Children of war tell the truth. Here, on the edge of so much violence, we have come to see how apprenticeship is an act of intervention,’ Nicoleta Zagura, founder of the Bucharest-based project Art 4 Ukraine, told me over WhatsApp the first week of July. It has been a harrowing few months, and Zagura speaks to me after securing homes in Germany, Holland, France, South Korea, Azerbaijan, and Mexico for Ukrainian refugee children and families. She tells me she is concerned for their long-term psychological wellbeing, yet at least she has been able to arm them with art.
First, working artists who are fleeing war should be afforded a level of protection similar to that of cultural monuments. In moments of crisis, the intrinsic value of artists is equal to the monuments and cultural artifacts they create. This request is complex: artist refugees are not more important than non-artist refugees; more infrastructure for more bureaucratic systems would not be helpful to anyone; and when it comes to distributing funds to artists in a world riddled with fraud, this adds another route for scammers. Yet, given these realities, it is crucial to consider that the United Nations named 2021 the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development (a $2.2 trillion economy). We must step back to value both this economy and, more critically, the artists and creators driving it.