The theme of this issue of OZ is The Cost of Culture. We have brought under one cover the views of authoritative researchers and practitioners in an attempt to shed light on what political, economic and social mechanisms determine today the creation of a cultural product and how these mechanisms take root in Russia’s reality — dramatically transforming that reality itself.
In an article entitled Russia’s Cultural Policy In The Context Of Globalization, Kirill Razlogov, Elna Orlova and Evgeny Kuzmin examine the issues of cultural modernization facing Russian society, and attempt to chart a strategic course for Russia’s cultural policy over the next five years.
“Contemporary Projections Of Artistic Culture”, a round table discussion hosted by OZ on 23 September 2005, focused on issues of the production and consumption of artistic culture, the conflict between genuine and sham creative products, and the way outdated stereotypes affect attitudes towards modern cultural phenomena. Taking part were moderator Mikhail Kaluzhsky (journalist), Daniil Dondurei (editor-in-chief, Cinema Art magazine), Anatoly Prokhorov (culturologist, artistic director, Peterburg Animation Studio), Anatoly Golubovsky (editor-in-chief, Radio Culture), Andrey Dmitriev (author, screenwriter).
In a piece called A Different Story: Culture As A System Of Reproduction, Boris Dubin looks at the history of culture from the perspective of changing social reproduction institutions and demonstrates how revolutions, that have taken place in modern Western societies in the fields of education, printmedia and mass communications, have helped embed new models of behavior into society’s reproduction systems. The author contends, however, that reproductive systems left over from the Soviet society have proved incapable of reform — a sign of chronic institutional deficiencies in Russia’s present-day society.
Third Reality, an article by Anatoly Prokhorov, reveals how television, having originally began in the role of a mediator between man and social reality, i.e. the role of a certain new conceptual instrument, has turned into an instrumental medium and is in the process of creating a novel type of human environment — a third, massmedia, type of reality, which, in its turn, is transforming man’s behavior in social reality.
Sergey Zuev, in an article titled Expansion of Text Production, suggests that we should limit the scope of the concept of “cultural industries” to only those technologies which are explicitly designed for mass production and distribution of texts that have social significance (meanings, behavior codes, life styles etc). The author believes that currently the main trend is for cultural industries to be transformed from being objects of influences and “turbulence” caused by other global factors and tendencies, to becoming a potent source of turbulence in their own right, capable of impacting global processes in the economy and cultural policy.
Since 1970s, culture has come to be recognized as a valuable resource and instrument for achieving broader social and economic goals. This shift in attitude has been largely due to global trends in social development. The nature of these trends is discussed by Tatiana Abankina in her article Economics of Desire In Modern “Civilization of Leisure”.
We present a chapter from the book Performing Arts: The Economic Dilemma written in 1966 by William J. Baumol. A detailed analysis of the social and economic environment, in which music, theatre and other live performance organizations operate, has led the author to what he claims to be a universal inference: paradoxically, the fact that the arts, unlike other sectors of economy, are by their very nature limited in productivity growth, means that the steady development of the overall economy would inevitably lead to relative impoverishment of the performing arts — unless they receive constant state or private financial support.
OZ offers a synopsis of the book Free Culture: The Nature And Future of Creativity written by Stanford University professor Lawrence Lessig and dealing with flaws in copyright legislation. The emergence of the Internet and new digital technologies has exacerbated existing contradictions of copyright protection. To remedy the situation, Lessig advocates going back to the practice of registering the copyright, clearly marking all copyrighted works, and reducing the term of automatic protection granted to copyright owners, while providing an option of renewing and extending such protection for a fee.
We introduce the first chapter of the book In Praise of Commercial Culture written in 1998 by Tyler Cowen, an American expert on the economics of culture. The author, who calls himself a “cultural optimist” and whose views are in many respects opposed to those of William Baumol, contends that the market economy provides an excellent environment for the arts, encouraging diversity of genres and even promoting growth of creative productivity.
Do we need statistically average culture whose only benefit is to keep in employment a handful of rural intelligentsia toiling for a pittance in cultural clubs, libraries and schools? Is it right to spend scarce funds on maintaining a huge network of poorly equipped and outdated cultural facilities instead of concentrating the available resources on implementing exciting new cultural projects and initiatives, and supporting vibrant activities? These are the questions posed by Irina Abankina in her article Culture Without People.
The article by Tatiana Abankina titled Restraints on State Funded Culture looks at the economics of Russia’s culture, identifying the issues which need to be resolved by the upcoming restructuring of the state-financed cultural sphere.
In an interview under the title Selecting Sacred Cows, the well-known theatre producer, founder of the Golden Mask Festival, Eduard Boyakov talks about ways to overcome the crisis of the theatre — “the sole island of socialism in Russian culture” — and about the role of the state in that process.
We open a series of articles focusing on the subject of “creative industries” with a piece by Alexander Vysokovsky titled The Fate of Creative Industries In Russian Cities. The author delves into the origins of the concept, discusses creativity as an important factor of city development and urban environment, and assesses the prospects of applying the “creative industries” strategy in Russia.
