28 April 2023

Creating a space for a new kind of corporate gathering: exploring our Art and Events team

At Exness, we strive to infuse innovation into everything we do, ensuring our work is not only reliable and useful but also unique. We enjoy experimenting and transforming our surroundings, which is why we are committed to establishing and growing our own art space in Cyprus that is accessible to everyone. 

We spoke with Danila Parniouk, our Art Director, to discover why we are rethinking old industrial zones of a former Coca-Cola factory, what our Art & Events department does, and what connects him and Natalia Vodianova, a renowned model and the founder of the Naked Heart Foundation.

We infuse our events with the spirit of innovation, creating a unique atmosphere and artistic character."

Danila Parniouk Art Director

Our team organizes large-scale corporate events in the best traditions of how it is done, but strives to create a new image for such events. We are also developing the art space in Limassol. In particular, I am the art director of this project. But let's take it step by step.

Our work may seem atypical for a fintech company. But Exness is not a typical company. And as a modern, dynamic, forward-moving organization, it is not afraid to experiment. On the one hand, we help bring happiness to employees, as we have been organizing special gatherings like large New Year's events for them, but also to other people living in Limassol, as we have been creating lectures, exhibitions, and much more. On the other hand, we help breathe life into a new space and help the company with this experiment.

When I saw the vacancy for an art director at Exness to develop the art space, I was inspired. The project needs to be developed structurally and consistently like a business, and at the same time, through culture and art. Business and art have always gone hand in hand with me, and my professional development has taken place simultaneously in both areas. Therefore, I can use all of my previous 25 years of experience to develop this project.

Diving into the flow of art and events

I am an artist-photographer specializing in poetic photography, and since 2000, I have regularly worked on projects to share my visual poetry with a wide audience. Alongside this, I have also been involved in event organization, starting with simple exhibitions and ending with festivals.

My first festival arose spontaneously when I wanted to showcase photos I had brought back from India after a year of traveling. To do this, I organized an Indian culture festival to create an environment and context for exhibiting my work. The festival included screenings of Indian films, performances by dancers, and traditional Indian cuisine. I created an atmosphere in which everything Indian that could be found in Minsk came to life and was presented to the public. The result was a huge event that spanned the entire city. To make this happen, I collaborated with the Indian embassy, various thematic clubs, including the Indian cinema club and Indian dance enthusiasts, Indian restaurants, and other organizations.

When I moved to Spain, I organized an exhibition for the residents of Palamós. This small coastal town, located in the Costa Brava region, is well known to those who have lived there for more than 5 years, and it is difficult to surprise them with anything new. In my exhibition, I offered a different perspective on the town—the view of someone who had just arrived there. The result was a large exhibition supported by the city council.

Later, I did a project for the "La Salle" network school, where my children were studying. I proposed a photographic exhibition showcasing life in the school that parents don't usually see. For 4 months, I photographed the school and all the events that took place on different days to capture one day of school life in a concentrated form. The exhibition received many positive reviews and even went on tour to branches in other cities and countries.

There were many different projects, but one of the main things I learned in the process is that synergy can bring enormous benefits."

Through such interaction and collaboration with other organizations and communities, new information resources emerge, which help me become an active participant in the process.

Immersing in business ventures

Aside from my other endeavors, business has always been a significant part of my life. It's an exciting opportunity to realize my entrepreneurial potential, finance my creative initiatives, and explore new prospects. I started out as a financial analyst and crisis manager at a bank before starting my own financial company and investing in various projects worldwide.

When I moved to Spain, I acquired a franchise to build an internet provider company in the Costa Dorada area. Since my wife and I are both yoga instructors, I also began organizing week-long yoga retreats, where attendees can enjoy special diets, stress-reducing exercises, yoga, meditation, and breathing practices. With the onset of the pandemic, organizing these retreats became challenging, so I switched gears to work as a cryptocurrency analyst.

Recently, I've been expanding into wholesale petroleum product trade in the Spanish market. Over the past 2 years, I've built a network of wholesale stations that have sold millions of liters of fuel every month. This experience has allowed me to gain valuable insights, improve my Spanish language skills, and learn more about the country and its people. However, then I decided to move on to something new, and at that time I saw the vacancy for an art director at Exness.

Factory of culture

Our team's approach to corporate events is far from traditional. We infuse our events with the spirit of innovation, creating a unique atmosphere and artistic character. Olga Tarabarina, our general producer, leads the team in combining classic entertainment with an artistic element that expands the experience for participants. Our events offer a space for finding answers to questions, an alternative to relaxation.

We held these events on the territory of the former Coca-Cola factory in Limassol. The company was so impressed that it decided to support the development of this place and stimulate the creation of an art space—Kolla, a factory of culture.

This experiment is part of a global practice of renovating industrial heritage, revitalizing and rethinking old industrial zones. It is beneficial for the city as it preserves an architectural monument and creates a new cultural space. The cultural center not only preserves an architectural monument but also meets the needs of local residents and attracts people who have recently moved to Cyprus from other cities and countries and love art and culture.

A win-win project

As the art director of this project, my task is to develop the space through culture, community interaction, and creating a specific cultural landscape that unites people around creativity and culture.

This project presents a unique opportunity to bring together the community, promote interaction between expats and local residents, and attract artists from all over the world to Cyprus while showcasing local artists to the global art community. By doing so, we aim to raise the local art market to a global level.

Moreover, this project contributes to the development of the area, where both residential and commercial real estate is planned to be built. My objective is to create a cultural space that will become a hub of attraction for tourists and residents, giving this area a unique identity.

