Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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The show can’t go on: Russian arts cancelled worldwide


The Russian invasion of Ukraine has prompted responses from the cultural sphere, with Russian artists and companies beginning to feel the repercussions of decisions taken by the Kremlin.

Photograph: Gavriil Grigorov/Tass© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Gavriil Grigorov/TassNot only has Russia been stripped of two prestigious events – the Champions League men’s final and Formula One’s Russian Grand Prix –but an increasing number of performances by Russians are being cancelled worldwide.


The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said Russia would no longer be allowed to participate in this year’s Eurovision song contest.

EBU, the producers of Eurovision said the event promoted “international exchange and understanding,” adding that Russia’s inclusion could bring the annual competition into disrepute “in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine”.

State broadcasters from countries including Iceland, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands had called for Russia to be banned from the contest, which takes place in Turin in May. The UK culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, also endorsed the move.


The Royal Opera House has cancelled a planned residency by Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, one of the oldest and most prestigious ballet companies in the world.

“A summer season of the Bolshoi Ballet at the Royal Opera House had been in the final stages of planning,” the ROH said. “Unfortunately, under the current circumstances, the season cannot now go ahead.” The dance troupe was set to stage 21 performances from 26 July to 14 August.

Performances by The Russian State Ballet of Siberia have also been cancelled by Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and the Royal and Derngate in Northampton. The local Ukrainian community had previously called for the cancellation.

And the Helix theatre in Dublin cancelled a performance of Swan Lake by the Royal Moscow Ballet “to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine”.


Concert appearances by Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, who had been scheduled to lead the Vienna Philharmonic at New York’s Carnegie Hall, have been cancelled. Russian pianist Denis Matsuev was also replaced. Both had publicly endorsed Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. A Carnegie Hall spokesperson attributed the decision to “Recent world events”.

A pair of upcoming performances in May by Russia’s Mariinsky Orchestra, which were due to be led by Gergiev at Carnegie Hall, have also been cancelled.

Meanwhile, Green Day have cancelled their upcoming stadium concert in Moscow.


The Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale will not take place as planned this year after Russian artists and curators themselves pulled out.

Artists Alexandra Sukhareva and Kirill Savchenkov, as well as curator Raimundas Malašauskas, said that they would no longer participate.

“There is no place for art when civilians are dying under the fire of missiles, when citizens of Ukraine are hiding in shelters, when Russian protesters are getting silenced,” Savchenkov and Sukhareva said in a joint statement. The organisers of the pavilion said in an Instagram post that the pavilion would remain closed.

The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow said it would halt preparations for upcoming shows, while exhibitions at GES-2 House of Culture – including one by Ragnar Kjartansson – were also suspended.

In the UK, the Victoria and Albert Museum has said it is in talks with the culture department about the “rapidly evolving situation”. The museum’s exhibition on Peter Carl Fabergé features many of his priceless eggs on loan from museums in Russia.


The Ukrainian Film Academy has called for an international boycott of Russian cinema, including a ban on Russian films at international festivals.

In an online petition, the organisation said: “At a time when world powers are imposing economic and political sanctions on the Russian Federation, the country continues to be active in the cultural field”. Any action, however, is yet to be taken.



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