Irada Ayupova: ‘We can’t hide cultural values from people’

Minister of Culture of Republic of Tatarstan talks about theatres, creative spaces, the issue of national languages

Irada Ayupova: ‘We can’t hide cultural values from people’
Photo: Maksim Platonov

The Year of the Theatre in Russia has been rich in cultural events in Tatarstan. Competitions of performing arts have taken place in the republic, a new film project has been launched. In addition, museums are transforming, the exhibition space is expanding, a new opera school is created. Minister of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan Irada Ayupova said that Tatar culture went beyond the republic and the country at a meeting on 20 December. She had a lively chat, exchanged opinions with journalists what was created and what needed to be created. After the meeting, Realnoe Vremya is presenting 10 facts about cultural Tatarstan.

1. How to cherish human values through pain

At the meeting, they talked about the number of theatre events in Tatarstan in 2019, noted the performance of municipal actors and directors. 25 plays of Craft All-Russian Theatre Festival of Young Directors took place on Kazan stages. The 19th Interregional Competition of Theatre Companies Idel House named after Zakirov was held. The owner of the Grand Prix was awarded the president’s certificate for a million rubles. The 1st all-Russian competition of dramaturgy for children, teenagers and the youth ASYL was in Kazan. Authors from 25 Russian and four foreign cities writing in the Russian and Tatar languages and presenting play they hadn’t staged participated in the competition.

“It is not an instantaneous result. We get what we prepared during the long-term, systematic work. Drama is the best drug for depression. If muscles ache after the gym, it means that muscles grow. Cultural values also form through distress. It is necessary to train a young spectator, foster correct feelings not only through entertainment, but it is also necessary to talk with him about the director’s idea after plays, why this play is needed,” Irada Ayupova noted.

Photo: inde.io
Drama is the best drug for depression. If muscles ache after the gym, it means that muscles grow. Cultural values also form through distress

2. What impressed and stuck in memory

The minister of culture shared the brightest impressions: “Last week I participated in a conference of the Russian State Institute of Performing Arts. We talked about the creation of cultural centres in Russian cities. One of the participants of the event told me: “I watched your Golden Horde on TV. It is so topical, great that you have a national ballet”. She was very surprised when I replied to her that it was a contemporary composition, its authors were still alive, and the staging was new.

My participation in the cultural programme of Valdai Forum in Sochi has become the most memorable event. It is one of the top political sites in the world. I presented the culture of the East as leading. Music of Tatar composers was played, compositions in the Tatar language were performed. After that, scientists, political experts from Canada, the USA approached me. They said they wanted to see Tatarstan, while those who had been in Tatarstan wanted to come again.”

3. What does Tatarstan want to say with its cinema?

Kazan joined an all-Russian short film campaign. The minister of culture said that an anthology consisting of seven short films, which would be presented in the next days, was polished. There will be a run in Saint Petersburg. “It turned out to be unexpectedly good works, amazing, on the world’s scale. The gimmick is that each of the directors who will arrive will promote our territory and our actors in their market,” the head of the Ministry of Culture noted.

Photo: tatarkino.ru
To develop cinematography in Tatarstan, we should decide what we want to say in cinema and say it in a way that people understand

“The Tatars like theatre very much. But one shouldn’t squander money without thinking about the next release. To develop cinematography in Tatarstan, we should decide what we want to say in cinema and say it in a way that people understand. Cinema must fascinate, excite. Art wants two things: an established system and craft, further dramaturgy, directing. We give young dramaturgs a chance to write and young directors to stage, experiment on professional sites. A school and freedom are needed in a good sense of the word, while the search for resources is the third stage. If we establish this system in cinema it will be great.”

4. Does Kazan deserve being named a hero city?

Ayupova remembered a project of publication of wartime letters. “A girl wrote a letter to her mother from the front that they were fed well. The home front gave the last things to front soldiers. How much dramatism this situation had. The youth don’t understand the value of the Victory. The Kazan defensive perimeter was built when it was 40 degrees below zero. Now it is said that it was a mistake. What if the Fascists had gone further, what if we had lost the strong home front? I think that on the eve of the 75th anniversary of Victory it is necessary to immortalise every person’s contribution to the Great Victory regardless of one’s place of residence. From today’s perspective, we don’t understand the tragedy of the war. Now we are talking about government procurement for compositions that would tell the younger generation about the value of human life in war.”

