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Culture and Art. What Will Be Done?

September 07, 15:53 UTC+3
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Key conclusions

Culture essential to economic development, boosting Far East’s quality of life

“When discussing the Far East’s economic development we should keep in mind that culture is one of the links in the chain of our country’s economic development, which at times is crucial. It is hardly possible to calculate or monetize the country’s development without turning to the quality of human development,” said Anna Gogoleva, Acting Director of the Culture Department of the Primorskiy Territory.

“The final goal is to ensure the Far East's competitiveness in terms of quality of life for our citizens and for those investors who come here to work and make money. If we don’t do this, then no gas pipelines, no power lines, no advanced special economic zones whatsoever will attract and keep investors here - and more to the point – nor will it keep those people here who arrive to work at any new facilities. Without those efforts, unfortunately, there will be no priority development of the Far East,” said Sergei Kachaev, Deputy Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East.

“The Far East is a macro-region with a population of slightly more than 6 million people. The stake that the government is placing on it is an attempt to enhance the region’s investment attractiveness, to create new enterprises and jobs. The key task is to increase the population of the Far East and the quality of life for the people that already live here,” said Victor Shalai, Director, Arseniev State Museum of Primorsky Region.

Challenges

Poor competitiveness on regional culture projects due to lack of funding

“In our region we create a lot of federal projects – the Mariinsky Theatre, the Vaganova Academy, state museums, but there is another side to that coin that shows a huge difference between federally-supported institutions and the periphery <…> We are facing a lack of financing since funding for federal projects is much higher and of better quality than for our institutions. It is sufficient for the region on average, but it can be very difficult to catch up to federal-level projects,” Anna Gogoleva noted.

“The initiative to create affiliated branches of federal institutions requires a particularly meticulous approach by the regional executive bodies as it involves the risk of imbalances in distributing resources between federal institutions and regional ones, where regional institutions cannot win the competition with federal ones,” Victor Shalai said.

“The regional budget will shoulder the burden for setting up those facilities and buildings where a federal institution will be based. Those are huge expenses, and it is difficult for the region to immediately find them <…> As for museum projects, the legal structure has not been defined yet. The territorial budget is most likely to fully bear the burden,” Anna Gogoleva said.

“Unfortunately, the state budget does not provide targeted financing,” said Vladimir Gusev, Director, State Russian Museum.

“We don’t have a basis for preparing technical facilities for theaters, museums, art galleries,” said Yefim Zvenyatsky, Artistic Director, Primorsky Academic Drama Theatre named after M. Gorky; Russian Government Cultural Affairs Award 2016 Winner.

“We are speaking about the outperforming growth rates of the Far East, but unfortunately, we cannot save what we have. For example, today a facility attended by 900 children is under threat of being shut down,” said Olga Yurkova, Minister of Culture and Archives of Amur Region.

Solutions

Shaping the region’s cultural action plan

“We put together a special section in the Russian State Program for the development of culture and tourism in 2012-2020. It is a package of events and projects that will be implemented or created in the Far East <…> It is necessary to provide both an economic and a cultural basis on border areas. Far Eastern regions are engaged in the creation of a whole number of performances on historical and patriotic subjects, devoted to the development of the Far East. We have included a whole set of historical cultural events to the activity plan on the implementation of the state’s cultural policy strategies,” Sergei Kachaev said.

“It would be nice if we set forth a list of festivities from each region to make them traditional, frequent and obligatory in each region, and to budget our festivities into the Culture Ministry’s plan as a way to support the projects that we will discuss with culture ministers of the Far East,” Olga Yurkova said.

Grants for cultural development

“Cinema should stir up love for our region, our country, our nature, our people and our history from any person who becomes acquainted with the country’s history for the first time. I call for necessitating a grant enabling the filming of major movie ‘blockbusters’ devoted to the history of the region at least once in five years,” said Alexander Melnik, Film Director, Screenwriter, Member of Russian Guild of Film Directors. 

Co-financing the region’s culture from federal budget

“Our task is to make sure that federal projects implemented in the Far East are financed from the federal budget. In this case we will ensure that such affiliates exist and become regular,” Sergei Kachaev said.

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