Dnipro Theatre and Art College. Every year, 15 qualified “junior bachelors” skilled in Petrykivka painting are graduated. The lecturer, Tetiana Harkava, mistress of Petrykivka painting, bearer of living culture, has written textbooks in Petrykivka painting for students published by regional government costs. The group “Spivanochky” is founded on the base of Kamyans’ke College of Music. Lecturers and students make studies and fieldworks examining living heritage and mastering the singing style of Cossack songs with help of bearers. Annually, the educational and cultural conference for school teachers and pedagogues of out-of-school education, “Let’s save the heritage together”, is taking place in the college. I have mentioned only culture institutions engaged in ICH issues under regional supervision. Of course, it is impossible to ignore activities of our colleagues from the Department on Education and Science of the Regional State Administration involving educational institutions of all levels, from kindergartens to high schools.

Every local community in our region could also tell about its activities, institutions and bearers working with ICH elements. I think that Lilia would also add to my answer.

L.H.: Communities representing ICH elements keep safeguarding issues under special control. They engage to ICH safeguarding activities as municipal institutions – museums, clubs, libraries, art groups, educational establishments, as individuals, local NGOs. Round tables, seminars, festivals, conferences, other educational and research activities with obligatory participation of ICH bearers, as masterclasses on Cossack songs or Petrykivka painting, are actively practiced in communities. New groups and ensembles safeguarding Cossack songs performing tradition, and artistic groups are created in communities.

During 2014-2019, the thematic lessons in Petrykivka painting, Cossack songs of Dnipropetrovsk region, study of cultural and natural heritage objects of the region have been worked out within curricula in culture and education institutions of Petrykivka, Dnipro, Pavlograd districts, cities of Dnipro and Pavlograd, high schools Dnipro Academy of Continuous Learning, Dnipro Theatre and Art College,  M. Glinka Conservatoire of Dnipro, and other.

The co-organizers of annual Regional festival of talents bringing together representatives of communities and presenting Cossack songs and masterclasses in Petrykivka painting are the NGO “Women PLUS” and public utility enterprise “Representation of Dnipro Area”. They have initiated the creation of the website “Cossack songs of Dnipropetrovsk region”. The union of local authorities “Dnipropetrovsk Regional Association of Local Self-Governments” undertakes activities for safeguarding and promotion of the ICH element, it deals, in particular, with the annual regional festival “Cossack songs of Dnipropetrovsk region”. The Association also facilitates participation of ICH bearers in events in region and out.

V.D.: We’ve just had a very interesting but rather long interview, but there so many questions when assessing performance of the region. As I know, you have a regular monitoring of ICH safeguarding and development. What challenges have you faced? What could you wish to communities desiring to inscribe their intangible cultural heritage on UNESCO Lists?

N.P.: On monitoring, we have revealed the common and less studied problem: the lack of mechanism to protect property rights of ICH bearers. For example, it’s very difficult to differ art pieces produced by Petrykivka painting masters, ICH bearers, from the wide variety of fakes. While in Lithuania, there is a license system protecting art of ICH masters and helping to classify traditional crafts, ethnic products of national heritage and to code them.

L.H.: The main problem now is Covid-19. In connection with the introduction of quarantine in the territory of Ukraine since March 12, according to the Government Resolution num. 211, executive bodies, local self-governments, regional enterprises and institutions have worked remotely, some of them have been temporally closed. As a result, many cultural and educational projects have been suspended. It’s impossible to carry out large-scale events online, through internet communication. Budget assignments are re-allocated for fight against the pandemic.

At the same time, discovering, safeguarding and promotion of intangible cultural heritage require not only financial resources but also specialists, professional experts having experience in ICH sphere, active communities and individuals. Because the painstaking work awaits them: researching, data collecting, generating…

For starters, I might recommend to communities to review the available ICH elements. They should discover them, research, justify the need for their safeguarding and prove that they are peculiar for the respective area and constitute a part of their today life.

 For carrying out such work it is necessary to design tasks and measures for discovering and safeguarding potential ICH elements. These tasks and measures should be documented, and local programme with concrete doers and funding should be adopted. Our regional programme could be used as a framework.

As it has been mentioned, Dnipropetrovsk Regional Council is a regional coordinator of the Programme on preserving and developing cultural and natural heritage objects located at the territory of Dnipropetrovsk region, elements of intangible cultural heritage for 2014-2025, while the Department on Culture, Nationalities and Religions of Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration, with which we are fruitfully collaborating, implements on territory of our region the state policy in culture and arts, cultural heritage.  

V.D.: I sincerely thank you for the interview shedding light on important issues. Dnipropetrovsk region has a number of electronic resources with continuously updated information about activities, ICH elements, actual programmes, institutions engaged in ICH safeguarding. You can find everything following links:  

Dnipropetrovsk Regional Council 

Department on Culture, Nationalities and Religions of Dnipropetrovsk Region State Administration in Facebook:

Public utility enterprise “Representation of Dnipro Area”

Dnipropetrovsk Regional Methodological Center for Club Activities and Folk Art  – official page in Facebook

Municipal enterprise «Center for Folk Art «Dyvokrai» 

M. Glinka Conservatoire of Dnipro 

Dnipro Culture and Art College 

Dnipro Academy of Continuous Learning 

Kamyans’ke College of Music 

Kryvyi Rih Regional College of Music 

Sicheslav Festival Association “ArtEthnoFest” 

Dnipropetrovsk Regional Association of Local Self-Governments – official page in Facebook