Cultural workers and members of the art community stand against the current political situation in Belarus and call on all people to create protest art

Source: Dzmitry Shampanau/Facebook

Statements by participants of the protest campaign, as well as information on the grounds and tactics of the protest can be found on social media under the hashtag #Культпротест (#Cultprotest).

Dear friends! We, cultural sector workers, launch #cultprotest.

We protest against abductions and beating of our fellow citizens in streets by unknown people, while the agencies that are supposed to protect us do nothing or even help these people. We protest against arrests of presidential candidates under ridiculous pretexts. Our #cultprotest is against total lawlessness, when detained people are tortured and cannot see even their lawyers. There are talented, brave and strong women among us, and we protest against calling them “poor things” that cannot rule the state. Our #cultprotest is against total disrespect for our citizens and against threats of execution; against arrests of one-armed people for applauding and mute people for chanting slogans.

Our #cultprotest is conceived to unite all people working in the creative industries because it is also a protest against tour certificates that musicians can be denied for their #lowartisticlevel. Our #cultprotest is against mad customs duties on any equipment brought into the country, against the tax on “social parasites”, the requirement to get endless approvals for mass events. We have enough of censorship and orders of how we must speak, have enough of forcing us to sing over backplay. Our #cultprotest is against numerous events that no one needs where organisers need to create the appearance of “huge crowds”. Against BRSM (a pro-governmental youth organisation) and early “voting” under threats to students to get evicted from hall of residence. We protest against open and unspoken bans on performances by Belarus Free Theatre and blacklisted musicians. We stand against firing artists who were brave to express their opinion openly. Our culture is not lip-sync performances with shashliks and “shubomanias”, fur coat sales in art centres. Our culture is the TeArt festival and Chaïm Soutine’s Eva. Our #cultprotest finds insulting when nice but “undesirable” murals are painted over, when ugly tasteless boxes are built in our cities and historical heritage is destroyed. We want to be allowed to play in subways and on streets for people going home from work and pensioners who wouldn’t have to make their living on selling things. We want our Nobel Prize winners to have no less love and respect as our athletes. We want our medical workers and teachers to earn no less than our police officers.

We refuse to take part in any state-organised event, design lighting and sound for them, design their posters, apply makeup on artists who chose to participate in such events. We will not pretend that COVID-19 is #psychosis, Vasil Bykau is a poet, Belarusians are a “small nation” and our capital is a small town.

With the hashtag #cultprotest, we will do the best thing we can – we will create art. Our art will be rated not by artistic councils but by awakened people of Belarus. Our #cultprotest will sing, make videos, paint, organise events for free citizens, not for the authorities we are sick and tired of. We will inspire people, so let’s show the example of solidarity and hard work! We call on all arts workers to join us in our aspiration to build a free Belarus!

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