Creative Industries: A Political Challenge for Russia by Mikhail Gnedovsky explores the experience of Britain, where support for creative industries is regarded among the state’s top priorities, and considers whether it would be viable to emulate the British model in developing a post-industrial economy in Russia. The author discusses the significance of “creative clusters” as the main building blocks of creative industries and looks at the role the traditional cultural institutions may play in the creative economy. The author believes that development of creative entrepreneurship in Russia will require both political support and closer integration within creative community itself.
In her article Constructing White Elephants, Linda Moss scrutinizes the way the creative industry strategy has been put into practice in England — “the birthplace of invention”. The author looks at two major cultural projects — the Earth Centre at the village of Conisborough, and National Centre for Popular Music in the city of Sheffield — and provides an in-depth analysis of errors and difficulties encountered in the course of implementing the two undertakings.
In a piece titled Book-Publishing and Commerce, Efim Dinershtein traces the life and fortunes of major XIX century Russian publishers, describing how, after achieving market success by catering to prevailing readership tastes, the publishers proceeded to gradually reshape reader demand by means of fostering a new readership environment.
Maria Levitina, in an article called Book Market in Russia: Myths and Reality, shows that despite relatively low profit margins, book publishing and book distribution have in recent years seen a significant rise both in terms of overall print runs and the number of titles printed. The growth of the market, however, has been hampered by an immature book-distribution network. Best-selling titles include school books, light fiction, and children’s books. A careful analysis of the demand for mass-market fiction reveals that the reading public seeks a “formula for success” and longs for a positive image of the elite.
Another piece by Maria Levitina titled Book Distribution focuses on the issues of the book market, reader demand, competition and book trade as seen by Marina Kameneva, director of one of Moscow’s best-known and successful bookstores.
In a piece called Economy of The Moscow Art Theatre in 1898-1914: About Financial Self-Sufficiency of Private Theatres, Yury Orlov explores the financial history of the famous Russian theatre from the day it was founded to the years preceding the 1917 revolution. The article reveals that creative and public-enlightenment goals of the theatre’s founders, K. Stanislavsky and V. Nemirovich-Danchenko, clashed with economic imperatives for the theatre’s survival — a conflict which in the end could only be resolved by resorting to significant amounts of outside financial support. The author believes that this is a fundamental issue and modern theatres will ignore it at their peril.
Gennady Dadamian’s article Theatre of One Producer examines the history of theatre-making in Russia and concludes that the theatrical business is determined primarily by whom among those involved in the theatre process (the state, private entrepreneurs, not-for-profit organizations or artists themselves) will assume the risks and responsibilities of the producer. The author holds that the current crisis affecting Russia’s theatre is largely due to the fact that the state, having abandoned its Soviet-era role as the main producer of theatrical business, has not provided opportunities for a new crop of theatrical producers to function effectively.
In a piece called Film Distribution: A Gem of The Entertainment Industry, Daniil Dondurei, editorin-chief of Cinema Art magazine, talks about the rise and fall of the Soviet film market, and how from its ruins emerged a new Russian movie market. The article discusses development trends of Russia’s cinema industry.
Three of Russia’s leading film producers, Sergey Selianov, Igor Tolstunov and Sergey Chliyants share their views about government support for the cinema, the state of Russia’s film distribution system, and the varying fortunes of different genres of national cinema in a piece by Anna Nemzer titled Genres Were Invented by Film Critics.
Anna Nemzer’s article Classical Music in RealLife Environment presents a broad picture of philharmonics in contemporary Russia through a series of interviews with leading musicologists and philharmonic directors.
Marat Gelman, in a piece called Actual Art and Art Market, argues that since actual art is openly oriented towards immediate recognition and commercial success, the goal of an art gallery is not just to provide expertise, i.e. not only identify and select promising artists, but to promote them in the marketplace and assist in devising a creative strategy. On the one hand, galleries as institutions of Russia’s fledgling art market serve consumers of contemporary art by creating a hierarchical artistic environment; on the other hand, they foster the emergence of a class of actual art collectors. An Annex to the article contains a chronology of the history of actual art in Russia.
In his memoirs titled Belles Lettres or A BookPeddler’s Shack Mark Freidkin tells the story of a Moscow book-store where he served as director from its opening to the day it closed in 1997.
Theatre General Manager is an autobiographical story by Boris Mezdrich, General Manager of the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre, who recounts how his theatre career began and describes his subsequent long experience of working in various theatres around the country.
Sketches The Veteran by Elena Armand tell the story of old people. Elena Armand’s story of an old man who for half a century lived under the surface of his native Soviet land. Simple and harrowing fates.
The article Russian Landscape vs. Arbitrariness of Authorities by geographer Boris Rodoman has three themes. The first is about how the elements, or merely the landscape, can defeat government efforts that are at odds with local condidtions and customs; the second theme demonstrates how disregard for age-old traditions of land tenure lead to the failure of land reforms pushed first by Piotr Stolypin, and then by Egor Gaidar. The third theme casts doubt on the feasibility of plans to monetize transportation benefits because the authorities have failed to take into consideration the fact that patterns of suburban settlement were shaped at the time when bus and commuter-train fares cost next to nothing.
And, finally, Igor Kurukin, in his piece titled ’Tis Difficult to Get The Provinces Under Full Control And Order, presents the full text of a 1725 report submitted to Peter the Great by LieutenantGeneral M. A. Matiushkin, Commander of an Expeditionary Corps in Gilan, describing the state of affairs in the recently captured southern provinces of Derbent and Baku.