The Ministry for Culture supports the amateur arts and people’s creativity via a network of cultural houses, clubs, and relevant centres financed by the state or large enterprises. According to statistics for 2020, the total number of clubs funded by the state is 2 231, including 335 in urban places and 1 896 in rural locations. To a small extent, clubs belong to the State Oil Company (3), the Confederation of Trade Unions (7) and other organisations (28). The total number of seats in the clubs’ auditoria and lecture halls is 307 370, or 31 per 1 000 population.
Cultural clubs and houses of culture provide a good background and conditions for club circles, amateur art groups and unions, clubs of interests and amateur associations, amateur art circles and collectives, technical creativity courses and classes, children’s circles and collectives.
The activities of club-type cultural institutions have been restricted due to the introduction of a special quarantine regime in the country, starting from March 2020. Nevertheless, according to activity statistics at the end of the pre-pandemic year 2019, clubs under the system of the Ministry for Culture offered 4 398 different types of cultural leisure (hobby and amateur groups, creative circles and collectives, etc.) in which 45 000 active participants were involved. From the total number of these types of activity:
- 1 075 were clubs of interest and amateur unions (involving 10.3 thousand people),
- 2 488 were clubs of amateurs art activities (26.6 thousand people),
- 835 were technical creation courses and classes (8.1 thousand people),
- 1 894 were child hobby groups and collectives (29.5 thousand people).
The number of events organised in creative and intangible cultural heritage club-type cultural institutions was 40 097 at the end of the pre-pandemic year 2019, including 22 147 concerts/performances, 5 216 spectacles/games, 1 760 festivals/competitions, 3 271 fairs/exhibitions, 1273 excursions/tours and 6 430 conferences/seminars. The total number of participants at these events was 3 811.7 thousand.
There has been a decrease in the number of cultural clubs over the last decade. This decrease was due to insufficient funding and the internal changes occurring within society, with a rethinking of the social role of such institutions.The primary debate regarding this system of houses and cultural centres revolves around their material and technical base and the state of buildings and infrastructure, which are often unsatisfactory and justifiably criticised by the population. The technical condition of club buildings under the system of the Ministry for Culture (at the end of 2020) is as follows: 811 club buildings, or 36.9% of the total number, need capital repairs; 80 of club buildings, or 3.6%, are in an emergency situation. The educational attainment of cultural and educational employees in clubs is also not satisfactory. Out of the 5 794 cultural and educational employees of clubs under the system of the Ministry for Culture in 2020, only 8.0% have attained higher education in culture and the arts, 8.1% have higher education outside of culture and the arts, and 11.0% have specialised secondary education in culture and the arts.
In the decade, the Ministry for Culture had initiated the reorganisation of the cultural houses’ and community cultural clubs’ system, aiming to broaden social participation in cultural life in the current economic circumstances. However, there are emerging ideas to reconfigure this overall system, set aside non-working functions and develop new forms, serving as infrastructural units of intangible cultural heritage. City (town) centres of culture and their local-lore, folklore and artisanship branches serve this idea via attracting relevant experts, performers, collectives, research, NGOs and private structures.
The Ministry for Culture also has one circus, with 81 performances, which has audiences of 92 thousand (9 per 1 000 population) in 2019. The number of culture and recreation parks on the balance sheet of local executive authorities totalled 349 at the end of 2019. The number of cultural-recreational and health-sport activities in these parks numbered 1 336, of which 495 were for children.