President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Medinsky, three quarters have passed, and the year is drawing to a close. Any good news?
Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky: With your permission, I would like to start with the rural areas. This year, for the first time, we launched a programme to support the building, renovation and equipping of rural cultural centres. To put this in perspective, a nationwide project like this was only ever supported in the best years of the Soviet Union.
We started by allocating 1.8 billion rubles annually (funds have already been set aside for next year as well) to build new cultural centres and to renovate existing ones. Over 100 cultural centres will be built under this programme annually.
Also, as part of a United Russia project, almost 1.5 billion rubles are allocated annually to equip and repair a wider range of rural cultural centres, this time in smaller allotments.
Under your instructions, this year we are completing a programme for the construction of cultural promotion centres in small towns with a population of under 100,000 people. We intend to build 37 such centres.
These are actually new-generation 21st century cultural centres. We had planned to build 39 of them, but, unfortunately, not all regions were able to take this on. Since we are co-financing on a 50/50 basis, two regions had to return the money.
There is a remarkable programme underway to create innovative cultural centres complete with cinemas, libraries, and dance studios. Two centres like this are already operating in the Urals and in Kaluga.
Unfortunately, we were unable to build one such centre in Vladivostok. The local authorities returned the money to the federal budget, as there were certain issues with construction. However, this is a very exciting and promising project.
As for theatre activities in the first nine months of the year, the number of spectators and ticket sales at federal theatres has increased by 22 percent. Overall, the theatre statistics are quite impressive.
Ticket sales at federal theatres have grown by 109 percent over the past five years, while the overall figure for the country’s theatres is 69 percent. I believe this is one of the most rapidly growing sectors in the national economy. The figure is only higher for museums.
Seeing the demand for good theatre performances, especially in small towns and reginal centres, we have launched the Small Town Theatre programme this year. It has been supported by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Starting this year, 670 million rubles are allocated annually to small towns and small theatres, which could barely survive with municipal allocations before. They use this money to stage new performances and buy theatre equipment. In other words, it is what they have dreamed about for years.
In addition, 220 million rubles are allocated annually for children’s and puppet theatres, also starting this year. The Big Guest Performances programme, which you initiated back in 2014 to finance the federal theatres’ tours in outlying regions, is growing by leaps and bounds. Allocations from the federal budget have increased only slightly, whereas regional governors and businesses are investing heavily in this programme.
When they see there is government support, they end up taking on all the further expenses for guest performances and even pay the performing theatres additional fees.
This year, for the first time a federal theatre gave guest performances on the Chukotka Peninsula. Guest performances have been held in nearly all regions.
I would also like to note that, surprisingly, all the good things I have been saying about theatres concern classical music to an even greater extent. Musicians call it a philharmonic boom.
Here are some statistics on the sale of season tickets. Although philharmonics offer classical music, people are eagerly buying many season tickets and attending performances. We always think people are forgetting about classical music, and that young people mostly like pop music.
This is true certainly, but there should be a good balance everywhere, and our people have always been renowned for their good taste.
We are now working on a programme to rebuild and upgrade our philharmonics. This programme is very interesting because demand is running high. Our philharmonic annually sets new season ticket sales records.
I should mention the nine-month results of the cinema industry’s performance. Here are the most popular films; you have probably seen some of them.
Last year, we set a record for the number of people who watched Russian films and for box office revenue, an all-time high since 1991. And we have already broken this 12-month record in the nine months of 2017.
We believe that Russian box office revenue will top 10 billion rubles this year, and that the share of audiences watching Russian films will finally exceed 20 percent. All this is taking place under the conditions of our free market economy. I am always saying that we would like to adopt the European system of state protectionism.
We are successfully opening cinemas in district centres and small towns. In all, 326 modern cinemas have already been opened. This number will reach 437 before the year is out, and we are set to open 1,000 cinemas by 2019.
The Cinema Foundation has provided only minimal federal funding. The business community and regional municipal authorities are getting involved, and we are reinstating what has been destroyed in the 1990s when all cinemas were closed in small towns.
Vladimir Putin: This is a great amount of work.
Vladimir Medinsky: We are doing our best.
Mr President, you know the situation at our film studios. You have recently visited Lenfilm. I would be happy if you would find half an hour to visit Soyuzmultfilm, which is being rebuilt from scratch, as per your instructions.
Vladimir Putin: By the way, how well are these instructions being fulfilled?
Vladimir Medinsky: They are being overfulfilled. For example, you ordered the allocation of 50 million rubles in state subsidies annually. We allocate much more: 200 million rubles a year.
We have provided substantial funds to relocate Soyuzmultfilm to a new building. We found a suitable building and cleared out all kinds of sub-lessees. It is a very good building located across from the television centre.
Vladimir Putin: It was not only about money. They also made several other proposals.
Vladimir Medinsky: Yes, we also needed to settle the problem with artists, many of whom complained about wage arrears. Much work is still ahead. We are now working to restore the studios’ intellectual property rights, because in the past these rights were sold out at will.
As you know, a large contract has been signed with Danone, and now Danone is paying to print images from the cartoon Three from Prostokvashino on milk cartons.
Overall, this will bring Soyuzmultfilm 500 million rubles over three years. It is likely the largest contract of this kind.
Vladimir Putin: They had several specific requests. Please, look them up.
Vladimir Medinsky: I will certainly do this.
Here is the new Soyuzmultfilm building. We hope it will work as a full-scale complex. Actually, the studios’ personnel have briefed you on this.
Soyuzmultfilm is working on six TV series and a full-length animation titled Suvorov.
This year we will also complete the reconstruction of several circuses. We have repaired 13 circuses, starting with the one in St Petersburg. The renovation pace is unprecedented for the past years.
Our circuses need to be thoroughly overhauled. We are creating new facilities, but we also need to think about the further development of our circuses, because working as we did before is no longer acceptable.
To sum up this review of our efforts in the first nine months of the year, I would like to say a few words about our museums. We have opened two new museum centres at VDNKh: the long-awaited Cinema Museum, which did not have a building of its own for 20 years, and the Books Pavilion.
Besides, federal museums’ revenues have increased by 125 percent over the past five and a half years. Museum attendance has grown by 42 percent. More people go to museums, this has become a fashionable type of instructive entertainment.
Vladimir Putin: Increased museum, music and theatre activity and attendance are a very good sign.
Vladimir Medinsky: It speaks well of our people.
Vladimir Putin: Exactly.