2013 saw The British Council and Severstal launch the first professional development programme for cultural managers in the Vologda, Murmansk, Karelia and Komi regions of North Russia.
Russia's adoption of a free market economy has meant its cultural sector has had to adapt to a hitherto unknown set of business demands, including audience development, fundraising, enterprise and digital innovation. Cultural provision has become a competing, market-led affair, so this new set of skills has become essential for cultural organisations, companies and operators across the country.
The aim of the Cultural Upgrade programme is to promote these new skills in the professional cultural sector of these four northern Russian regions, creating an environment of cooperation and professional networking, and developing professional resources.
The skills workshops took place in autumn 2013 and, following a project proposal competition among the participants, winners were invited on a professional development trip to the UK in March 2014. They will also receive grants to complete the projects in their regions.
The programme has been delivered in four stages: