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January 18, 2019

How to Look at Art: Art equals peace

The Mariinky Orchestra performs in liberated Palmyra on May 5
The Mariinky Orchestra performs in liberated Palmyra on May 5


here is no peace without vibrant art and culture. The words imply peace and regeneration. ‘

Art and culture’ - a set of values - is the product of human creativity. Creativity is the force that strives for progress and transformation.

Palmyra, an ancient city of grand colonnaded streets, amphitheatres and temples built in Syria in the 1st century - is one of the world’s most important icons of human creativity, a cultural asset of the whole mankind.

But in 2015, the barbarian Islamic State militants took over Palmyra, blew up its magnificent monuments and staged the public killings in its ruins.

The Civilised World gasped in shock and dismay, until in March this year, the Syria government, backed by Russian air strikes, reclaimed the city. Russian engineers demined the sites and began its restoring.

In May, at the site where jihadists staged mass executions, the Russian Mariinsky Orchestra staged a triumphant concert called ‘Art Revives’. Performing Bach, Prokofiev and Shchedrin, this was a powerful symbol of Palmyra being given back to the humanity.

(Listen to the concert at:

‘Art opposes terrorism, extremism, barbarism and violence. Art makes people brave and free’, says Valery Gergiev, the acclaimed conductor of the Mariinsky Orchestra that also performed for victims of the Beslan school massacre in 2004, in front of the Osetian Parliament bombed out by Georgian military in 2008, and in honour of the Fukushima tragedy in Tokyo in 2012.

Art is powerful. It strengthens our will for the better future. Totalitarian regimes are afraid of art. Goebbels, a propaganda minister in Nazi Germany, used to say “when I hear the word art I want to reach for the gun”. 

Nazis suppressed art. 

Isis destroyed art. 

But, creative spirit prevails. And, as long as we keep bringing young generations in creativity, peace will prevail, too.


Alla Tkachuk is a founder of the MASK School for Creativity and Innovation for young people in Kenya.

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