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Culture minister says that, if he is provided a larger sum, he would invest it in Moldova's cultural promotion, continuous training of Moldovan artists

14:45 | 30.12.2023 Category: Interview, Event

Interview given exclusively with the MOLDPRES State News Agency by Culture Minister Sergiu Prodan

MOLDPRES: Dear Mr. Minister Sergiu Prodan, in August 2021, you were appointed at the head of the newly created Culture Ministry. Do you still remember how it was at the beginning, when you started practically from the scratch?   

Sergiu Prodan: It was difficult, but it was interesting as well. It was difficult, as we really had to create the Culture Ministry from the scratch, seeking to attract specialists from other public institutions or to persuade professionals from the arts sector to come and give a helping hand for the work of the new governmental structure. It was interesting and it is interesting in continuation, as despite the difficult period through which we go as country and as region, we have a dynamic and diverse cultural life and the Culture Ministry essentially contributes to this fact. A major role belongs, certainly, to the community of artists, which comes up with original initiatives on the promotion of the national culture both in the villages and cities of Moldova and abroad. Also, the openness enjoyed by our country internationally says its word also in the culture sector, giving us the chance of successful international cooperation projects. This is an extremely important aspect, especially now, following the launch of the negotiations on Moldova’s accession to the European Union, when we have the mission to integrate into the European area from the viewpoint of the culture and art as well.        

MOLDPRES: On 24 September 2020, a fire burned up more than 3,400 square metres of the building of the Serghei Lunchevici National Philharmonic and the latter’s reconstruction became a priority for the Culture Ministry. On 24 September 2022, you launched an international tender of architectural solutions for the restoration of the Philharmonic titled, We Revive the Philharmonic, and the Phoenix Bird was chosen as a metaphoric symbol. Will our Philharmonic ever revive from ashes, as the Phoenix Bird?   

Sergiu Prodan: This first steps in the rehabilitation of the National Philharmonic have been really made. The results of the tender announced in the autumn of the 2022 year were made public in May 2023 and on 26 September, during the European Heritage Days, the House of Architects of Germany, the idea of which got the largest number of points, unveiled its concept in Chisinau. Nevertheless, there is no still a final decision as regards the architectural project and its executor. The financial bids will matter a lot too; the erection of a new Philharmonic would cost us as estimate of about 75 million euros. This would be a too great burden for the public budget; therefore, we are looking for investors. We hope to come up with good news soon. It is true that we everybody deserve a modern institution and, what’s more important, with acoustic capacities and a proper stage. We cannot presently construct a Philharmonic in the style of the 18th or 19th centuries, as the expectations, musical conditions and standards are different. Only having a hall with a high-class acoustics, we will be able to carry out far-reaching international projects and we will be able to educate musicians due to represent us at the highest level in the entire Europe and all over the world.         

MOLDPRES: On 7 December 2022, the Culture Ministry, in partnership with the Future Technologies Activity Project, financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Sweden, the COR Association of Creative Companies launched the Museums of the Future Programme. At that time, you said that this programme would lay the foundations of a sustainable future of the museology. What results have been achieved meanwhile?   

Sergiu Prodan: The museums are extraordinary platforms for the cooperation and symbiosis of the cultural elements, as well as for the presentation of the art and history in a new shape. To keep pace with these tendencies, the Museums of the Future Programme nominated ten projects on cooperation between creative companies and museums, through which they are to develop immersive exhibitions, which use technologies or present the museum and educative content in an interactive form. The projects financed by USAID, Sweden and the United Kingdom, which regard the development of the creative sector and tourism, provide for a support of 200,000  euros for technologies, mentorship and creation of installations and experiences and most of them are to be launched in 2024. Among the beneficiary institutions, there are four ones at the national level – National Art Museum, National History Museum, National Ethnography and Natural History Museum and the National Museum of Romanian Literature, as well as six regional museums – from the villages Sofia, Calarasi, Truseni, Mereni and from Taraclia, as well as a national centre of digital education, the Class of Future and a winery (Purcari).     

