From Eurovision to the Helix: Russian arts cancelled after Ukraine invasion

Concerts, dance recitals and exhibitions pulled over Vladimir Putin’s war

Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has prompted responses from the cultural and sporting spheres, with Russian artists and companies beginning to feel the repercussions of decisions taken by the Kremlin.

Not only has Russia been stripped of two prestigious events – the Champions League men's final and Formula One's Russian Grand Prix –but an increasing number of performances by Russians are being cancelled worldwide.


The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said Russia would no longer be allowed to participate in this year's Eurovision song contest.

EBU, the producers of Eurovision, said the event promoted “international exchange and understanding”, adding that Russia’s inclusion could bring the annual competition into disrepute “in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine”.


State broadcasters from countries including Iceland, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands had called for Russia to be banned from the contest, which takes place in Turin in May.


The Helix theatre in Dublin has cancelled a performance of Swan Lake by the Royal Moscow Ballet "to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine". Scheduled performances were also cancelled in Limerick, Galway, Waterford, Castlebar and Derry.

The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre decided to suspend upcoming performances by the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre after the invasion of Ukraine. The performances were due to take place from March 29th to April 3rd.

Meanwhile, the Royal Opera House in London cancelled a planned residency by Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, one of the oldest and most prestigious ballet companies in the world.

“A summer season of the Bolshoi Ballet at the Royal Opera House had been in the final stages of planning,” the ROH said. “Unfortunately, under the current circumstances, the season cannot now go ahead.” The dance troupe had been due to stage 21 performances from July 26th to August 14th.

Performances by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia have been cancelled by Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and the Royal and Derngate in Northampton, England. The local Ukrainian community had previously called for the cancellations.


The Munich Philharmonic has parted ways with its chief conductor, Valery Gergiev, over his ties to Putin. Munich's mayor, Dieter Reiter, had issued an ultimatum, saying Gergiev would be dismissed if he failed to condemn Putin's actions by Monday.

“With immediate effect, there will be no further concerts by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra under his direction,” Reiter said.

Gergiev has been dropped by his management and had several upcoming concerts cancelled. The Edinburgh International Festival, of which he was honorary president, has asked for his resignation. "Edinburgh is twinned with the city of Kyiv and this action is being taken in sympathy with, and support of, its citizens," it said.

Gergiev is currently conducting Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades at La Scala in Milan, where it was reportedly booed by audiences last week. The opera house said an upcoming appearance will be cancelled if he does not speak out against Putin.

The Rotterdam Philharmonic also threatened to cancel its longstanding annual Gergiev festival this year, Switzerland's Verbier festival has asked Gergiev to resign his position as music director of the Verbier Festival Orchestra, and in New York, he was replaced for performances with the Vienna Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall. A Carnegie Hall spokesperson attributed the decision to "recent world events".

A pair of upcoming performances in May by Russia’s Mariinsky Orchestra, which were due to be led by Gergiev at Carnegie Hall, have also been cancelled.

Meanwhile, Louis Tomlinson, Franz Ferdinand and Green Day are among the acts to have withdrawn from gigs in Russia. Tomlinson said: "The safety of my fans is my priority and my thoughts go out to the people of Ukraine and all those suffering from this needless war."


The Russian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale will not take place as planned this year after Russian artists and curators themselves pulled out.

The artists Alexandra Sukhareva and Kirill Savchenkov, as well as the curator Raimundas Malašauskas, said they would no longer participate.

"There is no place for art when civilians are dying under the fire of missiles, when citizens of Ukraine are hiding in shelters, when Russian protesters are getting silenced," Savchenkov and Sukhareva said in a joint statement. The organisers of the pavilion said in an Instagram post that the pavilion would remain closed.

The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow said it would halt preparations for upcoming shows, while exhibitions at GES-2 House of Culture – including one by Ragnar Kjartansson – were also suspended.

In the UK, the Victoria and Albert Museum has said it is in talks with the culture department about the "rapidly evolving situation". The museum's exhibition on Peter Carl Fabergé features many of his priceless eggs on loan from museums in Russia.


Warner Bros, Disney and Sony have halted the release of films in Russian cinemas. This means releases of major movies including The Batman, Turning Red and Morbius will not go ahead as scheduled in the country.

“In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia,” a spokesperson said.

Disney said: “Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the theatrical release of films in Russia.”

The Ukrainian Film Academy has called for an international boycott of Russian cinema, including a ban on Russian films at international festivals.

In an online petition, the organisation said: "At a time when world powers are imposing economic and political sanctions on the Russian Federation, the country continues to be active in the cultural field". Any action, however, is yet to be taken. - Guardian