CULTIVATE RUSSIA

 

By David Fuegi

 

About the author.

David Fuegi [Email: david.fuegi@mdrpartners.com] manages Cultivate Russia and Cultivate CEE. He is a partner in MDR Partners, a consultancy company established to engage with strategic IST developments in Europe and specialising in international work involving libraries [www.mdrpartners.com]. He is joint author of “Library Performance Indicators and Library Management Tools  [1995] and of “Study of Library Economics of Central and Eastern Europe  [1998] both published in Luxembourg by the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. He is currently project adviser for LIBECON and is joint author of the project’s Millennium Study. In the UK he is involved in the Co-East EQUAL project. Other major recent projects include business planning for the TACIS Russian State Library Project in Moscow and drafting public library standards for England for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. He manages the IPF public library  benchmarking clubs and is special adviser to the UK Committee on Public Library Statistics. Other European library projects in which he has worked include the Publica Project [DG13], ISTAR [DG5], PLDP [DG16], PULMAN, TACIS TELRUS etc. Formerly he was Library Advisor to UK government ministers responsible for Libraries and held senior positions in public libraries.

 

Abstract

Cultivate Russia is a new addition to the Cultivate Cultural Heritage Applications Network [CULTIVATE] which supports the cooperation of memory institutions [archives, libraries and museums] under the European Commission’s Information Society Technologies Programme [IST]. It brings Russia into the network and completes the network in its present form. Cultivate Russia runs for 18 months ftom January 2002. www.cultivate.ru

 

RUSSIA JOINS THE CULTIVATE FAMILY

 

On 1st January 2002 the Cultivate family of projects was completed as Cultivate Russia came on stream funded by DGINFOS. The project’s kick-off meeting was held in Moscow in mid-January and work began. The project will run for 18 months and end slightly later than the rest of the Cultivate network which includes Cultivate EU and Cultivate CEE. Although it is formally a separate project with its own contract, budget and partners it will aim to work very closely with the other Cultivates. It will join their joint management meetings and workshops, contribute to Cultivate Interactive and to the policy monitoring and awareness raising activities of the network. But primarily it will expend its energies in Russia because Russia is very big and Russia is a bit different.

 

CULTIVATE-Russia will contribute to the overall strategic need to link Russia to Europe by building important human networks and helping to integrate the Russian cultural heritage network into the European network. Russia has a great wealth of cultural heritage and ICT expertise which is still mostly inaccessible to EU citizens. CULTIVATE-Russia will play its part in ensuring that the European Commission has reliable information on trends and developments in the archives, libraries and museums in Russia, an informed international human network of participants in the IST Programme and informed political support for the Programme.

 

Russian Cultural Institutions in EU programmes

 

According to «General overview of S&T EU cooperation instruments and ongoing activities with Russia» (www.cordis.lu ) from 1994 to March 2001, the financial participation of the EU to Russia for all programmes of research, demonstration and innovation totalled about 208 Mˆ, (including 78 Mˆ for INTAS, 28 Mˆ for INCO-Copernicus, 94 Mˆ for ISCT and about 8 Mˆ for three TACIS projects in the field of science, research and innovation).

 

From 1994 to the beginning of 2001, the total number of Russian researchers concerned by S&T cooperation between EU and Russia approached 50 000.

TACIS was the main EU instrument for providing assistance and expertise to NIS countries and first of all of Russia. TACIS projects as well as other EU projects with Russian participation concerned mostly science and technology sectors. The only exception is the Russian State Library Information Project (1998 – 2000) The project aimed at supporting the modernisation of the Russian State Library from traditional library to a digital library, introducing new information technology which meets the growing information needs of the Russian market and brings to life the vast resources of the national library.

 

The rate of participation of Russian teams in the thematic programmes has diminished notably in 1999 and 2000, mainly due to a lack of funding by Russian authorities and also due to the change of rules within FP5 which did not allow EU funding for proposals from the NIS in the context of thematic programmes, except in case of a high added value of the proposal. Of Russian cultural institutions only the State Historic Museum participated in a number of projects of the 3rd and 4th Framework Programmes. As to the 5th Framework Programme, the Museum Association on Documentation and Technologies (ADIT) participates in the “Open Heritage” project. Centre PIC; the State Timiryazev Museum of Biology and ARTINFO are partners in the R&D project “Multi-user Virtual Interactive Interface” (MUVII) as content providers.

