The impact of Intercultural cities in Izhevsk: added value of the programme had for the city
A rich cultural diversity and systemic support for cultural and community initiatives at the state and municipal levels are traditional features of the city of Izhevsk. For decades the city has been supporting organisations of the ethno-cultural communities and diasporas and encouraged their participation in political decision-making.
But never before the entry of Izhevsk in the Intercultural cities programme cultural diversity and active interaction of cultures had been considered as a key resource for the city. Therefore, the programme objective of building intercultural city has prompted the city to
rethink the existing cultural resource as a major factor for urban development in post-industrial society;
shift the policy focus from the promotion of cultural diversity towards facilitating dynamic co-operation and interaction of cultures,
foster more solid integration of different groups into the urban life
recognise co-creation of different cultures as an absolute value of modern society.
Since 2008, Izhevsk has done a considerable amount of work to promote the intercultural approach to city development. The programme methodology involves intensive discussions in relation to project planning and the design and implementation of initiatives which involve a variety of stakeholders - from ordinary citizens various departments of the municipal authority and of course ethno-cultural community organisations. There is a vibrant public discussion in Izhevsk about the importance and priority of the cultural and human development.
Intercultural initiatives are now underway in various fields: culture, education, sports, political life.
In the context of Intercultural cities the number of cultural initiatives increased, as did support by the municipality. A greater number of cultural activities aim at implementing the principles of intercultural interaction in public space.
Gradually, activities in support for cultural diversity and intercultural interaction began to shape into a focused strategy. This strategy is organised around five thematic blocks: culture, social services, education, communication and public space.
According to sociological research, in recent years, the region has witnessed positive developments in the field of international relations. Compared with 2000 (from 41% to 77%) the rate of positive evaluation of inter-ethnic situation in the republic almost doubled.
What has been done thanks to participation in Intercultural cities that could take place would be without this participation
The participation of Izhevsk in the project strengthened the recognition of city officials and active citizens of the importance of intercultural relations.
The city began to form a new cultural policy. The involvement of representatives of different cultures, diverse perspectives and intercultural values became a criterion for the effectiveness of almost any large and important city project.
The approach to key urban events was reconsidered. Now city officials want to attract to the implementation of large-scale urban projects as many active members of cultural communities and urban subcultures as possible. Intercultural events are now one of the main priorities of city. A striking example of this is that the moto for the 250th anniversary of Izhevsk in 2010 was "250 years of intercultural dialogue and development."
After the entry of a project city the city has begun to support more actively private cultural initiatives, in particular those with strong intercultural potential. The number of such events (festivals, competitions, concerts, etc.), focused on the presentation of cultural communities and intercultural interaction has dramatically increased. The community organisations have become more active.
Izhevsk has become more actively involved in national cross-cultural projects. Through participation in "Intercultural Cities", the city became more interesting cultural partner for other Russian municipalities. So in 2011 Izhevsk became a member of the National Partnership "Cultural Alliance", which unites more than a dozen Russian cities, and aims to exchange experience in the organization of urban space and land development, and implementation of joint cultural initiatives. The purpose and meaning of the project "Cultural Alliance" are to provide a variety of cultural opportunities, to conduct an annual joint actions, exchange of experience in the field of art education, to assist in organising out inter-regional tours.