The Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug - Ugra is known for an open dialogue and mutual enrichment of historical and modern culture of many peoples inhabiting Ugra. Traditions of indigenous environmental management and rhythms of the industrial development require the respect for the cultural and spiritual needs of all categories of the population. The cultural identity goes along with the “cultural globalism” and it is important that they help each other in the development of the diverse but common cultural environment.
This is the aim of the Okrug's cultural institutions and its creative organizations. The cultural potential of Ugra is manifested in the development of libraries, museums, in the conservation and the use of cultural heritage in art education, cinema, professional art, artistic and creative activities, folk arts and crafts. Their common goal is to provide the maximum availability of cultural values and information to people, develop their creative potential, provide comfortable and meaningful leisure time.
Both the government and private or public initiative in this versatile “ensemble” is represented by 482 cultural and art institutions. The number of officially registered Okrug’s public cultural and art organizations equals to 76 and their number is growing. Let us see what Ugra’s rich culture consists of.
Library Network (697 libraries of all levels, systems and organizations for adults and children, led by Ugra State Library) entered today into a period of innovative development. All 236 public libraries are equipped with personal computers, each has an average of 10 units of computer equipment (the average in Russia - about 2). All of them have the access to the Internet (the average in Russia - about a half). The scope of electronic library catalogues is already 69% of the funds. 187 centers and public access points were established on the basis of Public Libraries. However, more careful consideration should be given to the requests of many categories, and even to the personal tastes of readers (their registered number is about half a million people, more than a quarter of the Okrug's population!). Some people are ready to read from disks and the screen, while others cannot read without hearing usual rustle of paper pages. Some people can pass through an asphalt street, others have to get through the taiga and swamps for a fresh book or magazine. Some people prefer to read at home in privacy, while others long for the company in the reader's club. So, librarians, who are truly and selflessly dedicated to their job have to find solution to many scientific and methodical problems. People in Ugra cannot be left without books.
Just as without getting to know the historical and artistic heritage of their region, Russia and the world.
The Ugra Museum network consists of 35 museums. 4 of them are of regional level, each is a unique institution of its kind. The Man and Nature is the oldest museum institution in Ugra. It celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2012. It has accumulated valuable exhibits of archeology and paleontology, including the unique in the world mammoth vertebra, pierced by an arrow of ancient human; the skeleton of Mammuthus trogontherii, truly a rare one. There are various items of material culture and life of the people of Ugra in the early Middle Ages. The museum runs the only tourist site in Russia “Archeopark” that represents bronze sculptures of wildlife in ancient Ugra. An anthropomorphic image of the goddess of the river, Kazim - Woot-them (“Silver woman”) is the key exhibit, the museum’s mark of distinction. According to ethnographers, such images are unknown in museum collections; there are no literary descriptions of it either. Exposures, depository and restoration workshops and laboratories of the museum are equipped with the most modern facilities.
The Museum of Geology, Oil and Gas, located in Khanty-Mansiysk, is the only state museum dedicated to oil in the Russian Federation. Its collection contains valuable mineralogical exhibits, samples from different oil fields in the world, models of equipment and tools, household of oil prospectors and trappers, biographical material devoted to history and heroes of the most difficult development of the West Siberian oil and gas provinces.
The Ugra State Art Museum is called “Siberian Tretyakov Gallery.” It is quite new; the collection has been formed since 1996 by well-known specialists and experts in the field of fine arts. Many of the works were purchased at “Sotheby's” and “Christie’s” auctions, from private collectors and returned to their homeland. These masterpieces are exhibited in the sections of ancient Russian art, Russian paintings, drawings, prints, decorative arts, sculpture of the museum. Here you can see the icons of the 16-19th centuries, paintings of famous masters of Russian art: Rokotov, Tropinin, Repin, Aivazovsky, Surikov, Levitan and many other great artists of Russia. The museum also runs the “G.S. Raishev’s Studio Gallery”, the “The USSR National's Artist V. Igoshev House-museum”.
A visit to the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum “Torum Maa” that presents live culture of the indigenous people of the North, is the authentic decoration of Ugra tours. Ethnographic museum has recreated and conducts ritual feasts of indigenous people. “Voronij den'” (Crow's Day) includes theatrical plays on the basis of folk sources performed by the Theater of the Ob-Ugric people “The Sun”, compliments of newborns from families of the indigenous people, concert program of folk groups and individual performers in different forms and genres of the Ob-Ugric culture (instrumental, musical, dance, games, ritual folklore, folk epic, etc.), tasting national cuisine, exhibition and sale of products of traditional handicrafts, competition in national sports (jumping over a sledge, national triple jump, archery, javelin throwing and tug-stick). “Tylasch pory” (the ritual of “treat of the Moon”) - a family holiday, which was organized in January, February, March, when the moon was in the growth phase. This ritual appeals to the gods for the health and well-being of near and dear ones, for fish and animals, for successful fishing and hunting. “The Wagtail feast” is the colorful and folkloric ritual of Konda Mansi.
