Luxembourg's Minister for Culture, Eric Thill; Credit: © MCULT

In the run-up to the UA Days' "Cultural Boom" at the Rotondes in Luxembourg-Bonnevoie on Saturday 15 June 2024, talked with Luxembourg's Minister for Culture, Eric Thill.

The LUkraine Asbl is very active in Luxembourg, both in supporting Ukrainian refugees who are currently living in Luxembourg, as well as raising awareness of the needs of/in Ukraine since the Russian invasion on 24 February 2022. The Luxembourg government has been supporting Ukrainian refugees here, both directly and indirectly, including via LUkraine Asbl, in a number of ways including in the cultural domain. The LUkraine Asbl recognises that the Ukrainian community in Luxembourg immensely grateful for the Luxembourg government's strong and long-standing support of Ukrainian culture and artists. We understand that such support is incredibly valuable to them, especially in such a challenging time for Ukraine when it might seem that culture may not be a priority. In your opinion, what role does cultural diplomacy play in strengthening the relationship between Luxembourg and Ukraine during these challenging times?

Minister Thill: The Ministry of Culture is fully committed to the Luxembourg Government's unwavering solidarity and support efforts towards Ukraine for as long as necessary. In my opinion, the defence of freedom of expression and opinion plays a crucial role. These freedoms are an important element of democratic societies and must be protected. Therefore, the Luxembourgish government continues to support Ukraine in defending these values, including artistic freedom and the role of culture in a democracy.

For instance, we are financially supporting the artistic scene in Ukraine. This financial aid aims to ensure the continued impact of Ukrainian artists, sustaining their contribution to the Ukrainian identity. We also took part in the first international conference on the recovery of the Ukrainian cultural sector that took place in Vilnius and we are among the initial co-sponsors of the "Vilnius Call for Action" that has been adopted in the presence of Ukraine's acting minister for Culture.

Here in Luxembourg, we are happy to have a large Ukrainian community. It is important to me that, besides supporting the artistic scene in Ukraine, we also celebrate Ukrainian culture here, for example with an occasion like the UA Days, fostering our cross-cultural exchanges and underlining our common values. This important relationship enriches our diverse cultural landscape. Apart from the UA Days, the Luxembourg government has been supporting Ukrainian artists via the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation: please tell us more about this support? What future initiatives or programmes are being planned by the Ministry of Culture to further support Ukrainian culture here in Luxembourg?

Minister Thill: The ministry and its attached institutes have rolled out diverse support efforts. First, the ministry's collaboration with the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation (UCF) since 2022 consists of financing each year a grants programme. This financial aid aims to ensure the continued impact of Ukrainian artists, sustaining their contribution to the Ukrainian identity. Moreover, we have already exchanged with the UCF about other possible collaborations, and we will review the learnings from the conference in Vilnius to see how we can engage with additional partners, perhaps through providing expertise to Ukrainian professionals through our cultural institutes. Last but not least, I would also like to point out our national Film Fund's engagement with the "European Solidarity Fund For Ukrainian Films", an initiative dedicated to support Ukrainian filmmakers to complete their films or to develop new projects, while fostering co-productions. How can other countries maybe learn from Luxembourg's approach to integrating and supporting diverse cultural communities, particularly in terms of policy and community engagement?

Minister Thill:  In my opinion, learning from each other is crucial. At the same time, European societies are very diverse and live in different contexts. Luxembourg is lucky to be enriched by communities from many different origins, which contributes to the diversity of our society. Fostering cultural exchanges and providing access to culture for everybody is one of my key priorities as Minister of Culture. I would be delighted to see the same support for cultural communities in other European countries. In what ways do you believe the UA Days festival contributes to the integration and mutual understanding among the diverse nationalities comprising the international community and Luxembourg nationals?

Minister Thill: Ukraine is a country with a unique and amazingly rich culture. It plays an important role in many regards, for instance in Europe's art history. The UA Days festival is a great opportunity to connect with the Ukrainian community and to learn about the country's cultural background. I would like to commend LUkraine asbl and its immensely dedicated team for the organisation of this important event! What message would you like to convey to the Ukrainian community in Luxembourg and to all visitor of the 2nd edition of UA Days in Luxembourg?

Minister Thill: Luxembourg continues to stand with Ukraine and its people. The UA Days are a celebration of the Ukrainian community in Luxembourg, our friendship, and our cultural exchange.
Ukrainian culture immensely enriches Europe's cultural diversity, diversity being at the core of the European project. Therefore: go, discover, and support the unique Ukrainian culture, its artists and identity!