At the V St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum the Festival of Festivals gathered leaders of international cultural festivals, cultural figures and governmental officials to discuss the uniting role of culture. At the end of the event pianist Daniel Pollack, the first honored ambassador of the Forum, was presented with a symbolic gift.
“This is a great honor for met – being a part of the Forum not just as a performer, but as the official representative of the United States. Ambassador is a very important title. Perhaps, the main thing in our lives is communication, exchange of experience and feelings, which is so hard easy to lose in the contemporary society. Music can really unite people, in spite of their language, background and location. I have been to Russia more than tony other country in the world, except the USA, and I know that the main thing in Russia is its people. Thank you for this honor”, - said the musician.
The minister of culture of the Russian Federation Alexander Zhuravsky presented the diploma. He said that culture will continue to be the venue for communication and common work, despite any “political rhetoric”. The Cultural Forum in Saint Petersburg is ready to provide the venue for foreign guests as well as promote its program in Europe, uniting festivals.
“Saint Petersburg and our Forum are ready to provide a wide range of venues, park space and infrastructure. The experience of the Edinburgh festival is very close to us, because they managed to turn their festival into a year-round event. Also we can relate to the Avignon festival – the festival of a modernization view on art, which is always interesting, always a challenge. We have signed a series of agreements with forums of different countries and we would like to continue this process to create an Association of international festivals, to discuss this initiative with Avignon and Edinburgh – now or in future”, - said Zhuravsky.
The director of the Department of culture of Moscow Alexander Kibovsky thanked the vice-mayor of Avignon Jacques Montignac for his interest in the “Gogol-centre” theatre – Kirill Serebrennikov’s play was presented at the previous Avignon festival. Montignac announced that a number of French students will come to Russia in March to attend a theatre conference.
“We tried to turn a strictly pragmatic business megalopolis into a city, suitable for living. To create parks, pedestrian zones, limit traffic and chaotic advertising in the city. As a result the life of the citizen’s went through structural changes. Before that it was just work and home, now its work, exhibition, home, park”, -said Kibovsky about the experience of Moscow. “But we had to attract people to these spaces, and the stakes were on the festival culture. The Strasbourg fair has been cooperating with us for three years so far and the number of foreign tourists increased by half last year”.
Alexander Zhuravsky expressed his hope that in the coming few years Russian will become one of the cultural partners of Avignon, and said that Russian theatre culture doesn’t just “come down to Serebrennikov”, and promised to organize a program “the way it would be in the times of Efros, Dodin, Fokin”. Alexander Zhuravsky and Jacques Montignac also remembered the phrase of Charles da Gaulle about “Europe from the Atlantic to Ural” meaning that this is the area, which should be a united cultural space.
Greece as the guest-state became an important part of the V St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum. At the session of the Festival of Festivals the artistic director of the International Festival of Athens and Epidaurus Vangelis Teodoropoulos announced that next year the festival will be dedicated to the issue of “foreign” and its acceptance.
“The media are trying to scare us, talking about massive flows of migrants. But we are still ready to open our borders for representatives of all cultures. Traditionally two pieces are broken off from the Greek pita: one for the Christ and one for the wanderer. The rest is divided between the members of the family. Culture and theatre have to continue the tradition of such attitude for as long as possible”, - said Teodoropoulos.
At the end of the meeting the deputy director of the Directorate of the V St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum Mikhail Kuzmin and the director of the International Festival of Athens and Epidaurus signed an agreement on further cooperation.