Pushkin Card — 'feast for the eyes' or 'sad time'?

About the effect of the opportunity to go to the theatre or museum for free

Pushkin Card — 'feast for the eyes' or 'sad time'?
Photo: vn.ru

How effectively is the Pushkin Card working? The question was unexpectedly raised by the chief director of the Galiasgar Kamal Tatar State Academic Theatre, Farid Bikchantayev, at a meeting with participants of the competition for the development of the architectural concept of the theatre. It turned out that often young viewers who buy a ticket do not come to the performance.

“Free admission to the theatre space does not work”

At the meeting of the contestants with the management of the theatre, Farid Bikchantayev shared his opinion on the effectiveness of the Pushkin Card project. His conclusions turned out to be disappointing. The action was called “the talk show Kamal Theater in 2056". And the conversation was conducted in particular about that free access to many rooms of the new Kamal theatre will contribute to the influx of new guests. The main director expressed doubts.

“I will express my attitude to the Pushkin Card," said Bikchantayev. “We don't have a huge percentage of viewers — they don't come. They buy a ticket with the card and do not come. Free admission to the theatre space does not work. We don't have 25% of the audience every night.”

His idea was picked up by the director of the theatre, Ilfir Yakupov, who pointed out that at the Friday performance “Khush, avylym!”, 22 out of 80 seats were empty the day before — already paid for.

The Pushkin Card is a joint project of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, which allows young people aged 14 to 22 to visit museums, theatres, exhibition halls, philharmonic halls and other cultural institutions for free at the expense of the federal budget. The programme was launched on September 1.

Young people receive a card (plastic or virtual) with a nominal value of 3,000 rubles (for six months), which they can spend on attending cultural events. However, only for those events that are listed in the special section of the website “Culture”.

To get a card, you need to register on the portal “Public Services”, install the mobile application, get a card — and buy tickets.

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As the Minister of Culture of Russia Olga Lyubimova reported in early autumn, 117 million rubles were spent in the first weeks — this is 1,8 million people and 150 thousand tickets.

According to Olga Lyubimova, 117 million rubles were spent in the first weeks. Photo: Ministry of Culture of Russia

At the same time, users note that the scheme does not work without problems. Firstly, it is the complexity of working with Public Services, namely, the confirmation of the account. Someone complained about failures in the application “Public Services Culture”. The residents of Moscow immediately noted that one ticket to a good event costs 3,000 rubles anyway. But in small towns, the card does not work. And, of course, a serious claim — Pushkin Card is designed for “official” events. No rock or rap concerts, no events that have not passed moderation. According to the website “Culture”, the regional expert council is responsible for this.

It is not entirely obvious, by the way, that these tickets are name ones. So, they will ask for a passport at the entrance. If a school student buys several tickets, then he or she will be able to use only one.

Despite that 3 thousand rubles expire by the beginning of the year, the project itself will be continued, the card will be replenished by another 5 thousand rubles for the whole of 2022. Therefore, the Living City Foundation (Ugol, Demidov Mansion, MOÑ) is working on the issue of entering the programme. As one of the co-founders, Inna Yarkova, says, all the features of the work will be studied after the events appear in the poster of the cash register operator.

“I think we don't have such performances that can't be shown to people from 14 to 22 years old. And we made the decision to try to work with the programme because there were already requests — whether it is possible to get to you using this card," noted Yarkova.

Application that even young people could not cope with

“It seems to me that some link was missed here, something was not worked out," director of the Youth Theatre Aygul Gornysheva commented on the situation with the performance of colleagues. “Perhaps, it was influenced by that this is an academic theatre. Although I see young people in the Kamal Theatre all the time. About our theatre, I can say that, on the contrary, our attendance has increased. For example, the children went, then they told us at school — as a result, we stage additional performances. Besides, this money has been allocated until the end of the year.”

Gornysheva says that at the beginning of the school year, the theatre conducted explanations, consultations for schools, secondary specialised educational institutions about how the card works, how to register, what performances are going on — after all, it is often difficult to understand by names. The demand, at the same time, came from the management of educational institutions.

“But there was no such thing as buying tickets and not coming," Gornysheva sums up.

“We work with Pushkin Card at guest performances. Viewers from senior, 10-11 grades purposefully come there. There are no ones who do not come, or there are very few of them," said Tufan Imamutdinov, the chief director of the Tinchurin Theatre.
“We do not have such," added the chief director of the Ekiyat Theatre, Ilgiz Zayniev. “But we don't have that much volume. Our audience is not the owners of the Pushkin Card. For the age of 14+, we have four or five performances a month.”

The absence of such precedents was also mentioned in the Kariev Theatre. The Kachalov Theatre proudly stated the following:

“It is not difficult to monitor attendance by the Pushkin Card with the current number of seats sold. After all, now every spectator seat counts. Another point is that the interest of teenagers in our theatre has always been great — both in the pre-pandemic time, and before the introduction of the Pushkin Card. On November 29, we bought a 10-thousandth ticket using the Pushkin Card(today it is already 10,438), and we became leaders in its implementation in the whole region.

But the director of the Museum of Islamic Culture, Ilnur Nizamiev, noted that his organisation faced similar problems:

“We also have it that 20% does not reach the museum — they do not appreciate it. We sell tickets for master classes and entrance tickets on the website. People buy and don't come.”

“There have become more visitors," said Guzel Tukhvatova, the head of the literary museum of Gabdulla Tukay. “These are two categories. There are schoolchildren who come by themselves, come with their parents. And school groups. Of course, we informed about our events and communicated with schools. It's especially nice that first the child comes with the class, and then they come with their parents, and they go to us for a long time. In general, I am in favour of having a group come to us. Then an excursion is taken, and the guide can interest the students in the museum. Because there are children who do not understand what a museum is. If they come alone — they don't ask anything.”

At the same time, Tukhvatova notes that in the first weeks there were problems with the system. Now problems arise with the purchase of tickets. If there are special terminals in theatres for this, then in museums, the staff helps to understand the situation on the spot, when visitors come directly to the museum and, together with the guides, understand the tricks of the application.

The Kamal Theatre noted that now audiences often do not come to theatres with purchased tickets. One can guess about the reasons, there are a lot of them: coronavirus, which can force you to stay quarantined, QR codes that were introduced after the Pushkin Card (which means that the ticket holder could not take care of vaccination or getting a QR code). And, of course, the fact that everything is free is not valued as highly as what you gave your hard-earned money for.

Radif Kashapov
Tatarstan