The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation summed up the results of the pandemic year
In March 2020, all public life in the country froze. The announced three-week lockdown dragged on for months. It seemed that art that cannot exist in isolation from the “real live participants”, would die first. But the culture did not just hold out, in some fields a breakthrough occurred quite unexpectedly. Although, of course, there were some losses.
Theaters and museums were the first to suffer significant losses due to the pandemic. Their directors had to urgently adjust plans, cancel performances, tours and exhibitions, all international events. The most significant damage was inflicted on the Bolshoi Theater – its lost income amounted to 1 billion rubles, and the Moscow Museum of Cosmonautics, whose revenues fell by 70%. The total amount of losses of regional cultural institutions by the summer amounted to 22 billion rubles. At the same time, not a single state theater or museum was closed.
The actors’ collectives of all theaters were transferred to the minimum wages rates. Freelancers were left practically without means of subsistence. Only those who had the tax status of an Individual Entrepreneur received state subsidies. But there were also private initiatives. For example, Yuri Bashmet held a competition for applications and paid grants to musicians and composers.
Nevertheless, as is often the case, the disappearance of one thing leads to the appearance of another. The collapse of traditional ways of interaction of culture with the audience contributed to the emergence of new forms. Digitized museum collections, online excursions and lectures, Zoom conferences and master classes, online broadcasts from empty concert halls and theaters – all these can already be called a technological breakthrough, which has allowed Russian culture to survive in the crisis. And some industries, for example the film industry, managed not only to survive, but also to strengthen its financial position.
The year of the crisis tested the strength of the Russian culture management system. Despite the catastrophic financial and human losses, it turned out to be one of the most reliable in the world.