In the context of MoldArte there have been organised three cultural professional visits in the cities of Republica Moldova: Chisinau, Balti and Soroca, with the participation of eight international experts and two journalists.
Follow our experts in their itineraries through the cultural and creative Republica Moldova.
Bălți, first documented in 1620,is the third largest and most populated urban centre in the Republic of Moldova, after Chișinău and Tiraspol, and also the capital of the Northern Development Region of the country.
Soroca, first documented in 1499, is one of the most picturesque towns in northern Moldova, located in the northeast of the country, on the banks of the Dniester River, on the border with Ukraine.
Founded in 1436 as a monastery village, Chisinau is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Moldova, its main industrial and commercial center, located in the middle of the country, on the river Bâc.
Experts within visits in Balti, Soroca and Chisinau
The MoldArte group of experts and journalists was composed of Cristina Farinha – cultural policy expert for Eastern Europe, Bogdan Crețu – university professor, editor and trainer, Andreea Grecu – cultural manager and trainer, Florin Ghioca – brand manager at the National Theatre in Bucharest), Adriano Marian – manager of the National Youth Orchestra in Chișinău, Ion Costin Manoliu – playwright and journalist at the National Radio Theatre, Vladimir Bulat – art historian, Hans Knoll – art gallerist.
They were accompanied by the journalists Loredana Ciobanu (Agerpres) and Aura Marinescu (News.ro) and representatives of MoldArte team Mirela Spătaru (cultural manager and artistic director of Moldarte) and Oana Nasui (cultural facilitator).
Throughout the visit in Soroca we were accompanied by Mrs Ana Bejan, “professional retired”, as she recommends herself, in fact the former prefect of Soroca County and an extremely active member of the Soroca cultural community. As president of the “Grigore Vieru” Association, she is the initiator and supporter of cultural activities that affirm the Romanian spirit, a true “Iron Lady of local politics” as she has been called by the local press.
Historian Victor Butnaru vividly and humorously delivered valuable information about the history of the fortress Soroca, including recent history and the cross-border program of rehabilitation of historical monuments, as the fortress benefits from works worth 700,000 euros. The fortresses of Hotin and Suceava were also part of the same restoration project.
Public cultural institutions
The support of municipal institutions in educational activities through culture is visible, and Mrs. Stela Smirnov, head of the Directorate of Culture of the Municipality of Bălți, led us in visiting some of the institutions subordinated to this directorate. Two of them are the Municipal Palace and the Cultural Centre, both host spaces for arts and crafts collectives. While the Municipal Palace is open to people of all ages, the Culture Centre is mainly dedicated to children and teenagers. With large buildings, many studios (music, theatre, folk dance and sport), impressive performance halls, all run by young and enthusiastic people, the two institutions offer the ideal setting for practising a hobby, preparing performances or simply spending free time with others around a common theme.
A special meeting for our group was with the Deputy Mayor Tatiana Anatol Dubitskaya, who ensured us of the openness of the City Hall of Bălți for cooperation projects, both through twinning with other cities and through the support offered to the institutions under its supervision and for which it is the main donor. Beyond other challenges, the focus of the discussion was on ways in which the municipality could support independent cultural initiatives and encourage the emergence of such structures.
Both the “Mihai Eminescu” Theoretical High School and the “Alecu Russo” State University in Balti are very well managed and equipped institutions, partners in international projects and striving to offer their pupils and students a complete curriculum adapted to the actual needs of the labour market. The percentage of high school students who continue their education in prestigious universities in the country and abroad tends towards 100%, still only 25% choose to continue their studies in Bălți, the rest of them moving on to Chișinău, Romania, France, Germany, etc. This is despite the fact that the State University is the largest educational institution in the north of the country, offering 12 specialties programs, ranging from law, psychology, sciences, arts and letters. It is also one of the best internationally connected universities in the country, participating in both academic exchange and research programmes. It currently has signed collaboration agreements with universities in 11 other countries and is developing projects funded by the Tempus, ERASMUS-MUNDUS, AUF, UNESCO, Pestalozzi, DAAD, FULBRIGHT, EDMUND S. MUSKIE, CEEPUS and Framework Programme 7 programmes.
With large premises, good facilities and a real interest in cooperation, the two schools can be a reliable partner for educational as well as cultural cooperation programmes, especially as both Nina Grapă, the high school principal, and Valentina Prițcan, pro-rector of the University, are extremely interested in the added value of culture and art in the educational act.
