Poltava Regional Organization of the National Union of Writers of Ukraine

Location: Poltava Region
Implementation period: March 2016 – March 2017
Coordinator: Nataliya Kiryachok


Context: Issues Addressed by the Project

The project has been aimed at putting foundations under the literary tourism and creating modern arrangements of exhibits with an involvement on behalf of the local communities in the three Poltava Region districts: Zinkiv, Myrhorod and Hadiach. We have sought to utilise the modern European experience and, jointly with the local communities, to develop and promote some literary travel routes, which feature more diversified events, than just visiting places related to a writer. In order to achieve the goal, we made attempts to consolidate the resources provided by the local authorities, entrepreneurs, creative union representatives, volunteers and civil society organisations.

We have concentrated our work on such historic or cultural heritage facilities as museum houses, museum rooms, memorable places related to the lives and creative work of the prominent Ukrainian writers born in Poltava Region, archives, eyewitnesses’ accounts, as well as on the modern creative rethinking of literary works.

Project Contents

– The project was kick started with some training events intended for the activists, which events were needed to formulate a common vision of the project’s goals and objectives and to introduce to their participants some new activity forms in the sphere of cultural heritage conservation. The training sessions, workshops and seminars have served for the attendants originating from the three districts to obtain new knowledge, as well as to close the ranks and form a team of like-minded persons, who also now remain in a close communication with each other and share their experiences of creating literary and local history travel routes;

– We have updated the writers’ museum exhibit arrangements in full or in part (Elena Pchelka and Lesya Ukrainka at the Hadiach Local History Museum and the Tiutiunnyk Brothers Museum exhibit arrangement in the village of Shylivka), as well as overhauled the buildings with the help provided by the local authorities;

– Each of the project districts launched its creative workshops (regular-basis meetings) aimed at developing the travel routes, which were attended by the NGO representatives, librarians, writers and researchers. With reliance on some unimpeachable scientific facts, the workshops have developed in a creative manner some literary and local history travel routes, which fact has served to attract some very first tourists, and we have received quite a positive feedback on the work done.

By the way, at the beginning of our workshop activities it was not always easy to reach a shared vision of a literary travel route. One of the workshop sessions has failed to come to an agreement how the route sites making part of its infrastructure should look like. The local authority representatives expressed their desire to put some benches at the place, where potentially cultural events could be held. At the same time, the writers and NGO members advanced their opinion on the need for creating a facility to attract more tourists. One of the project achievements in the area of creative space provision was represented by construction of Mykhailo Semenko Pavilion in the village of Kibyntsi. The pavilion serves as a resting spot for the tourists, as well as is underpinned by an artistic concept related to the writer’s name. We have invited some renowned architects, writers and artists to contribute to the development of the pavilion sketches.

Further on, as the work progressed, ever new exhibits appeared and ever new interesting facts from the writers’ lives were coming to the surface, while a part of the research is presented in a virtual exhibit arrangement and has provided a basis for documentary dramas;

The documentary dramas based on the fellow-countryman writers’ biographic facts represent, beyond any doubt, one of our major achievements. Well-known playwrights and actors were invited to write and stage them. The shows have been attended by approximately three hundred people; we have received some encouraging feedback from the spectators, as well as conducted a round of discussions after every show. It is important to note that the show casts included prominent actors and the local residents alike;

Ten videos have also been recorded to focus on the biographies and creative work of the fellow-countryman writers. The videos are characterised by a high quality level and have been presented at the travel routes, because video viewings represent a route component. The video recordings included the local historians, museum staff and university teachers; and

– Jointly with the workshop attendants, we have integrated in our work such a form of work as the Talking Cafe. The form provides an opportunity to communicate in an informal environment and learn more on the personalities related to Poltava Region, as well as to meet contemporary authors. We expect these events to become a part of the travel routes and attract ever more tourists.


Lessons learned

We have seen the major problems and tried to address them all along the project duration: the museum personnel lack knowledge on how to attracts tourists and interface with the public; the community members are in need of re-energising the cultural life and creating a platform for educational events; activists need an opportunity for personal fulfilment; the local authorities have made it a point to improve their districts’ appearance and the travel business infrastructure; and the guests are in need of creating for them some opportunities to learn about their fellow-countrymen’s heritage at the places, which are closely related to them.

During a visit paid to the Polish NGOs active in the sphere of tourism and cultural heritage conservation we have found new partners, who cherish similar values and are open to cooperation. As is exemplified by individual facilities, in particular, the Kinokońkret coffee house, we saw for ourselves how much an artistic transfiguration of a cultural space means along with a detailed concept elaboration from the very start and a subsequent compliance with such a concept. Regretfully enough, in the Ukrainian realities we quite often come to a halt after asking the question ‘How can it be done?’ Whereas the main issue is what we want to do and how it is going to work and develop. We have visited some organisations, which are active in the rural areas, in order to have an opportunity to apply what we saw in our practical work.

Organisational and Partner Network Development

Now the literary tourism in the region is on a rise. The events staged by museums or libraries are featured by a modern format and consolidate their communities.

We have succeeded in rallying the local communities around the literary heritage as a shared value for the cultural life, and the activities conducted by the local sponsors and a large number of volunteers involved serve to confirm the fact. The local administrations have pro-actively engaged in the project-related events, the local Department of Culture representatives have provided their support in presenting the travel routes, while the business community representatives have granted their financial support to the initiatives appearing in course of the project implementation. For instance, Zinkiv District local authorities and business people have financed the signs and information plates installed along the travel route, entitled: Grigory and Hryhor Tiutiunnyks – Along the Roads of Their Lives and Creative Work. Moreover, the Zinkiv Administration had committed itself to financing the emigrant writers’ museum, which allowed us to expand this literary and local history travel route. Yet, the need arose for creating in this location one more Workshop. When developing the project, we assumed that we would work with the materials related to the Tiutiunnyk brothers, only, but were faced with the fact that we began working with a few more names of our fellow-countryman writers.

We were joined by some activists representing other districts, which have their memorable sites dedicated to fellow-countryman writers, too. Already now we provide them with guidance and consultations and jointly prepare projects aimed at conservation of the regional cultural heritage. The project team has created the website www.litmarshrut.ltava.org as a platform for the literary tourism business development in our region.

We have also developed a new project vision and its possible continuation. We have begun training guides from among the local historians to work on the developed travel routes. We have plans underway to train a core actor troupe and buy their costumes for the theatrical sightseeing tours, which have been particularly highly estimated by the visiting tourists.

“Fellow-Countrymen” Literary and Local History Routes