By Nikolay Andreev
Ulyanovsk in Russia is joining Gomel as a cultural capital of the CIS, bringing a busy schedule, rich in events for the next ten months. Officials call this ‘preparation of the cultural soil for political and economic co-operation’.
The pilot stage of our inter-state programme — Cultural Capitals of the Commonwealth — has been launched, initiated by the Council for Humanitarian Co-operation, the Council for Cultural Co-operation and the CIS Interstate Fund for Humanitarian Co-operation. It aims to unite potential and expand ties while developing separate territories and cities.
Last year, Polotsk was Belarus’ first cultural capital; now, Gomel has taken the baton and entered inter-state level.
Celebrations have just taken place, although the city has enjoyed its title for more than a month already. Some definite projects have been organised, while much is still being discussed. The opening of the Beehive international creative centre for young people is expected to become a wonderful source of inspiration: a factory of ideas. Bold experimentation is the order of the day. The traditional Sozhsky Karagod Choreography Festival, organised in Gomel since 1997, should also receive new life. The Chairman of the Gomel City Executive Committee, Victor Pilipets, hopes to use these new opportunities to the utmost. He notes, “We won’t be a formal capital, as everyone will soon find out.”
The nation’s best bands are to perform in Gomel, with exhibitions by the country’s major museums and galleries also taking place. Belarus’ Culture Minister, Pavel Latushko, is confident, “Those living in small towns have the right to the same benefits as Minskers. This is how I view the creation of a cultural capital: it allows us to present the best of our arts and creative life to a wider public.”
Irina Kotova, Minister for Art and Cultural Policy in the Ulyanovsk Region, hopes that a ‘cultural layer’ will be jointly created. She has invited her Belarusian colleagues to take part in Ulyanovsk projects, which are to start soon, offering great prize funds and grants. Gomel is ‘on the cultural rise’.