Summer school 2015

Russia can shape itself
Humanities knowledge andthe creative industries in economic, cultural and social contexts

The summer schools organized by the Creative Industries Agency with the support of the Oxford Russia Fund have already become an annual tradition, a project which every year brings new initiatives and new personal visions to the participants’ academic and professional lives. The very title of the 2015 School – ‘Russia can shape itself. Humanities knowledge and the creative industries in economic, cultural and social contexts’ – encouraged students to analyze their academic interests against the background of the current state of the economy (particularly the creative industries), social development forecasts, and probable changing roles of culture. An important theme of the School was interrelationship between personal and public interests; a personal career development and the Russia’s ‘vector of development’, prospects for academic and professional self-realization and possibilities of incorporation into the modern urban milieu.

The Summer school’s participants were selected based on the results of a creative project competition– essays, video-essays and multimedia presentations on the theme ‘Russia 2025’. The applicants were invited to describe the country and themselves in a professional context in 2025. Fifty five entries were received for the competition. The expert panel selected 22 participants from 17 Russian universities.

The activities of the School’s start day took place in Moscow, in the Belyaevo gallery where the students, lecturers and experts met each other, made a tour of the exhibition, and attended an open lecture Cultural Industries, Creative Economy and Human Potential Development presented by David Throsby, Distinguished Professor of Economics at Macquarie University in Sydney, a world-renown expert in the field of cultural policy and economics of culture.

The Moscow part of the School also included a visit to a new creative site in the city - Workplace at the Fabrika creative industries center. Workplace-Academy and Workplace-Fashion House are two bright projects presenting new formats of work spaces; there was a tour around the spaces and a master-class of Evgeny Volk, the founder of the project.

The main stage of the School was held in a picturesque place near Moscow, in the Snegiri complex that was perfectly suited for creative and intellectual work, original games and extraordinary work in groups, lectures and discussions envisaged by the School programme. The main stage of the School included lectures and workshops of guest speakers, leading experts in the fields of creative economy, creative industries, social and cultural project management, and modern humanities, such as:

  • Elena Zelentsova (PhD in Cultural Studies, lecturer at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, author of books and articles on creative industries and cultural policy);
  • Konstantin Bogdanov (Doctor of Philology, Senior Researcher, Institute of Russian Literature (the Pushkin House) of the Russian Academy of Sciences);
  • Alexander Alekseyev (Creative Director, Publicis United; Professor, Institute of Communications and Media; President, Russian Art Directors Club);
  • Christian Pagh (MA in Philosophy and modern culture. Founder and owner of UiWe culture design agency (Copenhagen). Expert in intercultural communications, architecture and urban planning);
  • Olga Vendina (PhD in Geography, Senior Researcher, Center for Geopolitical Studies in the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Specialist in social and ethno-cultural problems of the Moscow city development);
  • Georgy Nikich (Art Historian, critic, curator. Lecturer, Cultural Studies Department, Higher School of Economics; Chief Curator and deputy director at ‘Exhibition Halls of Moscow’ association);
  • Nadezhda Nilina (Leading lecturer of the Urbanism Problems module, architect, urbanist, and public activist);
  • Elena Melvil (Director of the ZIL Cultural Centre).

The School’s programme traditionally offered working in groups, plenary sessions and evening game sessions. The final projects developed by the groups differed in scope (from personal prospects and the development of urban environment to the nationwide context) and aimed at sharing experiences among the graduates of the Russian universities, territorial development and creating ‘Snegiri’ cultural and educational centre, and establishing a national consulting agency in the field of educational services.

Final game session ‘Project space in the space of a city’ became one of the highlights of the School’s programme. The game was deliberately designed by the School experts to enable the participants to further develop their project ideas; it consisted of two basic steps. The important thing at the first step was the participants’ choice and precise description of the audiences and partners for their projects that could be investors, government officials or young families and students. Portraits of the characters described by the participants were embodied by the School’s experts who in the course of the game acted as the citizens of a fictional Vobschensk-city where according to the game rules, the action took place – a student, a young mother, a minister of culture, a local businessman, and even a real Russian entrepreneur Sergei Galitsky whose role was impeccably performed by Georgy Nikich. Participants were asked to finalize the presentations of their projects taking into account interests of the given characters, to select the right images and wording and, in spite a game mode, to present their projects in all seriousness. The expert-characters were to change their locations during the students’ presentations denoting by the movements their attitudes to a particular project. Each character had the same number of shares which they distributed among the participants depending on their concern in a particular project. In addition, in the course of the game an independent evaluation of the projects was conducted by higher referees and the announcement of the winner became one of the Game’s big intrigues. The game finished in summing up the School’s outcomes and discussion of the projects followed by awarding of certificates and books on creative economy.

Project coordinator IrinaVarlamova: