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Mariinsky Open letter to Ministry of Culture
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Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:02 am ]
Post subject:  Mariinsky Open letter to Ministry of Culture

The Mariinsky's Open Letter to the Minister of Culture:

An initial meeting with Gergiev took place on June 16. On Nov. 19-20th another meeting took place:

Quote: Руководитель Мариинки также отметил, что "волнения артистов, особенно молодых, связаны с тем, что им надо где-то жить". "И даже самые щедрые зарплаты не дают благоприятных перспектив ни в Мариинском, ни в Большом театрах, ни в оркестрах, где молодые музыканты не могут за год-два собрать денег на квартиру. Но говорить об этом надо не через письма, а с губернатором, с президентом. И я этим занимаюсь", — сказал он.

The Director of the Mariinsky also noted that the "artist's concerns, especially the younger artists, are connected with the fact that they have to live somewhere, and even the most generous salaries do not provide a positive perspective either at the Mariinsky or the Bolshoi Theatres, not in the orchestras, where young musicians cannot save money within 1-2 yrs to buy an apartment. But this shouldnt be discussed by means of a letter, but with the governor, the president. I don't handle such affairs," he said.

and then the Theatre issued a press release in response:

Unfortunately I dont have time to do full translations right now but will catch up later -- just wanted to get the links up.

Author:  Buddy [ Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Open letter to Ministry of Culture

Thank you, Catherine, for posting this. I do hope that these very deserving artists are justly compensated for the joy and richness that they add to our lives and that everyone involved is fairly treated.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Open letter to Ministry of Culture

This is becoming slightly confused and ugly. The letter to the Ministry of Culture requested that they look at the theatre's finances which the artists claim are being mismanaged and are, in any case, not transparent.

The saga continues with Gergiev's reply in this article:

In which he claims the letter was an emotional move that carries no weight unless a meeting has been held of all the dancers in the theatre. Because the signatories to the letter are representatives of those dancers interested in being represented, I'm not sure that's a fair statement, as I understood a meeting had been held. In any case, the letter was not emotional but factual, each claim backed up with the section of the Labor Code that is (potentially) being violated.

Например, авторы письма указывали на то, что в театре не выплачиваются пособия беременным, не ведется учет сверхурочной работы, а средства из президентского гранта распределяются между "любимчиками".
rough translation:
"For example the authors of the letter indicated that the theatre doesn't pay maternity leave, doesnt account for overtime (that is true, it does not) and the funds from the President's Grant are divided among the 'favorites.'"

I have been told of one case when one woman's maternity leave payments were not granted her and purposely added to another dancer's... The theatre has never paid overtime as dancers are given salaries. So someone in the theatre 12 hours per day, 6 days per week may receive the same pay and no more compensation than someone who comes for morning class plus 1 hour of rehearsal (if they have the same base rates for salary). Since there are no unions as we know them in the West, gathering the strength to fight for labor rights, to lobby for them and win (Muni in SF, anyone?) is not precedented in Russia's history.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Open letter to Ministry of Culture

The Saint Petersburg Times:
Dancers: Mariinsky Is Favoritist

By Galina Stolyarova
The St. Petersburg Times
Published: November 28, 2012 (Issue # 1737)

