Holiday in city streets

[b]Last year, musicians, artists, citizens and tourists gathered on a pedestrianised section of Minsk’s Karl Marx Street and, this May, when the warm weather has returned, the tradition will be revived[/b]The street will be pedestrianised again at weekends, all the way down to the little park on Komsomolskaya Street. Oksana Nikitina, Head of the Cultural Department of the Lenin District of Minsk, notes that, where similar pedestrian areas have been set up abroad, it usually takes 3-10 years for the notion to really become popular. She adds, “This year, from September 20th-23rd, a three day street theatre project is being organised for Belarusian and foreign companies — both professional and amateur.”
Last year, musicians, artists, citizens and tourists gathered on a pedestrianised section of Minsk’s Karl Marx Street and, this May, when the warm weather has returned, the tradition will be revived

The street will be pedestrianised again at weekends, all the way down to the little park on Komsomolskaya Street. Oksana Nikitina, Head of the Cultural Department of the Lenin District of Minsk, notes that, where similar pedestrian areas have been set up abroad, it usually takes 3-10 years for the notion to really become popular. She adds, “This year, from September 20th-23rd, a three day street theatre project is being organised for Belarusian and foreign companies — both professional and amateur.”
Throughout the summer, a range of street drama groups will perform, with the best chosen by the end of the summer, by audience vote, for the final September shows; these are to be hosted in the main courtyard of the historic museum, near the Grunvald Cafй and the Palace of Chess and Checkers.
Souvenirs and craft items will be on sale from May to September, while talented musicians will entertain live, without amplification equipment; last year, some residents complained that the sound level was too intrusive. Extra benches are being installed and 5D-stages are being set up, as well as photo-booths.
Karl Marx Street has existed in Minsk since the 19th century and is well preserved, featuring elements of Classicism, Eclecticism and Stalinism. Its courtyards transport you to another time. Of course, there are many such streets in Minsk and the Ministry of Culture has approved a draft plan to set up historical zones, protected by the state: these fall from Independence Avenue to Yubileinaya Square (near Frunzenskaya metro station) and from Independence Square to Victory Square, being the core of pre-war Minsk. Besides 1930-50s buildings, there are some 17th century structures and even older foundations are buried underground, as Minsk was founded in the 11th century. Minsk’s historic centre is protected under category ‘1’ in the state list of historical and cultural treasures of Belarus.
It is now prohibited to construct any building not in keeping with the existing 16th-20th century appearance of the capital’s centre. Moreover, the operation of industrial and warehouse facilities is strictly forbidden, as is any activity polluting the air or water, or causing significant traffic overburdening or excessive noise. All activity within the historical district must enhance the enjoyment of residents and tourists. Restoration is to continue, including for buildings failing to meet modern town planning and aesthetic standards.
The area along the River Svisloch is being protected, to preserve the 20th century ‘water zone’. This includes the small park laid in the 1950s at the intersection of Nemiga and Gorodskoy Val streets (known for its monument to Adam Mickiewicz) and the park around the National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre. No new constructions will be allowed.
By December 2013, restoration of 18th-19th century Loshitsa Manor should be complete, ready for a grand opening in 2014 — coinciding with the World Ice Hockey Championship. Work has been on-going for five years, rebuilding the late 19th century wooden part of the house, which is in poor condition. A cafй is to launch in its basement and its grounds will host folk festivals with knights, craftsmen and artists.

By Viktar Korbut
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