Olha Kotska

Meet Olha, Knowledge Manager for Tandem 360°.

My first memory of the Tandem programme will sound a bit casual. It was at the final meeting of the pilot round of Tandem Ukraine-EU-Moldova in 2012. For a couple of days, artists and cultural managers from all over Europe had been working on presentations and installations of their projects in the huge though abandoned building of the Local History Museum in Chisinau (Moldova).

I remember that half an hour before the official opening of the event, the main room was not quite ready yet. Electricians were still fixing the lights while the local team was covering old sofas with some blankets so that the space would somehow be ready to host officials from the Ministry of Culture and other important guests, all invited for the final meeting. I had found an old wooden typical “soviet” mop in the corner and was going back and forth in this big room, trying to polish the floor a little bit, or at least to wash away some sand. That’s basically how my Tandem story started – as a cleaning lady 🙂

A couple of years later I joined the team in Berlin as a project manager of the Tandem Ukraine programme. Many things have changed since that time, but the core of my work stays the same: I see my main role in the programme as a space creator. I have the privilege to meet many creative people, who are change-makers in their communities, and for me it is really important to be part of that change. In my daily life and for each Tandem (family) meeting that we organise, I am trying to see how to create the space, where in short periods of time many important connections and interactions can happen. And for me the networking is only the first layer of that, the most natural but also the simplest one. I want to offer a space where people enter with questions and exit with answers or with even more and better questions, where our personal vulnerability is seen as a strength and where people are open to share very different experiences. Creating a space where solutions for conflicts can be exercised and tested right away in the real world. Offering a space to test and prototype is almost like creating a time machine for a better future.  And this is where fun and social impact come together and what motivates me to do what I do.  

Another core feeling that only grew since the festival in Chisinau is seeing how art and culture create a sense of possibility. In times of transition (all over Europe and all over the world) and growing uncertainty, I believe that culture offers very strong instruments that can help towards finding solutions to build a world we believe in.