Members of the Mariinsky Theater ballet troupe have sent an open letter to Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, accusing the theater’s management of not paying their salaries in full and of creating a manipulative system of running the company in which critics of the bosses get restricted access to the stage, which in turn immediately affects their pay.
The petition’s authors spoke about the mass exodus of the most outstanding dancing talent from the company: Leonid Sarafanov defected to the Mikhailovsky Theater in 2010, and that same year, Mikhail Lobukhin left for the Bolshoi Theater, and Yevgenia Obraztsova joined him there one year later.
According to the dancers who signed the petition, soloists and members of the corps de ballet alike are fleeing the Mariinsky because of “ill-conceived planning and disrespect for the artists.”
“Tatyana Bessarabova, the aide to the head of the ballet division, has continually humiliated and insulted the artists, and numerous complaints about her behavior from coaches and dancers have failed to yield any results,” reads the open letter. “While some of the dancers have very tight performing schedules, others are left to starve and are not getting any engagements. It is not enough to be in good shape to win a role, you have to make yourself likeable to the management. This is pure manipulation.”
The Mariinsky’s managers countered the accusations by saying that the staff turnover at the company has remained stable, and argued that there is no cause for concern.
“Since 2009, the ballet division has welcomed 64 new members,” said Oksana Tokranova, head of the Mariinsky Theater press office.
“There is no disaster in soloists moving from company to company; rather, this is a natural process. At present, we have several foreign soloists with the company, including Keenan Kampa (U.S.), Xander Parish (U.K.) and Kim Kimin (South Korea). Importantly, since the start of the season, the troupe has seen 70 debuts of dancers in new roles — and we are talking about aspiring young performers as well as seasoned dancers.”
The Mariinsky management denies allegations about biased performance engagements.
“The issue of each dancer’s involvement in the repertoire and their participation in a tour is never decided singlehandedly by the head of the ballet division,” Tokranova said. “In every case, the situation is discussed with the coaches and is fully transparent.”
The company’s critics say, and not without grounds, that the theater’s ballet division began to go downhill after the departure of its charismatic leader Makharbek Vaziev. The man who had led the ballet division of the world-renowned theater for almost 12 years resigned in spring 2008 following an argument with the Mariinsky’s artistic director Valery Gergiev over Vaziev’s status in the company.
Vaziev was replaced by Yury Fateyev, a former soloist of the company, who now faces accusations of lacking the vision and ability to develop the troupe.
Vaziev, who is currently coaching at Milan’s La Scala theater, had wanted an official title as the ballet division’s artistic director. He raised the issue after his contract as a soloist expired and he officially reached retirement age — although Vaziev was de facto head of the ballet division, officially, he was employed as a soloist — but Gergiev refused to promote the manager to the job.
Gergiev spoke critically of Vaziev’s performance as the troupe’s leader back then, accusing him of “putting on mediocre shows” and “failing to create an atmosphere in which the company’s emerging young talent is helped sufficiently by the troupe’s star and veteran performers.”
A number of Russian ballet critics, on the other hand, have pointed out that it was primarily Vaziev who was credited with inviting esteemed modern choreographers such as William Forsythe and John Neumeier to work with Mariinsky dancers and with motivating the troupe to mount spectacular performances of their works. For some time until his resignation, Vaziev had been trying without great success to obtain better conditions and more funding for the ballet troupe.

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Jun 30, 2013 2:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Open letter to Ministry of Culture

"Ex-Minister helps Bolshoi tackle its woes"

This is a very interesting, possibly very hopeful, report from Ismene Brown. It's about how former Russian Minister of Labor, Alexander Pochinok, is trying to help settle labor matters at the Bolshoi. It also has very important implications for the Mariinsky. I've started reading the article, but it seems significant enough to mention now in case others would like to take a careful look at it, as I hope to do. Here are a few quotes.

"Alexander Pochinok, Minister for Labour from 2000-4 and now a Russian Federation Council member, is a prominent economist and a frequent advocate of more modern ideas of political understanding and free expression.

"Pochinok’s main initiative, he says, was to introduce outside union experts to advise the Bolshoi performers union. He stresses in the interview that Russian employment law already exists to protect workers, and that workers need to know and use existing legislation better than they do.

"He also says that a new works agreement at the Bolshoi would address problems nationwide in the theatres, which hints at a more strategic reason for the government to act. One surmises a new government-backed theatre practices agreement at the Bolshoi would affect the Mariinsky, where ballerina Daria Pavlenko has been at loggerheads with general director Valery Gergiev over what she has described as long-outdated working practices formulated in Soviet times." ... _woes.html

(Thanks to BalletcoForum for posting this)

Added quote:

"When will the process be complete, when could an agreement come into force?

"It's down to the elementaries - there are time limits in which the theatre administration needs to come to the negotiating table, there are regulations that govern negotiations. People simply aren't good at using Russian law, and in fact the Labour Code actually allows for very good talks to be held. It is only necessary to observe the law scrupulously."

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Open letter to Ministry of Culture

The cultures in both these companies merit a public inquiry; the corrupt practices that have been rife in the Kirov for years are now being emulated at the Bolshoi. Not sure how much impact this guy will have, probably he will make recommendations and then be ignored.

Author:  Cygne [ Mon Jul 01, 2013 11:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Open letter to Ministry of Culture

Although this is a baby step in the right direction, I'm convinced that the status quo will prevail. I'm ITA with you Cassandra; he'll examine, make his inquiries, present his recommendations, and they'll be filed away.

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