President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Medinsky. Can you please tell me about the forum in St Petersburg?
Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky: Yes, Mr President. The St Petersburg International Cultural Forum ended just a few days ago. You were one of its originators and personally attended practically all the sessions.
Vladimir Putin: Yes.
Vladimir Medinsky: Thank you so much.
I will say a few words about the results: it exceeded our expectations in scale, including the number of guests and foreign delegations. Over 15,000 people attended the forum in St Petersburg. It lasted almost five days: it started earlier and ended later than scheduled.
The forum was a big international event: it was attended by 96 countries and saw the signing of over 90 international contracts for museum exhibitions, guest performances and exchanges. Even some agencies like Rosturism and Rossotrudnichestvo, some state corporations signed culture-related agreements at the forum.
Importantly, for the first time, and this is a very good trend, the forum was not just a club for cultural figures but also a place that attracted a lot of attention from the younger generation. Tens of thousands of St Petersburg students went to the forum, were registered and took part in its workshops, attended lectures and master classes. I think we will compile some special youth programmes. This shows what a live and interesting event this forum has become.
It is impossible to talk about the entire forum programme. We released a leaflet before the forum, but it only contained a list of the main events. And the forum’s programme, with all the events, we decided not to print it this time.
Vladimir Putin: Why?
Vladimir Medinsky: It would have been thicker than War and Peace, not the kind of “leaflet” one would carry around.
Vladimir Putin: So many events?
Vladimir Medinsky: An incredible number, yes.
It turned out to be very productive because, first, ministers of culture and delegations from all our regions arrived to attend. Among other things, we had a number of meetings on the implementation of the Culture National Project. Prime Minister Medvedev chaired a very substantive meeting with representatives from cultural organisations, both Russian and foreign. A wide range of instructions was issued, and a number of hands-on issues were resolved.
This includes the issues, that you discussed at VGIK at the meeting with the culture professionals, which have been finalised. This applies to second higher education, and special education standards …
Vladimir Putin: By the way, how is the work progressing on implementing the instructions?
Vladimir Medinsky: We submitted the relevant proposals to the (Presidential) Executive Office three days after that meeting, and they are being reviewed by the departments concerned.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Vladimir Medinsky: Moreover, we have additionally discussed them with the community.
Furthermore, we have received several instructions, very important and financially intensive, concerning the development of the facilities and equipment, modernisation and repair of regional theatres. We will prepare such a programme in accordance with the instruction from Mr Medvedev and submit a respective programme to the Government.
Vladimir Putin: Very good.
Vladimir Medinsky: Here are the figures on how the forum has grown in recent years. (Hands over a presentation.)
It has definitely grown to become an event on a large international scale – there were huge delegations from China and Turkey, a special delegation arrived from Austria including the leaders of the Salzburg Festival, that is, the Salzburg Festival actually came here specifically to speak at our forum, and present itself.
Vladimir Putin: A very good festival, we need to cooperate with them.
Vladimir Medinsky: Yes, we are working with them. The delegation was led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria.
So the forum has reached a high international level. We really hope that next year we will prepare, and that you will have a chance opportunity and time to attend the forum.
Vladimir Putin: Good, thank you.