Thus, already during this winter vacation, pupils are invited to the first Scientific Museum at the Class of Future, where ‘’Prospera’’ will exhibit 11 scientific installations, which explains the mathematics, physics, chemistry, the discoveries of Pythagoras, Newtown, Bernoulli, Einstein and Tesla, through a special interpretation. Also, an exhibition of inter-war photos, digitalized within the Blue Frame project, can be visited in the settlements Mereni, Truseni, Sofia, Calarasi and Taraclia. In the spring of 2024, an exhibition titled, Bagatele (Trifles) by Glebus Sainciuc is to be launched at the Romanian Literature Museum; at the National History Museum – a giant digital book due to present the history of printing and at the Ethnography Museum, we will find again the legend of the Tree of Life, with interactive screenings and animations. Another achievement of the programme is that digital artists, guided by the Artcor Centre, in partnership with the national museums, animated art works, with the help of the Artivive application, and illustrated ten historical buildings from Chisinau, telling their stories in an interactive way. The Culture Ministry, with the support of donors and in Partnership with the Electronic Governance Agency, develops a system of electronic tickets and of payment by card at the national museums. Thus, in 2024, the tourists and visitors of the museums from Chisinau will be able to pay by card, as well as to access tickets through cultural voucher.             

MOLDPRES: What is the fate of the pavement on the 31 August 1989 Street, which the Culture Ministry recommends to be preserved?

Sergiu Prodan: We are expecting the project which the Chisinau city hall should submit to the National Council of Historical Monuments.  

MOLDPRES: The decision on the creation of the National Culture Fund has been recently approved. What will be with this fund? How will it be managed and who will be able to benefit from the resources provided by it?  

Sergiu Prodan: The Culture Fund is a new mechanism of financial support of the independent and private cultural sector from the field of arts and creative industries. In fact, the Culture Fund will cumulate all cultural and editorial programmes and projects which are presently managed by the Culture Ministry. The means of the Fund ( about 29.5 million lei in 2024) will be used for backing the cultural and editorial projects worked out for six intervention sectors: initiatives by non-commercial organizations in the culture field; editorial activity and of literary translations; cultural magazines; the field of arts, studies and analyses, including activities of continuous professional training in the culture sector; local cultural development programmes; programmes on artistic and cultural residence and mobility.  After the draft law is considered in parliament in the second reading, we will start elaborating the regulations on the work and financing, putting into operation the mechanisms of work, etc. All projects of the Culture Ministry are to switch to the management of the newly created public institution, with board of directors and teams of judging the files. In the long run, the Fund will have a vision of financing cultural projects for at least three years ahead.     

MOLDPRES: On 24 November 2022, the Culture Ministry, in cooperation with the Rural Competitiveness and Resilience Activity Project, financed by USAID, launched the project, Moldova, from an emerging tourist destination to a sustainable tourist destination. How our country might become more attractive as tourist destination? Do we have a strategy of tourism’s development?      

Sergiu Prodan: The Strategy is contained in the ministry’s Action Plan for the next year, but the certainty that the things are made correctly deal with the creation this year of the National Tourism Office – an autonomous body in charge of the implementation of the policies in the sector, of backing the development of tourism, of providing services and assistance for the sector, as well as of ensuring the activities of promotion and marketing.     

We cannot but mention here the help provided to us by development partners: USAID Moldova, Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of the United Kingdom, etc. I will highlight also the support and promotion of projects in the tourism field through the programme of support for the development of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the culture sector (worth over 30 million lei) and the programme of grants, Tourist Moldova (25 million lei). This means technical assistance and consultancy, training, promotion. This also means focusing on rural tourism, especially on the empowerment of young people, women and girls. The tourism is interconnected and brings economic and social value for at least ten related sectors. These projects, besides the aforementioned assistance, assumed the researching of the market and of tourists’ perception about the experiences lived in Moldova, promotion of our country’s tourist bid in the international media, as well as the implementation of good practices and strategies tested in other states. It is incredible how many nice things occur in this field and I am sure that this is the sector with the greatest potential for the culture and economy of our country.           

MOLDPRES: Since November 2022, young people of Moldova, upon coming of age, have been benefiting from cultural Voucher worth 1,000 lei to have access to cultural services from the country. What was the impact of this programme on the culture field?  

Sergiu Prodan: One year after the programme’s launch, over 2,800 young people from all over the country have benefited from cultural vouchers. The young people spend about 2.8 million lei for culture products, with the biggest part of the sum invested in purchasing books. The rest of the money was used for tickets for theatre plays, concerts and movie theatres. These are figures which make us more optimistic and not only from the viewpoint of money.

MOLDPRES: It is known that the graduates of the education institutions from the culture sector refuse to work in the rural areas. To what extent the government’s decision to allocate a substantial allowance to those due to go to work at cultural institutions from the country can influence this situation?  

