The Kharkiv Regional Council plans to change the format of work in regional theaters, and the performances are planned to be broadcast in video format. On November 1, a meeting was held at which the stages of implementation of this decision were discussed, according to the message of the regional council.
There it was called “by changing the format of providing cultural and mass services to the population“. Earlier this year, state theaters of the Kharkiv region were prohibited from holding events due to the fact that the institutions do not have equipped shelters.
As the deputy head of the Kharkiv Regional Council noted Valery Dzyubathe project to transfer theaters to the online format is discussed not for the first time and solves a number of issues.
“This will make it possible to preserve the troupes and repertoire of theaters, to update it, to receive money using the “electronic purchase” of tickets for our online performances, to give the audience in any corner of the world the opportunity to enjoy the skill of Kharkiv actors, the work of Kharkiv cultural figures, and also – to remain an important component of the cultural front of Ukraine“, the official said.
|A meeting of the Kharkiv Regional Council to discuss the issue of the format of theater work. Photo: Kharkiv Regional Council|
At the meeting where innovations were discussed, representatives of regional theaters were also present – the Kharkiv Regional Philharmonic, the Academic Theater of Musical Comedy, the State Academic Puppet Theater named after V.A. Afanasyev, State Academic Ukrainian Drama Theater named after T.G. Shevchenko, Theater for Children and Youth, Kharkiv Academic Drama Theater.
According to the deputy head of the Kharkiv Regional Council, the heads of theaters and concert halls have already given their consent to the implementation of this project.
“We invite all those who care, volunteer organizations to cooperate. We hope that the public will support our theaters and the implementation of this project, including the number of viewings. Wait, Kharkiv Region finds opportunities to live, work, and create even in wartime conditions“, Valeriya Dzyuba said.
|A performance of the academic drama theater for border guards who are part of the Defense Forces of Ukraine. Photo: Kharkiv Theater named after Shevchenko|
This statement outraged the Kharkiv theater community – their vision was collected by the local edition “Nakipilo”. In particular, the head of the literary department of the Kharkiv Drama Theater is quoted there Margarita Kornyushchenko. She said that the staff was asked to provide a list of performances that will be shown online for a fee. The recording will take place at the expense of the theater, and the broadcast will be organized by the administration. Kornyushchenko also added: “This online format is not a substitute for our opening. They made it clear to us that we are not talking about resuming the work of theaters at the stationary. This project is not an alternative, but only a supplement to the existing situation.”
Read also: “It feels like Kyiv last spring”: How Kharkiv is coming to life despite everything
In the comment UP. Culture Head of the State Agency for Arts and Art Education Olga Rossoshanska says that she still doesn’t know whether this initiative was agreed with MKIP and whether the terms of financing theaters in general have changed.
“The situation may be related to the fact that there may be a question of funding, and if not, whether people will work online: go on stage or broadcast performances. This was implemented during the quarantine period – when people could not attend performances, at least they offered online as an alternative”– added Rossoshanska.
She also noted that issues of work and visiting theaters should be agreed separately in each region, taking into account security and the decision of the military administration. Therefore, in this situation, a compromise must be sought between the work of theaters and the regional administration.
|A performance in the courtyard of the Kharkiv Puppet Theater. Photo: Kharkiv Puppet Theater named after V. Afanasyeva|
Commenting on this situation, the former head of the Directorate, a theater expert Iryna Chuzhinova said that this initiative violates the Law of Ukraine “On Theaters and Theatrical Affairs”.
The governing body can create and manage cultural policy, as well as support the conditions for the operation of theaters. The main thesis of the law is to grant independence to theaters in the organization of their activities.
“It is precisely because the law was read in the Regional Council that the second meeting with theater managers is taking place. The Kharkiv Regional Council knows that the decision to transfer the theater to another mode of operation is an order of the director of the institution, and not an order of the governing body. Accordingly, it is necessary to agree on the shore so that loyal directors (and other directors of state cultural institutions do not exist in nature, and if they appear, they try to destroy them by all available means) issue the correct orders and transfer their theaters to the “online” mode of operation (so that this didn’t mean)“, Iryna Chuzhinova wrote.
She also called to pay attention to the Collective Agreement, which must be signed by the labor team of the institution. The collective is one of the subjects of the theater’s management, so it has the right to ask the administration to clarify its actions, referring to the provisions of the joint contract.
“That it should be done primarily for the activists of the theaters that will be affected? Reread the Statute or Regulations – the document according to which the theater operates and understand whether the mechanism of “choosing the mode of operation” is fixed there. Who defines this regime? Director alone? OK. Then – a meeting of the labor collective with the invitation of the administration and an attempt to talk under the protocol about the rights of the labor collective and the norms of the collective agreement, which, I am sure, does not provide for any other mode of work than live. That is, the labor team must UNITE with the administration and find a joint solution, how to protect itself from the arbitrariness of the management body“, the theater expert added.
About the work of state theaters of the Kharkiv region
In the spring of 2023, according to the decision of the Department of Culture and Tourism of the Kharkiv Regional Government, it was forbidden to hold mass events in the premises of theaters, concert institutions, philharmonic halls, clubs, museums, libraries and in open spaces, if the number of spectators exceeds 50 people. The reason was constant shelling and the lack of shelters, and the ban will remain in effect until the end of martial law.
|Artists of the Kharkiv Philharmonic Academic Symphony Orchestra at a music festival in Italy. Photo: Kharkiv Regional Philharmonic|
Only 16 facilities in the region were included in the list of places equipped with shelters for the safety of spectators and workers. Among them are the subway, “Yermilov Center” and a small hall of the Khnatob. The full list is not disclosed.
Then Kharkiv theaters began to massively suspend and postpone their performances. Some tried to hold performances at permitted venues: the Kharkiv Drama Theater premiered a play at the Theater and Concert Center, the Afanasyev Puppet Theater held an event in an open space – in the courtyard of the theater.