President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Lyubimova, the ministry is working on a large programme to develop the network of local history museums. Let us start with this.
Minister of Culture Olga Lyubimova: You know that we are very happy to add another line to the national project called Local History Museums. There are over 1,700 of them in Russia, and the first 444 have been given the opportunity to upgrade thanks to the national project; the first hundred will be partially repaired and renovated, because several of them are cultural heritage sites.
Of course, it is a great joy and a very important new area for us, because these are people who have worked for years in spite of everything, who fought for an opportunity to somehow organise something themselves, independently, so that there would be such a hospitality house to welcome schoolchildren and tourists.
It was very important to us that our professional community and the Russian Museum Union were also involved in this decision. There are no large or small museums in Russia, and every collection is unique in its own way. We all met for the first time at the Ethnography Museum in St Petersburg last year and developed methodologically, in the same way as with model libraries, ways to change this space correctly, to make it more up to date and interesting for young people, for tourists, for whole families, and at the same time to preserve the most important thing that they have: the history of their region.
This is our great endeavour, which, of course, we would love to continue in the future, because 444 museums upgraded and 100 built is just the beginning of a long journey that we share. We can see this immediately in our dialogues with governors, because when you go there and the first thing they say is let us build more, let us renovate more, let us build a library, let us build a culture palace, we know that the Culture National Project is working.
We also had a “small grand” celebration: we have 1,000 palaces of culture now, 1,002 that we have built under the national project over these last three years, since 2019.
You know, we have a huge amount of design and estimate documentation, and in addition to federal financing, many governors are beginning to invest regional money, having seen the effect these spaces produce.
And the same thing is happening with libraries, which three years ago we were considering how to update, how to make popular with young people. They have been transformed into both internet cafes and meeting places; and this provides children with the chance to get acquainted with books for the first time. And on the other hand, older people visit to discuss things, to meet with artists from regional theatres, read poetry together, and celebrate anniversaries.
Today model libraries, local history museums and, perhaps, culture palaces provide a basis for our work with the regions, where we will be able to send someone on a tour later. The main thing is that they are becoming places of power and attracting people of all ages.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Olga Lyubimova: I thus wanted to move on to another very important result of our work.
We have a new prize – an award for the best music teachers, and the first 25 university professors and the first 25 college teachers will receive a million rubles at the very beginning of October.
Vladimir Putin: A million rubles each.
Olga Lyubimova: Yes, a million rubles each. And the best 100 teachers at children's art schools will also get half a million rubles each. This is also long-awaited support for our teachers.
I would like to say a few words about the children's cultural forum. It is also a new undertaking for us. We paused for the first two years because of Covid, trying to protect our youngest artists. But, in spite of everything, we had 2,500 participants from all over the world, including a girl from Kosovo who sang with us on a huge stage at VDNKh, their favourite mentor stars, and they met each other. Of course, it is a big undertaking for us.
And international competitions: we have completely reformatted them and considered whether we should hold them at all. But together with Valery Gergiev and Denis Matsuev, we decided that, despite everything, these competitions, the most important ones for us – the competition in the run-up to Sergei Rachmaninoff’s birth anniversary and the Yuri Grigorovich competition at the Bolshoi Theatre – would take place. Children came from England, France, Germany and the United States, and indeed both festivals were a success.
I have reported on local history museums. I also had time to say a few words about the national projects. I would like to mention the Great Exhibition project.
I have told you about the Great Concert Tour several times. It was a sort of national tour plan, and, based on its logic, we have created a similar project, the Great Exhibition. Because indeed, analysing all the cultural events taking place in our country, we realise that there is a great lack of exhibitions in the regions – and not only in the regions we are used to working with.
We have a separate area of our work now – in Donbass. For example, an exhibition called Our Traditions has opened, and it is already running in Lugansk. Our key museums are happy to take charge of these projects, and the sponsored organisations in the Lugansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic get the chance to return to their usual cultural life.
And the tours that are going on: a very important point – from the very beginning, since March, four creative groups from Donbass, who have not had this opportunity for many years, came to 54 cities in Russia. With full houses, incredible attention, the love of the audience, which they lacked, and the infrastructure that we can afford – we met them, welcomed them, distracted them from their everyday life and engaged them in creative work. That is on the one hand.
On the other hand, we went there and are now working hard in different areas: we also have children's performances and puppet shows. We received many requests regarding the circus. You know that we brought a huge programme, we brought 12 lions, it was a huge, big show. A lot of children have never been to the circus. Thirty thousand people have seen the show now. Of course, the Russian State Circus team, I should say, was the first to go there, and now they are thinking about how to continue the work together, on the one hand, but, on the other hand, we are very happy that kids from Donbass have such an opportunity, and there are already children from Donbass studying at our circus school.