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Monday, October 24, 2016

George Isaakyan: “Private content of cultural institutions is an illusion”

Recently Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on awarding grants to various cultural institutions from the Mariinsky theatre (375 million rubles per year) to Voronezh chamber theatre (4.85 million RUB). It is clear that grants in due time has arisen not from good life: no cultural budgets can’t cope, and the question is at some point there was a very hard — to be (orchestras, theatres, universities) or not to be, leaving the leading creative personnel abroad or still remain in Russia.

Georgy Isaakyan

Today’s grants continue to be the saving grace for cultural institutions, although here and there no-no voices — and what they need, and whether it is time to replace them with private investments? This sensitive issue we discussed with the artistic Director of the children’s musical theatre. Sats Georgiy Isaakyan (theatre received a grant in the amount of 113 million rubles).

— George G. how important is the role of the grants today? They can not do without? Sponsors will not replace grants?

Is an illusion. The illusion is the whole story with the law on patronage… You see published grant opportunities: we are talking about hundreds of millions. And included in this list dozens of institutions — orchestras, choirs, Conservatory, cinematography and so on. Imagine that in the country there is a number of private business that is ready to support the state absolutely unnecessary in this business, uninteresting to him, incomprehensible structure, is impossible. I understand that the Bolshoi theatre will always be sponsors…

Is an image thing…

— Of course: a Trustee of the Bolshoi theatre to be prestigious. But what about Voronezh chamber theater, what do the Choir. Pyatnitsky, The Literary Institute, VGIK? Who will provide for them? So all these talks about the patrons is in favor of the poor… that we persist in wishful thinking. Nowhere in the world there are no such structures.

Well… put the blame on America.

— We are not America! Why are we suddenly in the field of culture want to be like America? Do we have an economy built in America? Or the social sphere? That our country is built on the principle of America? No-th-th. Otherwise, we historically built. We are not immigrant country, we do not have any in the Prairie Indians. A completely different culture. Therefore, to appeal to the mythical Broadway experience is either a delusion or a special introduction to this misconception.

Without the grants no one will survive?

— Without them, none survive today can not, even in the largest institutions, like Bolshoi or Mariinsky theatres. Because there was this pool of grants (first presidential, and then the government) with the understanding that hundreds and thousands of outstanding artists would just leave, being here on the brink of survival. And then the grants really helped to stop this outflow. So last year all got nervous when I started to exaggerate this issue — why, they say, these grants need to be paid. This, they say, was a temporary measure. But nothing has changed.

— You mean the official base salaries?

— Of course. They were like 10 000, so they are in the staffing and on. Now imagine how a star of the Bolshoi theatre will receive 10 000 rubles a month? How many people you will have to work the next day? It is clear that in the mind it should not be grants but should be a completely different regular grid, otherwise the regular schedule… But since I cannot change the system, since high signed such documents and orders, — let there be grants, and we are quite happy and satisfied that the President and the Government are showing such care about the culture. This system of support, in any case, better than none.

— Does anyone tried to challenge the fact that the need for grants?

— You will be surprised, but many people tried last year to revisit this question and ask it with a serious look. They say, grants is what is awarded for one-time projects… I Agree that the grants report relate to the project history. But we are not to blame, what exactly do we have in Russia the destination using the culture was adopted in the form of grants. And it will be a powerful blow to the entire culture, if we take these large amounts of culture to withdraw, just because someone doesn’t like the word “grant”. Our grantovsky 113 million is actually half of the annual budget… and the money is tied only to the salaries of the troupe, only creative staff (we can’t of this money to pay salaries of administration, accounting). The money we have no more right to do.

— But still- at some near-term private capital will come to some full level, to support cultural institutions?

— Express their personal opinion: never, I believe private capital will not replace state support in the sphere of education and culture. Yes, the Hermitage, the Pushkin Museum im. Pushkin, Mariinsky theatre, Bolshoi is not deprived of philanthropic support, and, if you ask the leadership of any of these institutions, whether they want to be on the private financing they will flutter into your hands: God forbid! The nightmare of any Manager, when you call him and say — “tomorrow you go into private hands”. Again, we have seen in the States: the crisis began — and was showered with important orchestras, because the sponsors refused to Finance…

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