Annual report of the Chairman of the Anglo-Belarusian Society for 2021/22 by Alan FLOWERS

The year 2021/22 saw an emergence of the Society from the preceding Covid-19 lockdown year. The year started with a purely on-line AGM combined with an on-line Mother Language Day on 27th February 2021, and concluded with several hybrid events, which allowed for either an in-person or on-line presence.

In 2021/22 the Society held a programme of six events, many of which had some of the largest levels of participation seen in recent years, We held an AGM, jointly with a Mother Language Day event. The traditional events of Kupalle and Kaliady with Batlejka were held with live participation, although in 2021 the Society itself could not host an open Kupalle event due to Covid-19 restrictions in force at the time.  Instead members made private arrangements to celebrate this. Solely on-line events to commemorate 35 years after Chernobyl and to celebrate Belarusian culture took place in April and July respectively. The Society co-sponsored or otherwise supported a conference on Belarusian Studies in the twenty-first century, and Prof. Arnold McMillin’s 80th birthday was celebrated with the Society honouring him with an honorary life membership of the Society. Many Society members were pleased to witness, on 4th February 2022, the consecration at Finchley of a memorial to the deceased heroes of the protests in Belarus since 2020. This is located between the wooden Uniate Church and Marian House..

At the 2021 Annual General Meeting held on-line on 27th February and 5th March 2021 we elected the Society’s officials, reviewed the year just past, looked forward to events in 2021, the first of which was a commemoration of the 35th anniversary of Chernobyl.

The Chernobyl Commemoration event on Saturday 24th April 2021 attracted an on-line audience on the day of over 100 persons, and ran on both ZOOM and live streamedon YouTube. It included prominent Belarusians, including Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature, 2015; Stanislau Shushkevich, the first head of independent state of Belarus in 1991-1994, Corresponding member of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences, Professor in Physics and Mathematics; and Belarusian Physicists DrValery Huracheuski (Associate Professor) and Dr Vadim Zelenkov. The event was recorded and the edited version, prepared by Sasha Belavokaya loaded on YouTube. This had over 400 views up to March 2022.

On 7th July 2021 the Society celebrated an International Day of Belarusian Culture by bringing together over 15 academics, artists, actors and musicians who had contributed to the promotion of Belarusian Culture in the UK over the last 6 decades. The event linked persons in six countries, and nine different cities, and including leading Belarusian actors Oleg Garbuz, Tatiana Popova-Gatovchits and Gennady Gatovchitswith Belarusian musicians Viktar Rudenka and Zmitser Vajciushkevich.  The full list of the many who contributed to this event is listed in the annex to this report.

A new event in celebration of dranicki was held on 20th November, with Aleś Bely, historian, author of 7 books on the history of Belarusian and Lithuanian cuisine, including “The Belarusian Cookbook” in English (2009) providing an on-line talk to the audience in Penn Road.

As 2021 drew to a close the traditional Kaliady with Batlejka was celebrated in person in December.

The Society’s year closed with Mother Language Day being held on 26th February 2022 and organised with the participation of the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum.

All events held in 2021/22 were recorded on video and are now available on YouTube on both the Chairman’s Channel “Alan Flowers-ABS-UK” and the YouTube Channel of the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum.  The Society’s web-site was maintained throughout the year, and all events offered to members, which include many advertised for other Belarus related organisations are listed on the ABS Facebook page and web-site ( http://absociety.org.uk/  ).

Thanks go to Father Serge Stasievich for facilitating the Society’s meetings in Marian House, and to the Belarusian Charitable Trust and ZBVB for enabling meetings to be held at Penn Road.

The diverse range of well attended meetings carried out in this last year would not have been possible without all the members of the Council of the Society contributing immensely to the success of this programme, its promotion before the event, the catering and technical support at the events, and the post event video production.  Hence in closing this report I wish to put on record the debt the Society owes to all the selfless hard work put in by the Council members during this last year.

ANNEX:

Anglo Belarusian Society
International Day of Belarusian Culture – 7th July 2021
(Birthday of Yanka Kupala, Jan Chachot and Marc Chagall)

Belarusian Culture in the UK
An Evening Celebrating Belarusian Culture in the UK

Meet Contributors to Its Understanding, Performance and Exhibition in the UK

 Host: Alan Flowers (Chair, Anglo-Belarusian Society)

 Reading of Kupala’s – “And,say, who goes there?” (1907)

  • Alena Edwards (Belarusian)
  • Alan Flowers (English)

Kupalle 2021 – Video:

  • Sasha Belovookaya
    Artistic Academic Contributors will include 

in order of appearance:-

  • Arnold McMillin (Academic, UK) (London)
  • Mikalaj Packajeu (Chair, ZBVB, UK) (London)
  • Jim Dingley (Academic, UK) (Brighton)
  • Karalina Matskevich (Skaryna Library, UK)(London)
  • Tzwei So (Architect, UK) (London)
  • Vera Horton (Actress, BelDiasporaTV, UK) (Salisbury)
  • Alison Cameron (former Aberdeen City official)(London)
  • Richard Demarco (Art Impressario, UK)(Edinburgh)
  • Vasili Vasiliev, and Galina Vasilieva (Artists, Vitebsk)
  • Valery Martynchik (Artist, UK)(London)
  • Tatiana Popova-Gatovchits (Actress, Belarus)(Portugal)
  • Gennady Gatovchits (Actor, Belarus)(Portugal)
  • Oleg Garbuz (Actor, Belarus)(Minsk)
  • James Mallinson (Theatre Producer, USA)(New York)
  • Viktar Rudenka – (Musician, Belarus)(Moscow)
  • Zmitser Vajciushkevich – (Musician, Belarus)(Minsk)
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