Saint Petersburg, Russia

Photo: Lenka Boswijk

International Cultural Forum St Petersburg: "Contemplating art is a human need"

From 13 till 17 November, the eigth edition of the International Cultural Forum took place in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
27 November 2019
By Lenka Boswijk

The International Cultural Forum is one of the biggest annual cultural events in Russia, where ties between Russia and various countries are strengthened. This year's theme was Cultural Codes in the Context of Globalization, with an emphasis on the cultural relations between Russia and China and Turkey.

Participants came from 96 countries and many agreements between cultural actors were concluded during the forum. This is the first time that culture is on the list of national priorities in Russia. The Chairman of the Russian government Dmitry Medvedev requested the participants to reflect on the preservation of one’s cultural identity in a globalised world, while staying open to other cultures. Medvedev concluded his speech with a quote from the writer Dostoevsky: “Contemplating art is as much a human need as eating or drinking”.

Dutch delegation

More than 30 artists and makers from the Netherlands took part. The official delegation of the Netherlands was led by the ambassador of International Cultural Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Arjen Uijterlinde, and consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Embassy of the Netherlands in Moscow, the Consulate-General in Saint Petersburg and DutchCulture.

The Consulate-General and Creative Industries Fund NL organised a successful event about sustainability, urban development and technological innovation of solar energy. In this article, we highlight some of the projects that were presented at the forum.

Radiant City. Photo: Consulate-General of the Netherlands in Saint Petersburg
Radiant City

On the first day, Creative Industries Fund NL and the Consulate-General organised a meet up in the Central Exhibiton Hall Manege. The director of the fund, solar designer Marjan van Aubel; architect Arjan Dingste; solar fashion designer Pauline van Dongen and local expert on creative industries Liza Savina discussed topics such as sustainability, urban planning and the technological innovation of solar energy.

There was a lot of emphasis on the projects of Russian partner organisations, who receive support of the Creative Industries Fund. The audience asked questions about the Dutch policy on innovation and the developments of solar energy in the art scene. They were particularly interested in the solar clothes of designer Pauline van Dongen and "can’t wait to buy the products as soon as they will be on the market".

Museum 15/24

Like in previous editions of the forum, the director of Hermitage Amsterdam Cathelijne Broers took part in panel discussions about developments within the museum sector. This year Hermitage Amsterdam came to the forum together with the Outsider Art Museum in the format of the project ‘Museum 15/24’.

Panel discussion at Museum 15/24. Photo: Consulate-General of the Netherlands in Saint Petersburg
Dancer of the Future

Parallel to the forum, the project Dancer of the Future took place in the studios of KannonDance and the Eifman Dance Academy in Saint Petersburg. It is part of a programme of several theatre- and dance companies in Rotterdam and Saint Petersburg. Dancers, teachers, choreographers and students of Conny Janssen Danst, KannonDance, Codarts and the Boris Eifman Academy exchanged knowledge about contemporary dance. Choreographer Davide Belotta staged a new work with the dancers.

The Russian dancers will visit their Dutch colleagues in Rotterdam in the beginning of December. At the same time theatre company Babel and the ‘social theatre’ of the Alexandrinsky Theatre New Stage will exchange knowledge about working with various target groups with special needs. With actors with Down Syndrom, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Williams Syndrom and auditive or visual challenges, they will create new works and stage already existing plays.

Project Dancer of the Future. Photo: Consulate-General of the Netherlands in Saint Petersburg
Contemplating art is a human need

Besides the above described presentations and workshops, there were several other panel discussions, presentations and workshops with contributions from Dutch artist. The eigth edition of the forum was a fruitful coming together of Russian cultural actors and their international counterparts. Like the vice minister president of the Russian Federation Olga Golodets stated: “The size of the forum reflects the amount of cultural events that take place in Saint Petersburg, but also shows the tremendous changes that have taken place in the Russian culture in recent years.”

During the forum the words of Dostoevsky definitely felt like the truth: “Contemplating art is as much a human need as eating or drinking”.

If you are a cultural professional who wants to go to Russia, feel free to contact our Russia advisor Lenka Boswijk.

For funding possibilities, check out our Cultural Mobility Funding Guide or the websites of our partners  EYE InternationalFilm FundFonds PodiumkunstenHet Nieuwe InstituutLetterenfondsMondriaan FondsStimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industries, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Russia or the Consulate-General of the Netherlands in Saint Petersburg.