As Ukrainian artists face displacement, injury or worse, and the country’s cultural heritage risks damage and destruction amid Russia’s war, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation is giving $2.5m in grants to support artists and sites in the country and beyond. The grants include $2m to protect artists facing hardship and persecution, and another $500,000 to safeguard cultural sites in Ukraine. The two sets of grants will be distributed via partnerships with PEN America, a nonprofit focused on protecting freedom of expression, and the World Monuments Fund (WMF).
The $2m going to PEN America over the next three years will be split between two initiatives: one intended to cover costs of basic needs, creative projects and network-building for artists affected by the war in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia; and another, the Artists at Risk Connection programme, which supports artists facing persecution around the world. The grants “will make possible direct financial support for artists working under enormous strain and danger, providing emergency funds to underwrite basic needs and enable them to sustain artistic practice”, says PEN America chief executive Suzanne Nossel.
The $500,000 earmarked for WMF’s efforts in Ukraine are especially timely as the extent of Russia’s devastation in areas around Kyiv comes into focus. Last week, Unesco said it had identified at least 53 cultural sites in Ukraine that have been damaged since the Russian invasion began.
The Frankenthaler Foundation money will allow WMF to form a Ukraine Heritage Response Fund, which can “intervene quickly in Ukraine—which is the most essential element of emergency response to crises of this scale and nature—and provide early recovery actions to document and recover cultural heritage”, WMF president and chief executive Bénédicte de Montlaur said in a statement.