President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
We had this idea of getting together for this meeting to discuss development of Moscow’s culture sector. I have heard from Mr Medinsky and from the Moscow Mayor that there are many issues that overlap or are very close at federal, city and regional level. There are some issues that can probably be resolved more effectively by combining efforts at the different levels. Let’s discuss these matters now.
Mr Sobyanin, please, go ahead.
Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin: Mr President,
Moscow has a huge number of cultural facilities. It is number one worldwide for the number of museums, and is also home to many theatres and exhibition halls. A large portion of these facilities belong to the city, and a considerable number belong to the Culture Ministry. There are also private facilities, facilities belonging to other agencies involved in culture matters. It has become absolutely essential to coordinate the work in this big cultural space of global importance.
I am grateful to the Culture Ministry for the fact that we maintain such close ties and work on many interesting projects together. We are currently carrying out the project to restore VDNKh (Exhibition of National Economic Achievements), for example. You have been there and have seen how the work is going. In particular, we are opening a number of new museums there. We are working together with Roscosmos [national space agency] and Rosatom [national nuclear energy agency] in this area. We recently launched the My History project, which now has exhibition centres devoted to the history of the Rurik and Romanov dynasties.
We have a number of museum projects directly under the Culture Ministry’s responsibility underway there too. Mr Medinsky will no doubt tell you about these projects.
Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky: Yes, there is the Cinema Museum at VDNKh, for example. The Cinema Museum was without a home of its own for more than a decade. Now it is located at VDNKh and will open its doors next year. This really is a unique museum, one of its kind in Russia and the entire CIS.
Vladimir Putin: It’s particularly timely now, during the Year of Cinema.
Vladimir Medinsky: Yes. A monumental reconstruction effort is underway at the Polytechnic Museum, together with the Moscow city government. The museum has remained open during the reconstruction work. It is using a pavilion at VDNKh during this period, has an active programme of exhibitions going there, and has used neighbouring pavilions too for exhibitions, the renowned British exhibition, Space, for example. We gave an award to the director of the British museum concerned for her efforts in organising this exhibition, which is now on at VDNKh.
The Soviet Culture pavilion had been abandoned for many years. We have restored it now and our federal organisation Rosizo is actively organising exhibitions there.
Reconstruction work is also thoroughly underway at the Museum of Oriental Art, and also at Soyuzmultfilm, again, during the Year of Cinema. This project is not located at VDNKh itself, but is very close by. We hope that Soyuzmultfilm will finally have its own buildings by the end of this year.
Vladimir Putin: They’ve been waiting for this for a long time.
Vladimir Medinsky: Yes, they’ve been asking for many years.
Sergei Sobyanin: Mr President, as you said, 2016 is the Year of Cinema. You approved this by executive order. Naturally, we are carrying out a large-scale programme in this area, a programme devoted to Russian and Moscow cinema.
Moscow recently hosted its International Film Festival, where we announced the establishment of special awards for the creation of Moscow’s image in cinema. These awards are open to both Russian and international films.
There are three prizes with quite solid prize money. The first is worth 50 million rubles, and the second and third are for 30 and 20 million rubles respectively. This will make it possible to make films focusing on Moscow and create the city’s historic and modern cinematic image. This is very important in terms of promoting Moscow. The celebrations planned for Moscow City Day will also have an emphasis on the history of cinema and on modern cinema this year. This will be the jewel in the celebrations’ crown.
Finally, Moscow will host a film festival in September, with installations devoted to Moscow cinema on display at 30 sites in the city’s streets and squares. We are carrying out this project in cooperation with the Culture Ministry.
Vladimir Putin: It’s a good idea.
Vladimir Medinsky: I want to thank the Mayor of Moscow. It will be an excellent encouragement for filmmakers – foreign as well as Russian – to recognise those who have successfully created a cinematic image of Moscow by awarding them these substantial financial prizes.
I am sure that we will see new films come out over the next few years that completely transform Moscow’s image on the international side. I am sure that they will make a real effort in competing for these prizes.
Sergei Sobyanin: The Culture Ministry is supporting Moscow’s plans to host the international cultural forum of world cities. Thirty-five of the world’s big cities, including New York, London, Paris, Vienna, Warsaw and others will take part in this event. It is an annual event that takes place in a different city each time.
Vladimir Putin: When does it take place?
Sergei Sobyanin: In October this year, with the Culture Ministry’s support.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Vladimir Medinsky: Mr President, let me say a few words about the theatres too.
The Moscow city government is handing over city buildings to us and we are doing the work needed to transform them into effective facilities, including economically effective theatre venues. One of Moscow’s biggest construction projects this year is the Maly Theatre. We will have it completed two years ahead of schedule. It will be finished this autumn and at no extra cost. Most of the facilities, the workshops and so forth have already been completed and handed over to the theatre.
Nearby is the Theatre of Nations. The city authorities gave us a building, which we have restored, and it will now be part of the Theatre of Nations.
Sergei Sobyanin: When the Theatre of Nations opened, its director asked us to give them this building, and so we did. Together with the Culture Ministry, they got it into shape and the result is a decent venue for theatre productions.
Vladimir Medinsky: The drama theatres are the most economically effective. The Vakhtangov Theatre had only one stage two years back, on the Arbat. Now it has three stages. We have completed a new stage, they still have the historic old stage, and the city authorities gave us a small adjacent theatre. This will be the theatre’s third stage that will open this autumn.
The theatre earns two rubles for every ruble of state subsidies. They are a model for the rest and we are trying to get all of our theatres to follow this road.
Vladimir Putin: What are their best results in filling the house at performances?
Vladimir Medinsky: Nearly 99 percent.
Vladimir Putin: That’s a great result.