A small town of Zhmerynka became the testing ground for cultural transformation since last July.

This town was chosen for the pilot project of cultural transformation called ‘PlanZ’ that aims to make small towns more comfortable developing their infrastructure and raising the level of culture of local residents. The project is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Goethe Institute Kyiv. The partner of the project is the ‘Institute of Cultural Policy’ (Vinnytsia).

The second phase of the project brought together representatives of small and district towns of our country to participate in the ‘Laboratory of transformation’ that will help activists develop and implement recommendations for creating cultural and economic strategy for their home-towns. There will be several workshops and interesting meetings during this year. The first meeting of agents of cultural changes has just ended.

A flurry of excitement hit the town: leaders from all over Ukraine and activists of the Zhmerynka, plus department heads of Zhmerynka City Council listened experts shared experiences and together developed some projects that will be the real impetus for the physical transformation of space in Zhmerynka as an example for the towns that will also change their faces becoming more culturally developed and a more modern.

At the beginning of the seminar participants heard words of greeting from Mayor of Zhmerynka Anatoly Kushnir and Head of Culture and Tourism of Vinnytsia Regional State Administration Stanislav Horodynskiy who come to this event to meet with activists and wish them success.

The leading expert of this workshop ‘Building communities through the transformation of cultural spaces. Develop ideas for projects’ was a well-known expert Patrick S. Föhl from Germany. Also, there were people who gave their vision and tips from the transformation of public spaces in small towns – they are the experts in the field of regional cultural policies: Yaroslav Minkin, Irina Kats, Alexander Nikitiuk, Irina Frenkel and Pavel Tretyakov.

During the event the participants developed four projects that will be implemented in small towns and regions of Ukraine in 2017: ‘Contemporary Art Space’, ‘Cultural network of small towns' two projects for the parks of Zhmerynka and the project encouraging young people through culture and art.

Workshop participants were active communicating in groups and visiting interesting areas in the town of Zhmerynka, the places that were chosen by local activists for transformation. Walking about the town was very informative and useful as many ideas were expressed, dozens of ideas were discussed. Now these and other initiatives will be transformed into projects and real changes will be implemented in practice.

The second phase of ‘PlanZ’ will have few practical meetings throughout the summer and fall, and the year-end report on their achievements. Some of the active participants will be able to visit the town of Neuruppin (Germany). But we can already see a great interest in activists as they try to multiple their knowledge and practical skills for organizing and conducting projects for the transformation of urban spaces.

And this is only the beginning! The story continues with the process of the birth of ideas of transformation, the first steps in their implementation and the emotions of activists from Zhmerynka and all over Ukraine. To be continued...