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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Artistic Elite Developing 10-Year Plan for Culture

Some things haven't changed.

With Russian arts in a crisis of identity and financing, about 60 members of the country's cultural elite gathered last week under the auspices of the government to prepare for salvation -- through a 10-year plan.

For five days, cultural luminaries met for a series of "creative imitational games," which will be the basis for a 150-page, 10-year policy guideline, to be written by the presidential council on culture.

Some of the proposals brought up at the Lesnye Dali resort, an elite recreation center just a few kilometers outside Moscow on Rublevskoye Shosse, were hardly surprising -- such as a demand that the government place a higher priority on culture and spend more money on it.

Others were more eccentric.

"We must simply create a situation when every newspaper or TV news [show] has to spend 90 percent of their space or time on culture, and only those 10 percent left on the rest of the things," said Slava Lion, deputy to President Boris Yeltsin's cultural adviser, Sergei Krasavchenko.

"Why should we hear or read about another plane crash; that should be the business of the Transport Ministry," added Lion, who was an underground philosopher and writer in the Soviet era.

Considerable discussion was generated by a proposal to promote culture as a kind of mass cult.

"People are mixed up, they have lost their ideals, but culture as an ideal aim could become a good substitute," Lion said. Another drastic measure he suggested was to correct substandard aesthetic tastes by introducing aesthetic, rather than political censorship. He could not say, however, who should be appointed to set the standards.

Special attention was also paid to the poor state of the Russian language, which, it was felt, is degenerating.

"Instead of a wide variety of styles and dialects, we now have a simplified, mediocre, television version of our language," said Lion.

But most discussion at the five-day retreat focussed on the central themes of raising the profile and prestige of Russian arts, and on raising the amount of money available to support them.

Vladimir Zheleznikov, a writer and the director of the Globus cinema studio, said: "I don't now how realistic the aims we set are, but there certainly are people who are very keen to raise up again the fallen and often ignored prestige of Russian culture."

If there was any other unifying theme underpinning the "games," it was the lack of any identifiably Russian style to the arts in general. Whereas Romanticism, Futurism and other movements dominated the arts scene here before the revolution, and Social Realism afterwards, it was lamented that today there is simply chaos.