socialist realism, Communist propaganda, Kievan, Byzantine Empire, funding crisis
Ukraine’s geographical location between Europe and Asia meant that much of its early culture was a synthesis of Eastern and Western influences. When a developed culture emerged in the medieval, or Kievan, period, the influence of the Byzantine Empire was paramount. In early modern times, major European currents such as the Renaissance reached Ukraine via Poland. A cultural dichotomy today exists within Ukraine, with western regions reflecting European, especially Polish, influence, while in the eastern regions the impact of Russian culture is evident.
The well-developed and colorful folklore of Ukraine has helped Ukrainians retain a cultural distinctiveness in the face of strong assimilatory pressures from neighboring lands. During the Soviet period the government extensively subsidized cultural activity, but culture was expected to serve as a vehicle for Communist propaganda. In the late 1920s and especially in the early 1930s, the Soviet regime began enforcing socialist realism as the only acceptable artistic style. Socialist realism mandated that all artists and writers glorify the Soviet regime and its goal of attaining communism. The collapse of the Soviet Union brought new freedoms for Ukrainian artists, but it also meant a sudden drop in government subsidies. Today government support is minimal and a funding crisis exists. The Westernization of cultural activity is moving ahead rapidly, with commercialized and previously taboo activities such as pop concerts and production of pornography becoming commonplace.
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