A special educational institution is the “George Enescu” Music High School in Balti, which complements the classical training of students with the musical training. Some of the students enrolled here are prize winners at national and international performance competitions. They welcomed us with a short presentation of the high school’s sections: piano, accordion, guitar, violin, clarinet. The school operates on a public-private system: part of the funding is provided by the state, another part comes from tuition fees paid by the parents.
The “Nicolae Botgros” College of Arts in Soroca is a school with an impressive history and a number of graduates who are now important names on the Moldovan and worldwide stage. Founded in 1940 as the “School of Political Enlightenment”, the institution has had various functions and names over the years. At present, the college provides education for: instrumental performance (folk, aerophonic and percussion), directing, choral conducting, library and information assistance, tourism, fine and decorative arts, choreography. The Ministry fully subsidizes the courses, as well as students’ accommodation in the college dormitory. The current funding per student equivalent makes it difficult for the school to operate (if the number of students is reduced in a given year, there are even difficulties in paying the salaries of the staff) and turns into distant dreams the wishes of director Emilian Guțu to renovate and modernize the school functioning in an old heritage building without connection to the city’s sewage system. At the same time, the college’s students are enthusiastic and use every opportunity to put on a show for visitors.
Our experts say
The city of Balti has an interesting geographical and cultural position, between Romania, especially through its proximity to Iași, and to the Ukraine. Its communities of different languages and cultures can be a great asset, therefore the promotion of multilingualism and intercultural activities should be encouraged. The presence of students coming from different parts of the country and even from abroad is also an opportunity to develop a contemporary cultural dynamic and retain local talent in the area.
Given the fragile state of the built cultural heritage, the uncontrolled development of tourism infrastructure and the pressure excerted by the commercial environment can become significant risks. It is therefore advisable to increase the importance of integrated conservation of the core area within the local economic development policies, and to raise awareness among the local population, the owners and the users of historic buildings in Soroca.
It was a dense and useful visit. My feeling was that there is a struggle to keep the Soviet infrastructure alive: venues, buildings that can no longer be used as such, that require maintenance investments, etc. There is a lot of work to be done, almost everything deserves to be reinvented. First of all, a systematic connection to the Romanian cultural environment and to the themes/methods of work in the country and in the West are needed. No “revolution”, just more openness.
The history of the establishment of the Union of Plastic Artists from Moldova, based in Chisinau has a secular history and is directly related to the emergence of professional art in the region. Among the precursors is the Bessarabia Fine Arts Amateur Society (1903) founded on the initiative of Vladimir Okuşko, Pavel Piscariov, Eugenia Maleşevschi, Vasile Blinov, Alexandr Climaşevschi et al. From 1903 to 1918, this Society organized 9 exhibitions with the joint participation of Russian and Ukrainian painters, the only exception being the opening in 1915, when only Bessarabian artists appeared as exponents.
In the present
The president of UPA, Ms. Florina Breazu, share with us many pieces of information, including the fact that local artists organize personal exhibitions in Romania, Germany, Austria, Italy, Turkey, Holland, once again repeating the tour of artistic manifestations from the interwar Bessarabia period, but also the personal openings of some artists from the country, such as Ilie Boca, Suzana Fântâniru , Paul Gherasim, Horea Paştina, Vasile Gorduz, Constantin Flondor, Felix Aftene, etc. Respectively, Chisinau also becomes the host of the guests from the countries nominated above, their exhibitions being opened at the National Art Museum and the “Constantin Brâncuşi” Exhibition Center, being the main promotion centers of contemporary art.
Today the Union of Plastic Artists from Moldova has grown, numerically, about three times, intensifying its exhibition program compared to any period in the past, becoming a primary factor in ensuring the development of national plastic art, achieving new successes in intercultural exchanges.
The National Museum of Art of Moldova in Chisinau, one of the most prestigious museum institutions in Moldova, founded in 1939, is located in the center of Chisinau, in three buildings, important architectural monuments from the end of the century. XIX – beginning of the century. XX: Hertza House, Kligman House and Dadiani headquarters. We were welcomed and guided by Mr. Tudor Zbarnea, the director of the Museum..
The museum also holds in its custody one of the most valuable historical monuments of the century. XVI, Church of the Assumption in Causeni with a painting – unique for the Republic of Moldova, made in 1763.
The original collection, from 1939, which was the basis of the museum’s foundation, contained a wide range of paintings, graphics, sculpture and decorative art, mostly from private donations of remarkable Bessarabian artists.
