Culture in urban space: everyone can participate

Culture in urban space: everyone can participate
About 60 million people took part in cultural events in Moscow last year. Culture has become part of city life, where the stages are the city’s squares, streets and parks, and the main participants are Moscow residents themselves.

Why is culture coming to Moscow streets? Why is this necessary for the city’s development? How is urban culture changing and what will its future be like? These and other questions will be discussed at the Moscow cultural forum. It will be held for the first time in March rather than October, opening on the Day of the Cultural Worker, 25 March and closing on World Theatre Day, 27 March. The main topic remains the same: development of the city as a world cultural centre.

Participants in the forum will follow a three-day programme that will be of interest not only to professionals but also to ordinary Muscovites. Its business portion will unite prominent cultural figures, representatives of the business community and civil society and heads of relevant ministers and departments. The festival-and-educational segment provides for open lectures, workshops of prominent figures of culture and the arts, installations, performances and theatre productions. They will be open to all, and guests can take part in interactive programmes, or register for a season ticket to any cultural institution. An employment section will be open for those wishing to find work in this sphere.

Culture as part of the urban environment

The forum will present for the first time an interactive map of Moscow’s cultural sites that will be accessible online afterwards. Not everyone is aware of what is going on in their neighbourhood. The map will help Muscovites choose a place for leisure or receive additional education. However, experts maintain that Moscow culture has gone far beyond government institutions; it is taking part in all spheres of life, creating space for every person and contributing to the transformation of the urban environment. Street festivals, plays, exhibitions and classical music in parks and squares have become habitual and by tradition gather a huge number of spectators and participants.

Almost 40 major cultural events took place in 2015. There were some that the public was looking forward to, but because of a relatively small number of participants (from 4,000 to a few tens of thousands) they may be called chamber: the Moscow Classical Music Festival, the Vladimir Krainev Moscow International Piano Competition, the Mstislav Rostropovich International Festival, the Summer Theatre Festival, and the Festival of Classical Music Art “Musical Ensembles in Tsaritsyno,” to name a few. The figures show that Moscow residents and guests preferred events in urban spaces: streets and parks. Perhaps the reason for this is that people associate culture with institutions, visits to which require a special mood and preparations, whereas a walk outdoors is something quite different. Another explanation for the success of these events is that the city environment makes it possible to prepare and offer something that would be of equal interest to people of different social groups, ages and cultural backgrounds.

The most popular events

A million people took part in the International Museum Day and the Night in the Museum events. Museums stayed open until midnight, and they developed special programmes and conducted concerts, meetings with cultural figures, interactive games and many other events.  Special information Night Stations appeared at three pedestrian areas for the first time: on Arbat, on Revolution Square and in Muzeon Park. These stations were multi-genre spaces that hosted lectures, workshops, film screenings and presentations of the best projects of Moscow museums and exhibition halls over the past year, as well as parties with cultural figures and children’s workshops. Muscovites could also enjoy the Speaking Monuments project. Six literary monuments were provided with a sound track of recitation by the authors or readings by famous actors.

About 3.5 million people attended the Moscow Summer Jam Festival-2015. Over the course of ten days, 22 venues with fruit-themed names were open in Moscow. Thus, Sokolnicheskaya Square turned into the Peach District and Tverskaya Square into Water Melon Square. Grape Street appeared in Arbat, and the Flower River bed and Nuts Bridge popped up on Kuznetsky Most Street. Alpine style kiosks all over Moscow offered jam from 40 Russian regions and 19 foreign countries. Visitors had an opportunity to take part in six competitions during the Festival and even play football in Fruit Stadium.

Over five million people took part in the Moscow Autumn-2015 Festival. During the gastronomical holiday, visitors could taste free samples or purchase the most diverse products brought from different Russian regions, Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan. Eleven themed venues – Moscow Tea, Theatre Buffet, Village Feast and Tsarist Revel, to name a few – were established in the city’s historical part. The programme included workshops by famous chefs of popular Moscow restaurants, and an international tomato-eating competition. Twenty five kiosks were opened in all districts of Moscow.

Several million people attended the Circle of Light Moscow International Festival. Light designers and 2D and 3D experts used the capital’s architectural space for multi-media and light installations. They presented their art at the complex of buildings on Frunzenskaya Embankment and Andreyevsky Bridge. The best video mapping performances were broadcast on the Bolshoi Theatre façade, while the VDNKh exhibition was transformed into the Park of Light for nine days. Light installations and multimedia shows were also staged on the Moskva River, Patriarshiye Ponds, Chistiye Ponds, and the Krylatskoye Rowing Canal.

The Journey to Christmas Festival was the most grand and popular of all. The city’s main streets turned into enormous magical spaces, where visitors could watch performances based on their favourite Russian and foreign fairy tales. Heroes of popular fairy tales – Father Frost and Snow Maiden, Grey Wolf and Firebird, Yemelya and Never-A-Smile Princess – greeted children and adults on squares and streets. They entertained visitors with competitions and quizzes, songs, fairy tales and dances around the New Year tree. Thirty six festive venues – 25 central and 11 regional – appeared on the Moscow map. Each venue featured shopping arcades, open-air stages, street theatres and workshop pavilions. During the festival they were visited by 10 million people.

As for overall figures, 24,134 cultural events (city-wide projects, exhibitions, plays and festivals) were held with Moscow Government support in the city in 2015. They were attended by some 60 million people.

More figures

Moscow is rightly considered one the world’s most cultured cities. It has 1,676 libraries (including 422 city libraries); 450 museums and exhibition halls (including 90 city museums and exhibition halls); 493 cultural centres and houses of culture (including 244 city centres); 250 theatres and concert producing organisations (including 111 city organisations); 500 art schools and studios (including 156 city institutions); 144 cinemas (including 16 city cinemas) with a total of 730 screens; and 388 parks, including 103 leisure parks and mansion museums.