Culture of Moscow. Online
1. Moscow and culture
Moscow is a modern European megacity with 875 years of history and 12.5 million people. There are more than 10 thousand cultural organizations in the city, and the wide range of cultural events and facilities is contributing to the emergence of a growing interest from citizens of different ages, gender, welfare level, and people with special needs. Cultural organizations are available not only in the city center but throughout Moscow, so almost every citizen can access culture within a 10 minutes’ walk.
Moscow’s cultural policy is set back to 2011 by the Government of Moscow, and focuses on the development of the city as one of the world’s centres for culture, art and innovative creativity. “Culture of Moscow. Online” was initiated in 2020 jointly by Moscow Department of Culture, the Information Technologies (IT) Department and the Tourism Committee, and is strongly aligned to the three pillars for cultural strategy, which are citywide development, institutional support, and citizen-centric approach.
The project aims to create a full-scale aggregator of digitalized cultural events to allow citizens to keep on their cultural life on a free of charge basis during self-isolation period.
2. Project goals and implementation
2.1. Main goal and specific objectives
The main objective is to create a full-scale aggregator of digitalized cultural events to allow citizens to keep on their cultural life on a free of charge basis during self-isolation period. As for the specific goals, the project responds to the:
- Exercise of cultural rights of Muscovites.
- Promotion of diversity and creativity.
- Contribution to social innovation.
- Support to mental health of all during the pandemic.
- Contribution to social inclusion and equity.
2.2. Project development
“Culture of Moscow. Online” is a full-scale web portal of creative activities carried out by local cultural centers and organizations, that targets citizens of Moscow of all ages. The platform offers access to online educational and inspiring content – streaming, recordings, and reviews of the best events, which were temporary unavailable offline during the pandemic period, when public centers were closed for citizens.
It is free of charge and has unlimited access to the content (video versions of theatre performances, concerts, lectures, meetings with famous people, exhibitions, film premieres, virtual tours in museums and parks, as well as other fascinating cultural activities) for the whole population of Moscow, irrespective of their age, gender, abilities, welfare and place of residency. Also, an event calendar can help to choose and plan the most appealing activity and arrange a complete cultural evening at home for the whole family. Thus, the initiative offers the latest cultural initiatives to a wide audience and contributes to the development of the digitalization of culture by stimulating creative processes, as well as the development of creative industries as a new promising direction in the economy.
As the project intersects different spheres of urban development, there are many entities involved in the project. The Department of Culture is responsible for the strategy and concept of the project, communication and collection of the content from different cultural institutions. Moscow cultural organisations - museums, libraries, cinemas, theatres and many others - provide the Department of Culture with relevant and new content on a regular basis. The IT Department and the team of the official website of the Mayor and the Government of Moscow are in charge of technical issues, having a user-friendly design, and the possibility to have unlimited access to the content.
The citizen-centric approach is referred to the active participation of citizens into the implementation of the project. Before its launch in November 2020, there was an online voting on what would the future website include. More than 9 thousand people participated in survey and pitched more than 700 ideas. Citizens have left more than 1700 comments in thematic discussions.
As a result, 136 ideas from the citizens were implemented, such as the:
- Launch of the Electronic Library of Moscow - a single point of access to all open electronic collections of Moscow libraries;
- Creation of a unified event website with direct links to the mos.ru portal - which became the «Culture of Moscow. Online»;
- Introduction of the Moscow Cultural Centres electronic bonus card with a system of discounts and incentives.
“Culture of Moscow. Online” is a full-scale web portal of creative activities carried out by local cultural centers and organisations.
3.1. Direct impacts
The project, initiated in response to the pandemic situation, contributed to the development, modernization and digitalization of the cultural sector of Moscow – the ongoing process in the framework of the Smart city strategy of Moscow. At the same time, the website focused on helping cultural workers to keep on with their job, developing their digital skills, teaching them how to connect with the audience through the screen, and designing new initiatives and projects in digital.
The impact goes from content accessibility to an improvement on mental health both in cultural workers and consumers. Thanks to the same schedule and duration of the activities, people were able to continue doing what they used to. With extra time and energy, citizens’ activities and participation in cultural life of the city increased, allowing people to get more inspiration, education and creativity.
“Culture of Moscow. Online” is an ongoing project. Thus, its result could be measured by the increase of interest for cultural events and activities, which is now being registered by many cultural institutions all over the city.
3.3. Key factors
The success of the project consists of its contribution to the increase of interest for the cultural sector in general, and for the different cultural institutions in particular. During 2020, Moscow cultural organisations held more than 40 000 entertainment events and 500 000 educational activities. Some museums and centres registered a huge increase of viewers and online interest, such as the Moscow Zoo or the Museum of Moscow, almost doubling the social media coverage, and reaching 7 million viewers for its online activities.
Also, in 2020, more than 2.7 million people viewed online broadcasts of nightly thematic events (“Night at the Museum”, “Night of the Arts”, “Cinema Night”, “Night at the Theatre”, “Library Night”).
The continuity of the project is determined by the following aspects:
- Ongoing process of renewal of content of the website;
- Accessibility of the content;
- Usability of the website for every citizen.
Impact goes from content accessability to an improvement on mental health, both in cultural workers and consumers.
4. Further information
Moscow 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 Ekaterina Savina-Makhorskaia, Expert, Moscow, Russian Federation.
Contact: SavinaEI (at) mos.ru