As a Gen-Xer I grew up at the height of the cold war and recall the fall of the Soviet Union. I remember the inability for musicians to travel in and out of USSR and Soviet Bloc countries. I also remember the flood of musicians into the US after the fall of the Soviet union.
Entire generations of musicians were lost to the Iron Curtain and I’m growing increasingly concerned that Russia will use their self-inflicted isolation in the wake of their decision to invade Ukraine and pretense for making those travel restrictions permanent.
I already know of three colleagues (two musicians and one arts manager) that decided to get out of Russia while they can. They seem at peace with the idea of losing everything they left behind and as heartbreaking as that sounds, it’s more palpable than the frightening reality of being stuck in a country where you disagree with the direction of the autocratic government.
As an increasing number of arts organizations organize fundraiser events for Ukrainian relief efforts, I wonder how far off we may be from similar efforts to raise funds for assisting Russian musicians, artists, and arts managers to immigrate if the political situation continues to deteriorate.
While I hope it isn’t necessary, this isn’t something that can be dealt with after the fact.