If Ukraines Maidan revolution has largely not led to the transparent government its proponents envisioned, it has certainly democratised Ukrainian culture. The countrys capital, Kiev, is at the forefront of a powerful new wave of creativity
On a sultry Saturday evening in August, hundreds of young Kievans have descended on a vast courtyard a few miles from the city centre. As a DJ spins electronica in front of a 20-ft LED screen, partygoers stand in a paved open area bobbing their heads to the music, crowding the bar, or sneaking off to a leafy grotto to chat and canoodle.
The scene evokes late 90s Williamsburg, not the capital of a crisis-wracked country at war. Lately there are so many more shows, so many more interesting parties like this, says Ilya Myrokov, a 25-year-old dentist with a bowl cut, shaking his head as he sips beer from a plastic cup. Compared to two years ago, its like an explosion.
Last year, Ukraines economy shrank by 12%. Its slow-drip, two-and-a-half-year conflict with Russia has killed nearly 10,000 people and displaced about two million in the east of the country. But if the Maidan revolution, which ousted a Russia-friendly regime in February 2014, has largely failed to install the transparent, democratic government its proponents envisioned, it at least appears to have democratised Ukrainian culture.
Bold young artists, promoters, entrepreneurs and officials have quietly begun to transform this city of three million into a hotbed of urban creativity, with innovative theatre, outdoor concerts and food events, a slew of smart bars and cafes, and a flowering of film production and appreciation.
People stopped being afraid, after Maidan, says Ivan Kozlenko, the 35-year-old general director of Ukraines national film archives. Nobodys afraid any more to say what they believe, to express their visions, their ideas. Young Ukrainians today they are so free, and the revolution moved them, spurred them.