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Just in: Moscow cancels international orchestras festival

A festival which has been running for six years under Vladimir Putin’s patronage has been abruptly called off. Putin, his mind on other things, has withdrawn public funding.

The festival’s English site says nothing. You have to read Russian to be informed.

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  1. If you will forgive my amateurish translation from the Russian, I can enlighten you! Seems the festival organisers are hopping mad that their funding has abruptly been cut – to 1/8 of its former level – and at the last minute – by the culture ministry. They quote the culture ministry as saying this is because the competitors aren’t up to snuff and the competition is not being run according to rules that the ministry has since failed to specify. The organisers say they have been put in an impossible position and just can’t go on.

    The text of the Russian letter follows:

    The 2013 Festival will not take place

    No 50/05-13
    15 APril 2013

    “This long-awaited event is not only for true fans, but also for the broader public.
    Until 2012 the Festival not only won a reputation of a key event in the country’s cultural life, but also soared to new heights.
    Moscow confirms its status as a world centre of cultural life and gives a new impulse to the development of symphonic art.”
    (V Medinsky, 2012)

    The Festival of symphony orchestras is cancelled

    Dear friends,
    admirers and fans of classical music
    participants in previous festivals
    worthy representatives of the state
    worthy members of the press

    The association of leaders of symphony and chamber orchestras ASKOR, unfortunately announces the cancellation of the VIII Festival of symphony orchestras of the world, dedicated to Russia Day.

    The announcement of the Russian Federation Culture Ministry to cut state financing of the Festival was made to organisers on 18 March 2013. The letter indicated a “significant fall in level both of participant groups and in repertoire.” At the same time the Culture Ministry of Russia proposed financing a Festival with a 10 million rouble budget and demanding the presentation of a detailed programme and calculation of costs “to impose competition procedures envisaged under current laws.”

    The letter in question from the ministry in charge arouses, at the very least, dismay. The programme and calculation of costs of the Festival were set out in an official statement, put out on the Culture Ministry’s website in the autumn of 2012, and when the 2013 budget was worked out financing of 88.3 million roubles was envisaged for it by the Finance Ministry, which was confirmed by the relevant letter.

    However the Culture Ministry did not include the Festival in its plan of events for 2013 , which is a straightforward violation of the current Instructions of the Government of the Russian Federation No 1693-r of 7.12.2006.

    Moreover, the Ministry must know that competition procedures take a considerable amount of time [to define] and that to start the procedure at the end of March, and also seek extra financing makes this an unfulfillable condition if the Festival is to take place.

    Another cause for dismay: why spend 10 million budget roubles and support an event which has slipped from its former artistic level.

    A letter to the Culture Ministry of the Russian Federation from the organisers – with a request to clarify by what means a competitive procedure will be initiated in the absence of measures in the plans, and how the Ministry proposes make the funding work as the allotted sum has been cut 8-fold and it does not look possible to find a shortfall of 78.3 million roubles in the period of time available, and also precisely which orchestras the Ministry finds unworthy of representing their countries in the Festival dedicated to the holiday of Russian statehood – has gone unanswered.

    The organisers of the Festival cannot act in the name of the state and refuse orchestras participation in this forum, but nor do they consider it possible to ensure the smooth running of the event at the traditional high level, transferring this mission wholly and completely to the Culture Ministry of the Russian Federation.

    L.A. Silvian
    Director of the Association
    of leaders of symphony and chamber orchestras ASKOR

  2. Russia’s Culture Ministry seems to have been making a lot of sudden cuts lately – or sometimes simply not handing over promised funding. Anyone have an idea what’s going on? Is the Russian government running unexpectedly short on revenues?

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