In September 2022, Russian invaders shelled Bakhmutskyi city center of culture and leisure named after Yevhen Martynov.
After the arrival, the historical building, located in the center of the city, was engulfed in flames. The fire was extinguished at night in extreme conditions - there was no electricity in the city, water pumps did not work. Part of the premises where there was a big stage, dressing rooms, costume room, scenery and props burned out completely.
"When I arrived in the morning, the flames were already on the dome, where the central entrance is, and had spread to the third floor of the administrative building. The fire destroyed the circus, theater and two choreographic studios. The Bakhmut TV and Radio Company was also on the third floor. She, too, was completely burnt out", - told the journalist "Svoi Dim" art director Natalia Markina.
"Firemen were collecting water, I don't even know where, because there was no light and the pumps were not working. Local resident Andrii Kuryansky helped. He had a barrel in his car and he was constantly driving and delivering water," she says.
From the first days of the full-scale invasion, the palace did not work as usual, and the workers began to volunteer. The facility had a point of dispensing humanitarian aid.
"Almost immediately from the beginning of the full-scale invasion, refugees from the Luhansk region began to be accepted. They were registered and placed on the territory of the community. Those who needed medical help were sent to the hospital. Residents of the city brought food, clothes, medicine. Later, volunteers also joined in," he says art director
And on February 23, there were rehearsals in the palace building and children's laughter rang out. Nataliya Markina says that she could not even imagine that her native institution would be injured, and that "real hell" would come in Bakhmut.
"I came here after school. She entered the acting department at the university in Kharkiv by correspondence and immediately went to work at the palace as an artistic director. Of course, at that time I still didn't quite understand what it was and how. But the team helped me and became a second family for me already for 19 years," she says.
Mrs. Natalia recalls that it was 2003, and in 2004 the palace was closed for reconstruction. The creative team continued to work at various venues in the city, and in four years, the renovated institution was opened and it was a real celebration for all the residents of the city.
The team does not lose hope and believes that they will return home and the children will come to rehearsals again. This is what the temporary acting director of the palace says Olena Stolyarchuk:
"It was a real home. There was a real family there. All are talented, bright, with a kind smile. Our events were unparalleled, the whole city was waiting for them with delight. Memories... That's all that's left. And still pictures. And the heart is still there. But we will come back, we will come back even stronger. Victory is with us! Everything will be Ukraine!"