Re-allocation of public responsibilities for cultural institutions was a result of both the general privatisation trend and of the federal government’s wish to curtail the number of state institutions and organisations. In 2003, the general administrative reform at regional and local levels began, which immediately influenced all related cultural institutions making them dependent on related budgets in a situation where municipal budgets had very poor sources. Joint responsibilities of different administrative levels concerned with cultural institutions in some cases led to confusion, which was to be cleared up.
In 2006, the introduction of the new legal form of autonomous organisation also targeted the cultural sector supporting its desetatisation and encouraging entrepreneurial activities. It provides for limiting responsibilities of the founder (in the social sphere that means of the state) and giving more economic freedom. The legal status is to be changed voluntarily, but the bulk of cultural institutions do not seek this change. The same year, endowments were legally introduced, making available a new funding mechanism for non-commercial organisations. On the other hand, legal limitations on economic activities of budget funded institutions were permanently extended and since 2008, the latter were refused the right to administer funds from non-budget sources. The crisis became another impetus to reshape public cultural infrastructure, and revision of the federal cultural institutions’ legal status began. The global restructuring of the public sector infrastructure is the task for the near future.
Traditional cultural institutions have limited possibilities for co-operation even within the public sector though the professional potential is concentrated exactly there. That is why it is very important to establish professional links e.g. with private museums or libraries to extend professional operational standards, to widen public access or to include the most valuable collections in the national Museum Collection. Cultural institutions disposing of huge resources also co-operate with NGOs competing for grants and support in realisation of social programmes, e.g. in 2010, five cultural organisations became laureates of the “SoDeistvie” All-Russia Festival of Social Programmes.
Partnerships arising between public cultural institutions and private sponsors or foundations gradually expand, though economic incentives for sponsors (tax shelters) and charities, and even understanding the importance of supporting culture on behalf of private actors, are not enough to intensify the process. In 2004, the Russian President fostered public discussion on the social obligations of business, which demonstrated their very limited understanding within the private sector and reduction to providing good working conditions for their employees. (Lately, those attitudes were borne out by the national sociological survey of 2007 and related international comparative review (e.g. see http://old.wciom.ru/arkhiv/tematicheskii-arkhiv/item/single/8521.html). Therefore, image making, prestige and advertising are the most important motivation in fostering partnerships and sponsoring greater cultural institutions and companies, e.g. the Hermitage and the Russian Museum, the Bolshoi Theatre, the Russian National Symphony Orchestra or “Berezka” dance company, etc.
Since the 2000s, the culture Ministry signed partner agreements with private corporations and supported establishing Boards of Trustees and societies. Struggling for independence in decision-making, smaller benefactors generally preferred private contacts and direct anonymous funding of particular needs, whereas only several large companies (e.g. Interros) openly became players in the field: the Vladimir Potanin‘s Charity Fund supports i.a. A Changing Museum in the Changing World annual competition and award winners. To advance the situation in general, experts propose to develop mediation between culture and business.