This will be the last part of our Russia-UK 2016 cultural overview, although we may well be back at a later date to examine one (or more) of the events in detail. So far we’ve given a fair amount of column inches to the Shakespearean connection (it’s 400 years since his death), and weighted the coverage of events (largely) towards the Russian-based celebrations – and that’s fine. It’s time for more information on events that will be occurring within the UK. No doubt they’ll be a lot closer for most of you than celebrations in Moscow. There is a problem, however, as you will see.
Firstly though: a sombre statement from Zelfira Tregulova, director of the Russian State Tretyakov Gallery: “Russian companies that supported our international projects can no longer do so for various reasons, including sanctions”. In a interview for Russia Beyond The Headlines she also counters by defiantly asserting: “Sanctions are no hindrance, moreover, we understand how important our mission is today”.
It appears to be true though, that the current international “situation” has resulted in a reduction in funds for “cultural exchange”. The sense of extravaganza compared to the exuberance of proposed Russian celebrations seems relatively absent, looking at the list of talks, courses, meetings etc. It’s welcome but hardly Shakespeare in the park with fireworks.
There’s a proposed visit by Russian writers to the London Book Fair. I found this: ReadRussia (Stand: Y455) – which must surely be the same thing, right? According to the accompanying info: “it presents Russia’s leading writers, publishers and booksellers”. The organisation also awards translation grants and prizes, including a visit to the Moscow International Book Fair. The Moscow fair is in November, incidentally so winners: pack your thermals! Ok, that’s the bibliophiles amongst you catered for, but what about the rest?
Frankly, I’m scraping it. The Pushkin In Britain celebration appears to have already passed (in 2015!) and searching around for definite dates and times is like pulling teeth.
After discovering the 2016 events page on The Kompass (featuring news on Russian Events happening in the UK) I’m really low on definite events links to offer you. One of the ones there doesn’t even work! Sure there is talk of various things happening, but they seem quite low key or very niche; a conference for Russian language teachers for example, or academic seminars on linguistics. They’re great as part of a wider programme, but the real must-see, headline-grabbers for curious regular types are not there. Broad appeal is surely required, at least in part.
Back to Shakespeare for a moment; even if you consider him “niche”, then the ingenuity by which his work has been translated, made accessible and disseminated to a wider audience is laudable. Consider: Shakespeare: The Animated Tales for instance. This is an Anglo-Russian production animated by Soyuzmultfilm (that’s the Russian site, in English see here). It’s just wonderful, frankly.
As an exercise, take a look at the aforementioned list of 2016 events, then compare and contrast the Russian programme, with its UK counterpart; you’ll see what I am driving at.
Now, I do know that there are a whole host of varied and fascinating Russian-oriented events spread across a range of interests that are being (and will be) held in the UK this year. We’ve even looked at some in previous weeks. These happen with or without a sponsored umbrella programme. So, I’m just going to have to bring at least some of those to your attention, irrespective of official policy. It has to be done.
[Photo by AllAnd]