 

There are several important local reasons for low participation of Russian cultural institutions in EU IST activities:

·        Practically no information on EU IST Programme and projects in Russian;

·        Not enough English speaking specialists in Russian memory institutions;

·        Low level of electronic communications.

 

In Russia, with its enormous territory and low income population, it is impossible to hope that multimedia computers and access to the Internet will be found in each family in the near future. This is why any broad access of the population to electronic resources, and the overcoming of the “digital divide” is first and foremost connected with public places of access in libraries, museums, educational institutions and information centres. Libraries, museums and archives in Russia are entering the electronic age. Practically all the regional libraries, as well as a majority of city libraries in Russia have electronic reading rooms or are going to organise such rooms in the near future. Central libraries of the country, including the Russian State Library, the Science and Technology Library, the Library of Foreign Literature and other libraries of large cities have Internet connections.

 

Cultivate-Russia plans and partners

 

Like the other members of the CULTIVATE network, CULTIVATE-Russia will aim to:

·        Create awareness of the IST Programme for the development and use of cultural heritage applications in Russian memory institutions to

·        Support proposers in preparing and submitting proposals

·        Foster the dissemination and exploitation of project results in Russia

·        Improve communication between memory institutions in Russia and their counterparts in the CEE and EU countries and with the IST Programme of the European Commission.

 

A Russian Cultivate node to represent the IST Programme to the cultural heritage domain has not previously existed and this will be remedied through Cultivate Russia which will aim to create a cadre of influential staff who are knowledgeable about the programme and keen to build on its outcomes. Language, distance and a comparatively poor IT and telecommunications infrastructure mean that achieving these objectives in Russia will be challenging. Cultivate Russia expects to have to make a good deal of material available in Russian [including a Russian equivalent of Cultivate Interactive] and to use paper-based communication on a larger scale than in other countries. Because of the country’s vast size, events will need to take place in major regional centres and not only in the capital. Communication in Russian will be important.

 

CULTIVATE-Russia has 7 partners. The British Council [Moscow] is the principal contractor and responsible for the administrative/financial co-ordination function. The Council has enormous experience of running projects in Russia and will support the project in many ways, making full use of its extensive network of regional contacts and offices. The five Russian partners, representing the 3 main cultural heritage domains, have leadership positions and a wide geographical spread within Russia, which is, of course, a huge country. David Fuegi of MDR Partners, which is responsible for the management of CULTIVATE-CEE will also manage CULTIVATE-Russia. This will ensure continuity and close liaison between the projects. Monika Segbert will work closely with MDR and the principal Russian partners on publicity and dissemination. To help achieve close personal and professional liaison within the Cultivate group of projects, many of the technical partners in Cultivate CEE and Cultivate EU led workshops in Moscow In January 2002 linked to the kick-off of Cultivate Russia.

 

A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE RUSSIAN PARTNERS

The Russian partners are the Russian Cultural Heritage Network, Department for Archives of Khabarovsk Regional Administration, Chelyabinsk Regional Universal Library, Smolensk State Union of Museums and Centre PIC. Three of the Russian partners represent major players in the three main sectors represented within the cultural heritage domain – libraries, museums and archives. The fourth [Russian Cultural Heritage Network] is a cross-sectoral body based in the beautiful Darwin Museum in Mosocw. Centre PIC, which is also Moscow based has extensive experience in managing the prestigious EVA conference and will organise a major conference in Russia as part of the Cultivate Russia activity.

 

The Russian Cultural Heritage Network works closely with a wide range of cultural heritage institutions across Russia and brings together many regional and international partners. RCHN has substantial experience of information collection and dissemination and has built up large web-sites for the cultural heritage domains. Based in modern offices in the Darwin Museum, the Network has staff with high levels of technical and managerial expertise. Amongst the websites created by RCHN are All-Russian Museums Registration, Russian Museums and Galleries Online, Russian State Library, Russian Culture and Zoos of Russia.

 

The Department for Archives of Khabarovsk Regional Administration is an independent institution that is engaged in the process of archive administration under the statute of Khabarovsk region "Archive's stock, archives and the practices Act". Chelyabinsk Regional Universal Library is one of the oldest libraries in the Urals region founded in 1898. Nowadays the library is involved in many different activities and as a result it has significant human networks. The library ranks as one of the large regional libraries of Russia with about  2 million stock items and plays an important role in the cultural life of the Chelyabinsk region where it functions as the regional depository and methodology research centre for all libraries in the area. Smolensk State Union of Museums  is one of the largest unions of museums in the Russian Federation and is involved in a wide range of activities including seminars and workshops on art and culture issues and has strong connections with museums and their associations and regional authorities and has been heavily involved with IT applications since 1994.

