Implementation period: April 2016 – April 2017
Project coordinator: Serhiy Khudyi
The town of Starokostiantyniv is a small regional center in the Khmelnytskyi Region, Ukraine. However, despite its small size, the town has a big history, to popularize which among a maximally considerable number of people was the initial task of our public organization’s participation in CHOICE.
The historical highlight of the town is Kanstancin Astrozski’s Castle, the outstanding figure in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Ukraine was part of it) in the 16th century. With the help of this outstanding historical and architectural monument, we planned to change local residents’ attitude to their own cultural heritage and public work as such, as well as to receive personal experience of project management and to study best practices of other public organizations in the country and abroad.
Possibly, we overestimated our possibilities as our basic project was not selected, which made us reflect on its more detailed study. However, CHOICE gave us a chance to work on our organizational potential, and we used this possibility to the full!
What CHOICE Has Given and How it is Remembered in Starokostiantyniv
However, during CHOICE’s consulting and educational support, we did not stop our project activity – we continued our work aimed at actualizing the Castle as a symbol of the town and a resource of its cultural development and positioning. The organizational development program we worked out together with the adviser Yulia Golodnikova helped us much to correct some approaches chosen before.
We began with basic management in the public sector and qualitatively changed our perceptions of organizational structures and management models, the importance of corporate culture and its basic elements; for the first time we systematically studied cultural policy methods and the way they are implemented (or not) in Ukraine. We had discussions about threats of “sharovarshchina” (the Soviet understanding of culture as an unequivocally archaic sphere of people’s life) and how culture can become an inoculation against Russia’s propaganda. Also, we learned the general principles of how to form historical memory and innovative techniques of how to attract society to patriotic projects. During the class called “Symbolical space of a town from imperial times to the present day: socio-cultural changes (memory and a monument; toponymy of town streets)”, we outlined a field of problems concerning the decommunization of Starokostiantyniv and designated the role of public initiatives in the popularization of local cultural heritage.
Socio-cultural projects marketing became a separate topic. We began conceptualizing our niche in the sector of public and cultural work and spent a lot of time to the planning of the positioning of our organization and the strategy of communication work with different partners.
An adjacent topic was the strategy of informational work (and everything connected to PR) and campaigns of civic participation. We became aware of methods of how to lobby the community’s interests and to understand advocacy campaigns as a method of achieving our purposes. Also, we studied the methodology of carrying out public hearings and how to beneficially use public relations of power, sponsors, and political parties.
We developed several documents that help us build all our activity consistently: the strategic plan for three years and fundraising and communication strategies that are published in the form of brochures and are accessible to our colleagues and adherents in the town.
Risks management methods and how to decrease their possible negative consequences are still a difficult and ambiguous zone for us. Some big sets of daily work (such as the monitoring of cultural projects and corresponding cases from foreign experience) meanwhile remain uncovered.
We are proud very much of the prepared and implemented trainings and involved experts:
– Yulia Zabaldina – expert in strategic planning, expert in marketing, candidate of economic sciences, senior lecturer of the Tourism and Recreation Department of Kyiv National Trade and Economic University, participant of working groups to create the strategy of tourism development and the concept of the tourism development program in Ukraine;
– Yulia Golodnikova – expert in PR communications, trainer of organizational development, social psychologist, curator of educational and cultural projects and public organization programs of the Informational-Research Center “Integration and Development”;
– Oksana Levkova – chairperson of the board of the all-Ukrainian public organization “Do not be indifferent!”, member of the public council at the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine within the scope of the program “Culture Weapons” and in the same place – the coordination council concerning the use of the Ukrainian language in all spheres of public life of the country, expert of the EU project “Cultural Code of the Eastern Partnership”.
All educational meetings benefited not only us, but also invited adherents from the local community and our partner relations with them. At the local level, we managed to present ourselves as active players, to interest and convince people of the necessity of some cultural transformations to be implemented by forces of civil society. We also considerably raised our social capital, having managed to involve new members in our team and to draw attention of power and business.
E.g. some representatives of business became one of the parties who actively helped our work – they shared their vision of problems and offered their initiatives. Local deputies and other representatives of power participated in our actions/events. Even the departments of culture of the town and regional administrations were active and prepared several applications to participate in other projects similar to ours.
However, the contacts we initiated with the authorities were not fruitful at once. At first sight, we did not change their passive position, but then in the cultural life of our town several big initiatives were launched. As a result of one of them, the town managed to carry out a big medieval festival in August 2017. Now we think of the necessity to keep studying methods of interaction with stakeholders.
Thanks to the project, it was possible to build contacts with many colleagues from Belarus, Moldova, and Armenia. We have established partner relations with the public organizations “Kremenets Environmental League”, “Krai”, “Institute of Ukrainian Modernism”, “Touristic Association of Ukraine”, “Participants of the Antiterrorist Operation from the town of Starokostiantyniv”, the informational-research center “Integration and Development” and the Cultural Management Center.
The seminars within the framework of CHOICE in Lviv and Chisinau were very useful – they allowed us to get acquainted and to share experience with many other participants. Constant discussions inside the organization have taught us to seek for a general point of view.
As a whole, such a long enough, educational and communicational program with external professionals has given us huge confidence in the correctness of our organization’s actions and pleasure from personal acquaintance with such a big number of people who understand the role of culture in society’s positive transformations at all levels. Using these supporting resources, we are ready to widen a range of our achievements in new, more essential projects.