The history of the Theatre Union of the Russian Federation (Russian acronym: STD) dates back to the time of establishment of Compassionate Actors' Benefit Society in 1877. It was Russia’s first organization for artists. In more than 100 years of its existence the association lived through many changes and acted under different names. Currently the Theatre Union is the Society’s legal successor with a membership of up to nearly 25 000. It acts as the umbrella organization for 75 local branches in different regions of the Russian Federation with headquarters in Moscow.
STD activities aim at comprehensive promotion of the development of theatre and performing arts in Russia in the entirety of its forms with an emphasis on rendering special assistance to regions that are geographically remote from Russian and European “cultural centres”.
The STD adheres to the principles of positioning of theatre and performing arts as one of the most significant components of the cultural policy. Having at its disposal precise information about the state that Russian theatres are in, the STD acts as a mediator in solving problems theatres face in their dealings with the state or municipal structures. Thus in 2005 the Theatre Union launched an all-out campaign to prevent the Russian government’s bill on to toughen control of budget funding of theatres from coming into legal force, which could have led to a massive disbanding of theatre companies. As a result, the draft was returned to the government for revision.
The STD is not a trade union in the generally accepted sense of the term, yet its activities certainly have a social aspect – STD members can count on allowances, preferential health service and rest at the resorts affiliated with STD.
Main sources of STD revenues are membership fees, earnings of its affiliations, including health resorts, rest homes, manufacturing theatrical cosmetics, from sponsorship and target grants for selected programs from the federal government and the RF Ministry of Culture.
Annually the STD gives nearly 70 scholarships to young theatre specialists and more than 50 grants to theatre professionals from different regions of Russia for study trips – mainly to Moscow and St.Petersburg.
The great majority of theatre festivals in Russia are held with the support of or under the aegis of the Theatre Union, which renders assistance in organisation, programming, inviting speakers and theatre critics, establishing and maintaining contacts with partners abroad, information support and partial funding, etc. Aside from that the STD regularly holds conferences, exhibitions of theatre set and costume design, seminars, workshops and master classes given by leading theatre professionals. Special STD committees and departments act for the purpose. They are engaged in work related to different types and aspects of theatrics as follows:
• Drama theatre
• Musical theatre, opera, ballet, contemporary dance
• Theatre for children and youth, puppet theatre
• Amateur theatre
• Theatre criticism
• Directors guild
• Theatre management
• Professional education
• Department for the Coordination of STD branches in RF regions
• Centre for support of Russian-speaking theatres in CIS and Baltic Countries (long-term programme supported by the federal government)
The Theatre Centre on Strastnoy Boulevard located in Moscow’s downtown and managed by the STD boasts the state-of-the-art equipment and a hall accommodating 400 spectators. The Centre offers its stage for the productions of Russian and foreign young directors; it holds festivals and offers free public lectures for theatre specialists of different theatrical disciplines. The Centre welcomes creative partnership and theatre projects.
The STD library is one of Russia’s most authoritative repositories of literature and archives relating to writings on the theatre arts. Its stock of books and magazines in more than 30 languages alone amounts to 450 000 pieces.
The Theatre Union of the Russia promotes international cooperation and exchange of information on national and international level and acts as a partner in international projects. The STD also hosts Russian centres of international theatre organizations UNIMA, ASSITEJ, OISTAT and AITA.
The STD founded the own publishing house A.R.T. (the Russian acronym for Artist-Director-Theatre) and edits the quarterly magazine Strastnoy Boulevard, 10 distributed to Russian theatres free of charge. Apart from that the STD supports several popular theatre magazines: Teatr (Theatre), Stzena (Stage), The St. Petersburg’s Theatre Magazine and newspaper Ekran i Stzena (Stage and Screen).
Relying on its vast database the STD Information Centre strives to ensure accessibility and exchange of information about festivals, workshops and other theatre events, as well as openings for interested individuals, companies or organizations in Russia and abroad. Centre publishes newsletters that are e-mailed to Russian and foreign theatre companies, schools, organisations and individuals.
The Centre is open for cooperation and will be happy to provide useful information to interested organizations or individuals abroad.
Current projects and news from Russian Theatre Union are available on the main Union's web site - www.stdrf.ru
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