Music Saves Ukraine Documentary Shows Life and Destruction

Music Saves Ukraine just released a video documentary of their second Music Ambassadors Tour through war-torn Ukraine. The humanitarian aid organization of the Ukrainian music industry had invited music industry professionals from other European countries to experience life in the country – and the consequences of the Russian invasion – first-hand.

Earlier this year, six YOUROPE members were part of the Music Ambassadors Tour in Ukraine. Our friends and partners at Music Saves Ukraine and UAME hosted 12 ambassadors from the European music industry for five days. They visited Kyiv, Borodyanka, Irpin, and Chernihiv to see with their own eyes the consequences and scale of Russia’s war in Ukraine that has been going on for two and a half years now.

Among the ambassadors were these six representatives of YOUROPE member festivals:

-Christof Huber (CH) – chairman of YOUROPE and director festivals at Gadget Entertainment (e.g. OpenAir St. Gallen, Summerdays Festival, Seaside Festival)
-Girts Majors (LV) – promoter and founder of Positivus Festival
-József Kardos (HU) – programming director of Sziget Festival
-Markus Wiersch (DE) – deputy director at KME, the promoting organisation of DAS FEST in Karlsruhe. Member of YOUROPE Event Safety Group (YES Group)
-Michal Kaščák (SK) – festival director and founder of Pohoda festival, musician, and actively supporting Ukraine since 2014
-Ville Koivisto (FI) – festival director of Provinssi, also a chairman at Jyväskylä Live Music Association

The remaining ambassadors were Within Temptation-guitarist Robert Westerholt, Rupert Vereker (CEO of DIY Music, publisher of DIY Magazine), Tomek Hoax (co-founder of Coastline Northern Cuts label, co-curator of Up To Date Festival), Steen Jorgensen (CEO of Copenhagen’s venue VEGA, steering committee member of Liveurope), Eva Dudaskova (Slovak music enthusiast based in France with rich experience in developing brand strategies), and Michal Berezñák (director of Bratislava’s Nová Cvernovka cultural center, founder of LALA – Slovak Music Export, co-founder of Sharpe Festival).

YOUROPE’s chairman Christof Huber said after the tour: “The Music Ambassadors Tour was very intense and emotional for me. I won’t forget these reports from eyewitnesses and pictures of destruction and damage. On the other hand, I was amazed by the strength of Ukrainian people, their connection and loyalty to their beloved country. We must stand with Ukraine!”

On the first day, when some of the participants were already in Kyiv, there was an attack on the city with hypersonic missiles. Air raid alarms continued throughout the day as the hosts were trying to show the guests the city and how it is to live in it. On the second day,

the group went to Borodyanka and Irpin to see the Borodyanka Palace of Culture, which is being rebuilt after heavy damage during the Russian occupation and bombing of the town, as well as the Central House of Culture in Irpin, which was also destroyed to a point where it still cannot function. They visited the Kyiv Institute of Rehabilitation, which Music Saves Ukraine supports by acquiring necessary equipment, to show how those who suffered as a result of the war are being treated for free.

The original plan was to go to Kharkiv, but the situation there got so critical that the hosts could no longer guarantee an acceptable level of safety, so the group went to Chernihiv instead. There, they heard the story of how the city had resisted at the beginning of the war, thwarting Russian plans to occupy it, and witnessed the destroyed cultural infrastructure, including the result of a missile attack on Taras Shevchenko Chernihiv Theatre.

On the next day, back in Kyiv, the group visited the premises of TAVR Media group, to see how the biggest radio stations operate during the war and how ticketing and production companies continued to innovate despite the war. The day ended with another event in Kyiv with discussion panels, where the guests reflected on the tour, and they discussed how to continue supporting Ukraine together.

This was the second edition of the Music Ambassadors Tour – the first tour covered 1800km and visited 8 cities at the end of 2022.

In the coming days, YOUROPE together with Music Saves Ukraine, will also release a toolkit on raising funds and awareness that is free to use for everyone who wants to support a good cause.

If you are interested, you can still contribute to YOUROPE’s “Festivals For Ukraine” Fundraiser that already helped to provide the Kyiv Rehab Institute via Music Saves UA with a much needed medical device for the treatment of lymphedema, lipedema, and chronic venous insufficiency. For more info, see this Instagram post on the subject.