Title : Official culture centers
of parallel cultural activity

By Théodora Delville,
International coordinator of the DOM
cultural center

DOM Cultural Center
Bolshoi Ovchinnikovsky Pereulok, 24,
building 4
113184 Moscow
Tel: 7 095 953 72 36
Fax: 7 095 953 72 42

The change in Russia’s regime gradually allowed new centers of cultural activity to emerge. They are now leading a life parallel to the official cultural structures of the Soviet regime that still survive.
Under the Soviet regime, outside official culture enthusiasts were able to express their work and ideas only at a distance from a strongly established value system, and they tried to stage performances or events on a small scale with no budget in places not assigned to them. When new private budgets appeared, new scenes, flexible and open to the future, began to find a place for themselves in different artistic fields which had been hitherto unexploited. This is mainly the case in Moscow, where most financial resources are to be found.

Public demand
The public in Russia wanted to discover a non-official culture to which access was difficult in the past, except through readings, radio programs, and several clandestine underground events. A logical result of this desire is the emergence of these new centers of cultural activity. The demand was therefore far greater than the supply, which gradually grew thanks to private and initiatives and financing.

It should be pointed out that the State and local authorities continue to support models of official culture such as the Bolshoi Theater, the conservatory, local cultural centers (which are gradually disappearing) and most theaters. This support, however, does not extend to new centers of cultural activity seeking to develop other cultural experiences.

At present, except for cafCs and clubs that schedule concerts, there is only one single multidisciplinary center like the "Dom", even if theoretically there is room for other similar centers specialized in one artistic field or other. Motivated persons have to be found and allowed to express new concepts, as conditions should provide the necessary resources for projects of this type.

The "Dom": a multicultural center
The Dom Center ("Dom" means "house" in Russian) was founded in May 1999, and since then has played a key role in Moscow’s cultural life. Unlike institutional cultural centers, the Dom focuses especially on avant-garde and ethnic music, but also includes other performing arts.

All sorts of events are held at the Dom: concerts of music by contemporary composers (Vladimir Martynov, Sergei Zagny, Tibor Szemzo, Daniel Good, etc.), musicians (Tatiana Grindenko, the Pekarsky ensemble and the Sirin ensemble, Terry Riley, Joshua Pierce, Steven Drury, Pierre Bastien, etc.), improvisation (Vladimir Volkov, Vladimir Tarasov, Shelley Hirsch, Otomo Yoshihide, Iva Bittova, Keith and Julia Tippett), noise music (Nikolaa Sudnik and ZGA), music from world music or purely ethnic music (like Alim Qasimov, Djivan Gasparyan, Sainkho, Nete). There is also experimental and musical theater (Lev Gutovsky and Olga Leonova with the NXA project), contemporary dance (Alexander Pepelyaev and his kinetic theater) or readings. Moreover, the Dom offers plastic arts exhibition and video projections.

The Dom provides foreign and Russian contemporary artists with the opportunity to express their ideas in unique events, festivals, tours and workshops. Above all, the Dom is a platform, a place where people meet, where artists meet, where artists meet the public, which often gives rise to new initiatives and types of cooperation. Since it opened the Center has developed close ties with foreign organizations specialized in different spheres of contemporary art (Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Great Britain, United States, Korea, Japan as well as the all the republics of the CIS and the different regions of Russia as far away as Eastern Siberia).

The Dom Cultural Center was set up at the individual initiative of an enthusiastic local producer who had been pursuing his activities in avant-garde music for twenty years, of graphic artists involved in the new trend in Moscow, and a businessman wishing to invest in an original project in the cultural life of the Russian capital.

In addition to private funds, the Dom is supported mainly by the Ford Foundation, which grants annual subsidies. The Dom Cultural Center also seeks backing from different embassies or foreign institutions based in Moscow to support its foreign projects. For some of these events the Center seeks sponsorship by Russian or foreign companies. The sale of tickets also constitutes a considerable share in the financing of some projects. At present it is still difficult to imagine support from the State.

Modified on Thursday 4 August 2005