Kazan circus: updated arena, win over smells and media façade

Kazan State Circus whose reconstruction cost almost a billion rubles will open its doors on 17 March

Kazan circus: updated arena, win over smells and media façade Photo: Maksim Platonov

The cost sheet of the reconstruction of the Kazan State Circus almost doubled and rose to one billion rubles. As a result, the work affected all its components – from the arena to dressing rooms and WCs. Director of the circus Damir Sharifullin demonstrated on 5 March how the updated circus looked several weeks to the opening, explained why the Kazan circus wasn't going to create its own company and claimed the circus couldn't exist without the participation of animals. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.

Circus for billion

About one billion rubles was spent by the republic's budget to reconstruct the Kazan State Circus, which lasted for 11 months. As circus director Damir Sharifullin explained, now the circus ''has no virgin place''. Almost everything has been updated: both the very circus arena and foyer and dressing rooms, rooms for animals.

The circus has been adorned with bright stained glasses and themed frescos, the arena's covering as well as that of spectators' rows has been changed. The foyer now resembles any modern sports facility but with an abundance of the green next to the windows.

The major part of work in the area available for spectators has already been completed: it seemed visitors could appear in the circus in the evening, it's just necessary to remove the film from the floor and collect the construction dust.

However, the work is going on full steam in service corridors of the circus. In addition, aviaries for bears and elephants are under reconstruction. Sharifullin claimed among major work they needed to deliver and install furniture in some rooms of the circus. The circus director's words, however, were saddened a bit by water drops falling from the arena's ceiling at that moment.

As circus director Damir Sharifullin explained, now the circus ''has no virgin place''

New lighting, smell and ''seats'' in WC

Among the novelties, the Kazan circus noted new lighting of the arena, which cost more than 126 million rubles. According to him, it's an unprecedented sum: only 70 million rubles were spent on lighting during the circus reconstruction in Saint Petersburg (which ended in November 2015), in other circuses lighting costs amount to 35 million rubles on average.

The circus will also change outside: it will have dynamic illumination that will show weather forecast and a media façade. Such illumination isn't a rare thing in industrial design now. Sharifullin explained the media façade would show only ads for upcoming performances.

During the press tour, the journalists also noted that this time the ''smell of circus'', which usually welcomes in the foyer, isn't felt in the circus and asked what aromas visitors would have to face. The circus director explained that such a smell appeared, first of all, due to the absence of conditioning system, which has been repaired during reconstruction.

The number of seats hasn't changed: the circus is able to host up to two thousand spectators. But when Sharifullin was asked which change during the reconstruction was the most important. Without thinking twice, he answered it was the update of WCs. It seems that WCs were a sore point for both visitors and the administration.

''As for toilets, their number has increased, both for women and men. There were three WCs, one for ladies, two for gentlemen, there are two more. […] And, in brief, there have been more seats,'' Sharifullin boasted.

The new roof of the arena is, by the way, on the second place in the circus director's rating of changes.

The number of seats hasn't changed: the circus is able to host up to two thousand spectators

From arena to store rooms

It should be noted that the reconstruction of the circus was only 530 million rubles first – the Main Investment and Construction Administration of the Republic of Tatarstan declared a tender for this sum in December 2016. The second big tender at 326,5 million rubles appeared not a long time ago, on 28 February 2018. In addition, the auction ends only on 19 March, while the work is to be completed by 30 June this year. Realnoe Vremya hasn't so far managed to know the exact sum of costs on the reconstruction in the Tatarstan Ministry of Construction.

Sharifullin explained the reconstruction was to limit to the arena only, according to the initial plan. In September, Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov paid an inspection visit; later it was decided to update the whole circus.

All reconstruction work was financed exceptionally by the republic's budget. The director of the circus added that difficulties with timely execution of the reconstruction also rose due to the rise in the budget: in late 2016, the overhaul was planned to end by 2017.

It needs to be reminded that the latest reconstruction in the Kazan circus was in 2012. Then the building's cupola was strengthened and stained glasses were restored. We need to also note that the very circus is a subsidised establishment, the volume of the annual help from the budget is 34 million rubles.

All reconstruction work was financed exceptionally by the republic's budget

Fiesta in the premiere

The premiere is on 17 March, at 17.30. The programme is called Fiesta, artists of the Tyumen circus and tamed animals take part in it: cats, bears, dogs, geese and ducks. Sharifullin assures tickets to both the premiere and next performances until the middle of April are still available in ticket offices. The ticket prices will be from 400 to 1,300 rubles, which the circus director called ''the lowest ticket prices across Russia''.

However, Sharifullin assured the Kazan circus would work during the 2018 Football WC matches, though it's still a secret what it was going to show in this period. Later the head of the circus explained his desire not to reveal all cards with popular superstitions in the circus environment.

The director of the circus also commented whether it was possible to hold pop concerts at the arena. First of all, it attracts artists due to its good acoustics. He claimed negotiations were held, but only the circus programme was on the schedule at the moment. ''Of course, there will be concerts, but it all will be much more expensive because lighting and sound are designed for the circus,'' he added.

Sharifullin assured the Kazan circus would work during the 2018 Football WC matches, though it's still a secret what it was going to show in this period

No company but compulsorily with animals

By the way, the reconstructed Kazan Circus School will open in March too. In this respect, the journalists had a question: isn't the Kazan circus going create its own circus company after reconstruction? However, Sharifullin denied such intentions: there were neither plans nor intentions, which is explained by high competition and unemployment.

''Unemployment, unemployment is everywhere, circus also has unemployment. Where will the company go? Now three or, more precisely, even four circuses are in reconstruction now. There are fewer sites, while the number of artists is bigger. This also creates the buzz. There has always been a queue to our circus, it's still present now,'' he explained.

According to him, pupils of the Kazan Circus School are able to give a performance for 1,5 hours of a play a year without animals. Nobody is speaking of the creation of a full-fledged company here.

Sharifullin commented on another problem too: is it possible to refuse to use animals in the modern circus for humanitarian reasons? It should be reminded the bill banning travelling circus with animals is under consideration in the State Duma (but it was adopted as early as 2010).

''Circus must have animals!'' Sharifullin claimed without protest. ''Circus isn't impossible without animals. […] In addition, in general, there can't be any violation while selecting animals (Editor's Note: that participate in performances in the Kazan circus).''

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By Aleksandr Artemiev. Photo: Maksim Platonov
Tatarstan