The gallery of modern art “Sterh” in Surgut, which was developed from the exhibition hall to the modern center, presents modern projects. For 14 years annual festivals of gallery the “Reliefs of color” and “SterhFest” has helped establish cultural links with many parts of Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Urals, Siberia, Udmurtia, Karelia, and others). The Surgut Fine Arts Museum attracts mass audiences by annual international festival of visual humor “KARIKATURUM.”
Ugra museums are among the Russian leaders in digitizing museum collections. Multimedia technologies are gaining more and more exhibition space. For example, the exposition of the Museum of Man and Nature “The Link of Times” includes three zones: “Rhythm of the biosphere”, “Historical time”, “Mythological time.” Constantly updated database of digital images of exhibits is on the website “The Museums of Ugra” www.hmao-museums.ru.
Since 2007, Ugra museums have joined the international campaign “Night at the Museum”, which is a unique gift to the guests and inhabitants of the Okrug. Annual contest “Museum Olympus of Ugra”, publication of the annual compendium “Museums of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra”, holding of “Ugra Field Museum Biennale”, festival of exposure art “Museum Alliance” contribute to the promotion of this cognitive sphere. Museum publications: scientific catalogues, albums, guides, children's books were awarded with professional prizes for the quality and content.
Museum space is expanded by archaeological and ethno-cultural objects that are attractive for the ruins of earth and wood structures. The researches identified unique archaeological and ethnographic complexes: “Autograph Mountain” (Surgutsky District), “Sorovskie Lakes” (Nefteyugansky District), “Ewout Rap” (Nizhnevartovsk District), “Big Uchinya” (Kondinsky District) “Emder” (Oktyabrsky District) and other core areas of the historical, cultural and natural reserves with tourist centers which are scheduled for the near future.
Theater and concert life of the Autonomous Okrug is diverse and rich. Annually theaters stage 50 new plays, in total there are 1500 plays in the current repertoire. The State Theater of Ob-Ugric people “Sun” is the only in the Russian Federation professional team of indigenous people. Its participation in international fora (21st EU-Russia summit, 5th World Congress of Finno-Ugric peoples, 39th World Chess Olympiad, etc.) sparked huge interest. The theater combines tradition and experiment in an interesting way. In 2011, the director Xenia Vishnevskaya staged the play “Black Song”, based on the novel by Tatiana Moldanova “In a lonely nest.” The plot is based on the Kazym uprising, which is still the “white spot” in the history of Siberia. With innovations (3D – mapping) it became possible to create a common space of Khanty traditional singing, dancing, poetic narration and modern technology. The theater's works were awarded prizes of numerous festivals and competitions, including the International Festival of National Theaters “Shumbrat, Maytul!”, the Russian Festival of Theatre Arts for Children “Harlequin”, the International theatrical festival “Golden Mask”.
The best Russian and foreign performers are also attracted by the unique modern cultural centers. One of them is the concert - theatrical center “Ugra Classic” in the city of Khanty-Mansiysk. It is a multifunctional complex of 20 thousand sq. meters, whose technical capacities allow performing cultural projects and event actions, at international level. The Surgut Philharmonic Hall was opened in Surgut - the largest city of Ugra - after the reconstruction in 2012. Apart from the traditional concert activity, the Philharmonic does a lot of aesthetic education of children and adolescents. There are six creative teams in the Surgut Philharmonic: the Concert Orchestra of Winds and the Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Russian Folk Instruments, the Choir “Svetilen” and the Ensemble of Russian folk instruments “Casket.”
Modest but cozy Okrug's culture center or community's culture club is no less important that the City Palace of the Arts. 2286 clubs are situated in remote areas. They serve the centers of artistic and creative life of the population with tens of thousands of participants. Among them there are amateur theaters, music ensembles, folk groups, arts and crafts studios.
For many years Ugra’s annual International Festival of Film Debuts “Spirit of Fire” attracts top filmmakers. The first prestigious competition of debut films took place in 2003 in Khanty-Mansiysk, and was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Andrei Tarkovsky. First festival jury was led by Polish director Krzysztof Zanussi, and also included the famous French actor Pierre Richard. Over the past twelve years, the “Spirit of Fire” has shown hundreds of films and dozens of programs, it has become one of the main cultural events in Russia. The festival not only unveils the brightest young directors, actors, writers for the Russian and world cinema but also provides for continuity of the best of tradition and innovation in cinema. The festival includes social programs such as “Cinema for all”, where public attention is drawn to people with disabilities, their rich potential to overcome the difficulties of fate, an active social and cultural life.
