Thousands of Eurovision Song Contest tickets are to be awarded to Ukrainians who fled to the UK.
The international musical spectacle will take place at M&S Bank Arena Liverpool in May after the city was chosen to host the competition on behalf of 2022 winner Ukraine, which is unable to host the event after the Russian invasion.
As part of the UK’s commitment to honor Ukraine at the song contest, around 3,000 tickets will be made available to displaced Ukrainians to attend the live performances.
The UK government also announced £10 million in funding to “help ensure the event truly showcases Ukrainian culture” on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country.
The money will support Liverpool City Council and the BBC’s partnerships with Ukrainian artists and performers to create a show ‘celebrating music and how it unites people around the world’.
It will also support security, visa arrangements and other operational aspects of the competition, as well as Liverpool City Council’s school, community and volunteering programmes.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine means the pageant cannot take place where it should be. But we are honored to support the BBC and Liverpool by organizing it on their behalf, and we are determined to ensure that the people of Ukraine are at the heart of this event.
“Today’s announcement means that thousands of tickets will be offered to people displaced by war, so they can attend a performance honoring their homeland, their culture and their music.
“As always, we stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and their fight for freedom.”
Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, added: “Awarding nearly 3,000 tickets to displaced Ukrainians for the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool will allow our compatriots here to enjoy the event. and to celebrate the cultural and musical richness of our country.
“The UK’s unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion has been exemplary and this gesture is another example of that commitment.
“The £10m funding to showcase Ukrainian culture is also much appreciated and will help to put on a collaborative show bringing people together across the world.
“We are grateful to the UK Government, Liverpool City Council and the BBC for their efforts to honor Ukrainian culture and people through this event.”
Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson has said Ukraine will be “at the heart” of all their Eurovision plans.
She added, “Working with our Ukrainian community, we are shaping an empowering and powerful program that is all-encompassing and represents modern Ukraine – inspiring, poignant, funny, beautiful and moving.
“We are delighted to hear that displaced Ukrainians have the opportunity to come to the city in May – it is their Eurovision after all.
“Our team have worked tirelessly behind the scenes and we look forward to giving them a warm welcome to Liverpool and, fingers crossed, make them the rest of Ukraine and the UK proud.”
Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra, which triumphed at last year’s competition in Turin, Italy, will perform during the show.
Ukrainian broadcaster Timur Miroshnychenko, who has commentated on Eurovision in Ukraine since 2007, will also appear during the live broadcasts to preview the Ukraine commentary box in the Liverpool arena.
The announcement comes on the anniversary of the Russian invasion, which forced millions of Ukrainians from their homes, many of them finding refuge in the UK.
Those based in the UK under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, Ukraine Family Scheme and Ukraine Extension Scheme will be able to apply for Song Contest tickets.
Tickets for Displaced Ukrainians were subsidized by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with a £20 fee to be applied to each sale.
Spaces will be offered for all nine live shows, including semi-finals, previews and the live finale on May 13.