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At least 10 Russian circuses to undergo complete overhaul in 2014

February 10, 2014, 18:57 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russia's minister of culture revealed plans in an exclusive interview to Itar-Tass

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© ITAR-TASS / Alexei Filippov

MOSCOW, February 10. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian Ministry of Culture has invested about 3 billion rubles ($86.3 million) in renovation of Russian circuses, Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky told Itar-Tass on Monday.

“In Soviet times, we used to have a unique circus system, which had a good educational basis and methods of training circus performers. We know what’s happened to it but let’s see what we have managed to achieve to make things better and outline future plans which we are going to implement without fail,” the Russian culture minister said in an interview with Itar-Tass on Monday.

Many Russian circuses have seen changes in their top leadership in recent years. Medinsky noted that new, energetic and well-known circus professionals such as the Zapashnyi Brothers, clown Vyacheslav Polunin and circus performer Farzana Khalilova, for example, have been appointed to top positions in circus leaderships.

According to the minister, the state allocated 2 billion 785 million rubles in the circus industry in 2013 for the first time in the past 20 years.

“The Big Moscow Circus on Vernadsky Avenue received 311 million rubles for capital repairs of part of its building which has been in critical condition for the past few years; 644 million rubles have been allocated for the renovation of the Big St. Petersburg Circus, which is closing for repairs this year,” Medinsky emphasized.

The Russian State Circus Company has allocated about 1 billion rubles for overhaul repairs of circuses in six Russian cities: Sochi, Ivanovo, Nizhniy Tagil, Chelyabinsk, Tula and Ryazan. The repair works will start in spring-summer this year.

“It is particularly important that we are renovating them in the Year of Culture, thus preserving the history of Russian circus art in general,” Medinsky emphasized.

Besides, four circuses — in Samara, Omsk, Penza and Kursk — will be rebuilt under the “Russian Culture” federal target program before the end of 2014.

“In a bid to estimate the extent of repairs which should be carried out, the Russian Culture Ministry and the Russian State Circus Company have inspected 18 circuses that are in critical condition. At least ten of them will be repaired in the next few years,” Medinsky went on to say.

In his interview with Itar-Tass, he also shared his thoughts about the state’s priorities in culture. The Russian culture minister pledged to give more support to talented and socially-significant art.

Medinsky said that the Russian Culture Ministry intended to change its criteria and priorities in culture and would now give its backing to talented and socially-significant art rather than elite and modern artists.

Medinsky said he was convinced that” the state could not confine its role in culture exclusively to managerial functions and be guided by uniform and impersonal criteria.” According to him, uniformity and impersonality were unacceptable in culture, which repulses such an approach.

The Russian minister of culture noted that the role of “father state” in culture was complementary but disputable because of its role in the past. According to him, the state should play the role of an organizer authorized by society.

“An artist creates pieces that inspire him to future work while the state should support those forms of art which, it believes, meet national interests. It would be absurd for the state to build its support according to a “give money and come away” principle,” Medinsky emphasized.

“It does not cross anyone’s mind to approach businesspeople with such proposals except for the Culture Ministry which used to behave in such a way in the past. I am not talking about any restrictions of creative activities. At all times, artists have received support from various sources, not necessarily from the state,” the Russian culture minister went on to say.

Medinsky, however, believes that state-funded projects should be discussed by experts and public councils; in the media and at forums. “It is in the interests of the Culture Ministry to protect art from biased approaches and give up any authoritarian interference in a creative process,” he emphasized.

The minister noted that non-interference in artists’ work would be the underlying principle of his Ministry’s work. “Our principle is not to interfere in the process but try to agree on principles of interaction,” the minister said, adding that was the reason why the Culture Ministry did not try to influence the repertoire policy of Russian theatres.

“Our task is to analyze and define how efficient a cultural institution is and create maximum favorable work conditions within the existing powers,” Medinsky said.

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