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‘Contributing To Peace’ By Nurturing Ukrainian Art And Culture In LA

The Ukrainian Culture Center in East Hollywood is seen from the street. The front is made of tan stone and the sign is blue with yellow letters that read 'Ukrainian Cultural Center'
Ukrainian Culture Center in East Hollywood .
(Vahe Martirosyan (Flickr Creative Commons: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/) )
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Hundreds of Ukrainian Americans have come together in Los Angeles this week to protest the Russian invasion. But many Angelenos may not know there’s a place in East Hollywood where Ukrainians have been congregating for more than a half-century.

Census data tells us there are about 115,000 people who claim Ukrainian heritage living in California. Since the 1960s, at least some of those folks in L.A. have patronized the Ukrainian Culture Center on Melrose, near L.A. City College. Built in the 1920s as a theater, the building features a 21-foot-high gold and blue proscenium.

“It’s a beautiful facility, which hosts art events, concerts, festivals, Ukrainian language school, et cetera.” said Iryna Vasylkova, who helps with programming there.

A montage of activities offered at the Ukrainian Art Center.
A sample of programming from the Ukrainian Art Center
(Courtesy Ukrainian Art Center )
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Vasylkova said the Ukrainian Art Center is a major contributor and the “beating heart” of the cultural center. The art center has offered master classes in Ukrainian folk art, seminars, art exhibitions and more.

She believes part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy is to “re-write” history. But she said maintaining Ukrainian art can be a form of protest.

“You cannot rewrite folklore and culture,” Vasylkova said. “So we contribute to peace in Ukraine by nurturing its culture wherever we are.”

Vasylkova said she feels as if the peace of the entire world is currently being defended on the territory of Ukraine.

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