The II All-Russian Volunteer Forum. “Cultural volunteering”.

The II All-Russian Volunteer Forum took place in Moscow on the 3rd and 4th of November, 2015.

At the forum of active citizens “Community,” more than 3,500 representatives of non-profit organizations, civic activists, volunteers, and representatives of businesses and government agencies from all over Russia gathered in Moscow. Never in the modern history of Russia has the subject of volunteering, and the civil activism associated with it, been given attention at such a high level.

On the third of November, honorary guests, representatives of federal authorities, and regional leaders visited different work sites relating to eight areas of volunteering: social, medical, event-focused, cultural, corporate, inclusive, Victory volunteering, and emergency volunteering. All of the participants were able to learn the stories of successfully completed projects in the fields of volunteering and patriotic education, projects by the largest NGO’s, and were also able to participate in dozens of workshops and discussions on interactive platforms.

Since 2003, the State Hermitage Museum has actively participated in the development of the volunteer movement. Because of this, the organization and supervision of “Cultural Volunteering” was entrusted to volunteer director M. Y. Kozhukhovsky.

Mikhail Kozhukhovsky moderated a discussion on the “Role of Volunteering in Culture and Educational Activities”, which several distinguished guests attended. The guests included the Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky, Advisor of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Tolstoy, Director of Museum of Contemporary History of Russia Irina Velikanova, and representatives from museums, artistic associations, and volunteer organizations. While speaking about the role of volunteer groups, the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Medinsky, stated that the Agency intends to help volunteers in organizing cultural activities throughout the country. During this event, representatives of the state participated in lively and heated discussions. The Presidential Cultural Advisor, Vladimir Ilych Tolstoy, expressed concern over the dangerous precedent set by the arrest of a library director in Moscow and expressed his hope that professionals will not suffer because of their professional activities.

As a result of the productive discussions at this site, as well as the work of the different groups there, proposals for development and volunteering in cultural and educational activities were collected and a draft was then prepared by those present to be sent to the federal authorities and presented to the President.

On the 4th of November a ceremony took place to award prizes in several categories to the best volunteers in the country: “Promotion” – for contribution to the development of event volunteering; “Mercy” – for contribution to the development of medical volunteering; “Enlightenment” – for contribution to the development of cultural volunteering in emergencies; and the special nomination “Victory-70” – for the contribution to preserving the historical memory of the country.

To recognize the importance of volunteer work, and active citizens, the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, arrived on the 4th of November, National Unity Day.

“It’s very important for any country and any people, and especially for a country as diverse as Russia, with its multiethnic and multi-religious composition, to remember what triumphs and tragedies occurred and when. If we look at the history of our country, we see that when we were united, we always achieved brilliant victories. Therefore, it is important to be aware of ourselves as one people, despite the diversity of our country”, – said Putin, congratulating all the participants on the holiday. In his speech, the President spoke about the need to support public organizations, noting “they better understand the people and more effectively handle the needs and requirements of them than government organizations.” Addressing the representatives of the non-governmental organizations, volunteer movements, as well as youth and student associations of the country, Vladimir Putin expressed his gratitude for their work, which made an impact “in his heart”.

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