The coping strategies and the new approaches to management in the Russian cultural institutions: western influences and local traditions in the 1990s and 2000s
Sociology of Culture Centre for Independent Social Research, St.Petersburg and CERCEC, Paris Paris, France
After the beginning of Perestroika and of liberal economic reforms in Russia, the cultural institutions began to face multiple difficulties in their activities. Their problems concerned various aspects of their functioning, both substantial and practical. The mission of the institution and the contents of the cultural product had to be revised, because the demands of the public were changing rapidly, and at the same time their everyday functioning had to be reformed as well, since the budgetary subsidies became insufficient. The sphere of culture underwent a profound change: the new private institutions appeared (galleries, labels, theatre companies), and the old ones tried to adapt to the new situation, to develop their coping strategies. Besides the ministry of culture who remained an important actor, there appeared western foundations, located most often in Moscow and Petersburg, but also in other cities. They offered grants for the realization of the cultural projects in Russia, or financed residences abroad for the representatives of the cultural institutions, who consequently began to call themselves "art managers". Some foreign ideas, foreign concepts of management took root in Russia, others were rejected. After twenty years of crisis and transformation, two types of attitudes can be observed: some institutions and individuals develop the "project thinking" and "project management", multiplying "partnerships" and the practicing the "horizontal relations" inside and outside the institution, whereas others practice the Soviet-type functioning with fixed hierarchical relations and subordination where the status of everyone is pre-defined, the activities are planned ahead and the initiative "from below" is not at all encouraged. My paper will be based on the results of a sociological research devoted to western influences on Russian art-management which was undertaken by myself in Volga Region and by my colleagues in other regions of Russia (Siberia, North-West) in 2004 and on the in-depth interviews conducted for other research devoted more specifically to employees of museums in Saint-Petersburg in the 2000s.