President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kalyagin, I believe we drafted the theatre development concept in the Russian Federation until 2020 back in 2011, and I approved it when I was Prime Minister.
Chairman of the Russian Theatre Union and Artistic Director of Moscow Et Cetera Theatre Alexander Kalyagin: Yes, exactly.
Vladimir Putin: The Russian Theatre Union, which you head, is the driving force for the events mentioned there. How do you assess today’s situation?
Alexander Kalyagin: Mr President, I am glad that you remember that year.
Of course, I am eternally grateful for your attention to addressing the issues facing the theatre. One manifestation of your attention, and this is something we want very much and have lobbied for some time, is to declare 2019 the Year of Theatre.
I understand that there are difficulties, but this would be done for theatre, for the community, for culture in general, for our country and for the audiences. It is very important that people go to theatres. Besides the problems we could solve during the Year of Theatre, we would also map out a way and design a strategy until 2030.
It is true that there are many problems, and if you were to declare the Year of Theatre, I have prepared possible ways to address these problems. Here they are, there are three pages here with the main approaches to organising the Year of Theatre.
I understand that life will not end next year, and people will continue going to theatres. But the new edition of the Law on Culture and amendments to the Tax, Budget and Civil codes… As you know, many theatres are in need of major renovation work. There are many things. We could solve education issues, raise wages and improve theatres’ technical resources, because it is really a great asset for the audiences and for the people of Russia.
For example, in your Address to the Federal Assembly you mentioned the cultural centres that would be built at every possible place in a city. That would be excellent. Young people and children start going to theatres when they are little: theatre clubs, school drama, theatre school and so on. It fosters growth and elevates morality, if you can forgive me for such lofty words, but you know this yourself. For example, my grandson – an amazing mathematician – is a brilliant cello player. We should do what the Japanese did: send everyone to art school, because this leads to an entirely different mentality.
Vladimir Putin: Music is directly connected with mathematics.
Alexander Kalyagin: Yes, this is true.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Kalyagin, I agree. I know that you have been thinking about this for a long time. We have discussed it, too. Let’s do it, let’s make 2019 the Year of Theatre in Russia.
Alexander Kalyagin: Hooray!
Vladimir Putin: We will see. Of course, you should develop your proposals for the year’s programme.
Alexander Kalyagin: Almost all the solutions are in these papers. I can add more. The Year of Theatre would be great.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Alexander Kalyagin: You cannot imagine how happy the theatre community and the theatre will be. This really is very important.