City Positions Itself as Cultural Hub

City Positions Itself as Cultural Hub

Published: November 2, 2011 (Issue # 1681)

St. Petersburg was initially planned by Peter the Great to be a dream city, geared at attracting the best intellectual and creative resources.

Three centuries later, City Hall plans to return to this idea and work toward transforming St. Petersburg into Europe’s largest art and cultural center and a core of creative human resources.

According to the city’s Cultural Sphere Development Concept, from 2012 to 2014 creative industries are the primary innovative key to the city’s artistic and cultural development. “Right now, St. Petersburg’s main advantage is its culture,” the plan’s authors say.

The concept hails cooperation as the most effective way of generating new ideas and increasing creative potential. Several communities of creative professionals such as Taiga have recently been formed, but they are still a new concept in Russia. More areas for public development, including recreation and entertainment, are part of the plan.

The redevelopment of areas to be transformed into creative and cultural zones is currently of key interest to the project, following on the heels of Moscow’s Winzavod Contemporary Art Center, Flacon Design Factory and the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, which were erected on the sites of former factories and a bus depot.

“Development of such places should be more intensive, it’s necessary to situate them throughout the city and into suburban areas,” Anna Manjuk of the Flacon Design Factory said at a roundtable discussion of the city’s cultural development at the Urban Development and Politics in Europe and Russia conference.

“A city is a complex and comprehensive system. It is impossible to confine its development to one sphere,”Anton Finogenov from the company Urbanica said at the round table.

“A city should have a high cultural level, but that’s not enough to make a city comfortable for residents. It is important not to turn the city into an illusion or movie set that hides its real problems,” Anna Karpenko, a researcher from Kaliningrad, added.

During the next three years the city plans to allocate some 3.5 percent of budget funds to cultural development. All other expenses must be covered by the private sector and cultural enterprises themselves, most of which have been switched to independent funding.

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