The meeting was attended by leading executives and directors of Russian theatres.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon dear colleagues,
Not long ago we met in Taganrog, Rostov Region. Time is passing quickly. I looked it up — it turns out we met on January 29, 2010. During that meeting we agreed to talk about our theatre and not only the development of international theatre, as we did when we all met to celebrate Anton Chekhov’s anniversary.
I would first and foremost like to listen to you. I will not indulge in a lengthy introductory speech.
You are well aware of all the weaknesses of our theatrical scene, regulations governing theatre, all the chronic weaknesses and, of course, all the achievements of our national theatre, because this national school is also your school, you are the quintessence of Russian theatre.
I'm not going to talk about grants — you know all about them. I believe that grants for theatre is an absolutely valid idea but, conversely, grants cannot solve all of our theatre’s problems. This is the case throughout the world; grants are useful things, but it would be wrong to think of grant schemes as panaceas for the overall development of theatre.
A very important topic which I would like to address separately is that of small and medium-sized Russian towns where – and this problem has historical roots – there are absolutely brilliant theatres but simultaneously terrible lack of funds and a lot of chronic problems and difficulties they face. What can we do about this? I'd like you to tell me and for our government representatives to say a few words on the issue, as yet I do not have a full understanding of how we support theatres in small and medium towns.
And there is one more topic that I consider extremely important: the fate of individuals, social support for actors, and particularly older ones. The Ministry of Culture provides so-called targeted financial support to nationally renown artists who are more than 70 years old. These currently amount to more than 100 people, 123 precisely. But it is clear that not all outstanding artists fall into this category, while others need help sooner. This is another one of the topics that I think is worthy of the government’s attention during this meeting.
Enough introductory words, it would be much more useful for me to listen to you. All the more so because, unfortunately, our meeting was postponed several times for various reasons; I was hoping we could meet in the first half of the year, but unfortunately we only found time in September. Please go ahead: we are completely free.