#3 - JRL 7187
May 19, 2003
Minister of Culture: Russian Culture Survives Thanks to Selfless Devotion of Its Workers
KALININGRAD, May 19. Russia should take protectionist measures with regard to its national culture, according to Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi. The minister was speaking in Kaliningrad on Saturday, May 17 to representatives of the regional intelligentsia.
The minister was on a two-day visit to Kaliningrad. On Friday he took part in the opening ceremony of the Days of Slavic Literature and Culture and the unveiling of a monument to Empress Elizabeth in Baltiisk.
At a meeting with the heads of cultural organisations and artistic associations, Shvydkoi acknowledged that Russian culture today exists only because of the selfless devotion of its workers. Many of them, including librarians, museum workers, and actors in municipal theatres, live on the breadline. The minister said that the only salvation from this situation was an economic boom, which would fill the state's coffers and enable public sector workers to attain a higher standard of living. However, he added that even now the state has opportunities to combat the negative influence of commercial mass culture on society. The minister believes that schools should return to teaching the arts and that the country should offer support to genuine high culture.
According to Shvydkoi, Kaliningrad needs special state protection due to its geographical position and the fact that the region 'is under pressure from globalisation.' The minister would like to see major, attractive, internationally recognised cultural events held in the city, for example a festival of Russian cinema, touring productions by leading Russian theatres, and touring exhibitions. Shvydkoi promised to increase funding for renovation work in the region from next year, as well as to support tours and exchanges between artistic collectives. He also said that he would help return historical and cultural artifacts removed in the post-war years to the region's museums.