Day 2. Theater of the future and the new Russian art patrons
The second day of the Moscow Cultural Forum has passed. It was remarkable with number of interesting discussions with unexpected, meaningful and positive conclusions. The guest list also was pleasantly surprising.
A theatrical discussion became an important event of the second day of the Moscow Cultural Forum. The discussion gathered the most modern and radical theater directors of our time. The following persons gathered together to talk about the future of the theater: Konstantin Bogomolov, Kama Ginkas, Dmitry Volkostrelov, Yuri Kwiatkowski, Evgeny Pisarev, artistic director of the Pushkin Theatre, Elena Gremina, director of Teatr.doc, Katazhina Osinska, Polish theater theorist and others. During the discussion, Kama Ginkas clearly hinted that the theater is primarily a platform for creative but not political exercises: "It's strange for me to talk about the theater of the future, since I won’t be alive to see it. But I do have concerns: in Soviet times, everyone considered it necessary to “bite” the Soviet system. Bold statements are common for any theater. However, if a theatre produces just them, it's not interesting". Theater theorist Marina Davydova predicted theater development in unexpected way: "It becomes more and more difficult for a theatre to exist within the box-scene, a conventional theater space. It seems to me that a theater of the future will migrate towards modern art". Unpleasant moments also appeared in the discussion. Ironically, the day before the discussion, it became known that the landlords of the building where Theatre.doc had been located during the last 12 years, terminated the contract. The cause of this incident hasn’t become clear up to now, however, Elena Gremina is not discouraged. "Even if we have to leave the place, it won’t kill us in any case, even if we have to rent some garage," - she said.
Theatrical theme was continued by creative meeting with Boris Yukhananov, artistic director of "Electrotheatre STANISLAVSKY". Well-known film and theater theorist, adept of the "parallel cinema", documentalist not long ago became the director of the renewed Stanislavsky Drama Theater and surprised and puzzled by that many of his colleagues. Boris Yukhananov answered theatre theorist Marina Davydova’s questions, told about his "theater of the fullness" theory, appeared out of religious mystery, and also shared with the audience his plans for the new theater season. In particular, he said that the first premiere of Electrotheatre "dramatic spectacle in three evenings" "Blue Bird" was scheduled for February 13, 2015.
Public-talk "Presumption of innocence: why does not the government trust the patrons?" became another major event. Sergei Kapkov, Maxim Nogotkov, Russian businessman, Inna Bazhenova, owner of the Art Newspaper Russia, Alexey Ananiev, co-owner of the holding "Promsvyazcapital" and founder of the Institute of Russian Realistic Art, Marina Lochak, director of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, together with conducting the conversation Elmar Murtazaev, editor in chief of Forbes magazine, discussed the role of private investors in the development of modern culture and the degree of their reliability, as well as the need for a law on arts patronage. As it turned out, this law had already passed the first reading in the State Duma. Its main idea was in the following: activities of patrons became equated to charity that gave them some tax benefits. Sergei Kapkov, as a representative of the government, actively supported the introduction of such a law: "No one believes in the sincerity of entrepreneurs, - he said – Law would just define a typology of these people - patrons. The government sees the promotion of homosexuality, pedophilia, or whatever else in culture, but does not see the people who are helping the culture".
Marina Loshak was not quite agree with him. By her opinion, funds to the arts had to be attracted not by benefits but by sincere impulse: "Many people help their hometowns, their historic homelands without demanding anything in return. Just because they love the place and want it to be developed. It is super motivation”. However, other participants in the discussion were not so optimistic and agreed that even though the importance of personal initiative was difficult to overestimate, without the official law all this would hardly work. Alexey Ananiev have explained the situation: "Even those who are ready to provide their buildings for free for cultural institutions, forced to deal with the tax authorities. The situation is being reduced to an absurdity. "
Perhaps the most heated debate happened during the discussion on "Religion in the cultural space of the future". Participants agreed only on one thing: all problems and misunderstandings came from the lack of awareness, the lack of education and the lack of culture. The Mufti of Moscow and Central Russia Albir Krganov invited members of other religions to cooperate, gently hinting at the lack of education of his opponents: "Do you think that our forefather Adam was a man of culture? What came first: religion or culture? Many Christians believe that Adam was a man of culture. We have problems in communicational culture, problems of cross-national, inter-religious format, and many of us are not ready for such conversation, because we know little about each other, about the culture of other confessions. Let’s communicate and make right useful projects". He was supported by Natalia Samoilenko, director of the museum-reserve "Tsaritsyno": "Culture begins when there are rules. This is sphere of rules. I agree with the idea that the true culture is connected with an understanding of other people, other civilizations, other religions. People have a lack of basic education, of elementary culture, we tend to forget about the past, and therefore we does not see the future". Finally, Mikhail Abramov, businessman, art patron and founder of the Museum of Russian Icons also admitted that only new knowledge allowed him to appreciate the possibilities of the great Russian culture: "When I started to understand myself, I realized that I was a cultureless man, because I did not know the basics and essentials of our cultural values. When I began to understand all that, then I understood that there were only a few people who knew and understood the culture that we took from the Byzantine Empire. We are a unique country, where culture and religion have a great history".
