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Culture in the Provinces

Nov 05, 2019 at 14:43 • Culture

On 1 November the Artplay Design Centre hosted a presentation of the Culture in the Provinces omnibus, which features stories about the revival of small communities in the former industrial areas of France.

“The Timchenko Foundation has been running the programme entitled “Cultural Mosaic of Towns and Villages” to sponsor sociocultural projects in the Russian provinces for six years now. What sparks off the revival of small communities is quite often cultural projects launched by proactive people, and we, for our part, are willing to give them a leg-up – by best practices and knowledge, among other things. Foreign and Russian placements are major components of our educational drive. I am happy that the Culture in the Provinces omnibus can introduce even more interested people to our best practices,” said Maria Morozova, CEO of the Timchenko foundation.

“Many projects of Vasily Dmitriyevich Polenov were predicated on his idea of enlightenment and growth of the Russian countryside.  He generally believed it unfair that everything was given to the cities: museums, theatres, education etc.  Naturally enough, he did not use the term ‘cultural democratization’, which would later emerge as the leitmotif and a core element of the new cultural policy of André Malraux, minister of cultural affairs of France, but V.D.Polenov was well versed in the issues involved, which have remained relevant to this day. The Vasily Polenov Association, which was founded by the artist’s descendants in France, has been working to promote Polenov’s ideas worldwide since 2007 and gives priority to such initiatives,” said Natalia Polenova, director of the Polenov National Memorial History and Art Museum and Nature Reserve.

In 2018 the Charitable Foundation of Elena and Gennady Timchenko in partnership with the Vasily Polenov Association (France) organized a placement entitled “Model projects and key cultural strategies of France” for the winners of the Cultural Mosaic of Towns and Villages competition. The placees visited the French provinces that fell victim to the protracted slump in the traditional industries (first of all, in coal mining), but have been experiencing a revival in recent years thanks to sociocultural projects and effective cultural policies. The placees reviewed the models and procedures for growing small communities, risk analysis and success factors. The placement resulted in a collection of essays entitled “Culture in the Provinces”, which was unveiled at the presentation.

The authors Natalia Kopelyanskaya and Yekaterina Goldberg presented a collection of think pieces and case studies of projects that have changed and opened up new opportunities for socially and economically challenged areas of France. The first part of the omnibus reviews the projects in the north of the country in the industrial départements Nord and Pas-de-Calais, and the second, those in the Paris suburbs. The fact-finding tour included the community of Lens in the département Pas-de-Calais, which successfully transformed from a coal-mining ghost town to a flourishing art museum, Louvre-Lens, now a centre of attraction for tourists from all over the world, and the city of Roubeaux [Roubaix], where an old textile warehouse was repurposed as a centre for cultural and social projects for children and adults.

The presentation was also attended by Maurice Leroy, former Minister of City Affairs of France, Arnaud Dubien, director of the Observatoire Think Tank of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pierre Broche, producer and TV presenter, Barbara Lerbut, programming director at La Condition Publique, Natalia Polenova, director of the Polenov National Memorial History and Art Museum and Nature Reserve, Ksenia Frank, chair of the Timchenko Foundation’s Supervisory Board, and Maria Morozova, the foundation’s CEO.

The event was organized by the Charitable Foundation of Elena and Gennady Timchenko and the Vasily Polenov Association (France) with support from the Institut Français, the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce, the MARSH School of Architecture and the CoRus agency.