The “Veniamin Apostol” Theatre in Soroca, led with enthusiasm and dedication by the poet Petru Popa, is the only project theatre in Moldova. It is the only theatre that does not have a permanent, committed company. The repertoire consists of its own productions with collaborating artists (mostly from other cities), guest performances by theatres from Moldova, Romania and Ukraine and performances by the “Cortina” Theatre Studio, which brings together teenagers with a passion for acting. The show our team enjoyed, “In the Handcuffs of Siberia” by Spiridon Vangheli, was produced 4 years ago by the director Alexandru Cozlub and presents a painful episode from the history of Moldova, while managing to highlight a valuable Bessarabian author and to offer generous parts to the members of the “Cortina” ensemble. The building, a former Teacher Training Centre built in the interwar period (1938), requires considerable investment to make it suitable for theatre. A passionate animator, the director manages to motivate the whole team to participate in repairs, renovation and maintenance work.
The “Antioh Cantemir” Pinacotheque in Balti is a lively space, hosting workshops, concerts and talks in its gallery, most of which are dedicated to children and young people. During our visit we could admire the goblin works of local artists, as well as an exhibition of paintings and drawings by children of migrants from Ukraine on the theme of war. An extremely active space is also the Municipal Library “Eugen Coșeriu” & the Cross-Border Multiethnic Cultural Centre. With programs to encourage reading in public spaces, to preserve and popularize local history and to increase cooperation between certain ethnic communities in Bălți, the library is one of the most well-defined spaces visited in terms of vision and purpose.
The “Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre in Bălți, an institution under the Ministry of Culture, operates in an extremely generous and relatively new space. The building, built between 1978 and 1991, comprises two performance venues: the main hall (with an Italian stage and a capacity of about 600 seats) and the studio hall (64 seats). The ensemble, consisting of 24 employed actors, performs both on the premises and on tour. A large number of the theatre’s productions are dedicated to children, and the theatre tours throughout the district to meet its audiences. Onoria Burlac Tănase, general director, and Pavel Lupăcescu, artistic director, are teaming up with the theatre’s literary secretary to identify new directions to attract young and adult audiences in the city, organise theatrical events with guest performances to ensure diversity for the Bălți audience, and to attract new sources of funding needed to repair the roof and renovate the building.
At the Palace of Culture in Soroca we were welcomed by Mr. Grigore Bucătaru, head of the Culture and Tourism Department and Mr. Iurie Tănase, Vice President of Soroca District. The building is generous and hosts the activities of several craftsmen and artistic groups, as well as an impressive performance hall with over 700 seats. We were introduced to the touristic potential of Soroca District and had the opportunity to meet a few craftsmen (some of them awarded the title of “Meșter-Faur/ Master- Maker”) and the coordinators of the ensembles working in the Palace of Culture, most of them being Model Title Ensembles (after receiving this title from the Ministry of Culture, these ensembles will receive funding from the district to have one or two paid coordinator positions, depending on the specificity of the ensemble).
The Association of Creative Industry Companies in Moldova in Chisinau where we were welcomed by Viorica Cerbusca, the director of Artcor, has as a mission to support and represent the companies and NGO-s of the creative industries sector in Moldova by ensuring their growth, education and connection at the local and international levels.
In Moldova there is an attractive and healthy ecosystem for creative industries with a favorable environment for collaboration, learning and development that enables competitiveness at the local and international level and contributes to the creation of a regional center of creativity and innovation. The Creative Services industry (CS) is one of the fastest growing sectors in Moldova, developing at a rate of 11% each year. The sector encompasses everything from advertising and architecture to graphics and game design, and offers some of the highest salaries in the country.
Our experts say
Our visit to Soroca gave me the opportunity to get to know important aspects of the cultural life of the city. It is remarkable that all the actors involved in cultural life talk about the limited financial resources and several other difficulties encountered in carrying out their activity, but I noticed their willingness to get involved in new projects and a real desire to evolve.
We were able to feel the cultural-educational pulse of the city of Balti. We visited the main institutions in the locality and discussed with decision makers, asked for clarifications where necessary, but also enjoyed the local hospitality. I believe that the visit has largely achieved its goals, identifying along the way a number of issues that could be improved through external collaboration. The discussions with the local authorities have also brought greater clarity to some of the situations that had not been revealed during the visits.
Soroca has shown that it still has valuable people who show a profound enthusiasm for the arts, which is quite rare. A very soulful and successful visit.
MoldArte – platform for promoting cultural actors of the Republic of Moldova