The organizers of Art Dubai have announced that 25 percent of all ticket sales from its latest edition will be donated to those affected by the Russian war on Ukraine. This year’s fair, which ran from March 11 through 13 on the mini-city Madinat Jumeirah, was the annual event’s largest yet, with more than 100 galleries participating.
The announcement followed a gesture from Tbilisi’s Gallery Artbeat, in which the Georgian co-founder, Natia Bukia, draped the Ukrainian flag over a table in the gallery’s booth in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. When asked for a comment on the quiet demonstration, a fair representative told the Art Newspaper that Art Dubai “firmly supports the right for its participants to express their support for Ukraine and for our own part we will be donating 25% of all ticket sales this year to help the plight of Ukrainian refugees.” The fair’s donation will go through Unicef, Art Dubai confirmed to the National.
“Over the years, the Art Dubai Group has helped a number of charitable initiatives and the appeal for funds for the refugee situation unfolding today is something we feel we should support,” a representative for the fair told the National. Prior to this edition, however, Art Dubai’s organizers have never publicly announced charitable donations to humanitarian causes within the region or globally.
Russia’s war on Ukraine has sparked a refugee crisis, with more than 2 million Ukrainians seeking asylum in neighboring countries, according to the United Nations. Since Russia invaded Ukraine three weeks ago, at least 600 civilians have died and more than 1,000 been injured, though the U.N. estimates the real number of casualties is likely much higher.
As a response, new charitable initiatives from artists, auction houses, online platforms, and galleries are launching almost daily. In one of the most high-profile cases, the Russian-owned auction house Phillips pledged to donate the full net profits of its evening sale of modern and contemporary art in London to the Ukrainian Red Cross Society. The sale raised a total of £5.8 million ($7.7 million).
Meanwhile, members of the NFT community have also leveraged their global network to organize an NFT fundraiser, Art for Ukraine. Each artist involved with the project created a piece for sale and each time a work is bought, the proceeds are automatically donated to seven charities aiding Ukraine using a specially built smart contract. The project is just one of its kind: Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova previously launched Ukraine DAO, a crypto community that that encouraged participants to pool donations by bidding on an NFT of the Ukrainian flag.
“We purposefully avoided adding our own art to this release; in a way it’s our strong conceptual artistic statement. People can have different aesthetics, but it’s not about what color we prefer, it’s about uniting to save lives,” Tolokonnikova said in an emailed statement. “The Ukrainian flag unites us.”