 

Centre PIC  - the Centre for Informatisation in the cultural sphere of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation - was established in 1992. Its primary objective is to investigate new information technologies and to apply them in the cultural area. Centre PIC is a state research and design body subordinate to the Ministry of Culture and works under contracts with this Ministry, with the Ministry of Science and Technological Policy, and with Russian museums and other cultural institutions. In 1995 the Ministry of Culture of Russia set up the Centre of Multimedia Technologies (as a subsidiary of Centre PIC) to co-ordinate the efforts of different bodies connected with multimedia publishing and distribution in culture and art. The Centre’s services include evaluation of proposed projects and works-in-process. In addition, the Centre prepares drafts for laws in the area of rights and ownership of cultural properties. Centre PIC monitors and analyses new information and communication technologies in culture and art and presents annual reports on the topic. In 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001Centre PIC organised EVA Moscow, a leading international event in Russia and Eastern Europe on new information technologies in the cultural area.

 

Cultivate-Russia First Steps

 

The Cultivate-Russia team started building connections with archive, museum and library communities of Russia presenting the project and the Cultivate net activities at the seminar of the National Association of Audiovisual Archives (NAAVA) in Moscow and at the yearly conferences of the Russian Library Association (RLA) in Yaroslavl and of the museum Association on Documentation and Information Technologies (ADIT) in Nizhny Novgorod. The press-conference in April the Moscow House of Journalists with on-line Internet broadcasting was also very effective.

 

Also in April the first version of Cultivate-Russia website (www.cultivate.ru) came on line in Russian. It offers information on the project and partners, events, news, discussion forum, links to the central Cultivate WEB-site and national nodes. It is planned to have an English section of the site to present Russian cultural heritage institutions to the West.

 

A list of contact details of Russian museums, libraries, archives, professional associations and cross sector institutions has been added to the Cultivate guide. The regional offices of the British Council in 13 Russian regions as well as the regional Cultivate-Russia partners are gathering information on the cultural institutions in the regions. Information days in Moscow and the regions and the first issue of the Cultivate-Russia Magazine are planned for autumn 2002 when the key objectives, actions and rules of participation in the 6th Framework Programme are known.

 

Work is in progress to develop good working relationships with key stakeholders including the EU Delegation, the Ministry of Culture and the Science Research and Technology Centre [Moscow] which is the Russian information point for FP5.

 

Future Prospects

 

The success of Cultivate-Russia partially depends on the interest of EU specialists to the Russian cultural heritage and on their will to include Russian cultural institutions into international consortia. Cultivate-Russia facilities will help Europeans to find partners in Russia for future proposals to the 6th Framework Programme. Russian museums, libraries, archives and other institutions active in IST could play an important role in EU IST projects in many aspects, for example by:

  • Giving access to the Russian Cultural Heritage through international Cultural Heritage Networks;
  • Providing Russian Cultural Heritage content for testing and demonstrating the new features of hardware and software technological developments;
  • Adding value to multilingual and cross cultural researches and developments;
  • Participating in software and multimedia applications design;
  • Disseminating information on EU project results for possible use in Russia.

 

Taking into account the IST situation in Russian cultural sector and the language barrier EU consortia willing to have partners from Russian museums, archives, libraries may need an intermediate Russian management group specially trained or experienced in EU project participation. Russian managers may be recruited from the Cultivate-Russia team, from Cultivate-Russia regional centres, from profession associations like NAAVA, RLA, ADIT.

 

It is known that for building a strong consortium personal contacts are of crucial importance. That is why a wide participation of European specialists in professional conferences in Russia is of great value. EVA2002 Moscow (December 2- 7, 2002, the State Tretyakov Gallery, www.evarussia.ru ) is a good opportunity. A special Cultivate information day will be organised in the framework of the Moscow EVA. The Cultivate-Russia conference is planned in the Russian State Library (Moscow) in April, 2003 with the theme “Global Knowledge Exchange”. It is going to be a project fair for the 6th Framework Programme.

 

Cultivate-Russia will help to overcome language barriers and ensure content interaction, to make Russian cultural heritage available to the whole world and give Russian users access to the world cultural heritage in all its multiple forms. For the realisation of this global task in a European context, there should be close co-operation between specialists from different countries and specialists from museums, libraries and archives to ensure that Russian institutions are able to play their role in the IST Programme.