5. To encourage to have projects that solve real problems

According to the minister, public project protection has been introduced in the republic this year. “Even in culture we put the material above an idea. People come and say: ‘We need furniture, computers’. It is maybe can be bought. But the problem you want to solve with this project is a priority. I ask first: ‘How will this project solve the problem and what’s the social effect?’ And that’s it, they immediately gave up because our projects are ‘give us money to buy three computers and two tables’. We need to encourage people to think that their activity does solve the problem. It is impossible to impose something in the social sphere, one can support only. The mission of the state and the Ministry of Culture is to support those who really need help so that it will bring real dividends.

Photo: Maksim Platonov
Graduates of our circus school work at Cirque du Soleil and Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard. We invest money in education. Hopefully, the situation will get moving

6. Misty future of circus

“We have ideas of making programmes that will use resources of the circus, but it is rather a theatre with elements of the circus. If we are talking about the creation of a professional company, the staff is needed, which is a very long process. Graduates of our circus school work at Cirque du Soleil and Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard. We invest money in education. Hopefully, the situation will get moving.”

7. Title for state is cheapest way after “thanks”

In Ayupova’s opinion, an artist raises the state with the title People’s Artist so much that it must provide the artist with a corresponding social status. “People must be recognised at the federal level, they must be known across the country. To ensure that our artists are recognisable across Russia, we must actively promote our art not only in Tatarstan but also outside it. Not only financial support is needed. Unfortunately, the title today is the state’s cheapest way of encouraging after “thanks”.

8. On national opera

At the meeting, they mentioned a new centre of Albina Shagimuratova. According to the head of the culture ministry, the singer is among the most sought-after performers in Tatarstan and one of the most recognisable people in the world’s opera. Her centre will be located in Saydash Culture Centre. “The budget has been determined, we discussed this work with the city administration of Kazan. Albina Shagimuratova has her own pupils that can do the work constantly. Besides, we will invite famous singers to masterclasses who will polish professional mastery. The new centre has amazing conditions: the walls in the classrooms are completely soundproof. Apart from material conditions, there must be staff capacity. It is very hard to work as a soloist. We have a unique territory with a rich opera legacy. If we manage to make the school our national opera school, we can transmit it around the world and stage in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey.”

Photo: Roman Khasayev
Albina Shagimuratova has her own pupils that can do the work constantly. In addition, we will invite famous singers to masterclasses who will polish professional mastery

9. Future lies with creative spaces at railway stations and in shopping malls

From Ayupova’s point of view, museums stopped being topical as a place for a single visit. The reconstructed museums, for instance, the Salikh Saydashev Museum, must become growth points. “It must be active museum expositions, we can’t hide historical values from people.”

The minister reminded about Zausayev’s collection who collected antiquities all his life, and when he had tough times, it turned nobody needed these values. Now they lay in storerooms in Finland. Now the ministry is holding talks to exhibit them in Tatarstan. “We can’t focus on big items only, history is conserved precisely in personal archives.”

“People write: ‘Why invest so much money in culture?’ In the wartime, people sacrificed their own lives to conserve their cultural heritage. What should change in cultural consciousness if we think that we can’t invest in culture?” the minister was indignant.

Ayupova talked about modern forms of exhibition spaces in shopping malls, at railway stations, airports. One of them already runs in the building of the former factory manufacturing musical instruments. Now exhibitions are held, masterclasses are given there. It is a cosy concept for a family’s leisure time.

Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov
In the wartime, people sacrificed their own lives to conserve their cultural heritage. What should change in cultural consciousness if we think that we can’t invest in culture?

10. One should understand language of art by soul, but marking for languages is necessary

Irada Ayupova considers Switzerland with four official languages as an ideal model of multilingualism. Ayupova herself arrived from Baku in Russia 25 years ago, she has been learning the Tatar language for the last seven years. She thinks that the language of art is sometimes clear without translation. “We should respect each other, including when it comes to languages. To have bilingualism, it is necessary to provide Russian and even English content. I think we should start with marking in different languages.”

By Yekaterina Ablayeva
Tatarstan