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Russia/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.1 Amateur arts and folk culture

The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation supports traditional forms of both folk arts and crafts and amateur arts in order to realise basic cultural rights for participation and creativity and for preserving the joint cultural space of Russia. At the federal level, support is provided for related festivals, competitions, and exhibitions in order to increase the number of amateurs and to present them to a wider public. In 2010-2012, the Ministry is to allocate relatively 34.4, 34.0 and 29.1 million RUB from its budget for these events.

There is a State Russian House of Folk Creativity in Moscow under the Ministry that is the main national institution for providing methodical support to amateur artists, organising related events and training, and preserving collections of amateur artworks. Together with the Ministry of Culture, it has initiated the establishment of the Soul of Russia governmental award (see chapter 8.1.3), which has five nominations: folk music, folk singing, folk dancing, folk artisanry, and traditional popular culture. It was intended to honour directors of amateur groups (dancers, choir singers, folk orchestras, etc.), masters of folk handicrafts and decorative arts, and teachers and trainers in the field. Similar Houses of Folk Creativity exist in all the regions of Russia, while special attention is given to these issues in the Republics of the Russian Federation.

Re-establishing free access to amateur creativity (and sports) for the younger generation is proclaimed to be an important task of local and regional authorities. Competitions carried out at these levels for those involved in creativity encourage the amateur arts and artists. Special folk festivals, especially in the regions, are organised as cultural development events, which promote both identity and diversity and foster intercultural dialogue.

Amateur arts are among the most popular activities that traditionally take place in cultural houses. Participation rates have fluctuated over the years from 6.7 million amateur artists in 1985, to 2.5 million in 1997 and increasing to 3.47 in 2009. The number of children involved (included in the above figures) has grown from 1.4 million in 1985 to 2.9 million in 2009 (after a sharp drop to 1.2 million in 1989-1990). Organised amateur activities for children and adults, which were free of charge before the perestroika, now charge a fee, especially when the activity requires some training, materials or costumes.

At the cultural houses, the most popular amateur activities in 2010 were dance (806 665 participants), choir singing (520 543) and theatre (464 969). Folk arts became very popular; its practitioners are organised by different cultural institutions including cultural houses (in 2010 there were 2 256 000 folk arts and 172 000 folk crafts practitioners, and 42 943 members of folk instrument orchestras), libraries, museums, especially by those with folk or historic contents or National Cultural Autonomies.

Chapter published: 21-02-2012

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