DK – HOUSES OF CULTURE

Date: 2016.

Location: Dnipro, Kamianske, Kryvyi Rih, Verkhniodniprovsk.

 

The multimedia project “DK – House of Culture” was dedicated to the historic, architectural and cultural value of the “house of culture” institution.

The institution of the palaces of culture (DK) is a post-Soviet acquisition passed on to the modern Ukrainian society. Set up in the Soviet times, this network of institutions committed to mass cultural and awareness building activities was entirely governed by the goal of political outreach and spreading the Party ideology, virtually replacing religious establishments. Each village and town had its own house of culture or village club, and cities had palaces of culture generally subordinate to large enterprises (such Shynnik, Metallurg etc.). A distinction was also made between social classes: house of pioneers, house of Komsomol members, house of intellectuals. Hence the symbolic architecture of the palaces of culture. In fact, any house of culture was the temple of enlightenment for people according to their class affiliation. And for each level the Party ideology proposed or even imposed the forms of activities in line with the program for public upbringing and control. The very principle of “culture-into-masses work” treated creative activities as scheduled group events and was a long way from individual creativity intrinsic to humans as free individuals.

The network of houses of culture has been preserved only to some extent in contemporary Ukraine. Some became private property and are used for purposes completely different from the original one, accommodating gyms or religious institutions. Having been deprived of funding many a house was deserted and demolished. The dissolution of the Soviet Union brought on a decline in the manufacturing industry, with enterprises reducing maintenance costs and houses of culture becoming commercially unfeasible. This is about physical preservation of buildings. The houses and palaces of culture that continue to function retain the usual modus operandi as the national cultural affairs management system largely relies on the Soviet one, even though the communist party ideology component was taken out of it. The Soviet ideological content was substituted with a new Ukrainian identity which intrinsically adapted to the old infrastructure. Bearing in mind that the independent Ukraine has not managed to formulate a new cultural strategy for the country, one may state that many of the institutions continue to carry the post-Soviet ideology by completing individual recreational tasks. A question is yet to be answered: to what extent do the existing houses of culture meet the needs of the modern society, and what can be done to reinforce their activities to unlock their ultimate potential?

The project researches the current condition of houses of culture in the communities of cities and small towns (Lots-Kamianskyi Palace of Culture in Dnipro, palaces of culture in the cities of Kryvyi Rih and Kamianske, Shyroke village in Kryvyi Rih district, Borokhovka and Novomykhailivka villages in Verkhniodniprovsk district), the transformation of their function and prospects, and also the interests, passions and needs of local communities. Over the period from October 26 to November 6, 2016 the multimedia exhibition “DK” displayed on the premises of the Literaturne Prydniprovya Museum offered viewers 6 documentaries and an art installation designed by Kultura Medialna NGO during March-August 2016. To enable the exposition, the Museum’s space was substantially transformed, symbolizing a fresh approach to the old content. The exhibition was supplemented with a conference involving a lecture program on the successful practices of contemporary cultural institutions in Ukraine and abroad, a discussions platform to talk about the opportunities of local growth and a professional tutorial on the new operating methods of cultural establishments with focus on the territorial communities. The project has initiated a number of activities which shall include cultural research and practical implementation of the house of culture transformation projects during 2017-2022.

The first multimedia exhibition “DK” took place on 26 October – 6 November, 2016 at Literaturne Prydniprovya Museum. The conference “Houses of Culture” was held at Artsvit Gallery on October 28-30, 2016.

The project was implemented by Kultura Medialna NGO as part of the program “CHOICE – Cultural Heritage: Opportunity for Improving Civic Engagement.

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