The focus of the discussion was the implementation of the programme to establish cultural centres in rural areas.
The Minister of Culture also informed the President about the formation of innovation centres in cities with federal support.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Mr Medinsky, there are many questions but you wanted to start with regional issues. Go ahead, please.
Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky: Yes, with regional issues.
You know, Mr President, the Ministry of Culture has been criticised more than once for focusing on issues of our cultural capitals, calling it “the Bolshoi Theatre Ministry” or “the Mariinsky Theatre Ministry.” Therefore, we tried, starting with the Year of Culture and throughout all these years, to put an emphasis on supporting our regions.
I would like to say a few words about several major projects that we are carrying out now and plan to implement next year.
First, the Year of Cinema: we are setting up 443 screens with government support in small towns that have had no cinema since the Soviet times.
Vladimir Putin: What will you show?
Vladimir Medinsky: We must show 50 percent Russian films under our contracts. Therefore, we are promoting our films.
We will also be opening giant screens at 24 circuses in the regions. It is quite a sight. They are incredibly large screens with wonderful sound.
There will also be cinemas in 37 cultural centres that we are building in small towns following Presidential executive orders (by the way, we built 37 centres instead of the five under the plan). Naturally, all these measures are promoting the gradual growth of the share of Russian films screened.
We have one more new project. Again, we have had nothing like this since the Soviet times. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is an enthusiastic supporter. He is paying special attention to rural areas. This project provides for the co-funding of the construction of rural cultural centres of a new type.
We drafted several standard plans. The federal budget will provide 70 percent of the total funding. These centres will be built in the regions where agriculture is growing but they lack money in local budgets. These new cultural centres have something to offer the whole family.
We found 1.5 billion in the Culture Ministry’s budget for next year. We will carry on with this programme. So far this year, we have already provided 300 million on a pilot project. This is about 30 new community centres. There will be hundreds eventually.
Other big, high-profile regional projects include Russky Island, Pervouralsk (Sverdlovsk Region) and Kaluga – the creation of major innovative cultural centres that will essentially be the biggest modern cultural institutions in these regions. They are also supported at the federal level.
As for assistance in restoration projects, I could talk at length about that. I would like to draw your attention to something by way of example. We recently visited Astrakhan. We are restoring the Astrakahn Kremlin with federal funding. The project is nearing completion. In addition, there are also the Tula, Pskov and Novgorod kremlins. Interestingly, according to the governor, the restoration of the Astrakhan Kremlin has been accompanied by a qualitative improvement in tourism there. A five-star hotel has opened there, very near the entrance to the Kremlin. Astrakhan now is not only a place to go fishing but there is also a wonderful ballet theatre and the Kremlin, and a lot of tourists stay right there in the city.
Crimea. This project did not get off to a flying start. Remember, Mr President, you were the one who initiated it. We launched it and the first restoration projects began: the Ukraina cinema theatre, which is now part of the Defence of Sevastopol Museum, including an exhibition hall. There have been a series of exhibitions: the Ryurikoviches, the Romanovs, the Defence of Sevastopol, the Malakhov Mound. There are literally swarms of school students there.
At present, there are about 15 cultural facilities. Importantly, the Culture Ministry is responsible for federal facilities while the Crimea and Sevastopol governments are responsible for regional facilities, but we are simply one team. We are constantly in contact.
As of next year, facilities will be put into operation on a regular basis. Monument restoration projects are underway everywhere. Also, Mr President, if I may, I would like to hand you a letter from People’s Artist of the USSR Yury Solomin inviting you to the opening ceremony at Maly Theatre after renovations. This is what Maly will look like. I will not say anything. Better to see for yourself.
Vladimir Putin: At the end of November?
Vladimir Medinsky: Yes.
Generally, a great deal is being said today about theatres on TV and elsewhere. I would like to show you the most significant state-sponsored projects to support theatre infrastructure that we are implementing.
For example, in St Petersburg, a new project has been launched – the biggest after Mariinsky Theatre: the Maly Drama Theatre under the leadership of Lev Dodin, which is a complex of buildings. The foundation pit is ready and work is in progress. This is probably the best complex of drama theatres. It was quite a challenge fitting it into the historical ambiance of the central part of the city, but it seems to fit all right.
Vladimir Putin: You promised that long ago.
Vladimir Medinsky: Now about Moscow. We launched the construction of the second stage at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre at Nagatinskatya. The work is in full swing and I hope we will open it in 2019. The theatres are working really well.
We are trying to attract business, Mr President, in order to save government money. Here is an example for you: a private company is building a turnkey affiliate of the Maly Theatre in Kogalym at its own expense. Once it is built, we will be in charge of it. This is how it will look. We signed the contract with LUKOIL at the International Cultural Forum in St Petersburg.
This year we will sign a contract on the complete transfer to us of a theatre building with all equipment in the centre of Moscow for two billion roubles. It is one of the best federal drama theatres headed by Zhenovach. We will receive this entire private complex. Its balance sheet value is about two billion roubles. I think this is a good example of public-private partnership in action.
Now a few words about business and the growth of non-government museums. In the last few years, their number doubled. This is a conservative estimate. We cannot even count all of them. These are both public and private museums. Some of them are enormous, like the Museum of Russian Impressionism and the Museum of the Russian Icon. We will open the Military Uniform Museum early next year. We are always trying to support such initiatives because they promote tourism and create jobs and, in general, this is a sacred cause.
And the last point I would like to make concerns the development of the Moscow Philharmonic Society. Much is said about the record sales of tickets to exhibitions, for instance the Aivazovsky and Serov exhibitions. However, this year an absolute record was set by sales of classical music tickets by the Moscow Philharmonic Society since its founding in Lunacharsky’s times.
We are completing the opening of the second stage of the Moscow Philharmonic Society, the so-called Rachmaninov complex in the south-west of Moscow. I am certain all of its musicians and other employees would be happy if you found the time to visit. It has one of Moscow’s best concert halls. It has not just one hall but a series of halls, several of them.
Vladimir Putin: Is the sound good? Who made it?
Vladimir Medinsky: Not us. The Germans worked on the sound. Experts say the sound is the best in Moscow. When Gergiev is in town, he goes there for rehearsals.
Vladimir Putin: Fine.