'We are creating the rules for creative life': Kazan introducing the rules of work for street artists

'We are creating the rules for creative life': Kazan introducing the rules of work for street artists
Photo: Radif Kashapov

Street musician Konstantin Ignatov from Kazan has recently addressed the mayor's office with criticism of the rules of work of musicians on Bauman Street — he said that with the adoption of these rules it will become difficult for him to give full-fledged concerts at his favourite place: only two hours for one location. Half an hour of them are spent on setting up equipment and fees, the musician noted, and for performances one has to register in a certain application. On 12 July, the head of the Culture Department of the executive committee came to Bauman Street and tried to explain why it is necessary to regulate the work of street musicians.

If you want to play — download the app

Musician Konstantin Ignatov, one of the symbols of the current Bauman Street (he has been playing on the corner of Astronomicheskaya Street for about six years), broke out with a post on Instagram:

“The other day, a meeting was held in the executive committee of culture of Kazan, from which it became obvious that, after all, they want to introduce regulations for street artists in the near future.

In short — I will not have an opportunity, for example, to give full-fledged concerts at my favourite place, which I think you have also got used to. I will not have the opportunity because one place can only be occupied for 2 hours (of which half an hour is only to set up the equipment and get ready).”

The weekend passed, we contacted the head of the Kazan Department of Culture, Azat Abzalov, he began to tell us that the work was underway, then asked us to call back. Three hours later, he held a press conference — right on Bauman Street.

The way musicians, artists and — especially — animators should behave on the street was discussed at the Saydash Culture House in January 2021. In particular, then blogger Leyla Leron addressed a letter to Ilsur Metshin about the large-size puppets walking along the main pedestrian street of the city. Leron, by the way, wrote a letter to Ignatov — that's why he came to Bauman Street that day.

The way musicians, artists and — especially — animators should behave on the street was discussed at the Saidash Culture House Centre in January 2021. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

At that time, they said that “the activities of artists in public places are not regulated in any way in the legal field. There is no official ban on such performances, as well as official rules.” A lot of complaints were voiced at the meeting — both from hotel guests and residents of a few houses, who told that they had a festival every day outside the window.

Then the officials suggested that it is necessary to select musicians who are worthy of performing and allocate them places in certain points of the city. How? Using the app. You register, prove that you are a good musician, and choose a slot for two hours, come and play. It is quite simple, given that the conditions abroad are different. For example, in Barcelona, you need to join the Association of Street Musicians (Asociación de Músicos de Calle), then sign up for a performance at one of the 24 points. One can play on each for no more than two hours a day, no more than twice a week. Percussion is prohibited, amplifiers power is up to 20 watts. Up to three participants in a group, repertoire — diverse. In some places, amplifiers are also prohibited, in others they can only play from 6 pm to 8 pm on Saturdays and from 12 am to 2 pm on Sundays.

Rules of artistic life

Abzalov told this while standing near the bell tower of the Epiphany Cathedral. Modern dance electronics could be heard from a nearby store — and the official promised that soon the sound advertising on the streets of the city would disappear.

“We are developing the rules for creative life," the head of the department explained. “Everyone should have equal opportunities. In this case, we have to say that city sites should provide conditions for everyone. We do not consider this as an entrepreneurial activity, it is primarily self-expression.”

It has been decided that there will be 36 points in the city where musicians, artists, animators can work — with conditions that the owners of neighbouring buildings agree to. Photo: instagram.com/kostyaignatov_live

Abzalov also promised that the authorities will not interfere in the repertoire, unless, of course, it contains calls for extremism. It has been decided that there will be 36 points in the city where musicians, artists, animators can work — with conditions that the owners of neighbouring buildings agree to. For example, at the Nogay Hotel they want to offer to play loud music until 8 pm. The list can be expanded. Among other points on Bauman Street, there are at the Rodina cultural and entertainment centre (for the theatre), at the clock, at McDonald's, at the Kremlevskaya metro station... Among the new ones — Peterburgskaya Street: the Gumilev monument and the rotunda. Also, for example, Sovetskaya Square, Tebriz Square, and even Petrov Park.

Abzalov also said that the animators are not against not only donkeys and zebras, but also the Cat of Kazan.

When will it all start? The draft resolution is already there, it is planned that it comes into force in a couple of weeks. The application is still under development.

We are happy and without rules

Abzalov invited Ignatov in the frame, and the musician was silent most of the time. In the comments to his post, by the way, listeners argued whether some regulations would help get rid of marginal personalities, or whether the musicians could agree by themselves: who, where and when? Ignatov is put as an example in this regard — he plays the most intelligent material (mainly Russian rock), does not allow himself to swear — he is even appreciated by sellers in neighbouring stores. It would seem that there is nothing to regulate.

He himself says that he is always ready to help beginners, and others also play in his permanent place. On the other hand, Ignatov can be understood — he “earned” this location with many years of work, but now, as it seems at first glance, he has to return to the pawn position again. As well as the Just Brass brass band and Semeyka.

Ignatov can be understood — he “earned” this location with many years of work. Photo: instagram.com/kostyaignatov_live

“I am engaged in creative work and gather a lot of people," said the musician. “I will not be able to fully immerse myself in the execution process, because I will have to keep track of the time.”

“What if I am in your place, I will also want to play longer," said Abzalov (and then I remembered that the head of the department is a graduate of the conservatory, he is a conductor). “How will we negotiate? These rules will help.”

Ignatov replied that even without rules the musicians agreed with each other on Bauman Street, and now it may happen that some guitarist from a neighbouring city will take his place without any registration and half of the time will be spent on disputes.

Therefore, the journalists suggested introducing a rating system in the application so that you could vote for your favourite artist from your phone, and then he would have more preferences when choosing a good place and time. However, Konstantin Ignatov immediately said that he would not like to “expose” his data.

It is hardly possible to say that street musicians, participants of the self-regulating system, are happy that the state intervenes in their affairs — and not in the form of people in uniform. The benefits of the introductions will appear if the number of interesting artists really increases on the streets of Kazan, if the rules and the application help to overcome street stage fright. In any case, the rules take effect at the end of the summer, and then the authorities and artists will have a long winter to adjust the system. Or to understand that it does not work in Russia.

The benefits of innovations will appear if the number of interesting artists really increases on the streets of Kazan. Photo: kazanfirst.ru

New rules are expected in the autumn in St. Petersburg as well — there even appeared a trade union of street culture workers, who said: any coordination of performances with the authorities is unacceptable. As a result, there has appeared the idea of an online portal through which it will be possible to send a notification about the concert — a similar system is already working in Moscow.

Radif Kashapov
Tatarstan