Yulia Kozlovets is the General Coordinator of IBAF (International Book Arsenal Festival) in Kyiv. In partnership with Frankfurter Buchmesse and Goethe Institute Ukraine the IBAF are organizing one of the professional programs focusing on Ukraine at the fair this year.

Tell us about the special program taking place at Frankfurt

We had been planning the Summer Academy for publishers from Central and Eastern Europe for the summer 2022 in Kyiv, as a part of the professional programs of the IBAF and continuing our long-lasting co-operation with Frankfurter Buchmesse and Goethe Institute Ukraine. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stopped all our plans, and the ongoing war is preventing us from carrying out this project as planned.

We have transformed it into the Special Program in Frankfurt, prefaced with online preparatory sessions on How To Do Frankfurt. The main focus of this program is professional dialog, sharing experiences, matchmaking, and the numerous networking opportunities that Frankfurter Buchmesse offers.

We are extremely thankful to our partners, as well as to the German Federal Foreign Office, for their support. We have a fantastic group of participants: they are enthusiastic, motivated, active, and passionate! I hope that this program will work as encouragement and motivation both for Ukrainian participants, who are doing their best in very complicated circumstances, and for their colleagues from neighboring countries. And I do hope that the initial idea, the Summer School, will be finally held in peaceful Kyiv!

What other events do you and the team have planned?

IBAF will also attend Frankfurt as a part of the stand of its organizer, Mystetskyi Arsenal, which is the biggest Ukrainian cultural center and contemporary art museum, and a symbol of postcolonial transformation and independence. It was founded in 2005 at the site of a military industrial complex, constructed in 1783 by Russian Empress Catherine II, who thereby obliterated a 16thcentury Ukrainian nunnery. This evolution of this site symbolizes our desire to remain a place for books, arts, and a creative, peaceful country. With our stand in THE ARTS+, under the motto “Arsenal of Books & Arts & Resilience,” we are calling on the publishing and cultural community to support Ukraine and spread the word.

Our team is also organizing events in the fair program, some of which will be at the Ukrainian national stand (organized by the Ukrainian Book Institute). There is also a round-table discussion planned at the Frankfurt Pavilion, and the musical and poetic performance Foxtroty with Serhij Zhadan, winner of the 2022 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.

How difficult has it been to organize these events?

Participation in international fairs is not so easy for Ukrainians now: logistics and travel problems, financial hardships, and so on.

How is the Ukrainian book industry faring in this time of war? Do you remain hopeful?

Some Ukrainian publishers and cultural managers have been forced to leave Ukraine and work abroad because of Russia’s invasion, while others have relocated within the country. Some had to leave behind warehouses packed with books. Publishing employees, as well as writers, editors, translators, and poets volunteered for the armed forces. Some have died, some are missing, some have been captured. A report in April found that almost all publishers had suffered dramatic falls in sales.

They are trying somehow to adapt and to find new ways of doing business. Over the past two months, the number of publishing houses that have managed to maintain their capacities has increased. We at Book Arsenal have held the third edition of the Ukrainian Literature: Rights On! 2022, focusing on the most effective ways of supporting the sector.

In October we will present a special program: a series of events—Ukraine Day—at the Cheltenham Literature Festival as part of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture supported by the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute.

The international community can stand with us and help us with creating programs to support cultural institutions in Ukraine, developing joint projects, translating our authors, buying our books, spreading the word, and organizing exhibitions or educational programs that celebrate Ukraine’s distinctive culture and history. And yes, we do remain hopeful: we will definitely win. There is no other way.