Direct co-operation of culture professionals is supported by the state and includes stages, exchange of exhibitions and collections, participation in conferences and international projects, festivals, competitions, and other cultural events. A long-term music and performing arts project is the annual “Slavyanski Bazaar in Vitebsk” International Festival initiated by the Union State of Russia and Belarus (http://festival.vitebsk.by/en/index.html) as a co-production.
The best theatre companies and orchestras are involved in cultural events abroad, organised via the Ministry of Culture, while many artists act independently taking all the risks or approach private tour agencies. The Russian Government lobbies for the removal of visa barriers for Russian artists and cultural workers in Europe to facilitate their international mobility but this has not yet been successful.
Within the CIS, direct cooperation also develops under the umbrella professional unions, e.g. the Confederation of Filmmakers‘ Unions bring together those of the CIS and the Baltic States (http://www.kinoconfederacia.ru/index.php). The International Confederation of Visual Artists‘ Unions (see http://confederation-art.ru/en/) pull together Unions from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Kiev, Moscow and St. Petersburg; it also has bilateral agreements with unions from Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The Confederation aims at preservation of a joint space in visual arts and interpersonal relations between artists.
Since 2006, once a year the Intergovernmental Foundation for Educational, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation (IFESCCO) holds the CIS Forums of Artistic and Scientific Intelligentsia promoting direct collaboration of artists and intellectuals within the former Soviet space. The 7th Forum (Ashgabat, 2012) dealt with the strategy of developing humane co-operation challenging progress in all other spheres of co-operation. IFESCCO also initiated the organisation of the CIS Youth Symphony Orchestra (see http://youth-orchestra.su) which performed in Moscow and tours around the CIS countries.