In the centre of Mira
1. Krasnoyarsk and culture
Krasnoyarsk is the administrative centre of the Krasnoyarsk Region in Russia, a major industrial, transport, scientific and cultural centre of Eastern Siberia. Krasnoyarsk was founded in 1628. The city area is 379.5 sq. km. and the population in 2022 was 1,1 million people.
Krasnoyarsk is one of the most important centres of socio-economic and cultural development in Russia, one of the six Russian cities that have all types of cultural institutions. Krasnoyarsk has 5 state theatres, regional philharmonic, 17 municipal children’s art schools, 4 private and 9 state and municipal music schools, 47 state and municipal libraries, 3 state and 2 municipal museums, 1 municipal and 7 commercial cinemas, 5 municipal and 11 state creative teams, about 60 entities of various forms of ownership providing services in the cultural sector. More than 3.5 million people annually visit municipal cultural institutions.
The sphere of culture was one of the first to bear the brunt of COVID-19 – at the beginning of March 2020 most cultural institutions in Krasnoyarsk (as well as around the world) were either closed for an indefinite period, or their programmes were radically reduced, while exhibitions and performances were cancelled or rescheduled. The project “In the Centre of MIRA” aimed at the cultural sector revitalization in the context of gradual easing of restrictions, by using open street space that makes it possible to maintain social distance and implement other anti-coronavirus measures.
The project aimed at the cultural sector revitalization in the context of gradual easing of restrictions by using open street space.
2. Project goals and implementation
2.1. Main goal and specific objectives
The project “In the Centre of MIRA”, initiated by the Krasnoyarsk City Administration in response to the coronavirus caused cultural crisis, was officially launched in May 2021. The project involved blocking traffic in three blocks of Krasnoyarsk historical centre’s main street, Mira (can be translated as “PEACE” or “WORLD”) Avenue for the weekends (from Friday evening to Sunday evening). The total area of the created pedestrian zone was 800 sq. meters. The general aim of the project “In the Centre of MIRA” was to create an effective tool for revitalizing the cultural sector of Krasnoyarsk during its transition from the pandemic present to the post-pandemic future.
2.2. Project development
Mira Avenue is characterized by abundance of both cultural objects (Cinema “Dom Kino”, Pushkin Theatre, etc.), and public catering facilities (18 cafes and restaurants became participants in the project). The project helped local businesses to organize their work in compliance with anti-coronavirus restrictions by moving the customer service area into open space - on the sidewalks and the blocked roadway. For this purpose, amendments to the municipal regulatory framework were introduced. A unified project design code was developed, which included, among other things, street furniture requirements, “advertising-free” and “banner-free” space design, in order to preserve and best present the cultural and architectural identity of the historic city centre. The project’s hypothesis (successfully confirmed during its implementation) was that the newly created public space would attract citizens and become a venue for active self-presentation of municipal and private cultural sector organizations, most affected by anticoronavirus restrictions (particularly severe for indoor events).
Throughout the project, the City realized events, like various master-classes, orchestras and street musicians performances, film screening in an open-air cinema, interactive sports and entertainment areas, thematic exhibitions, and walking tours of the historical city centre; and some selected major events, like the Food Trucks Festival, the Krasnoyarsk Summer Chess Cup “Blitz”, the Laser show “Day of Russia”, the Opening of the Krasnoyarsk sports clubs venue, the street performance “Svetlovsky Kvartirnik”, the Day of China, the Children’s festival “Rainbow”, the Sports festival “Banks Competition”, the Light show “Magic Forest”, and the Day of Japan and Korea.
Partner organizations and organizations involved in the project implementation were local businesses (22 catering organizations (cafes and restaurants), 8 different stores, 20 participants of the Food Truck Festival), various NGOs, Universities and the Operator for information support of the project. Partners at higher management levels were the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Sports and the Agency for Youth Policy and Implementation of Social Development Programs. The main difficulty in the implementation of the project was the process of establishing interaction between all project participants. It was a painstaking process of building relationships based on mutual trust, understanding the importance of a common cause and the principles of teamwork.
The project involved blocking traffic and creating a pedestrian zone in the historical centre's main street for the weekends.
3.1. Direct impacts
The project obtained the following results:
- Cultural sphere of Krasnoyarsk got an opportunity for self-presentation.
- Many cultural organizations found permanent sponsors among local entrepreneurs, and saw an opportunity to build further cooperation with commercial and non-profit organizations to implement their cultural programs.
- The average revenue during the project of catering enterprises participating in the project amounted to 150-200% of revenue for the same period in 2020.
- The created Organizing Committee, consisting of representatives of local government, businesses, culture organizations, various NGOs, is open for further interaction to continue the implementation of the project, as well as to work on new projects.
- The practice of positive interaction between citizens and local governments in order to jointly create a comfortable, culturally rich urban environment has been developed.
- Based on the feedback and suggestions from project participants and citizens, the event program for the historical city centre for the next year was adjusted.
The project effectiveness evaluation mechanism included several quantitative parameters, like the number of: cultural program participants; business community participants; outdoor seats newly created; revenue of business community participants; Food Truck Festival participants; visitors; budget funding and extra-budgetary / sponsored funding; and subscribers of the project’s official Instagram group.
The project was continued in 2022 with the number of participants from both creative teams and business representatives significantly increasing. There was also launched a winter version - the project “Winter at Strelka”. Given the high popularity of the project among people in 2021 - 2022, it was decided to further develop it. In 2023, the technology for implementing the project (infrastructure, activities format, interaction with participants, content of the program, etc. ) will be transferred to five public spaces of the city (embankments of the Yenisei River: Central and Green Bank embankments, Yaryginskaya, Kirovsky District, and Khazret Sovmen embankments.
The newly created public space attracted citizens and became a venue for active self-presentation of municipal and private cultural sector organizations.
4. Other information
Krasnoïarsk was a candidate for the fifth “UCLG – Mexico City – Culture 21” International Award (February – June 2022). The jury for the award drew up its final report in September 2022, and requested that the Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices to be implemented through Agenda 21 for culture.
This article was written by Inna Dozortseva, Deputy Head of Mayor’s Department – Head of the International Affairs Division, Krasnoyarsk, Krasnoyarsk Region, Russian Federation.
Contact: uves1 (at) admkrsk.ru