Support to artists and cultural workers was a traditional issue of paternalistic state policies and interactions with professional unions. In difficult economic situations of the end of the 1990s and of the 2000s, attempts were made to improve living standards of renowned artists and the artistic community on the whole.
In the 1990s, both direct and indirect state support had a symbolic, more than a financial, character. From the Soviet period, the honorary degrees for artists and cultural workers have been inherited (People’s Artist(e), Honoured Artist, Honoured Master of Arts, Honoured Cultural Worker) providing some additional social support or privileges. Honours are primarily important for socially vulnerable groups especially for retired, single or disabled artists. The State Duma Culture Committee lobbies for an increase in pension for artists, the anti-crisis governmental Programme (2009) guaranteed the existing volume of support to retired creative workers and to Artists’ Unions.
The Artists’ Unions consolidate professional communities on a national scale and provide for creative activities. However, they became less important than in the Soviet times, but for the elder generation their socially oriented Funds provide support and care.
A number of newly established festivals or competitions, grants and awards backed up by state funding not only prop up the young artists, beginners, debuts, experimental innovation, etc. but make the cultural landscape more diverse. Economically, active artists are supported at all administrative levels, e.g. via the traditional system of state commissions and purchases. Governmental awards, grants, and scholarships are developed, while private charity actions (often immediate and non-official) are initiated when social welfare provisions remain inadequate.
At all levels, special state support is given to the so called “popular artists” or those who preserve and develop traditional or local creativity in arts, crafts, performing arts, etc. at the professional or semi-professional level. Artists and groups representing local and folk creativity receive the status of particularly valuable, honorary degrees e.g. of Folk Master, awards and special funding.