Sergiu Prodan: I am confident that the things will change for the better and that the government’s commitment – to pay between 90,000 and 120,000 lei, depending on their education – will motivate young people to go to work at public institutions of the culture sector from all over the country. The condition is that they work in this field for at least three years, during which this allowance will be provided to them, in installments. I recognize that we have also ‘’macro’’ expectations from this decision and namely that young professionals from the culture sector, including the artists who perform on stages from all over the world, are employed at home or even return home for good. On the last days, for instance, I had a discussion with virtuoso accordionist Radu Ratoi, who successfully represents us in diverse countries, but who wants to return and work in Moldova.   

MOLDPRES: Which are the basic priorities for the development of culture in the 2024 year?

Sergiu Prodan: The establishment of the National Fund of Cinematography, of the National Fund of Heritage Protection, the further updating of the Register of Monuments Protected by the State, the elaboration of the long-term National Strategy of Cultural Development, the giving of final touches to the Creative Moldova Programme, the working out of the normative set for the support and encouraging of the independent press, etc. We have quite many things to do.    

MOLDPRES: When and how the Chisinau Circus will be rehabilitated?

Sergiu Prodan: The building of the Chisinau Circus is a building with a special architectural value and in last May, it was included in the Register of the Monuments Protected by the State. In this way, we want to make sure that the works of restoration and conservation of the Circus, carried out by the Confidence Building Measures Programme of EU, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), will be carried out with the observance of the national and international standards. In the spring of the 2024 year, the first-stage works will be finished, through which the roof will be restored. In parallel, other works of conservation of the critical structural elements will be also carried out, in order not to allow the building’s degradation. I want to say that, in 2019-2021, a detailed technical examination of the present state of the Circus was carried out, by using modern ways of 3D scanning. Subsequently, competent people elaborated the detailed technical project for the restoration of the Central Arena, taking into account the need to preserve the unique architectural aspect and to add multi-functionality to it. The European Union allocated over 1 million 800,000 euros for expertise and technical project, as well as for the first-stage works. Over 11 million euros is necessary for the full restoration of the building and for the Circus to become functional again. The works from the next stages can be carried out at the expense of the national budget and or with additional financing. For the time being, we are in the process of identifying these resources.             

MOLDPRES: But what success will have the renovation inside the Organ Hall?

Sergiu Prodan: The Project on Restoration of the Organ Hall is a far-reaching one and, from the very beginning, it was conceived in three stages. The first stage, which is finished, consisted in the restoration and repair of the exterior of the building (facades, roof, dome) and of the semi-basement – works carried out with a support of one million euros provided by the government of Romania. At the same time, the Culture Ministry earmarked about two million lei, which was used for purchasing the furniture for the semi-basement rooms, including the halls for rehearsal of the bands which work at the Organ Hall. The specialized furniture meant for the symphony orchestra (professional chairs, music desks, etc.) was bought with the same sources. The second stage implies the repair of the concert hall, of the halls and the lobby, as well as the restoration of the instrument, Organ. For this stage, there is a project compiled back in 2012, but it only needs to be updated. The third stage, the final one, consists in the manufacturing and setting of all sculptures, eight ones, which there were initially outside the building – Mercurius, the griffins and the muses. The original sculptures no longer exist; they were taken down because of their advanced state of deterioration and of the danger they posed for pedestrians. The new sculptures will be made based on the archive materials and will be made out of lighter stuff, but at the same time, more durable, according to the modern security requirements. So, we cannot talk about ‘’success.’’ The restoration of the Organ Hall will certainly be carried through, but only time and, certainly, money is needed.        

MOLDPRES: If a miracle occurs and Moldova would get bigger funds on behalf of the European Union, which, in your opinion, should be their priority purpose? 

Sergiu Prodan: I do not think that we become more efficient, if we use the term of ‘’miracles.’’ We rather need much work, in order to align, as soon as possible, with the European legislation in the culture sector and to give our artists as many as possible opportunities of cooperation with their colleagues and with the organizations from the European area. We need a continuous circuit, in order to remove all borders and become part of a whole. And the European funds will surely come, including for culture. Nevertheless, as we are allowed to dream on the eve of the New Year, if I am provided a large sum which I am supposed to manage according to my own vision, I would invest it in two priority directions: Moldova’s cultural promotion in the European Union’s countries and the continuous promotion of our artists. The first one, given that need to make ourselves better known inside the European club to which we go – and we already work on several projects to this end. The second one, as this helps us be more modern, more flexible, more open for innovation, i.e. – to be more European.     

MOLDPRES: Thank you for the interview and we wish you much success! A Happy New Year!  



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