A movie for everyone is in effect the cinema network of the Autonomous Okrug that includes both modern and comfortable cinemas and rural, often mobile film projectors. Annually about 1.7 million people attend 120 public cinemas. Each year, the Okrug’s Public Film Fund receives more than 100 films, today it possesses 6352 films. Digitization of movies allows posting content in the telecommunication networks, demonstrate them in upgraded cinemas, create collections of documentary films in public libraries and secondary schools.
Preservation, development and promotion of traditional culture of
indigenous people of the North is the most important component of state and Okrug cultural policy, which defines the relation not only to the past but also to the future. Historical culture of the region and its identity reflect the harsh living conditions, that has created a special cultural environment and amazing folklore of Ob-Ugric people. In Ugra 14 cultural centers support this culture for many years. They are engaged in educational activities, in formation while maintaining the identity of a common ethno-cultural environment, in educating young people in traditional values and customs. These centers unite 75 national cultural and public organizations of the Autonomous Okrug. Khanty, Mansi, Nenets become heroes of more than 130 large-scale annual national holidays and festivals.
Four competitions for the awards and grants are held annually under the auspices of the Department of Culture of the Okrug. Since 2012 the prize “For contribution to the development of inter-ethnic relations in the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra” is awarded annually by the Governor for the implementation of projects (programs, activities, and services) aimed at the development of inter-ethnic relations, for the preservation and the promotion of national and cultural traditions of the people inhabiting the Autonomous Okrug; for the promotion of tolerance among young people; for the search for new forms of cooperation with civil society. Prizes are awarded to individuals as well as to organizations or entrepreneurs.
Mindful of many fellows, every August, 9 Ugra celebrates the International Day of the World's Indigenous People. Besides, “2nd International Congress of the traditional culture. The Problems of Fundamental Research of Folk Art” (November 2014) under the auspices of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO and the aegis of the Government of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra in Khanty-Mansiysk is dedicated to Indigenous People too. The forum will summarize the results of research projects and programs of academic and university science, materials of regional studies in the field of culture, the concept of socio-cultural design. The working languages of the Congress are: Russian, English, German and French.
The indigenous culture is inseparable from folk arts and crafts. Individual artisans and craft workers as well as centers of national culture are the guardians of traditions. The phenomenon of national skills and potential of its use also became the object of the International Festival of Crafts of the World's Indigenous People “Ugra”, held under the auspices of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO and included in the program of the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, endorsed by the UN General Assembly.
The Government of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug - Ugra is the founder of the Festival, the Department of Culture of the Okrug and its budget organization “The Center of folk arts and crafts” are its organizers. 9 scientific conferences, 15 workshops and seminars, more than 180 workshops for children and 670 for mixed-age audience have been organized during the twelve years of the Festival’s history. Folk Art of indigenous people was presented at 42 exhibitions; a museum of traditional arts of the Finno-Ugric people was created. The festival was attended by more than 100 thousand people from different countries and Russian regions. Collections of reports and methodological developments of the conferences, seminars and master classes were published. The 8th International Festival of crafts of the world's indigenous people “Ugra – 2014” was held from 10 to 14 June, 2014.
The development of such a diverse culture is not possible without an appropriate education system. The College - Boarding School “Center of Arts for Gifted Children of the North”, where talented children from all corners of Ugra are trained in 10 specialties for 14 years, going through 2-stage learning, is a unique institution. It is a powerful universal complex. College – boarding school, concert complex with large and small concert halls, three well-equipped hostels, recreation center, rehearsal rooms, medical unit, equipped with the up-to-date facilities, a dining room, which provides five meals for children daily, a dining room for staff and students. More than 1000 people study at the Center of Art, 700 students are provided with a comfortable stay in hostels and boarding. In 2012 the Center celebrated its 15th anniversary. Since its foundation, it has been actively involved in international UNESCO activities. In 2000, it was granted a certificate of UNESCO Associated School at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Since 2007, the Center of Arts has led activities in the Associated schools’ network of “Siberia-Altai” region, which includes 12 certified schools and 6 participating schools from Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug, Krasnoyarsk Krai, the Republic of Khakassia, Altai Republic, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Norilsk, Omsk, Tomsk, Surgut. Inspired creativity of students and teachers of the Center is well known in Russia and abroad.
Surgut College of Music was founded in 1972. Its graduates are professional musicians in different fields. Their active participation in the musical life of the city and the Okrug, as well as high admission rate to the leading universities of the country are the best indicators of their talent and proficiency. Among them there are recognized soloists and artists of various musical groups, teachers, organizers of musical art. The college holds important activities such as: The National Accordion Competition “Ugoria”, Open Competition for Young Pianists “Magic Keys”, Autumn Art School for gifted children and teachers “New Names of Ugra.” Last year, for the first time the College hosted All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference “Theoretical and practical aspects of cultural and arts education.”
These are the most general features of diverse, multilingual and polyphonic culture of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra which is developed in perfect harmony with the modern world.