In the 1990s, cultural policies were much less influential in the field than the general budget policy or the economic situation overall. On the eve of the new century, cultural policies became more articulated and developed between the opposite poles of preserving traditional state patronage over the network of state budgeted cultural institutions and transition to the diversified model of financing, supporting and promoting culture. Yet the cultural sector, overall, was regarded as the least “politically” important. That is why the crucial issue for developing the cultural sector remains its explicit and persuasive representation as the strategic resource for general social, economic and technological progress.
Cultural policy practical priorities are linked to general development trends and include:
- technological and e-advance within the cultural sector;
- reformation of the publicly funded network of cultural institutions and reduction of their numbers; and
- decrease of the state culture budget and development of a variety of partnerships.
At the end of 2007, a critical view of cultural policies was presented in the Report Culture and the Future of Russia: New Insights, submitted by the Public Chamber Commission on Culture Development. The authors criticised the actual “state ideology” of supporting culture as a burdensome duty of the “maecenat state” and stressed a need for more adequate understanding of it as a strategic development resource. In 2008, after parliamentary and presidential elections, the government promised to almost double the public cultural budget in three years. The state cultural expenditure for 2008–2010 was adjusted upwards; however, in 2009 the first budget cuts were made because of the global economic crisis.
In summer 2009, the anti-crisis governmental Programme was adopted which put stress on institutional reforms targeted at development of human and cultural capitals. The Programme did not presuppose additional funding but guaranteed existing allowances for those visiting cultural institutions, preservation of the volume of support to creative unions and to its retired members in particular. The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation also submitted a list of possible measures to support the cultural sector in crisis, which included tax exemptions for budget-funded cultural institutions, additional subsidies for regional cultural budgets to invest in restoration and repair works and to boost cultural workers’ salaries by 30%. However, these proposals were turned down by the government.
In 2010–2012, the general situation was re-established but the budget of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation was reduced. At the beginning of 2012, culture was among the debates before the presidential elections, and a special emphasis was put on the need to adjust salaries for culture professionals and other low paid workers of budget funded institutions.
The Presidential Decree on the Measures for Implementation of the State Social Policies issued after the inauguration (7 May 2012), in order to preserve and develop Russian culture has prioritised the following cultural issues:
- growth of salaries in the sector;
- establishment of multi-functional cultural centres in small towns;
- development of the e- and Internet resources of cultural institutions including virtual museums;
- provision of free Internet access to national films and theatre performances of renowned directors;
- enlargement of state budget allocation for bursaries and grants in culture and the arts;
- establishment of the “travelling collections” in the greatest national museums for their exhibiting in small and medium-sized towns and general development of exhibition projects; and
- wider involvement of gifted children in artistic competitions and events.
The new Russian government criticised the running of the culture sector, which was estimated as a sector that needs “optimisation” and better management. The draft State Programme of the Russian Federation on Development of Culture and Tourism for the period of 2013-2020, which is under discussion, presupposes a gradual increase in funding for cultural events and activities and development of state-private partnerships.