Sharp social questions were touched during the second day of the Forum. Thus, an important topic was discussed by the participants of the discussion "Old age is not a joy: why has the "third age" in Russia appeared to become a synonymous with the third rate?" Why have cultural entertainments appeared unavailable for older people and how to make the cultural environment of the city more "aged"? The participants of the discussion were Ivan Napreenko, sociologist of the Moscow Institute of Social and Cultural Programs, Gulnara Minnigalaeva, Deputy Head of the Research Committee of the Russian Society of Sociologists "Older generation", Irina Antonova, president of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, and Maria Krupnik, curator of theater programs of ZIL Cultural Center. Despite the sad mood of the conversational partners, Irina Antonova spoke quite positively. According to her, the problem is not in the unavailability of cultural activities but in the misunderstanding of the meaning of art: "We need to let people know what is a real art, and what is a one-time art", - Antonova said.
Cultural life is active not only within the Garden Ring, this was the conclusion reached by the participants of the round table "Decentralization: motivation and efficiency". There were discussed successful activities and the ability to survive of cultural centers located in different parts of Moscow. Director of ZIL Cultural Center Elena Melville told how difficult it was to attract visitors to the site: "Our ZIL Cultural Center was perceived as tundra, no one wanted to go there, even though we are only three metro stops from the Bolshoi Theatre". She also said that after the success of ZIL Cultural Center government has allocated 290 million rubles for the development of another six cultural centers located in the suburbs down to Cheratnovo and Biryulevo. However, such budgets are not available for everyone. Tsaritsyno Park&Estate, for example, has to find ways to earn money, because the entrance to the park is free, and the museum itself gets only 12 percent of visitors. "We need to offer a new communicational language to visitors in order to attract people not only from neighborhoods, but also from other districts of Moscow, from the center" - the director of "Tsaritsyno" Natalia Samojlenko shared her thoughts. London Arts Centre Barbican, located far outside the Garden Ring, also tries to earn money. Leonora Thompson, director of Audiences & Development at Barbican Centre (London), says that the center earns through trainings, marketing and performances taking place at its area.
A similar issue was discussed during the talk "Treasures of industrial zones." Participants discussed how to turn large-scale industry places to attractive cultural-oriented territories. ZIL Cultural Center, again, was mentioned as an example of extremely successful cultural enterprise. Foreign guest Evert Verhagen, founder of the Creative Cities agency, remembered an interesting story. He spoke about the personal experience of converting an old industrial zone in the German Ruhr region to a park and gave encouragement to Russian colleagues: "Every project is very complex, not everybody and not always knows how it will be paid off. Projects begin with the people who initiate them. When you have the initiative and the program you are applying to the city. Do not be afraid to talk to developers, as a rule, they are not much interested in the development of industrial zones".
The discussion "Russia is strong for its province" led its participants even further away from the center of Moscow. Eugeny Markov, President of the Union of Russian Towns, Victor Shalai, director of the Arseniev State Museum of Primorsky region, and Tatiana Ivshina, Minister of Arts and Cultural Policy of the Ulyanovsk region, discussed cultural policy in regions. The main emphasis of the discussion was on cultural uniqueness and autonomy of regional units. Regions do not need to look up to “spoiled” with resources Moscow - this conclusion was made by some of the participants of the discussion. "Without prejudice to the capital city, that has experts and innovations, it is worth noting that everyone can work having the money, but can you try to work without money? Moscow should get rid of its snobbery and also learn how to work in such conditions"- Tatiana Ivshina said. Eugene Markov echoed her words: "As long as market system has formed in the capital city, the province has stayed at the same positions. Our country indeed can compare how culture developed during the Soviet period, when the money was not a major target, and how it develops now, in terms of market, when the profit becomes the meaning of life. Perhaps the cultural explosion in the province is coming from the fact that the market system there does not prevail. "
Among other events of the second day of the Forum we should highlight the signing of an agreement of intent between Joseph Backstein, the commissioner of the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, and Elizabeth Fokina, director of the Association “Exhibition Halls of Moscow”. According to this document the Association “Exhibition Halls of Moscow” provides 6-th Moscow Biennale with exhibition spaces. "We have already begun to think of a joint plan of how to use our exhibition opportunities. In the near future we will begin to create a list of curators and artists "- Joseph Backstein commented.