Ukraine benefit concert, art sale to be held at Buvez in Athens

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Irina Rozovsky felt helpless and angry.

“When we fled [Russia] in ‘88 because of antisemitism, I was seven years old,” Rozovsky said. “And when this war started, it just really struck a chord … with me and a lot of people my age who are from that part of the world, because it just seemed so unjust.”

As Rozovsky watched people around the world mobilize to protest the attacks, she was inspired to do the same. In a matter of days, Rozovsky organized a rally, which was the first Ukraine solidarity demonstration take place in Athens.

Since then, Rozovsky has continued to participate in aid efforts, including fundraising through her photography business and taking part in other community events, like the Interfaith Clergy Partnership prayer vigil that took place on March 15.

The next event that she has put together is a Ukraine Benefit Concert & Art Sale happening Saturday, May 21 at Buvez on Barber Street.

“Just because it's not in the news doesn't mean it's over," Rozovsky said. "Once it's out of the spotlight, bad things can happen at a higher impact and not be noticed as much."

Recently, musician Denise Gâteau, who goes by the stage name Turtle Grenade, was also inspired to take action.

“I just felt really bad about what's going on over there,” Gâteau said. “And I think it just popped into my mind, you know, like, people do fundraisers all the time for all types of things, so why not?”

Gâteau shared her ideas with Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Mariah Parker, who introduced her to Rozovsky. Then, the two got to work planning Saturday's benefit concert at Buvez. While Rozovsky managed the financial aspects of the event, Gâteau recruited a lineup of artists and musicians from around Athens and beyond.

“No amount of money can account for lost lives or other effects caused by war, but it’s important to do what we can to provide aid to those in need,” Caitlyn Riesinger, one of the contributing artists, wrote. “I’m thinking of my participation as doing what I can – I don’t have spare money laying around that can implement big changes for others, but I do have a time-consuming hobby that I’m hoping to use for good.”

The band Canary Affair agreed, writing, “While we never agree with war, we do understand there are people having their homes invaded and their livelihoods destroyed. If there’s anything we can do to help even a little bit, we’re happy to do it.”

Local businesses including The National and Hendershots are also donating gift cards to help raise funds at the event.

The proceeds will go to Ukraine Trust Chain, a volunteer-run organization that delivers medicine, first aid and food to the front lines and evacuates children and seniors from war zones in Ukraine.

Rozovsky is touched by the support she’s received, saying. “Part of the peace protests that we did was amazing, because you meet Americans that have never been never left the country and they feel really strongly about it. “

“I think most people have been pretty bothered and stirred by the war in Ukraine and the sort of randomness and wrongness of it,” said Elijah Johnston, one of the musicians performing at the concert.

Beyond raising money, the event has inspired members of the community to effect change through art and music – the things they are passionate about.

“I think the biggest plus to any fundraiser is community. It brings people together, it keeps people informed and motivated to keep trying to progress into a better future, and it’s a fun way to do something good,” Riesinger wrote.

Ukraine benefit concert details

When: Saturday, May 21, 2022 from 3-9 p.m.

Where: Buvez | 585 Barber Street Suite A, Athens, GA 30601

Cost: Free but donations accepted

This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Athens concert & art sale to benefit Ukraine Trust Chain