The meeting was held in the New Stage building of the State Academic Mariinsky Theatre.
Opening speech at the meeting on identifying, supporting and training talented youth in the arts
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends, colleagues.
Today, I suggest that we discuss ways to support young people. As you are aware, we have been paying much attention to this area in recent years across many different spheres, including research activities, creative projects and blue-collar professions. We are covering different areas.
Today, I would like to talk about things that are close to you, and discuss ways to support young talented people who are being trained or are taking their first steps in the arts. Of course, this is one of the most important areas.
Long-standing and rich traditions of creativity, great schools of theatre, art, ballet, and music are certainly part of our national heritage. Russia continues to hold strong, if not leading positions in this area. The state, cultural figures and the public should not just preserve these traditions, but build on them and ensure continuity.
This is a prerequisite for the harmonious, mature, and free development of our society and our entire country. Our competitiveness in culture and the arts will be just as important for our future, which is taking shape literally before our eyes, as in the spheres that I have just mentioned, primarily, the hard sciences, technology, and the like.
We are now forming an entire system aimed at identifying and discovering young talents. I have already mentioned these areas which include science, engineering, and blue-collar professions, and, of course, sports. We should focus on supporting them as they make their first steps in their careers, which are sometimes the most difficult. Our discussion today is also designed to elicit suggestions for innovative and more effective approaches.
It is obvious that working with talented and creative young people, especially in a sphere like culture, requires additional flexibility and unusual approaches, as well as doing away with standardised templates, mechanical uniformity and other such things. We should not narrow the training of creative professionals down to simple “educational services.”
I have heard people criticise this phrase many times. You know, it is impossible to get away from it completely, I understand this, but I also understand that this is something bigger than just a service. By the way, our colleagues in healthcare say the same thing.
According to expert assessments, we have accumulated a whole host of problems, which must be solved to preserve the high level of training in the arts. The most important of them is the so-called sectoral approach we have now, which means categorising culture as part of the social sphere only, which has been the traditional approach.
According to many of your colleagues, its norms and rules, including financing methods, target indicators and current tender and accounting systems have become something like a Procrustean bed for culture.
Perhaps this view is debatable, but we can partly agree with it, of course, it is not groundless.
Let us spend some time on this issue, as well as other aspects, and I am ready to talk about them. Let us discuss what measures are necessary to create the most favourable approach to developing culture in general and education in this area in particular.
I would also like to discuss the issue of financial support for professional training in creative fields. Let me note that the initiative of the participants of the Tavrida National Youth Forum has already been implemented. They proposed, if you remember – maybe some took notice – to give talented people an opportunity to receive a second degree in culture and the arts free of charge. Today it is prohibited by law.
There are 20 additional grants for that, which will be provided each year on a competitive basis. The application for them has already been reviewed at the Presidential Grants Foundation.
I would like to stress that these grants will be added to the money, big money in fact, that the foundation already allocates for projects in culture and the arts. Non-profit organisations have received 621 million rubles for this this year alone.
Let us also discuss which measures we should take to increase the quality of training creative professionals and to create the necessary conditions to form the next generation worthy of Russian art.
Who would like to begin?
Vladimir Putin: I am not going to make a closing speech now, but I would like to reassure you that we will try to summarise all that has been said and we will respond to it as soon as possible.
These open [procurement] tenders that Mr Zaslavsky and many colleagues have mentioned, they are not necessary for everything aside from general everyday items such as paper clips, curtains and chairs, which can be purchased at open tenders, and this should be done.
But the rest, everything related to creative activities, does not fit into this Procrustean bed as I have mentioned, and it is not possible to fit it there. Therefore, amendments certainly need to be made.
As regards the arts and culture in the education system being assigned to some department, I think you are right to a large extent. Once more, I do not wish to try and solve these issues on the spot. But we will work towards this.
Lastly, Mr Matsuyev began and Mr Bashmet finished speaking about discovering and training talented young people. This all depends on funding. We have already discussed this with our colleagues, and I propose adding a new element to the presidential grants system –support for talented young people to help them take their first steps without thinking about money.
Denis Matsuyev said his grandmother had to sell her apartment. So we must make sure young people have opportunities, because not everyone has parents who can do such things and grandmothers who can sell something. And there are talented young people – musicians, actors, authors – and we must provide assistance to them.
This is the first part. And the second part of this grant should go to discovering talented young people. We will make this addition to presidential grants an annual thing; it will amount to one billion rubles.
Thank you very much!