I have always been passionate about working on projects that benefit society while also being profitable for businesses. My role as the art director at Exness allows me to fulfill this desire.

Convergence of art and events

We have organized numerous exciting events at Kolla for everyone: local community, expats, and our employees. For example, last year, our team created a circus-themed atmosphere for the Exness employees during the Circus Mystifications Night event. I personally did not take part in this as it was before my employment in the company. But I really like the way the team implemented this project.

For the corporate New Year party, we aimed to create a space where people could connect with their desires. We built suspense through recognizable elements such as decorations, lighting, and music and created a virtual wish delivery service where people could make new wishes or remember old ones that arose during New Year's or Christmas but were not fulfilled.

We set up a letter vacuum cleaner where people could send letters and postcards to everyone, and we sent them to other countries for delivery to their recipients. To create a Christmas aroma on a large scale, we brought in large trucks loaded with mandarins. We also designed interesting spaces where people had to solve children's puzzles to get a prize and move on to the next secret room. There, they were treated to a special cocktail and shown a digital art installation video.

In addition, we have organized special events for the local community in Limassol. For instance, we held a Christmas market at Kolla that featured artistic performances, workshops by local artists, and booths showcasing local brands for the whole city to enjoy.

Our events aim to provide an engaging experience and involve participants in the event process."

The future of art space development

We have many plans for the future development of our space, including:

  1. City lectures where we will discuss current topics in culture, community interaction, and the development of technological and traditional art on our island. We will pay special attention to interacting with local communities and addressing their needs.

  2. Events focused on digital art and creative technologies. We also plan to create a laboratory that combines the most advanced technological solutions and art to create artistic objects, particularly in the field of media art, digital art, and light installations. We have already received support from companies and interested individuals who want to work with us to develop this laboratory and create large art objects using the most modern lighting technologies.

  3. Development of theatrical activity. We plan to invite theater groups and directors to showcase modern theater language. We will also use the Kolla space for exhibition projects to provide opportunities for local and invited artists to express themselves.

We have already begun implementing these plans

For example, we organized an event dedicated to the Limassol Carnival, one of the oldest carnivals in Europe that has been in existence for over 100 years. We wanted to show what the carnival looked like from the inside, so we organized a lecture and invited Stylianos Georgiades, who heads the cultural diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is the author of the book "Limassol Carnival," summarizing the more than 130-year experience of the carnival. Stylianos told us about the carnival, its traditions, and how it has evolved and transformed over time.

The lecture turned into a mini-carnival, where traditional serenade performers came to the stage with their musical instruments, cheerleaders lifted the mood with their dances and brave strides, and a drag queen performed an opera, which is also a significant part of local culture. There were also installations that were used at the carnivals of past years but rethought by our team and presented in a modern lighting design. The event was attended by the mayor of the city, former mayor of the city, and the carnival king—the main figure of the carnival week. Former carnival kings also have been there. In general, we got the most important figures of the Limassol Carnival as guests, choosing the right theme for our event that included a lecture, a show and an exhibition of carnival costumes.

We paid attention to what the local community considers important and central to their cultural event, and provided them with the opportunity to showcase their culture on our platform, integrating their culture into our own cultural space. We gained loyalty from the local community by showing interest in their culture and traditions.

This event was also important for expats who recently arrived and are not familiar with local traditions and culture. Participating in creating a carnival atmosphere and attending an educational lecture allowed them to better understand what is happening on the streets and in their new environment.

As a result, all participants had the opportunity to bond with each other. This is one of the functions of the cultural space that we create.

How to organize an interesting event

Organizing a successful event is a complex process that involves many aspects, including finding reliable contractors. However, there are 2 main aspects that you should focus on:

  1. Determine the goal of the event. Decide what type of event you are planning and who it will be interesting for. For instance, if you are organizing a lecture, remember that it is just an opportunity to bring people together around a common topic. Try to create polarizing opinions to attract people with different viewpoints and provide them with the opportunity to broaden their horizons or learn something new.

  2. Create an engaging program. It is helpful to combine contrasting elements to make the program more interesting. For example, after an intense brainstorming session, organize a relaxing discussion, followed by a space for networking with soft music and a cozy atmosphere that your guests won't want to leave. It's important to ensure that each guest receives full attention, and the program is engaging and thought-provoking. Don't forget to organize open dialogues, round tables with moderators, and other interactive elements that will help create an interesting experience for participants.

Contrasting elements can be different, such as meditative music and high-tech presentations. The key is to make sure they engage in a dialogue with each other and create a rich atmosphere for participants.

A successful event is a process that should continue even after the guests have left. Therefore, maintain dialogue and communication with participants to maintain connections and receive feedback about your event.

The social mission of art and events

I find it fulfilling when business, creativity, and social benefit come together in work. One of my most memorable projects from a few years ago was related to an autism association that brought together 20 families with children who have autism. The families had no space to meet and no specially trained teachers. I participated in organizing an international conference where many speakers from around the world were invited to raise awareness about this issue and garner support from local officials and the public for this group of people.

For 6 months, I photographed a child with autism to show how their world differs from that of ordinary people. My exhibition became part of the conference and was my main presentation and visual series of the event. We also invited representatives from scientific circles and organizations helping children with autism, as well as well-known personalities, to draw attention to the problem. Representatives from the University of Girona, a British organization helping children with autism adapt, and Natalia Vodianova, a well-known model who heads the Naked Hearts Foundation, joined us. Our efforts received wide resonance and numerous articles in the press.

As a result, this project attracted government and sponsor support. The association received space to meet and register as an independent organization, which helped them become sustainable. My project showed that art can serve a social function and influence processes in society. My photography and creativity evolved into civic activism.

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